10 pregnancy health worries solved

At-a-glance guide to your pregnancy problems with advice from our team of experts.

10-pregnancy-health-worries-solved_70984

Q Are my weird food cravings normal?

A. Yes – around 85% of pregnant women have had at least one food craving during pregnancy. Some experts say it’s your body’s way of telling you which minerals and vitamins you’re deficient in, but others dispute this.

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If you’re experiencing any really weird cravings – some women feel the urge to eat coal – tell your doctor so they can check them out.

Q Why am I constipated?

A. High levels of the hormone progesterone slow down your rate of digestion and make your bowel action a bit sluggish. Gentle exercise will help keep things moving, as will eating plenty of fibre-rich foods, including fruit and veg, and drinking lots of water.

Q How can I relieve bad backache?

A. There are a few things you can try – keep an eye on your posture and aim to walk tall. If you work at a desk, avoid sitting down for long periods, especially with your legs crossed. Get up and walk around frequently, and experiment with sitting on an inflatable fitness or birthing ball – some women swear by them. In bed, use extra pillows to support your bump, and try taking a warm bath before you curl up to help soothe and relax your back.

Q I’m 12 weeks pregnant and have had some bleeding. Is this serious?

A. Spotting during the first three months of pregnancy is common, and up to one-in-four women experiences bleeding at some point during pregnancy. But this bleeding doesn’t automatically mean the worst. Of the women who do bleed in early pregnancy when most miscarriages occur, 75% go on to have healthy babies. Possible causes include breakthrough bleeding, which occurs when your period would normally be due, and implantation bleeding when the egg attaches to the womb wall. More steady bleeding could be a threatened miscarriage, but in most cases the bleeding will stop and the pregnancy will continue. More rarely, the bleeding could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg implants itself in one of your Fallopian tubes. As soon as you experience any type of bleeding, tell your midwife or GP, who will ask you questions to help work out the cause of it and what further action needs to be taken.

Q I have day-long morning sickness – what will help me?

A. There’s no miracle cure, but you should feel a bit better by weeks 12-14, as your body adjusts to being pregnant. In the meantime, drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated and rest whenever you can. When it comes to food, eat little and often to keep your blood sugar stable, which will help keep nausea at bay. In the morning, avoid getting up on an empty stomach – instead ask your partner to bring you something light to eat in bed, such as toast. Ginger is also said to help ease symptoms – try ginger tea or biscuits. If you’re being sick constantly, visit your GP for more help and advice.

JOT IT DOWN

It’s amazing how fast you’ll forget important details about your pregnancy. Note them down below and refer back to them when you’re expecting number two!

My food cravings were:

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My morning sickness eased by week:

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I felt my baby first kick in week:

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Q Why do I feel tearful and emotional?

A. Soaring levels of pregnancy hormones are to thank for making you feel tearful. Don’t be hard on yourself, though – just recognise your body is going through lots of hanges that have an impact on your moods, too.

Explain how you’re feeling to friends, family and colleagues at work, which will give them a chance to help out and be more sympathetic. And try to make time for rest and relaxation – a yoga class, or just having some time to yourself, can help you unwind.

Q I’m 20 weeks pregnant and feel so tired. How can I get more energy?

A. See your GP to rule out anaemia, which can make you feel really tired. If you’re anaemic, an iron supplement will probably be prescribed. You could also think about taking a multivitamin  supplement specially formulated  for pregnancy. If they say you’re fine, there are other things you can try to help put a spring back in your step. Eat little and often to keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady, and make sure you’re getting a healthy, balanced diet. Include iron-rich foods such as meat, beans and leafy green veg, and choose brown bread, rice and pasta over the white varieties, as they give you a slower and longer lasting energy.

Also make sure that you accept any offers of help from friends and family, take regular rests and if you’re feeling overloaded at work, ask your boss whether you can change your working hours or work from home on some days. And, though it’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, some gentle exercise can help you re-energise and feel less tired.

Q I’m newly pregnant and have lost my sex drive. Will it return?

A If you’ve lost your libido early on in the pregnancy, don’t be alarmed – it will most likely come back during the middle months. As your bump gets bigger, experiment with different positions to see what’s most comfortable for you – lots of couples favour spooning, where he lies behind you. Be aware, too, that sex won’t hurt your baby, as he’s safely cushioned inside a bag of fluid within your womb. However, if you have a history of miscarriage or premature labour, you’ve been diagnosed with a condition such as a low-lying placenta, or you have any unexplained bleeding, you might be advised to avoid sex – so check with your midwife first. Otherwise, go ahead and enjoy.

Q My friend told me about the importance of pelvic floor exercises. Should I be doing them?

A. Yes, these are important. The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that supports the organs in your pelvis including your uterus and bladder.

During pregnancy, the weight of your growing baby – along with the softening effect of pregnancy hormones on the ligaments and joints – can put the pelvic floor muscles under pressure. If they become weak, you may start to leak urine when you laugh or cough.

Doing pelvic floor exercises will help improve muscle tone. To do them, close up and draw in the muscles around your bladder opening as if you’re trying to stop passing urine in midstream. Repeat around the anus, as though you’re stopping yourself having a bowel motion. Hold, then relax and repeat a few times, trying to breathe normally. Repeat several times a day.

Q How much weight should I aim to put on during my pregnancy?

A. It depends on what you weighed pre- pregnancy. If you were a normal weight, then you should aim to gain between 1¾ to 2½st – that’s 10oz a week until 20 weeks, then 1lb a week until 40 weeks. If you were overweight, your ideal total weight gain should be 1 to 1¼st. If you were underweight, your ideal total weight gain should be 2 to 3st. If it’s twins, you’re likely to gain 2¼ to 3st.
But you don’t need to start eating for two – gaining too much weight increases the risk of pregnancy diabetes and high blood pressure.

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Prima Baby says…

Even though you might think your questions seem trivial or embarrassing, never be afraid to ask your midwife about them. Their job is to help you through your pregnancy and put your mind at rest. And chances are whatever you want to ask, they’ve heard it all before, so don’t hold back!

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