Q: I’m 26 weeks pregnant and my sister is 27 weeks. While I have quite a big bump, she is tiny. Is this normal? Does it mean her baby is really small?
Answer from Denise Linay, Regional officer at the Royal College of Midwives:
“How lovely that the two of you can share your experience of pregnancy together – as long as you keep in mind that the experience can be different but still entirely normal.
No two bumps will ever appear the same, as there are many factors that can influence size and shape, including muscle tone, posture and the way the baby is lying.
You can expect a neater bump with your first baby, or if you do a lot of abdominal exercises as your stomach muscles are tighter. An upright posture may provide more room for the baby to hide or your baby can be lying in a way that makes your bump seem smaller.
What is important is the size of the baby. When your sister is examined, her midwife will assess whether the baby is the right size for the length of her pregnancy, and if she has any concerns she will arrange for her to have a ultrasound scan and to see a consultant obstetrician.”
Q: Since discovering I’m pregnant I haven’t felt comfortable having sex with my husband. I know it can’t hurt the baby, but I just feel really strange about it. As a result we haven’t had sex since the baby was conceived, and I am so hung up about it that I don’t think I can. I’ve now discovered that my husband has been having an affair with a woman he met through work. I realise I haven’t been there for him, but if he can betray me this easily I wonder whether there’s any point trying to patch things up. Also, I’ll always wonder whether he’s only with me for the baby’s sake and whether he’ll be unfaithful again. But I hadn’t planned on being a single parent. What can I do?
Answer from Dr Stephen Perreira, Consultant psychiatrist at London’s Capio Nightingale Hospital:
“Obviously, this is a very worrying and distressing time for you. However, it is more upsetting if you think of the worst case scenario without giving due consideration to some of the more helpful steps you could take first. It would be useful to understand what you mean when you say ‘you don’t feel right about having sex’ with your husband. This is important for you and your husband. It may be related to your fears of harm to the developing baby in the uterus with penetrative sex. It might be helpful for you to discuss your fears with your midwife or GP.
There are, of course, other ways of being physically intimate with your husband that may consolidate your feelings for each other. While you feel this way, and if it continues, it may have the effect of pushing your husband further away, at a time when you could be coming closer to each other. Many men can feel that attention is taken away from them while their partners are pregnant and more so when the baby arrives.
- What does the size of your baby bump mean?
- Your guide to pregnancy sex in your first trimester
- Dealing with your pregnancy cravings
I would suggest you talk openly with your husband regarding your fears and concerns regarding sex. Your husband may have his own worries as to what it means to be a father. You may be able to allay some of these conerns.
Emotional intimacy must come before physical intimacy but this can occur only if you both share your feelings with each. There is always a point in trying to patch things up as very often it can bring two lonely and afraid people together, often into a stronger bond. Don’t leap to the worse case conclusion. Try the above first.”
Q: I’ve been craving sweet things and stodgy foods while pregnant. Eating these really does help stave off the morning sickness, but I am worried about putting on loads of weight. I don’t know how I can balance these – I seem to need to keep snacking on unhealthy things to stop myself feeling ill.
Answer from Kathy Klein, state registered dietician, working for the NHS as a community paediatric dietician:
“Craving sweet things and stodgy foods during pregnancy is perfectly normal. For most women, it is transient, so don’t think you are stuck with it. Try not to focus too much on the weight you are gaining. There is a physiological reason for that and you will be able to address weight gain after your pregnancy. Your eating pattern might change constantly through pregnancy and if this is the case it is better to accept your increased appetite and make sensible choices rather than panic about it and end up eating more because you are feeling guilty.
First of all, if eating cures your morning sickness, why not eat 5 to 6 smaller nutritious meals or snacks instead of the traditional 3 meals. They should ideally all be based on carbohydrates most of which should be unrefined and high in fibre. These have the advantage of releasing energy on the form of sugar into the body in a slow, controlled manner, so that your blood sugar level stays more stable, keeping you feeling perky and fuller for longer. This will still allow for some sweet treats and comforting stodge.
Examples of small, quick and healthy meals might be a small bowl of couscous or a potato based salad (to which you could add plenty of vegetables) or a bowl of your favourite soup with grainy bread. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a fruit smoothie, a crumpet with a banana and a bit of honey, a bowl of porridge or cereal, or a handful of dried fruit. Scrape together all your organisational skills and ensure you have access to these easy snacking foods and save yourself reaching for the biscuit tin.”