Practical pregnancy questions, answered by our midwife

Weight gain, travel and visitors – our midwife tackles your pregnancy queries

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Q. When my daughter was born we felt completely exhausted by the number of visitors we had. How can I avoid this without hurting anyone’s feelings when my second baby arrives?

A. This is a tricky one, isn’t it? At the time, you can’t wait to show off your new baby but afterwards you’re left feeling absolutely shattered. Try introducing visiting hours at home by choosing a time that’s least disruptive to you – a time when you know you’ll be less tired, for instance – and ask people to come then. That way, you can go to bed for a nap without being woken by guests. Put a notice on your door and record a message on your voicemail saying something like: ‘Parents and baby resting, please call between 3pm and 5pm’.

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If people ask if they can bring something, take them up on their offer. Just think, if each visitor brought a meal with them that you could pop in the freezer, how useful would that be!

Q. My sister has just had a baby, and when I visited her I was shocked that she still looked pregnant. I’m due to have my baby in six weeks’ time and I’m now wondering if I’ll have the same ‘mum tum’.

A. Your body has done a wonderful job in growing your baby, but it’s inevitable that everything has been a little stretched in the process. If you blew up a balloon and then deflated it, it wouldn’t look like it was before you blew it up – so imagine the recovery for your womb after nine months!

Never fear, however – you and your body will recover, I promise. But bear in mind that the muscles and skin of your abdomen have been stretched for nine months and during the birth itself; plus for several weeks afterwards your uterus is expelling blood, mucus and placental tissue, known as ‘lochia’; and you may also have some water retention to deal with.

Don’t be too ambitious about getting into your pre-pregnancy clothes straight after the birth – your body needs time to recover. After your six-week postnatal check sign up to a postnatal exercise class to help you get back in shape.

Q. I’ve just found out I’m pregnant and I’m worried about weight gain. How can I control it?

A. There’s really no reason why you should put on too much weight in pregnancy, but having said that, your midwife isn’t going to be weighing you at every visit like she used to.

By gaining too much weight, women are more prone to developing problems such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. On average, women put on around 21lb but it can vary hugely. Some women lose weight in the beginning as they feel nauseous and unable to eat very much, whereas others find that unless they keep eating they feel sick, and hence gain weight. It’s a good idea to stay active during pregnancy, even if it’s just a gentle walk each day, as women who do regular exercise are more likely to have increased stamina when it comes to labour.

Q: When we fly to Spain on holiday this year I’ll be 24-weeks pregnant. Is there any special travel advice?

A: Each airline has its own rules when it comes to flying and some will ask for a letter from your midwife or GP saying you’re ‘fit to fly’. Ask your midwife first, as they won’t charge for this while some GPs do.

On the flight, your feet might swell, so take flip flops or slipper socks, and keep wiggling your toes or have a wander along the aisle. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Make sure that you take your antenatal notes with you – including your blood group – in case you need medical care.

A European health insurance card entitles you to free emergency care but you still need medical insurance, and tell your insurers that you’re pregnant so you’re covered. Drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes once you’re there, too.

Q. I’m 10 weeks pregnant and would love to go abroad on holiday in the summer, but my husband thinks flying’s a no-no as I’m expecting. Who’s right?

A. It’s a lovely idea to have one last break before the baby arrives, but it’s not possible to fly right up to your due date. First of all, you’ll need to check with the airline whether they’ll accept you on board. Some airlines won’t allow you to fly after you’re 28 weeks pregnant, but with others you can fly up to 34 weeks. Remember that needs to include coming home, too! They might want to see a letter from your midwife to confirm the pregnancy’s straightforward.

As pregnant women have an increased risk of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), you’ll need to get up and walk around every couple of hours if you go on a long flight, and ask for an aisle seat, so that you can move your legs.

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If you’re going somewhere hot, drink plenty of bottled water to keep yourself hydrated. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your antenatal records with you as well just in case you need to see a doctor or midwife while you’re there.

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