You put up with some weird body changes — like loose joints, drooling, and a stuffy nose, to name a few — when you’re pregnant. All this pregnancy stuff happens for a reason (a baby!), and while there are some parts of it that no one misses, there are a ton of pretty useful lessons you can learn over those nine months… maybe even a few that prepare you for what happens after the baby is born. Read on for the six ways pregnancy helps prepare you for the next stage of your life: parenthood.

1. You’re always thinking about someone else. Until now, it was all about you (maybe your S.O. too). Before, you really didn’t have to think much past your own needs and wants. Now that you’re preggo, that’s all changed. You can’t do whatever you want anymore. That glass of Pinot will have to wait. You need to think about that baby growing inside of you. The same goes for parenting (although you can have that glass of Pinot). You’ll spend a lot of time putting your kiddo’s needs in front of your own.

2. You have to deal with exhaustion. Those sleepless nights you’ve heard so much about start well before the baby arrives. Sorry, but that’s how it goes. Your growing baby is putting all kinds of odd-feeling pressure on your body. You curl up with your pregnancy pillow and try to get some rest… and then the baby starts kicking. Between the aches and pains, you also have to pee every five minutes. Running (or waddling) to the bathroom constantly throughout the night will get you ready for your not-so-sleepy baby.

3. Someone is always with you. Even though that baby of yours is still on the inside, you aren’t exactly alone. You feel her kick. You talk to her and gently rub her head through your belly (or maybe that’s her knee, you really aren’t sure). Get used to not being alone, because it’s rare for mamas. Whether you’re trying to pee in peace, attempting to answer emails, or just trying to stop and think for two seconds, your kiddo is always there.

4. You track milestones. As each week of your pregnancy passes by, you’re looking for those tell-tale signs that everything’s a-okay. Your belly’s growing, and you’ve got all kinds of other symptoms going on. You take it week by week, waiting to meet some of the more major milestones. You’ll keep right on doing the same thing when the baby gets here. With each week, month, and year, you’re looking forward to watching your baby develop and grow.

5. Your confidence sways. You can do this whole pregnancy thing — and the parenting part too. But there will be times when your self-confidence dips. It’ll start during pregnancy and keep right on going through the next, um, 18 years. You’ll second-guess yourself, think you’re doing it all wrong, and feel like a failure. Every mama does at some time or another. Whether you’re pregnant or parenting, you’re doing the best you can — and that’s all your kiddo expects of you.

6. You work through the fog. It’s the 17th time you’ve locked yourself out of your car. In one week. That’s pregnancy brain at work. It feels like you’re in a fog, and you can’t concentrate on anything other than your growing bump. Get used to it. After the baby comes out, you’ll progress into the mommy brain stage. Much like pregnancy brain, you’ll feel kind of foggy, forgetful, and wonder, “Will I ever fell normal again?” Well, yes. At some point, the fog will lift and your memory will be back intact.

How did pregnancy prepare you for parenting? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)