Pregnancy life Q&As with our midwife

Whether you’re wondering about sex during pregnancy or how to keep your eyes open when you’re knackered, our midwife answers your queries…

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Q. I’m 8 weeks pregnant and can barely keep my eyes open from tiredness. Is this going to last for 9 months?

A. Your body’s working very hard right now and each day there are massive changes to your baby’s development, so it’s no wonder that you’re exhausted. By 12 weeks pregnant though, this should improve but it’s good to check with your midwife as you could be anaemic and need to take some iron supplements. Your blood tests in early pregnancy would have diagnosed this. However, if everything’s fine, it’s a case of trying to boost your energy. Grab power naps if you can, but otherwise taking a brisk walk in the fresh air or some gentle exercise can help. Try pregnancy yoga classes, and ditch late-night TV. Make sure you eat properly too. High-sugar snacks might pick you up fast, but then your blood sugar will drop again. It’s better to have some carbohydrates that release energy slowly, such as porridge or wholemeal crackers.

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Q. I didn’t know I was pregnant when I went to a party recently and now I’m worried because I had wine and ate food I shouldn’t have.

A. A lot of women don’t plan their pregnancies and, although they’re delighted, they then worry about alcohol they’ve drunk and things they’ve eaten. It’s highly unlikely you’ll have harmed your baby from one evening’s indulgence, but now you know you’re pregnant, it’s best to steer clear of alcohol. The jury’s still out on whether even a small amount harms your baby so by avoiding it from now on, you’ll be putting your mind at rest. In terms of food, one of the problems with soft cheese, paté and undercooked meat is that it can cause salmonella, toxoplasmosis or listeria. If you had any of these conditions, you’d have felt unwell with flu-like symptoms, vomiting or a high temperature at the time.

Q: Since I’ve been expecting, I’ve been having the most bizarre dreams involving abandoned babies and even some X-rated stuff. Is this normal?

A: Women often say they have vivid dreams during pregnancy. Nobody really knows why, although the chances are pregnancy hormones are to blame in some way. It could also be down to the disturbed sleep that you experience in pregnancy, thanks to be woken up regularly by a full bladder or your kicking baby.

Inevitably, your mind will be whirring with the thoughts of your baby and often dreams can express your fears and anxieties. The best thing to do is try to relax before going to bed and talk to friends or family about any worries you have, as you might find that by expressing your emotions you’ll be getting a better night’s sleep.

Q: My husband’s convinced that if we have sex he could the baby – but my hormones mean I’m desperate for nookie! Is it ok to go for it?

A: Lots of men, and women, worry about this – but for the majority of women it’s completely safe to have sex during pregnancy. Your cervix is closed, and ‘sealed’ by a mucous plug, and your baby’s protected in the amniotic sac. Some men seem to think that they’re going to poke the baby’s head during sex, but this isn’t the case.

If you orgasm, you may feel your uterus initially contracting, but in a normal pregnancy this isn’t a problem. The only time you’d be advised to avoid sex is if you’ve had bleeding, have a low-lying placenta, cervical weakness, or your waters have broken. You might’ve heard about sex inducing labour, but this only happens when a woman’s ready to go into labour anyway.

Q. I’m worried that sex will be dangerous during my pregnancy and my partner’s getting pretty fed up not getting any. Are there any risks?

A. This is such a common concern! And it’s not only women who worry about it – men can be afraid that they’ll hurt the unborn baby. However, for the vast majority of pregnant women it’s completely safe to have intercourse without any risk to the baby. And remember, full intercourse isn’t your only option. The exceptions may be if you’ve had a threatened miscarriage, low-lying placenta or premature labour with a previous child. Ask your midwife or GP’s advice if your think that one of these applies to you.

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Some women go off sex during early pregnancy due to feeling generally tired out and nauseous, and also towards the end if they’re feeling uncomfortable because of the size of their bump. However, many women find sex more pleasurable during pregnancy due to the increased blood flow to the pelvis and greater sensitivity. Why not try some massage and cuddling with your partner to get you in the mood, and then take it from there?

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