For all those annoying niggles of being pregnant, there are plenty of fantastic things, too. Firstly, there’s the excitement of announcing your news. But the wonderful rewards go well beyond this…
1. You get a seat on a bus!
Granted, you may have to flaunt your belly to make this work but as far as all public transport is concerned you’re now guaranteed a seat. To drive the point home, you can get a free baby on board badge for the London Underground.
“Make sure you wear a short jacket rather than a long coat and don’t be shy of making eye contact,” recommends Lucinda, 29, mum to Jacob, 4 months.
2. Prescriptions are free
From the moment your pregnancy is confirmed by a doctor or midwife right through to when your baby’s one year old, you’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions. Ask your midwife for an FW8 application form and you’ll be sent a Maternity Exemption Certificate in the post. Sadly, chocolate isn’t available on prescription.
3. You can eat more
Unfortunately, despite what most people believe, you’re not supposed to eat for two. But chin up – you can enjoy an extra 300 calories a day of healthy food. “Eat little and often so you don’t get peaks and troughs of energy,” says Gail Johnson, midwife for the Royal College of Midwives. “Try healthy snacks like raw vegetables as chocolate will give you a big boost, followed by a plunging low.”
4. You look fantastic
Hormonal changes will leave you look radiant: You skin will glow with health, your hair will be luxuriant and glossy and your nails will grow and grow.
“Increased blood flow and raised levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone in pregnancy lead to many changes in your body,” says Jane Norris, midwife at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. “Your nails grow well and hair growth increases, with less being shed, so it looks thicker and your skin can look great.”
5. Sticky-out tummies are great
There’s a horrible stage in pregnancy when you start to put on weight in weird places but you don’t look pregnant – you just look a bit untoned or blaoted. And worse than that, as you haven’t reached the 12-week mark you can’t defend yourself against the implied accusation that you’ve just let yourself go. So enjoy what comes next… your lovely rounded belly.
“Wrap dresses are flattering and versatile,” says Carmel Johnson, design manager for Crave Maternity. “If you’re conscious of your tummy, tie the dress under the bust to draw attention away from that area. If your bust has ‘blossomed’, enjoy the extra attention, or layer the dress over a camisole to make you feel more secure.”
Your belly might even be a turn-on for your partner!
“How I announced the pregnancy news…”
“I didn’t know how to tell my incredibly excitable parents about my wife’s pregnancy, so I dropped it into conversation. They were round for lunch and I asked if they wanted a drink. Then I mentioned that we had champagne to toast the mum-to-be. They went mad!”
Daniel, 38, dad to be of 17 weeks
Chances are your partner finds your growing bump a turn on in pregnancy. And your bigger breasts are no doubt catching his attention, too!
6. The dentist costs nothing
You won’t be entitled to a Tom Cruise-like dental makeover, but as a pregnant woman you’re entitled to free dental treatment on the NHS from the time your pregnancy is verified by a doctor or midwife until your baby’s one year old.
You just need to be registered as an NHS patient and have a current maternity exemption certificate. Ask your midwife for the form and explain that you’re pregnant when you make the dentist’s appointment. You’ll also need to alert the dentist before he gives you any treatment.
It’s a good idea to make your dentist appointments early in your pregnancy as the more pregnant you get the harder it will be to squeeze into a narrow dentist’s chair.
7. Healthy food tastes good
For some women being pregnant is the kick they need to start treating their body like a temple, not a landfill site.
“Before pregnancy, I sometimes indulged in white wine on a weekend night,” says Tracey, 39, mum to Matilda, 18 months. “Although I love it, wine gives me a headache. One of the advantages of pregnancy was waking up early on a weekend morning, and actually doing stuff because I didn’t have that awful headache. I also started to eat fruit because I knew it was good for my baby, which is something I didn’t do before. Funnily enough, Matilda loves fruit – she’s going through a phase of turning her nose up at foods she used to eat, but she still eats her fruit!”
8. Your leave is extended
Most mums now get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks, so you can enjoy your pregnancy knowing you won’t have to worry about money for nine months while you bond with your baby. Don’t forget to tell your employer you’re pregnant at least 15 weeks before your baby’s due. Some ask for this in writing and you might be asked to provide a MAT B1 form, which your midwife will give you.
9. Chivalry returns
Carrying heavy bags, putting out the bins, moving furniture – they instantly become a thing of the past once you’re pregnant.
“My colleagues at work won’t let me do anything that involves lifting or bending because of my ‘condition’,” says Claire, 38, mum to Elizabeth, 2, and 8 months pregnant. “It’s great because I’m 5ft 10in and when I’m not pregnant I’m usually the first one people ask to help move things!”
10. You have breasts to die for
“Breasts get bigger in pregnancy due to hormonal and metabolic changes, all of which are preparing the mammary glands to store milk,” says Jane Norris, midwife at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
“I was like, ‘Wow, where did these breasts come from?’ It was instant. It’s great, they are nice, but shocking,” the Fantastic Four star, Jessica Alba, has said.
“My partner finds my belly a turn-on”
“Ade has been extra loving since I’ve started to show. He’s always giving my belly a little stroke. And he’s more kissy and touchy-feely. I’d never have thought he’d have found me attractive at this stage, but it’s lovely that he’s making me feel sexy by being so attentive. He’s also become really protective – when we’re walking down the street, he always makes sure he’s on the outside of me. I guess I should enjoy it for the remaining weeks before my body’s back to normal.”
Lucy, 35, 7 months pregnant