1) I know due dates aren’t always accurate, but how do I know when my baby will arrive?
You will be given a due date once it is confirmed you are pregnant, but this is an estimate and midwives always consider the week before and the week after this date as part of that dating process.
The official due date is a guideline only because it is based on the average number of days in a woman’s cycle, which is 28. For some women, their cycle is shorter and for some it’s longer – and that’s why the due date is rarely 100% accurate.
2) Can I predict the sex of my baby from the month I conceived and my age?
The only way you can tell the sex of your baby is when you have the 20-week anomaly scan, which most – but not all – women have. At this, the midwife will be able to visually see the sex of your baby.
3) How accurate are pregnancy tests? Do I still need confirmation from the doctor?
Pregnancy tests are now very accurate and will be able to tell if you are pregnant a week after you’ve conceived. However, a blood test is 100% accurate. My advice would be to do a pregnancy test – and if it is positive – then go to your GP, who may well confirm your pregnancy by doing a blood test.
4) What happens once my pregnancy is confirmed? Who will I see next and what will happen at my appointment?
Your GP will refer you to a hospital of your choice and a bed will be booked for when you are due. Your first appointment with the midwife, at around 10 weeks, will be arranged by the hospital and will be confirmed by letter.
If there is a midwife based at your GP’s surgery, you will be given an appointment there, and most of your follow up appointments will be at the surgery too. The midwife will take a detailed history of your pregnancy so far and your medical history, and you will also be booked in for blood tests.
Your first scan is also usually booked by your midwife and she will discuss a plan of care for the rest of your pregnancy.
5) I am worried I’m going to put on too much weight. What is the ‘right amount’ and how can I still remain healthy?
The average amount of weight a women is likely to put on is 21 lb (or 10kg), but midwives don’t make a big thing about how much weight a woman puts on. We advise that they eat healthily, making sure they have 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and a balanced diet, reducing fat, sugar and fizzy drinks.
6) I am worried that my bump is not as big as my friend’s, who is almost the same number of weeks pregnant as me.
Bump size is related to the size of the woman and how the baby is lying. You shouldn’t worry about how big or small your baby is. Your midwife will monitor you every time you see her and measure whether the uterus size corresponds with the number of weeks pregnant you are.
7) I have terrible morning sickness. Is there anything I can do or any medication I can take to make it better?
We wouldn’t recommend or advise taking any medication for morning sickness during pregnancy. What we do tell women who are suffering is to have a piece of dry toast or a cracker before they get up, and then have a cup of tea. This usually helps to settle the stomach.
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8) I feel absolutely wiped out now I’m pregnant. Why is that, and what can I do to get more energy?
In the first trimester you may feel like you have no energy because of all the changes that are going on in your body – not least the baby growing and forming. If you are tired, make sure that you are getting enough sleep and rest when you can. You will also have the same lack of energy in the third trimester at around 36 weeks onwards, as your body is getting ready to give birth.
9) Is there any truth in the rumour that if your bump is high then it’s a boy, and if it’s low, it’s a girl?
No, this is just an old wives’ tale. It just depends on how big the baby is and which way it is lying where your bump will be situated.
10) When do I tell my employer that I am pregnant? Is there a form I should fill in?
It’s up to you, but most people tell them after the 12-week mark. Once you have informed them, they will ask you to provide a MATB1 form, usually when you are in your second trimester (between 22–25 weeks). Your midwife will be able to fill this in for you and then your employer can plan for your leave and sort out your pay.
11) I am craving sweet things now I’m pregnant. Should I give in to this or try and fight it?
Cravings are a normal part of pregnancy, which can be for sweet or sour things, or sometimes weird combinations of foods. There is no treatment, but as long as it’s not a harmful substance or food, then go with it.
Some mums-to-be experience pica – a condition in which the sufferer craves substances with no nutritional value, such as coal, chalk or soil. If this is happening to you, have a chat with your GP.
12) I get terrible indigestion every time I eat something. What can I do about it?
Indigestion is related to hormones that have an influence on muscles in the oesophagus and stomach. This can cause reflux (when the stomach’s contents come back up into the gullet or mouth) especially if you are lying down.
The best advice is to make sure you are propped up with several pillows and take an antacid or Gaviscon. You should also avoid eating hot and spicy food, and work out which foods make the indigestion worse. Big meals often exacerbate the problem, so try having several small meals a day instead.
13) I keep needing to go to the loo. It’s rather embarrassing! Why is this and is there anything I can do about it?
If this happens in the early part of pregnancy it is because the uterus is coming out of the pelvis and becoming an abdominal organ, causing you to urinate more frequently. It usually gets better in the second trimester, but then can come back in the third, at the 36-week mark, when the baby’s head starts moving into the pelvis and starts to press on the bladder.
If you are experiencing these symptoms in your second trimester, it may be an indication that you have a bladder infection, so speak to your midwife about it.
14) Why do I have to provide a urine sample every time I visit the midwife?
There are various reasons why you have to give a urine sample, but sometimes it’s just because you need to have an empty bladder before you are examined. The urine is also tested for protein or to find out if you have an infection. High levels of protein in the third trimester can be an indication of pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy condition related to blood pressure. Not every maternity unit will take a urine sample on every visit but most do.
15) My friend told me that you need to drink a litre of water before you have a scan. Is that right and why?
Having water in your bladder at the 12-week scan means that the sonographer will be able to see your baby more clearly. You don’t need to drink a litre, but you need to have a full bladder. By the time you have a second scan at 20 weeks, however, there will be enough liquid to be able to see clearly, so you don’t need to have a full bladder for that one.