Many women who are pregnant for the first time are surprised by the variety of ways that their body starts changing, long before the baby begins to “show.” This is totally normal! We’ve tackled some of the most common pregnancy concerns and questions below.
Q: I’ve been feeling nauseated for the past few weeks, is there anything I can do to feel better?
A: Morning sickness, which can last throughout the day, is sometimes the most difficult part of pregnancy. Typically, it starts to improve by about 13 weeks, as you enter the second trimester. Eating small meals, with healthy fats and protein (foods like peanut butter, cheese, and avocado) can help prevent the decreases in blood sugar that tend to make pregnant women feel even more nauseated. Try keeping snacks in your purse and by your bedside so that you can eat something at the first sign of hunger. Hard candies or ginger chews can help you get through a grocery store run or a passing feeling of nausea. Some women find that seasickness bands worn on their wrists helps decrease their nausea as well. If plain water is unappetizing, try adding lemon or a small amount of juice to give it some flavor. There are several medication options for nausea during pregnancy, so make sure you bring it up at your next prenatal appointment and ask for your doctor’s recommendation. If you’re unable to keep any liquids down, or if you feel dehydrated, dizzy or lightheaded, call your doctor or visit the emergency room for treatment immediately.
Q: I’m SO TIRED! What can I do to get more sleep?
A: Many women feel extremely tired during the first trimester of pregnancy. This usually gets better during the second trimester, and then reappears during the last month or two. It can be difficult to get comfortable at night, especially if you are used to sleeping on your stomach and back, which are not recommended during the second half of pregnancy. Instead, sleep on your side – ideally your left side – for the best circulation. A pillow between your knees can better align your hips, and tucking another one behind your back can help keep you from rolling back over. Special pregnancy pillows are available in various shapes and sizes to help support your weight as your baby grows, though regular pillows often work just fine. Adding a foam pad to the top of your mattress may also help. If heartburn increases at night, avoid large meals and spicy foods late in the evening and try sleeping with your head elevated.Cut down on caffeine or avoid it altogether.
Q: Is it normal to pee a little when I sneeze, laugh, cough or vomit (which I’m doing a lot)?
A: Not fun, but very common during pregnancy due to the extra pressure on the bladder and pelvic muscles. Use the restroom more frequently and use a menstrual pad, as needed, to avoid embarrassment in public. Doing Kegel exercises can help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and help later with delivery. The Mayo Clinic suggests at least three sets of ten repetitions per day. Go to http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/womens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises/art-20045283 to learn more about Kegel exercises.
Q: Is “pregnancy brain” for real?
A: The increase in pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone can affect how mentally “sharp” you feel during pregnancy and shortly after delivery. Also, the fatigue many women experience can make it difficult to concentrate. Your priorities are changing and much of your mental focus naturally shifts to the baby, but your level of intelligence is not decreased. Write things down, list on your calendar those important dates in your phone, and get more sleep if you can. You have a lot going on, so give yourself extra grace during this time.
Q: Is it okay to have sex while I am pregnant?
A: It’s very rare for a doctor to advise against sex during a normal pregnancy. For twins or other high risk pregnancies, be aware that if your doctor says “no sex,” that may include anything that involves orgasm or sexual arousal, not just intercourse.
Q: Will my body return to normal after pregnancy?
A: Don’t expect too much from your body too soon after pregnancy. It takes 9 months to accommodate the baby, so it will likely take the same amount of time to return to your pre-pregnancy figure. It also depends on your genetics, your metabolism, the type of food you’re eating during pregnancy, and your overall fitness level. If you’re concerned, walking is an excellent choice to stay active while pregnant and after delivery, once your doctor has cleared you for exercise. Breastfeeding has also been shown to help your body shed the “baby weight”, especially if it is done for longer than 4 months.
Q: So how much weight should I gain?
A: In the first trimester, “morning sickness,” which can occur at any time of day, and general queasiness may decrease your appetite and actually cause pregnant women to lose weight. This is not unusual. Eating small amounts frequently, especially of high-energy foods like nuts, avocado, whole-grain bread, and hard cheese (think cheddar and provolone rather than feta and cottage), can be helpful. Be sure to drink plenty of liquid to stay hydrated. The overall goal for weight gain depends on your height and pre-pregnancy weight. A doctor can be most precise, but typical estimates are around 25-35 pounds. One common myth about pregnancy nutrition is that a pregnant woman should be “eating for two”. In reality, you only need to consume about 300 extra calories per day, beginning in the second trimester.
If you think you may be pregnant and want to know for sure, Options Medical Clinic provides a FREE pregnancy test and ultrasound. If you aren’t sure what to do, our healthcare professionals can help you figure out your next steps for the pregnancy.
Would you like to learn more about pregnancy, delivery, and care of your baby? Options Medical Clinic offers FREE pregnancy and parenting classes through our Earn While You Learn program. You can choose which topics you’d like to learn more about, while earning essentials for your new baby. Call us at 770.924.0864 to set up your first appointment.