After two pregnancies and reading hundreds of pregnancy books and magazines I know that there are some vital questions that every woman who is pregnant or planning pregnancy will be asking.
The first step is to have sex. Lots of it. Okay that answer may sound glib but it is the best place to start. If you have decided to no longer leave it to chance an start actively trying then the first thing to do it chart your ovulation. If you have pretty regular periods then you should ovulate around 13 to 15 days after the first day of your period. Have sex regularly during this time and a normally fertile couple will have a 20 – 30% chance of getting pregnant each month. Increase your odds by cutting down on nicotine, alcohol and caffiene and upping your healthy foods. Also make sure you are taking folic acid as this can help reduce the risks of spina bifida taking a vitamin supplement for pregnant women will also help arm your body with everything it needs to protect you and your baby. You can start taking this before you become pregnant. If you have been actively trying for a year and are still not pregnant then you should visit your doctor for advice.
If you feel pregnant but it is still to early for a test. You will be looking for other signs. These are some of the earliest signs of pregnancy. If pregnant you may experience some of these signs.
- Sore breasts and darkened areolas(the skin around your nipples)
- Slight spotting around the time your period was due (known as implantation bleeding)
- Heightened sense of smell
- Food cravings (yes you can get them this early)
- Frequent need to wee
- Tiredness or exhaustion
- Morning sickness
- Missed period
- Positive pregnancy test (a relief to know after all of those “what if”s)
If you have missed a period it is time to take a test. You can take a urine test, either at the doctor’s office or at home, or can see a doctor for a blood test.
The home tests are easier than you think. You just wee on a stick! There are a few things to remember however. Read the instructions of your chosen test fully before retiring to the bathroom. Some tests work days before your period is due, some only work after your period is due. Two rules stay true for either however: the more pregnant you are the stronger the result in the window will be and the first wee of the morning is the best to use as the hormones will be concentrated after 8 hours of sleep and not diluted by the day’s drinks. If you buy a double test to make sure then leave a good amount of time between tests. You can buy a digital test which will say “pregnant/ not pregnant” or a non digital test which will usually have a “+ / -” or one line for not pregnant and two lines for pregnant. A positive is very rarely wrong (even if very faint) but a negative result can be wrong.
Where can you get more information? Books, the internet, your doctor, your midwife. Look and you shall find. There is a wealth of information that you can get from trying for a baby to the pregnancy to the birth, the first few days, al the way to the teenage years. It is useful to be forewaned and forearmed but try not to dwell for too long on the complications sections as you will just needlessly worry about problems that usually have a 1 in a million chance of actually happening. These sources of information will help you to learn what foods to avoid, what tests to expect, what to expect of the birth and how to plan for it and what to buy for your hospital stay and the baby.
If you don’t want to splash out on a book, like to have the most up to date information and want something to carry around in a bag then magazines are for you. As with all other sources of information you can find magazines which are as specific or general as you like and an added bonus is that they usually come with free gifts, recommmendations on what and what not to buy and advice from real people not just medical proffessionals.
If you hear people talk about pregnancy calenders they are usually talking about one of two things. One is a calender used for charting your ovulation to determine the best time to make a baby. The other is a calender of your pregnancy. You can either make your own or buy one. If you just want to keep notes for yourself then any calender or diary will do but if you want to have a record for your child in later life and like to keep informed and bond with your baby throughout the pregnancy then buy one of the many great pregnancy calenders that let you write day by day notes and also gives 4 weekly updates on what is happening to your body and your baby.
Diabetes in pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. This is when the mother has an extradinarly high level of sugar in her blood. It will usually dissapear stright after the birth. Diabetes develops when the body can’t produce enough insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas wihch regulates the amount of sugar available in the blood. If sugar is found in your urine at one of your regular check-ups you will be checked for diabetes with a glucose tolerance test. You will have blood taken, drink a high glucose drink, wait an hour or so then have another blood test to see how your system has handled the glucose. The main risk to your baby is that it will gain too much weight. The treatment will usually just be a controlled diet.
The incidences of multiple births are rising due to IVF treatment. Another determining factor is having twins in your family (usually on the mother’s side) and the age of the mother, over 30 will mean a greater chance of twins. so when will you know? If you are in one of these catagories and have had more severe pregnancy symptoms than are normal then you may well be carrying twins. Your first chance to find out is at your first ultrasound or earlier if your midwife thinks that you are measuring too big for your weeks. You should expect more regular antenatal problems and ultrasounds, sometimes more severe symptoms and weight gain, a slightly earlier birth than your due date (though not always) and of course double the joy.
Guaranteed to be a sore point between couples. You will both have names you love and hate and they will rarely be one you agree on. Some starting points then could be to list the ones you love then see if there are any you can agree on. Each let the other strike off any they hate. To avoid more stress than necessary never ask the opinion of anyone outside of your relationship as you will be bound to get a negative response off about half of them because they hated someone at school with that name. Some starting points could be names: from countries close to your heart, from favourite books or films, of relatives, flower names e.g. Rose, character names e.g. Patience, names of inspiring Saints or even completely made up names. Prepare for disagreements.