For first-time mothers, pregnancy can be exciting, scary and rewarding – it can be all those things to veteran moms, too. While experience is typically the best teacher, no two pregnancies are ever the same. What happens for one woman might not happen for another, and what a woman encounters during her first pregnancy might not be the same in her next.
Life becomes more complicated once you learn you are pregnant. Everything changes, from eating and sleeping habits to chronic heartburn and a flood of tears for seemingly no reason. Learning what to expect and how to handle some of those events can be helpful to new and experienced moms alike. Here are eight things you might not have known about being pregnant.
1. Morning sickness isn’t just for mornings. While Duchess Kate Middleton’s hyperemesis gravidarum during her pregnancies may have raised the profile of this condition, there are still plenty of misperceptions around morning sickness. Sometimes it can happen at any time of day, and sometimes it can happen every day for the duration of your pregnancy.
“A few things you can do to help with morning sickness include using ginger, ‘Preggie Pops,’ sour candies and mint candies,” said Whitney Clark, APRN-CNM, a midwife with Kettering Health Network. “You can also try a combination of vitamin B-6 mixed with doxylamine, which is perfectly safe for baby.”
2. You might itch all over. Pregnant women may sometimes experience mild itching, which is common because of an increase in the blood supply to the skin. As time passes, and the baby grows, abdominal skin stretches and may also contribute to the itching. Some women experience severe itching late during the third trimester. This is something to pay attention to because it could be a symptom of a liver disease called cholestasis.
3. Swelling is expected. Due to the additional blood and fluid in your body, some amount of swelling is common when you’re pregnant, especially in the face, hands, legs, ankles and feet. “Swelling can be normal, particularly during the third trimester,” Clark said. “Eat foods low in sodium, drink lots of water to help get rid of excess fluid, lift your feet when you can and stay active.”
Excess swelling plus a headache that won’t go away could be signs of preeclampsia, which is a serious condition that could affect you and your baby’s health. When in doubt, always check with your obstetrician.
4. Invest in pillows. At sometime late in your pregnancy, you’re likely to reach the point where virtually no position is comfortable to sleep in. You might find yourself trying the couch, the love seat, the recliner, the other side of the bed—anything to ease the discomfort in your hips and lower back enough for you to rest. Adding pillows at various points around your body, such as between your knees and supporting your belly, could help.
5. Train your body for delivery. There are plenty of things you can do while you are pregnant to help reduce stress and pain during delivery. Aside from practicing breathing exercises, you also can incorporate daily stretching, doing squats to strengthen the pelvic floor, low-impact cardiovascular exercise and meditation.
6. Varicose veins don't just occur on the legs. The increase in blood volume to the pelvic region during pregnancy can cause blood pools in the veins of your lower extremities, as well as the vulvar region, creating vulvar varicosities. A good support garment, elevating your legs and applying cold compresses to your vulva can help ease the discomfort.
7. Pay attention to increased vaginal discharge. Late in the third trimester, you might notice an increase in vaginal discharge that is clear, pink or slightly bloody. While that could signal the start of labor, be sure to mention an increase to your obstetrician, as it also could indicate a leak in your baby’s amniotic sac, which would expedite your delivery.
8. Prepare to be flexible with your birth plan. Make sure you’re ready mentally for both a vaginal delivery and a c-section. Your birth plan helps define your preferences, but it may need to change based on your individual needs. The true goal is healthy baby and mother.
Learning from experts
It was information like this that Heather Mahaffey wanted to know once she found out she was pregnant. She knew she had a lot to learn with her first child, so she and her husband attended two Kettering Health Network baby fairs.
“I had questions, lots and lots of questions. I had no clue what to expect or what I was doing,” she said. “At the baby fairs, I got information on pediatricians, classes offered for new parents within the network, even nutrition tips. We also were given tours of labor and delivery. It honestly put my mind at ease.”
Later, Heather delivered her daughter at Soin Medical Center and said she had an amazing birthing experience. After having such a positive encounter with a Kettering Health Network facility, she decided to obtain a position as a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) at a family medicine practice in Vandalia.
The next Kettering Health Network baby fair is scheduled for Sunday, April 28, beginning at 2 p.m. at Soin Medical Center (3535 Pentagon Blvd., Beavercreek). This free event will include all the information you might need regarding pregnancy and delivering your baby, along with trivia, balloon artist, face painting, prizes and more. Pre-register now for the fair and be eligible to win prizes. Click here to register and learn more