Q: I’m 4 months pregnant with twins and worried that I won’t cope. Is there help available?
A: It’s normal to feel like this. Lots of women are anxious about having one baby to care for so two can seem overwhelming.
Build up your support network during your pregnancy – ask your midwife if she can put you in touch with other mums of twins so you can meet up. Women with a shared experience can be a great support and have practical tips for you too.
The Twins and Multiple Births Association (www.tamba.org.uk ) offers lots of advice and has local groups you could join before your babies arrive, so you can meet other mums. You could also try contacting your local college to see if any of their childcare students want work experience. After the birth, accept all offers of help. You’ll find that people really do want to lend a hand.
Q: I’m a 40-year-old mum of 6. I’d like another baby but my friends keep telling me that it’s too dangerous at my age. Is this true?
A: Saying that it’s dangerous is rather extreme! These days, lots of women are having babies into their forties. Some of the risks associated with birth do increase as we get older, including high blood pressure, premature labour and stillbirth, but we do keep these in perspective. If you’re healthy and have regular antenatal care, then all should be well. It can take longer to conceive as you get older, and the risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome increases. Because of this, you’ll be offered a screening test for Down’s and possibly a diagnostic test, like amniocentesis. As you’ve had 6 babies you’d also be advised to have your baby in hospital and an injection to help deliver the placenta, as the risk of bleeding can increase. The risk of serious problems at your age is still low, though so enjoy your family and start taking your folic acid, ready for the next pregnancy.
Q: I’m only 16 weeks pregnant but my breasts are already two cup sizes bigger! When will they stop?
A: Your breasts grow a lot in the first trimester and throughout pregnancy, but it does slow down. Your ribcage will also expand, so get a maternity bra that initially fits on the tightest fastener.
You may need bigger bras as things progress, but it’s important that your breasts are properly supported. If you’re planning to breastfeed, wait until 36–37 weeks before buying a nursing bra, and get fitted by someone experienced in this.
A: The vast majority of pregnant women are able to continue having sex without any problems. Women with a low-lying placenta, bleeding, a history or premature labour or recurrent miscarriage may be advised to avoid intercourse.
Sex can help trigger labour at the end of your pregnancy, but only if your body is ready. Sperm contains prostaglandin, the hormone that’s used to induce labour. Also, when aroused your body releases oxytocin, which stimulates the uterus and can start contractions!
Q: I’m only 5 months pregnant but my breasts are ‘leaking’ already. Is this normal?
A: Yes, it is. From around week 16 of pregnancy, women start to produce colostrum, the ‘pre-milk’ that’s rich in antibodies, in preparation for birth. Although most women experience breast changes (more sensitive, increasing in size, veins more prominent, darker areloa), some find that their breasts leak and they need to wear breast pads. It can happen during sex, which can feel embarrassing, but it’s normal.
Some mums-to-be don’t experience leaking breasts until a few days after their baby’s born, and this is also normal. Whether or not your breasts leak has no bearing on your ability to breastfeed.
Q: I’m not very happy with my community midwife – can I change?
A: It’s important to have a good relationship with your midwife – you need to feel that you can trust the person providing your care. Call the hospital switchboard and ask for the local supervisor of midwives, who should be able to arrange a new midwife. This is also the person to speak to if you have concerns about the care you’ve had so far.
Q: My mother-in-law is really excited about becoming a grandma, but she keeps making irritating and old-fashioned comments about how best to bring up babies. How can I handle this without falling out with her?
A: She probably thinks she’s doing you a favour, but this can be exasperating for you. Perhaps you or your husband could say that she obviously did a great job bringing up her children, and now, you’re looking forward to doing it your way.
If she’s going to be involved in childcare however, it may be worth checking if there are local classes for grandparents-to-be, as outdated advice can sometimes be undermining. Or you could give her some leaflets, so she can see how things have changed. But remember that it’s great she’s excited, and her advice is probably well meant!