The pregnancy test is positive, and you feel like you’re stepping into uncharted territory. What do the next months hold in store?
Fear not – in this article we explain what’s going on and we offer a few priceless tips for the eight or so months that still lie ahead.
Here are 33 things you should know when you’re pregnant.
Some of them just may surprise you …
- You could start snoring! The membranes in your nose can swell up when you’re pregnant and cause you to snore, even if you never have before.
- You should avoid wearing your regular underwire bras – they could restrict the growth of the milk glands in your breasts. If you need this support shop for low-gauge wire support maternity bras.
- Fluid retention may become an issue. There are a few things you can try – resting with your feet elevated, reflexology etc – and make sure you keep drinking water (even if this seems counter-intuitive).
- You are now officially hot stuff. Those pregnancy hormones are speeding up your metabolic rate, making you feel flushed and sweaty when you normally wouldn’t.
- Pregnant tummies tend to be itchy tummies. This is usually because your skin gets stretched – but more intense itching (especially if it isn’t just your belly) could be a sign of ICP – which is a serious disorder.
- You need to put your name down for antenatal classes as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed. Classes book up unbelievably quickly, so make sure you don’t miss out.
- Never miss a single antenatal checkup. Every checkup is important as some complications don’t show up until the later stages of pregnancy.
- You’ll need to buy a child car restraint. By law, any baby travelling in a car must be properly restrained in a car seat, including taxis.
- Keep a banana by the bed. Morning sickness is twice as bad on an empty stomach, so eat a snack whenever you get the chance – like midnight wake ups.
- Have a good, low-maintenance haircut just before your baby’s due. It may be a while before you have the time (and energy!) to get to the hairdresser’s again.
- Plan your holidays carefully. Most airlines won’t let you travel after 36 weeks, and from about 28 weeks you won’t be allowed to check in without a doctor’s certificate. Consider going on a babymoon.
- Your baby doesn’t know you are making love.
- You really don’t need to panic about labour. Take your friends’ labour horror stories with a pinch of salt. Everyone is different.
- Rub almond oil on your perineum every night after 32 weeks. Studies have suggested it can make you less likely to tear during delivery, and it can certainly get you used to (and less scared of) the stretching you’ll feel as your baby is born.
- Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up exercise. The general rule is that you should be able to continue exercising at the same rate you were before pregnancy. There are a few exercises to avoid in pregnancy though and you should always talk to your health care provider about your individual circumstances.
- Don’t worry, be happy. US researchers have found that mums-to-be who look on the bright side of life sleep better, stay slimmer, have easier labours and give birth to stronger babies.
- Expect to go up a shoe size. In your second trimester, extra body fluids will cause your feet to swell a little, so you may not fit your normal shoes. (If your hands or face become puffy, too, see a doctor to rule out the possibility of pre-eclampsia).
- If close friends ask you what they can get the baby, suggest clothes in a bigger size than newborn – this baby clothes buying guide can help.
- Is it a boy or a girl? Have some fun with testing out old wives’ tales for determining the sex.
- Don’t drink caffeinated drinks with your meals. Caffeine stops iron from being absorbed as easily, and you need all the iron you can get.
- You’ll smell different. All the chemical changes going on in your body may mean you start to give off a new, warm, alluring odour.
- Don’t panic if you notice some vaginal discharge. Unless it goes green, thick, smelly, or bloodstained, it’s a totally normal part of your pregnancy.
- Sex will surprise you. Your desire for sex may change significantly (more or less), and your body sensitivity could change a lot. Whatever your experience, rest assured that you’re normal and these changes are only temporary.
- Burn all old copies of celebrity magazines! The last thing you want to see when you come home from hospital is a glossy feature on some celebrity who lost 20kgs within two days of giving birth. Never believe what you read in celeb mags.
- Don’t buy new prescription glasses or contact lenses. Extra fluid in your eyes can make it seem as though your sight is worse or your lenses don’t fit. Have a check up with an optometrist if you’re worried, though.
- It’s time to start thinking about childcare. It’s never too early to check out your options, so check out nearby childcare centres, find good child minders, talk to other mums about the pros and cons of each, and gather as much information as you can.
- The human voice is what your baby hears best when they’re in the womb. Tell your baby stories and sing songs. Your baby may remember those songs and respond to them after birth.
- Stretchmarks. You’re either genetically disposed to get them or you aren’t and there’s not much you can do about that. However, it can still make you and baby feel good to rub some moisturiser on your belly. Read up on other pregnancy skin conditions and how to look after your skin.
- Even complete strangers will tell you their ‘cure’ for heartburn or their opinion on pain relief during labour. Have a look at some ways to deal with unwanted comments during pregnancy.
- Keep up your calcium intake. If dairy products don’t agree with you, look for calcium-enriched drinks like orange juice, soy milk or water.
- You may find you’re getting a little forgetful. Pregnancy amnesia is incredibly common and can include anything from being slightly absent-minded (baby brain) to full-on major memory loss.
- Evidence suggests that it is easier to establish breastfeeding if your diet is the same before and after the birth, because your baby will recognise the taste of your breastmilk from when she had similar-tasting amniotic fluid in the womb.
- Be prepared for weird mood swings. And we mean weird. Expect lightning flashes of anger, moments of uncontrollable weepiness and times of inexplicable fear. You’re not going mad – you’re pregnant!