Our bodies grow and change as we nurture a developing life inside. Louisa van den Bergh, founder of Lulubaby, shares all sorts of surprises that pregnancy throws at you…
When you’re pregnant you feel hot (not sexy hot, but sweaty, red-in-the-face hot) and may feel quite uncomfortable. It’s hardly surprising, you have a lot more blood pumping around your body and another person to carry. Once your baby has been born, you may be hoping that all will return to normal, but alas those hormones have the last laugh. You’ll sweat like never before, especially at night. No it isn’t a bad dream, just a post-partum delight to deal with.
Sometimes they double, triple, or even quadruple in size; they can be tender and really hurt. If you escape with little change at first, be prepared for when your baby arrives and your milk comes in. Boobs can become enormous, hard and lumpy and will literally fill with milk. Your nipples and areolae (area around them) can get bigger and you may notice little bumps on the areolae. These are normal, they release oily fluid and help prevent chafing. Don’t be alarmed if they look really veiny, they’re doing a precious job so more blood flow is needed in that area. If feeding is very painful do seek help.
Don’t be alarmed if ‘down there’ swells up a bit and looks different/larger – this is normal and not permanent. Truth is, many first-time mums will need some stitches either because they have torn or been cut (episiotomy) to make way for their baby’s head. But mums should be encouraged to know that you do normally heal beautifully. It may sting to pee (make sure you have a jug of warm water by the toilet) and sitting will be painful but it will pass. Before your baby arrives, spend some time on perineal massage (yep that’s massaging or even stretching – try the Epi-no – with a nice oil).
You have all heard of pregnant ladies having luscious locks, this is because it doesn’t really fall out like normal. But were you aware other parts of your body may become a little more hirsute? Hairy tummies and faces are pretty common and this extra growth is thanks to those pregnancy hormones and extra blood raging through your system. Unfortunately once your baby has been born, that luscious hair will begin to fall out though.
Many women suffer with an impaired digestive system during pregnancy. You may also develop haemorrhoids (piles), nasty swollen veins around your rectum. Unfortunately once baby is born, a little more discomfort may come your way before things improve. If you’ve had a c-section, constipation is a common problem as iron supplements (if you’ve lost blood) or certain painkillers will block you up. Stock up on high-fibre food and keep well hydrated.
ANOTHER TRIP TO THE LOO
Weeing all the time is commonly an early sign of pregnancy but happens again in later pregnancy. Your bladder has a huge weight bearing on it, and you feel the need to go all the time. This may happen when you’re not actually on the loo. Once your baby’s born, and depending on how big they are and how they were delivered, you may find you’re leaking down there again. Remember to work on your pelvic floor muscles early.
MOTHER OF ALL PERIODS
Most mums would agree one of the best things about pregnancy is the months spent period-free. Some do bleed during the first few weeks, and should always seek medical help, but for many it’s a lovely break. Once your baby has been born, you are greeted, however, with the mother of all periods, known as lochia and this can last up to six weeks.
KICK, KICK, KICK
Feeling your baby kick makes pregnancy feel more real and is a wonderful moment. But those first few gentle movements can develop into forceful kicks. You can see your stomach move and it can really hurt especially when their feet are poking right up into your ribs.
TEARS. LOTS OF THEM
Most women know pregnancy may make them a little emotional. After your baby’s arrived, pregnancy hormones dive, and your milk-making hormones rise, causing a massive hormonal shift. This frequently results in tears on day three or four (often when your milk comes in). Even if everything’s peachy, chances are you will cry but for most mums this is short-lived. However if the tears come every day there is a chance post-natal depression may develop, where medical attention should be sought immediately.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?
For many mums the moment they first meet their baby it is love at first sight. For many others, this is not always the case. This is completely normal and not a reason to feel guilty. It can take time to bond with your baby, especially if his birth was not easy or breastfeeding is proving challenging. Give yourself time and you’ll soon realise you have fallen completely in love with your baby.