Monday, 22 December 2014
Top 10 pregnancy questions answered
From 'How will I know I'm in labour?' to 'I feel so tired all the time. Is this normal?' are just some of the questions identified as the most asked pregnancy questions.
The top questions women have during pregnancy have today been revealed by Start4Life's Information Service for Parents.
To identify common themes, a survey of 4,508 expectant women was carried out to find out what questions they had at this stage in their lives. From this over 53,576 distinct questions were identified, the most popular of which were then ranked by pregnant women, women who had recently given birth and mothers of older children to find the most common questions.
With the help of the experts working on the Pregnancy + app, we answer the top 10 most asked pregnancy questions:
1. How often will I get an ultrasound?
You will be routinely offered two ultrasound scans. Your first scan will be around 12 weeks pregnant. They also call this the 'dating scan' because this is where they can calculate your due date. Around 18-21 weeks the 'anomaly' scan will take place to check that your baby is developing normally.
2. How much weight should I gain? What is considered average?
The amount of weight that you should gain during your pregnancy depends partly on the weight that you started out with. Whether you are having one baby or two or multiple babies will also play a factor in determining your optimum weight gain over the nine months of your pregnancy. This will be something you will discuss with your doctor early on in your pregnancy. An underweight woman will need to gain more weight to support her pregnancy and her baby's needs, while an overweight woman will likely not need to gain quite as much. Most pregnant women gain between 25 and 35 pounds (11 and 16 kilos), putting most of the weight on after week 20.
It may seem like a lot of extra weight, but much of this weight is for temporary and necessary pregnancy requirements. Putting on too much or too little weight may lead to health problems for you or your unborn baby, so it's important to discuss your ideal weight gain with your doctor early on in your pregnancy.
3. I feel so tired all the time. Is this normal?
With everything that is going on inside your body, it's normal that you're probably feeling exhausted these days. Especially in the first 12 weeks, due to all the hormonal changes. The best thing you can do is try to rest as much as possible, eat a healthy diet, do regular mild exercise, and drink lots of water to keep hydrated.
Later on in pregnancy, you may feel tired because of the extra weight you are carrying. It can also be difficult to get a good night's sleep as your bump gets bigger. Try to get extra sleep when you feel you need it and don't feel guilty about napping in the middle of the day.
4. Which foods should I avoid eating during pregnancy?
Avoid soft cheeses with white rinds, and blue chees. These cheeses are only safe to eat in pregnancy if they've been cooked. Avoid pâté and liver as they are high in vitamin A. Too much of this vitamin can be harmful to your developing baby. Avoid raw eggs, raw shellfish and raw meat. Partially cooked eggs, shellfish and meat are also unsafe as it may still contain and promote bacterial growth. Avoid high-dose multivitamin supplements and fish oil supplements. Avoid shark, swordfish or marlin, and limit the amount of tuna you eat.
In addition to the foods you must avoid, there are beverages as well that should be avoided or taken in limited amounts such as caffeinated drinks. Certain herbal teas may be harmful, and alcohol should be totally avoided.
5. Which exercises should I avoid?
While many exercises are safe during pregnancy, there are others that need to be avoided. Some of these carry the risk of falling or contact injury, some carry risks due to certain positions and some are simply unsafe.
It's important to avoid:
• Lying on your back during exercise, particularly after 16 weeks, as this places pressure on the large blood vessels in your back and can interfere with proper blood flow
• Contact sports such as kickboxing, football and judo
• Scuba diving, as there is no protection against decompression and this can result in the formation of gas bubbles in the blood
• Sports that have the risk of falling such as horseback riding, hockey, and gymnastics
• High impact exercises that strain ligaments and joints
• Certain yoga positions
• Water skiing is not recommended due to risk of abdominal injuries
• Downhill skiing should be avoided; however, cross-country skiing can still be enjoyed
• Don't exercise at heights over 2,500m above sea level until you have acclimatized, to avoid the risk of altitude sickness
The risk of developing strains increases during pregnancy, as your body produces relaxin, a hormone that loosens your ligaments and joints to prepare for birth.
During exercise you need to ensure that you are drinking enough water and if at any point you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous or short of breath, stop doing the exercise. Too much exercise can lead to a low birth weight baby, so it's important not to overdo it and to discuss your exercise frequency and duration with your doctor.
For some women it is not advisable to exercise due to certain risk factors, which can be harmful. Some of these are:
• Previous miscarriage
• Severe anaemia
• High blood pressure
• Cervical weakness
• Vaginal bleeding
• Heart or lung disease
• Low-lying placenta
6. What are important pregnancy "super foods"?
During pregnancy, you need to pay special attention to your diet. The foods you eat must be nutritious to give your baby the best fuel for proper development. They should also provide the nutrients your body needs to carry your baby to full term.
Some examples of super foods are:
• Bok Choy
• Sweet potatoes
• Wholegrain cereals
You should aim to include approximately 15 percent of your total calories from lean protein, 55 percent from carbohydrates and no more than 30 percent from (healthy) fats.
It's important to realise that even though a large percentage of total calories comes from carbohydrates, it is the complex carbohydrates that should be eaten, as they take longer to digest, and help to regulate your blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and may give you a spike of energy, but they will also increase your blood sugar. The best carbs to eat are complex carbs, such as whole grain cereals, breads, pastas, spinach, wild and brown rice, broccoli, celery, cucumber, cauliflower and soy milk to name a few.
When choosing your food, it's important to pay attention to the type of fat it contains. Healthy fats include olive oil (and other similar oils), nuts, fish (they contain omega 3s), avocados and tofu.
It's easy to see a pattern among the healthy foods you should be consuming – they are the foods that are close to their natural state; the way nature intended them to be.
In addition to the foods mentioned above, you need to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables every day. It's also important to be sure that you include high-fibre foods in your diet and drink plenty of water. All of these factors will contribute not only to a healthy pregnancy but also to a healthy mother and baby.
7. I have frequent backache. Is there anything I can do?
Back pain is a common, although an uncomfortable pregnancy symptom. In order to prevent it, try doing regular exercise and stretches. This will give you a better posture. Also avoid both heavy lifting and twisting while lifting. You should ensure that while lifting anything, you do so with your knees and not with your back, and hold the object you lift close to your body. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) are good for you, as is swimming. Another great idea is to join a pregnancy yoga class, but always check with your doctor or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that exercising in water, massage therapy, and group or individual back care classes might help to ease back pain in pregnancy.
If your backache is very painful, ask your doctor to refer you to an obstetric physiotherapist at your hospital. They can give you advice and may suggest some helpful exercises.
8. I get short of breath easily. Should I be concerned?
8. When you're pregnant, the hormone progesterone changes the way oxygen is absorbed into your bloodstream. Progesterone directly affects your lungs and stimulates the respiratory centre in your brain. This means your body is actually processing oxygen more productively and as a result you are breathing more deeply (whether you realise it or not). As your pregnancy continues and your baby grows, you will likely notice this more due to your uterus pressing on your diaphragm. However, if you experience trouble breathing while lying down, chest pain, or severe breathlessness, seek medical help immediately. Shortness of breath that comes on suddenly or becomes severe could be a sign of a serious medical problem, call your doctor right away.
9. What is my due date?
Pregnancy normally lasts between 37-42 weeks, on average 280 days, calculated from the first day of your last period. The extra two weeks at the beginning, is added because gestational age is counted starting from the last menstrual period (LMP), rather than from the actual date of conception (or ovulation). So when your midwife says you are 4 weeks pregnant, you are actually physically only 2 weeks pregnant.
You can use a due date calculator to work out when you might expect your baby to arrive. This will give you a rough idea. As part of your antenatal care, your midwife or obstetrician will probably also offer you a dating scan (ultrasound) around 12 weeks pregnancy. This scan will give you a more accurate date for the birth of your baby.
10. What tests can I expect? Why do I need to get tested?
- Weight and height check (BMI check)
- Antenatal urine tests (test for infection or pre-eclampsia)
- Blood pressure check (to check for hypertension)
- Blood tests (check for particular infection or conditions such as Rhesus disease, anaemia and diabetes).
- Blood group (it is useful to know your blood group in case you need to be given blood during labour)
- Abnormality screening (to check that your baby is developing normally).
- They will also test for thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia (if you are at risk), tay sachs disease (if you or your partner are Jewish) and cystic fibrosis (if there is a family history)
- Screening tests for spina bifida and Down's syndrome (gives you time to prepare for the arrival of a baby with special needs, or to consider termination of an affected pregnancy). You can choose not to be tested and your choice will be respected.
- Screening for inherited disorders
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalised medical advice.
All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.