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37 things you must know now you're pregnant

Posted in: pregnancy

The test is positive, and you feel you're stepping into uncharted territory. Fear not - we can explain what's going on and offer a few priceless tips for the months ahead...

  1. You may start snoring! "Pregnancy hormones can cause the membranes in your nose to soften and swell," says midwife Kate Walmsley, "leaving you much more likely to snore at night. Your partner could be in for a bit of a shock!" If it gets too bad, perhaps your other half could try sleeping in the spare room - after all, he'll need some practice for when the baby's born...
  2. You should stop wearing underwire bras - they could restrict the growth of the milk glands in your breasts.
  3. Reflexology is great for fluid retention. "I blew up massively during both my pregnancies and felt like a bucket of water on legs. But reflexology helped drain the fluid and also calmed me down," Lisa Aziz, mother of Leah, six, and Jacob, two.
  4. You are now officially hot stuff. Those pregnancy hormones are speeding up your metabolic rate, making you feel flushed and sweaty in temperatures you coped with easily before. Dress in looser, lighter clothes, drink plenty of water and hatch plans for spending the money you've saved on the heating bill!
  5. Pregnant tummies tend to be itchy tummies. "It's probably a result of your skin being stretched taut as your belly grows. Some women get itchy feet and hands, too. If you itch badly all over, though, tell your midwife - it could be a very rare but serious liver disorder," says midwife Kate Walmsley.
  6. You need to put your name down for antenatal classes - as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed. Classes get booked up unbelievably quickly, so if you don't look sharp, you may not be able to get a place.
  7. Never miss a single antenatal checkup. "I nearly skipped one of my last appointments because I was really tired. But something made me go in the end. And thank God I did. It turned out I had pre-eclampsia and I had to have an emergency Caesarean straightaway," Melissa, mum to Ava, aged 10 months.
  8. You'll need to buy a car seat. By law, any baby travelling in a car must be properly restrained in a car seat, including taxis.
  9. Keep a banana by the bed. Morning sickness is twice as bad on an empty stomach, so eat a snack when you have to get up to go to the toilet during the night.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Your baby doesn't know you are making love.
  13. You really don't need to panic about labour. Take your friends' labour horror stories with a pinch of salt.
  14. 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.
  15. Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to give up on exercise - just scale it down as you get bigger. US pregnancy exercise guru Dr James Clapp says those who stop exercising in their third trimester can actually gain more weight than those who don't exercise at all (no, that's not an excuse to do nothing in the first place!).
  16. If there's a film you want to see, go and see it now! Even if you do feel up to a night out in those first sleep-deprived weeks after the birth, seeing a film is not a wise move: as soon as the lights go down, you'll be fast asleep!
  17. Keep an eye on the moon. Italian researchers say you're statistically more likely to give birth when there's a full moon, especially if you've had a baby before.
  18. 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.
  19. Expect to go up a shoe size. "At about 28 to 30 weeks, your body fluids increase," says midwife Kate Walmsley, "as a result, your feet can swell up - only a little but that's enough to make your shoes tight." Treat yourself to a comfy new pair and grab any opportunity to elevate your legs when you sit or lie down. (If your hands or face become puffy, too, see a doctor to rule out the possibility of pre-eclampsia).
  20. If close friends ask you what they can get the baby, suggest clothes in the 3-6 months or even 6-12 months age range. Everyone will shower you with newborn clothing but babies grow very fast.
  21. Is it a boy or a girl? You may get a clue from your job. US studies have shown that women in high-powered, traditionally male jobs (pilots, for example) are more likely to have boys because they have higher levels of testosterone.
  22. Don't drink tea with your meals. "During pregnancy, your body needs to absorb plenty of iron from your food," says nutrition expert Fiona Ford, "but the caffeine in tea can hamper that process. Have a cuppa between meals instead."
  23. 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. This could suddenly give your favourite perfume a subtly different scent.
  24. Don't panic if you notice some vaginal discharge. "The cells around your cervix soften as your pregnancy progresses," says Kate Walmsley, "and this, combined with hormonal changes, can cause a (sometimes heavy) milky discharge. Unless it's thick, green, smelly or bloodstained, you don't need to worry about possible infections."
  25. Sex will surprise you. You may suddenly feel like sex all the time, or go off it altogether. You could find your extra sensitive breasts and vulva trigger multiple orgasms or make you wince at more than the lightest caress. Whatever your experience, rest assured that you're normal and these are temporary changes you can learn to live (and love) with.
  26. 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.
  27. Don't buy new glasses or contact lenses. Extra fluid in your eyes (another present from those pregnancy hormones) can make it seem as though your sight is worse or your lenses don't fit. Get yourself checked by an optometrist to be on the safe side, though.
  28. Guess which way the baby's lying by looking at your belly button. Many midwives believe a popped-out navel indicates an anterior lie (baby's spine following the curve of your bump) while a dipped-in navel means a posterior lie (baby's spine against your spine).
  29. It's time to start thinking about childcare. Yes, we know you haven't had the baby yet, but it's never too early to check out your options. Visit nearby child-care centres, tap the local grapevine for good child minders, and talk to other mums about the pros and cons of each. This is not a time to make decisions (don't pay a deposit for a place; most are non-refundable if you change your mind later) but to gather as much information as you can.
  30. The sounds your baby hears best when she's in the womb are in the frequency of a human voice. Tell your baby stories and sing her songs. Research shows babies respond and relax to stories and songs they've heard several times in the womb.
  31. Stretchmarks. You're either genetically disposed to get them or you aren't and there's not much you can do about that. However, don't stop massaging your belly with all sorts of gorgeous-smelling lotions and potions - all that rhythmic stroking will make you feel good and your baby will enjoy it, too.
  32. Even complete strangers will tell you their 'cure' for heartburn or their opinion on pain relief during labour. Construct your own (imaginary) defence shield to deflect other people's advice. Listen with a polite smile, let the words bounce off your shield into the outer atmosphere - and then do what you (and your midwife) think is best.
  33. Give her plenty of sunshine! By 34 weeks, your baby is bathed in a red glow whenever sunlight hits your tummy.
  34. You need to keep your calcium intake up, but that doesn't mean you have to go on a full-fat dairy binge. There's as much calcium in skim milk as in full-fat or light milk (if dairy products don't agree with you, look for calcium-enriched orange juice, soya milk or water).
  35. You may find you're getting a little forgetful. Unfortunately, pregnancy amnesia is incredibly common and can include anything from being slightly absent-minded to full-on major memory loss. Some scientists have actually suggested that a woman's brain can shrink by as much as five per cent during pregnancy! No one really knows why but the good news is, it does return to normal after the birth.
  36. It's much 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 guzzled similar-tasting amniotic fluid in the womb.
  37. 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!


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Article supplied by Mother & Baby magazine

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