Some women don’t experience any morning sickness at although for some it may start around six weeks . You may find that your sense of smell is far more sensitive and certain smells or odours that wouldn’t normally bother you can act as a trigger for your sickness.
There are many things you can try to help alleviate morning sickness, such as:
- Dry crackers, such as cream crackers or water biscuits, can help. Keep some with you wherever you go and nibble as necessary.
- Ginger helps and you can either try ginger tea (grate some fresh ginger into a cup then pour on hot water, leave to infuse and then sip) or you can also buy ginger tea bags which are available in most supermarkets now. Nibbling on ginger biscuits which can help too.
- Eat small meals or snacks throughout the day rather than big meals. This makes digestion easier and helps to keep your blood sugar levels even.
- Drink plenty. Water, ginger tea, squash etc. whatever you can keep down really. Remember if you’re not eating due to your nausea you’re at risk of dehydration, so it’s very important to keep drinking.
- Try sea or travel sickness bands. They are thought to be effective in the relief of morning sickness and you can find them in most pharmacies or some supermarkets.
*If you are suffering from what you consider extreme morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum which may start as early as at four weeks get in touch with your midwife or GP as persistent vomiting may cause dehydration and malnutrition which is not good for you or the baby.
Bleeding or Spotting in Pregnancy
If you notice spotting or start to bleed when you are pregnant it can be terrifying, not just for you but for the baby’s father. Try not to panic as bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean that you are about to miscarry. In fact 1 in 10 women who experience a bleed then go on to full term and have a healthy baby.
Sadly for some women bleeding may be the start of a miscarriage, but there are many other reasons why you may lose blood during pregnancy and during the first trimester it is more common than you might think.
Sometimes the pregnancy hormones take a little while to completely stop your period and this is when what is known as ‘breakthrough bleeding’ happens, usually around the time that you would usually have your period. This can happen up to around the 4th week of pregnancy. Bleeding can also occur when the egg implants itself into the womb (implantation bleeding) or if you are suffering from an infection of the vagina.
Occasionally blood loss can indicate that this is an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the egg implants in one of the fallopian tubes rather than the womb. This happens in around 1 in 100 pregnancies and does require medical treatment to remove the fallopian tube.
Loss of blood in the second or third trimesters can be evidence of:
This happens when the placenta sits low in the womb and the entrance to the cervix is blocked. It is relatively common and is often discovered at your 20 week scan when you will be asked to have another scan in the final trimester to decide whether it will be possible to deliver naturally. You may need to have a caesarean section, although the placenta does move up during the remainder of pregnancy in most cases.
Changes in the cervix can cause bleeding which is usually harmless, it can also occur in the first trimester after intercourse. Bleeding diagnosed after 22 weeks of pregnancy is called placenta abruption and is caused when the placenta detaches itself from the womb. You may experience pain in your abdomen and bleeding, or you may have no symptoms at all. However, pain from placenta abruption can be severe and if you are bleeding you will be scanned and you may be advised to have an early delivery.
A show occurs at around your baby’s due date. This is the mucus plug which has sealed the entrance to the cervix being dislodged and while it might worry you at first, it’s actually an indication that you’ll soon be meeting your baby.
If you experience any spotting or bleeding you should ask your midwife or GP to see you straight away to ensure there are no serious issues. Most women have very good instincts about whether something is wrong and you should always act upon any concerns.
Your stomach and pelvic region will be checked by your midwife or GP, you might need to have an internal examination or ultrasound scan and possibly some blood tests. In the early stages of pregnancy you may have an internal scan rather than a standard scan which allows the sonographer to get a better view of your womb. You will then either be sent home with advice on steps to take, or you may have to stay at the hospital to be monitored for a period of time.
You may already know that getting a good night’s sleep will be a thing of the past once your baby arrives but unfortunately pregnancy can put a stop to that way before you have the baby. During the first trimester you’re likely to feel totally exhausted, more tired than you ever thought possible. -It has been likened to jet lag.
The Bad News
This tiredness is normal and is a result of your body working to protect and grow your developing baby. Your heart is pumping fast and your body is producing more blood while the placenta is also forming so that it can nourish your baby until it is born. It’s hardly surprising you’re tired and during this time you’re likely to be falling asleep at any opportunity.
During the second and third trimesters your growing bump will make sleeping harder. You may find your usual sleeping position is uncomfortable and even moving to get comfortable can be hard work in later stages. You will undoubtedly need to use the loo far more often because your kidneys are working to filter the extra blood circulating through your body (around 30% to 50% more than pre-pregnancy) which produces more urine to dispose of.
Your heart is also working harder to pump the extra blood and this increases your heart rate. Your legs may cramp and your back might ache. This is in part due to hormone changes or possibly be related to the extra weight you’re carrying around. You may also be suffering with heartburn and shortness of breath as your growing bump moves up under your ribcage and squeezes your diaphragm and lungs and your digestive system slows down. You may even suffer with constipation as the wombs presses on your stomach and large intestine.
You might be stressed and worried about the arrival of your baby, their health and the birth, these are all normal worries but they can cause problems for your sleeping pattern. Some pregnant women experience vivid dreams and nightmares too (write these down if you remember, they could be interesting for you to look back on one day).
The Good News
There are things you can do which will help you get better sleep.
Try to find a good position to sleep in early on. Laying on your side with your knees up in the foetal position is going to be most comfortable as you progress through your pregnancy so getting into the habit early will help. This position also helps lessen stress on your heart by stopping the weight of your baby pressing onto the vein called the inferior vena cava which takes blood to your heart from your legs and feet.
You may be advised by your midwife or doctor to sleep on your left side rather than your right. This is because your liver is on the right and laying on your left keeps the weight of your baby off of it and means the best blood flow to the baby, womb and your kidneys is possible.
Pillows placed under your back or between your knees can help, there are also specially designed pregnancy pillows (which many at Dream bear HQ swear by) which are shaped specifically to help support your bump and help you get comfortable.
Don’t be tempted to try over the counter sleep remedies, even the herbal ones, to help you get some rest. They aren’t recommended for pregnant women but there are some things you can try that might help:
- Avoid caffeine in your diet as much as you can. This includes soft drinks, tea and coffee. Remember you can get decaffeinated versions of all of these drinks so you can replace them and if you do have any caffeine try to have it earlier in the day.
- Don’t exercise energetically just before going to bed. Exercise is great in pregnancy but you generally feel more alert and awake after exercising which won’t help you get to sleep. Perhaps try something calmer such as pregnancy yoga or pilates which will help you relax.
- Don’t eat or drink too much just before you go to bed, this will put pressure on your digestive system and bladder which can cause heartburn and increase your trips to the loo.
- If you’re feeling anxious or stressed about the birth or being a parent, think about some natal hypnotherapy, childbirth or parenting classes which may help allay your fears and help you to relax.
- Aromatherapy can be great for relaxation however do check what oils you use as not all are advisable for use during pregnancy.
More good news.... if sleeping at night still isn't happening for you there will never be a more acceptable time for you to nap during the day than during pregnancy so if you need it, take five and have a power nap.
Healthy Eating in Pregnancy
Being a pregnant doesn’t mean you have to go on a special diet however it does mean you should eat as healthily and well as you can to ensure you meet the right balance of nutrients you and your baby needs. You could take a pregnancy supplement of vitamins and minerals, however you should be able to get everything you need from the food you eat. Remember though that you don’t need to eat for two, despite possibly finding yourself much hungrier than you usually do at times.
If you aren’t suffering from morning sickness it’s best to eat meals as normal and avoid snacking on sugary foods high in fat. It’s easy to make small adjustments to your diet so that you are eating a varied and healthy diet. You don’t have to cut out your favourite treats completely, just be sensible.
Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables will provide your body with a great range of vitamins and minerals and fibre to help your digestion. Remember to wash them carefully, particularly if you are eating them raw.
Protein will give you a whole range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. These include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts and pulses. You should avoid liver which has high levels of vitamin A. Always cook eggs and poultry thoroughly and do not have your meat pink or rare.
Carbohydrates (starchy foods) such as pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals, bread, fill you up and are a great source of vitamins and fibre. Use some carbohydrate in each meal and try to eat wholemeal rather than the white processed variety.
Diary foods are important in pregnancy because they are particularly rich in calcium and nutrients that your baby needs to grow. Foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais etc are great and you can choose lower fat versions e.g. semi-skimmed milk.
Avoid fatty foods which are high in calories and likely to make you gain weight. Saturated fat can increase the level of cholesterol in your blood, so cut down on this and go for foods high in unsaturated fat as an alternative.
Food safety in Pregnancy
Preparing your food safely is even more important when you’re pregnant and a few simple rules should make sure you and your baby stay safe.
- Always use a separate chopping board for raw meat
- Always thoroughly wash surfaces and utensils, as well as your hands, after touching raw meat
- Keep raw and cooked foods separately in your fridge to avoid the salmonella, e-coli and campylobacter bugs which cause food poisoning
- Always wash your salads, fruit and vegetables thoroughly, particularly if they have any soil on them. Soil can contain the parasite toxoplasma, which can cause toxoplasmosis
Foods to Avoid
When you are pregnant there are some foods you should avoid because of the risk they will make you unwell or even harm your baby. Your midwife or doctor will be able to advise you of the latest guidelines on foods to avoid but in general you should not eat:
Soft cheese with rinds, such as Camembert or Brie. This is because they are mould ripened, although you can eat these cheeses if they have been cooked. Also, blue cheeses which have veins of blue mould running through them such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton. Again, these can be eaten if they are cooked.
Some soft cheeses and all pate’s, even vegetable pate, contain more moisture and are a perfect environment for bacteria such as listeria. Listeriosis is rare but it is still wise to avoid this illness because even a mild form can lead to miscarriage, serious illness or even stillbirth in babies.
Raw eggs should also be avoided and all eggs should be thoroughly cooked to prevent any risk of salmonella food poisoning. This is unlikely to harm your baby, however it can cause you to have severe vomiting and diarrhoea which can lead to dehydration. This includes dishes which may contain raw eggs such as mayonnaise and mousse. Check packet ingredients on shop bought items to see if they have been made with pasteurised egg, in which case they are fine to eat.
As mentioned previously, liver has high levels of vitamin A and large amounts can cause harm to your baby. You should avoid all products containing liver such as pate, liver sausage and even haggis.
Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat while you are pregnant due to the risk of toxoplasmosis. All meat, including poultry, should be cooked until there is no trace of blood or pinkness and it is piping hot. Take extra care when barbequing to ensure burgers, sausages, kebabs etc. are cooked all the way through. You may have heard of toxoplasmosis because it is found in cat faeces, but it can also be found in meat, soil or water that has not been treated. Infection with toxoplasma can harm your baby but it is very rare in pregnancy.
You can eat most types of fish but should avoid swordfish, marlin and shark. Tuna has high levels of mercury, so you should limit the amount you eat to either two tuna steaks or four (medium sized) cans of tuna per week. High levels of mercury can affect the development of your baby’s nervous system.
Other fish to avoid having too much of are oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout and herring. These contain dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). You should only have two portions of oily fish a week - remember that fresh tuna counts as oily fish but tinned doesn’t, if you’re confused your midwife will be happy to talk you through it. You can eat as much white fish and cooked shellfish (cold pre-cooked prawns are fine to eat) as you like whilst pregnant or breastfeeding.