1) Am I allergic to pregnancy?
Q: I’ve just been diagnosed with PUPPP after terrible itching and my friend says it’s because I’m allergic to pregnancy. Can this be right?
A: It sounds daft, but she’s right in a way. PUPPP, or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, is harmless, but can be distressing. It causes itchy bumps all over the body, which can be worse at night, and can go on for weeks.
One theory is that it’s like an allergic reaction to the hormonal changes of pregnancy – so nothing to do with your body not liking the baby! Try calamine lotion to soothe the itching or place cool flannels on the rash. Some women need a referral to a dermatologist to be prescribed a steroid cream or antihistamines.
It normally disappears after a couple of weeks, but you might find it doesn’t completely go away untila few days after the birth.
2) Am I ready to be a parent?
Q: My pregnancy was planned but I feel incredibly anxious about the responsibility I’m taking on. Is it normal to feel this way?
A: Becoming a mum is a huge life-changing event, so it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Having a baby means lots of physical and emotional upheavals, as well as changes to your relationship and your finances, too.
These aren’t necessarily bad things, but any change is bound to cause anxiety. It’s easy to blame pregnancy hormones for your rollercoaster of emotions – excited one day and a ball of worry the next – but it can be because you’re unsure about how you’ll feel about becoming a mum.
Talk to other mums-to-be, as chances are they’re feeling the same way. And chat to your midwife too, who can keep an eye on you and offer extra support after the birth.
3) Placenta problems
Q. At my 20-week scan the report said that my placenta was anterior. In my last pregnancy it was posterior. Is this important?
A. No. The sonographer will comment on the position of your placenta, but whether it’s anterior or posterior simply depends on where the fertilised egg first implanted itself into the wall of your uterus.
The position of the placenta only becomes an issue if it remains low in the uterus, and covers the cervix. This is called placenta praevia, and a caesarean section would be necessary if the placenta remained over the cervix.
Many women have what is described as a ‘low lying placenta’ but as the uterus grows the placenta usually moves with it, and doesn’t cause a problem. If you have a low-lying placenta you’ll probably be advised to be rescanned at around 34 weeks.
4) Will booze affect my baby?
Q. I didn’t realise that I was pregnant and I had too much to drink one night at a party. Will this have affected my growing baby?
A. This is such a common worry, as many women eat or drink things that we are advised to avoid during pregnancy before they discover that they are pregnant. OK, it’s not ideal that you drank too much alcohol. However, it was just one night, so keep it in perspective. Although binge-drinking can be dangerous during pregnancy – it can affect the baby’s development, as alcohol is a toxin and can damage the baby’s growing cells – the chance of one evening’s over-indulgence causing a problem is actually very small.
Now that you do know you’re pregnant, concentrate on doing what you can to keep you and your growing baby healthy. It is still unclear what level of drinking is harmful, but the Department of Health recommends avoiding alcohol during pregnancy and while trying to conceive. It also says that if you do choose to drink, you shouldn’t drink more than one to two units of alcohol, once or twice a week, and should avoid getting drunk.
5) Waiting for a kick
Q. I’ve just had my 20 week scan and my baby looked fine and was very active. However, I’m still worried about her health as I haven’t felt any movements yet. Is this normal?
A. The time when a pregnant woman can first feel her baby move inside her varies greatly, and although some women report feeling ‘fluttering’ movements at around the 14th week of pregnancy, there are plenty who aren’t aware of anything until around 20 or 22 weeks. As the scan you’ve just had proved, your baby is already moving around, but her efforts are so gentle they’re hard to spot. In fact, you might have already felt them and mistaken them for wind!
Once you’re aware of your baby’s movements, you’ll become more confident in what you’re feeling and, as the weeks pass, they’ll become more definite. From 28 weeks you should be feeling at least 10 movements in a 12-hour period and at around 30 weeks you’ll probably start to work out if it’s a tiny hand or a little elbow poking you. If you have any concerns about your baby’s movements at any time speak to your midwife for advice.
6) I’m terrified about having twins
Q. I’m 28 weeks pregnant with twins. Everyone keeps telling me how wonderful it is but I’m feeling terrified. What if I just can’t cope?
A. Lots of women worry about how they will cope when they’re pregnant with just one baby, so no wonder you’re worried when you’re expecting two. This is where other women who have had twins can be a great source of support to you, sharing practical tips and reassurance that they’ve been where you are and got through it. Ask your midwife if she knows of any other women in your area that have twins who would happy for you to contact them.
Also try TAMBA, the Twins and Multiple Births Association (www.tamba.org.uk), which runs local groups. It would be unusual if you didn’t have times where you worried about coping, but use this time now in your pregnancy to start accessing the help and support that you might appreciate after your babies are born.
7) Heavy discharge – is this normal?
Q. I’m 32 weeks pregnant and my vaginal discharge is far heavier than it used to be. Is this normal?
A. It’s completely normal (some women even have to wear sanitary towels) and is all due to pregnancy hormones. However, if you’re worried you might have an infection your midwife can do a swab.
Towards the end of pregnancy it’s possible to have a watery show (the mucus plug at the entrance of the cervix), which can sometimes be confused with discharge.
Speak to your midwife – if there’s any doubt that it could be a leakage of fluid from around your baby then you need to inform the labour ward, but this tends to be a continual trickle of straw-coloured fluid.
8) I’m pregnant: so who should I tell?
Q. I’ve just found out I’m pregnant – what do I need to do next?
A. You need to sort out getting a midwife, if you haven’t already. Phone your surgery and ask for a booking appointment. You’ll either be seen at the surgery or a midwife will arrange to visit you at home.
The first appointment tends to be the longest, as the midwife will take your medical history and any details of previous pregnancies and births. She’ll also discuss with you the various blood tests, scans and screening tests available, and talk to you about diet and lifestyle. If it’s your first baby, you’ll have around 10 visits (seven with subsequent pregnancies). Your midwife should also provide you with a contact number for her or the team of midwives, so you can contact them if you need to.