Congratulations on your pregnancy!
By now, you’ll have started to dream of what life will be like with your new bundle, and you may have already started shopping for those tiny bootees and wonderfully soft baby clothes and blankets.
You may have read a guide or two that we’ve already posted regarding pregnancy advice, but in this blog, we’re offering you somewhat of a holy grail.
Real advice, from real mums who really wish they’d known certain things about being a new mum-to-be, as it may have either avoided an embarrassing situation or perhaps even made being pregnant a little easier!
10 tips of what to expect throughout pregnancy
Here, we’ve collated some of the best advice around about what to expect during your pregnancy – and how to cope with it without losing your mind.
1. You’ll worry, a lot
If one thing is for certain, you’ll have a lot on your mind to worry about. Whether you’re considering what to call your little bundle to avoid their name being used against them in the school playground, or wondering whether to breast or bottle feed them when they arrive, or worrying about whether every little niggle, new movement, ache or pain means something may be wrong with your baby, you certainly won’t be alone. However, there’s plenty you can do to allay your worries - at least a little.
Do your research
No one immediately knows everything about pregnancy and parenting as soon as they realise they are pregnant.
There are plenty of books out there that offer advice on pregnancy and what to expect but everyone is different and what works for one pregnancy won’t necessarily work for the next.
Whether you prefer to ask friends and family about their experiences during pregnancy, join online forums, or buy every pregnancy book you can get your hands on, you can be sure that at least some of the advice you get will conflict with other advice you’ve heard elsewhere, which can be frustrating.
When this happens, remember, this is your journey and your baby, and you have to follow a path that works for you. Take pieces of advice that you feel could help you, listen to your body, and use what works for you.
There is, however, some advice that you should take seriously, and that is the advice you receive from your doctor, midwife, or hospital regarding your pregnancy, as they will be giving their advice based on the best interests of you and your baby.
Consider relaxation techniques
Whether your idea of relaxation is a good book and a cup of coffee, or you prefer to relax in the bath, you may find that these usual techniques may not work as well as they used to.
Consider other options if you’re getting stressed and anxious, such as mindfulness, meditation, pregnancy yoga, etc.
However, if nothing is working for you, and you feel overwhelmed with worry, then you may wish to speak to your midwife or doctor to get their advice on other relaxation techniques you can follow.
Ask for help
if you’re feeling overwhelmed with juggling housework while you have morning sickness, or you’re suffering with extreme tiredness during your pregnancy, lean on others for help.
You’re only pregnant for a relatively short time and growing a baby can be tiring work. If you’re offered help, then take it; whether it’s the offer of a lift home from work from a colleague, an offer from your partner to take over the housework completely while you rest up, or simply a friend offering to lend an ear to listen to your worries. You can always return the favour later down the line.
2. You CAN (and often should) exercise while pregnant
Whether you’re as fit as a fiddle or carrying a few extra pounds before you get pregnant, there’s something to be said for keeping fit while you’re pregnant – if you have the OK from your doctor to do so…
If you already exercise on a regular basis then it is usually okay to continue with your current exercise routine. It is important, however, that you listen to your body very carefully and ensure that you don’t overdo it.
Tips for exercising in pregnancy
Make sure that you warm up before you exercise, and don’t forget to cool down as well. Remember to drink plenty of water whilst you are exercising and if you are not able to hold a conversation whilst you exercise then slow down as you are probably working your body a little too hard.
Exercise classes can be very helpful during your pregnancy, but it is important to ensure that the instructor knows you are pregnant and is properly qualified – you may be able to find exercises classes specifically tailored to pregnancy at your local gym. These will have been developed with pregnancy in mind and will help you to make the most of your exercise session without overdoing it.
Types of exercise
If you are not used to regular exercise, then it can be difficult to know what types of exercise can be useful whilst you are pregnant. Swimming is a great choice as the water can offer extra support to your body; especially as your pregnancy progresses.
Ask at your local pool about aqua natal classes. Other things to consider are gentle running, yoga and Pilates. If you are not able to get to a gym or even pregnancy exercise classes, then walking is a great alternative and can be done at your own pace. Alternatively, there are some great exercise DVD’s out there which often have easy exercises you can do at home with a birthing ball.
Doing a little exercise on a regular basis will help you to get your body in good shape and prepare you a little better for the birth of your baby. Organised exercise classes may also offer you the opportunity to meet other mums to be.
3. Lack of sleep begins before birth
Whilst most new mums make no secret of the fact that once your little bundle of joy is here the sleep might be in short supply, what they don’t however tell you is that the problems with sleep can start during your pregnancy as well.
Changes in hormones and, of course, your body, can cause issues with your sleep. Pregnancy insomnia is unfortunately a very real thing.
We have dedicated an entire blog post to this subject but here is a recap of a few things that might help make things easier.
What you eat, and when you eat it, can have a big impact on your sleep. Avoid heavy meals or anything that is too spicy as this can trigger indigestion which can make it very difficult to get to sleep.
While keeping up the water intake is important during your pregnancy, again, don’t drink anything too late in the evening or you will probably need to get up to go to the toilet.
Finding the right position to sleep in can be tricky. You want to be comfortable in order to ensure you get as restful a night’s sleep as possible. Sleeping on your stomach isn’t an option during pregnancy and sleeping on your back is not recommended.
Whilst your other half might be the perfect companion during the day, they probably won’t be as useful at night. A pregnancy pillow on the other hand could be the ideal sleep companion, allowing you to position your body in the most comfortable way to get a restful night’s sleep.
And, better still, your pregnancy pillow wont snore and keep you awake! If you think that investing in a pregnancy pillow is a little expensive, they can also be useful once baby arrives as well, especially if you plan on breastfeeding.
4. Your senses go into overdrive
Even before you find out that you are pregnant you may notice smells. They will be everywhere and, in some cases, overwhelming. It is enough to drive you mad as you enter a room only to be hit by a smell so strong that it makes you feel nauseous.
You may find yourself calling your other half into the room to help you locate the source of the mystery stench, only to have them, infuriatingly, tell you there is no smell.
The hunt for the mystery smell can be unrelenting as you simply must hunt it down and eradicate it before it gets worse. There are a few things that you can do to make things easier.
Little and often
Whilst you are pregnant you may find it easier to deal with the things in your home that might produce a smell on a more regular basis. This means putting the rubbish out a little more often, cleaning your sinks – plugholes can often be the source of even the tiniest smell – and toilets.
This should ensure that your home smells fresher to your suddenly super-sensitive nostrils. If you have pets, you may need to wash bedding more often and in the case of cat’s litter trays, they may need cleaning more regularly.
Due to the risk of Toxoplasmosis, ask someone else in the house to do this for you. If you must do it yourself then ensure that you wear glove and clean your hands thoroughly afterwards.
If you suddenly find yourself gagging at the smell of your favourite foods, then don’t worry, this should pass.
Unfortunately, this is also another side effect of pregnancy that people often don’t tell you about, it can be annoying but for most women once they have had their baby the smell of their favourite dishes no longer makes them feel unwell.
Of course, this does mean that foods you were not fond of before may suddenly become your favourites!
5. Interesting medical issues
You thought you knew your body, well think again! A pregnant body is a totally new thing and it is going to do a whole bundle of things that you never expected.
Everyone knows and accepts that morning sickness is a part of being pregnant and for most women this is something that they will certainly experience but there are plenty of other things your growing body will do that you might not have been expecting.
Some women are lucky to not suffer with any morning sickness whatsoever. However, for the majority, this is an unpleasant condition of the pregnancy that can last well into the first trimester.
Fortunately, as the day goes on this should subside, hence the name morning sickness. However, some women suffer with extreme “morning sickness” or Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).
This is severe nausea and persistent vomiting and can be incredibly debilitating. Your GP can often prescribe medication that can help to keep the symptoms under control because HG can often last until the end of a pregnancy.
We are not talking about the expected area of swelling here, it’s a given that your stomach will swell as your pregnancy progresses. Unfortunately though, this isn’t the only part of your body that might swell.
Your ankles, knees, wrists even your face could all fall victim to swelling due to the additional fluid and blood in your body. Swelling during pregnancy is called Edema and is normal.
However, it is important to keep an eye on it, and sudden swelling, excessive swelling, or swelling that has other symptoms might be cause for concern and needs to be checked out.
Swelling of the feet is especially common towards the end of the third trimester and can often lead to an interesting choice of footwear as you will probably find your normal shoes do not fit. Flip flops in colder weather are perfectly acceptable attire for a heavily pregnant lady!
As if the swelling and sickness isn’t enough to deal with, one other delightful issue you might experience during pregnancy is gas.
We are not talking a little gas, but intense rumbling deep within your tummy, toe curling gas. Unfortunately, there is little that you can do about this one except from smile sweetly and waddle away as fast as you can.
At some point in your pregnancy there is a good chance that you could suffer with haemorrhoids. You might think of this as a problem that older people struggle with, but welcome to the glamour of pregnancy.
Your midwife will be able to point you in the right direction with this symptom and fortunately, solutions are readily available over the counter in any chemists.
6. Back and hip pain
Aches and pains in the back are a common symptom and can start quite early in the pregnancy. As the ligaments in the body loosen up and stretch in preparation for labour this can cause strain on your joints which will result in back pain.
Many women find that the pain is often worse in the evening or after the 28th week of pregnancy. There are however some things that you can do to make the pain more comfortable.
Whilst posture is important at any time, it is particularly important to pay special attention to posture during pregnancy. When you are pregnant the natural curve of your spine will increase as it adapts to deal with the extra weight of your pregnancy – and, of course, your growing bump. It is this that causes the pain, so ensure that you sit in a comfortable chair which offers plenty of back support and a more ergonomic position. When standing try to stand straight as this will avoid the extra pressure on your back.
In addition to pain in the lower back some women can also struggle with pelvic girdle pain (symphysis pubis dysfunction). It is a common condition of pregnancy and many women struggle with it, particularly in the latter half of pregnancy to varying degrees.
The pain is caused as the joints of the pelvis become stiffer and less stable. Using a pregnancy support belt can significantly reduce the discomfort that this brings.
7. Ditch the fashion
Magazines and they television would have you believe that glamorous maternity clothes are the staple of every mum-to-be’s wardrobe.
At the beginning of the pregnancy you will be dying to put on those maternity trousers and cute floaty maternity tops but as your bump gets bigger this “glamorous” wardrobe will be reserved purely for meeting people.
Granny pants and non-wired bras
Cute skimpy maternity knickers might seem like a good idea to some people, but big granny pants can be a good choice as your pregnancy progresses, and you will probably find yourself wearing them for a while after baby is born as well, especially if you have a c-section.
It won’t be long before the discomfort of wearing underwired bras on your ever-growing breasts will have you raiding the lingerie department for the biggest comfiest non wired bras you can find.
Underwired bras are not recommended because they can press on the milk glands in your breasts and cause issues but even before you get to this point you will probably have ditched them anyway.
Your other half’s wardrobe
Those scruffy joggers and over-sized t-shirt in your partner’s wardrobe may suddenly become your slouching around the house clothes. Any clothing as long as it is comfortable goes, every woman who has ever been pregnant knows this, but few will truly admit to it.
8. Nine months is a long time – but it doesn’t always seem like it
The excitement of seeing that positive pregnancy test will soon seems like a distant memory and soon you will be counting your time in weeks as you and your bump reach those all-important goals.
The 12-week scan when you see that first glimpse of your baby and then the 20-week one when you might even find out if you are having a boy or a girl will often fly by. Suddenly half your pregnancy is over, and it seems like the end is in sight.
Whilst the first few months can pass in a flash the last half of your pregnancy can seem like an eternity. If you have already prepared your nursery then there are a few things you might want to consider doing before your baby is finally here.
Once the fatigue of the first trimester is over and the nausea has subsided you will probably find yourself with an extra surge of energy.
This can be a great time to take some time out for yourself and do a few things that you enjoy. Once your baby is here you may not have the time or the energy for a while.
Pack your hospital bags
Whilst you might have a due date to aim for, babies often have other ideas so pack your hospital bags when you get a chance to. You can always repack them as you get closer to your due date, but it can be handy to have them ready just in case.
While some of the advice we’ve given might look like pregnancy is an ordeal to be gotten over, it is, of course, also one of the most exciting times of your life - especially when those first little fluttery kicks begin.
Just go with the flow, don’t wish it over too soon, and most importantly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, cut yourself some slack – you’re doing a great job!