Over the years, as the co-anchor of Access Hollywood, Nancy O'Dell has helped stars share their emotional journeys and stories with the public. But in her new book, "Full of Life Mom-to-Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant," Nancy is opening up about her own journey of pregnancy and the birth of her first child, daughter Ashby.
"Full of Life," out April 14 on Simon Spotlight Entertainment books, is not a pregnancy diary. Instead, Nancy uses her own story as a vehicle to introduce some of the best advice and tips she culled together while pregnant with Ashby – knowledge she said she couldn't find in the host of books she read on the topic.
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"I just thought [this book] was such a necessary thing," Nancy told AccessHollywood.com. "I didn't go into this like, 'Hey! This is a good time to write a book.' This book is so needed. There were just so many things that came as a complete surprise to me that I wish someone had given me a heads up about. Even though it is all so worth it, the things that happen with pregnancy can be shocking, scary and embarrassing. Now, when a girlfriend gets pregnant I can go, 'Here, this is all the information that I wish somebody had told me and I want to tell you now.' So often in pregnancy I found myself saying, 'Why didn't y'all tell me that.' I just thought there really was such a need to know the information."
In the book, Nancy holds little back, including revealing for the first time that she suffered a miscarriage prior to getting pregnant with her now 21-month-old daughter.
"It's like this little secret society. Nobody really talks about it because it's not just something that's pleasant to talk about," Nancy said. "I remember when I had the miscarriage I thought, 'Oh my gosh, what if I can't get pregnant?'"
At her doctor's office, following the miscarriage, Nancy learned for the first time that approximately one out of every four pregnancies ends that way.
"My doctor told me to look at the positive side. He said it meant I could get pregnant easily. I think the way my doctor phrased it was, 'It means your plumbing is working,'" Nancy recounted. "It didn't help with the loss, because the loss was definitely still there, but it definitely made me feel like I wish I had known it was that common because I wouldn't have gone through that anguish of thinking that I had something wrong with me or that I couldn't get pregnant again."
Nancy did get pregnant again of course, and it was while little Ashby was growing in her womb that she learned so many tips and tricks – including how to tastefully cover a blooming belly bump.
"The belly band," Nancy laughed when we referenced her tip, which she describes in the book as "like a tube top for the belly" "It goes under the tops, which start rising too much, and over the pant buttons, which won't close anymore. I didn't know about that until my sister mailed it to me as a gift. I was going out looking for tank tops that were longer, because I wasn't at the point where I really needed maternity clothes… It's for that kind of in between time where you don't want to go buy your new pants and you don't wanna go buy a new top."
Another useful tip Nancy learned along the way – steer clear of foot massages unless you're hoping for a very early labor process.
"A massage therapist actually told me that because I was like, 'My feet really hurt. Can you massage them?' And she goes, 'Don't let anybody massage the back of your heel because that's a pin point for triggering contractions,'" Nancy recounted. "I looked it up and sure enough it was."
But there are a few tips Nancy said are most essential.
"Pre-registering at the hospital because I think that's your most nervous and excited time ever and it's such a simple thing to do," she noted. "And another huge one which completely floored me — because I do talk about that first week home with the baby in the book — is breast feeding. Nursing is complicated. I literally thought I would take my baby and I would hold her in a cradle position and I would put her on my breast and it would be all nature and instinct and it's not. The baby doesn't immediately take… So the vitally important tip is to get a lactation consultant before you give birth."
For more tips and Nancy's stories from her pregnancy, pick up Nancy's book starting April 14 online and in stores.
Nancy is also scheduled to appear on the "Today" Show during the 8 AM hour on Friday April 10 and on "Regis & Kelly" live on Monday April 13.