Our answers to your questions
Their effectiveness has yet to be proved. These diets are restrictive, unpleasant to follow, and often unbalanced. After all, there’s only a fifty-fifty chance of getting it wrong!
It is believed to be triggered by hormonal variations in early pregnancy, but its exact cause is not clear. Some women don’t experience it at all. The right approach: Make sure your tummy isn’t empty for too long. Avoid strong smells that can make you feel queasy. If your nausea becomes too unpleasant, speak to your doctor. Good news! It tends to disappear in the 12th week of pregnancy.
Feeling fatigued is caused by progesterone, a hormone that is produced in large quantities during pregnancy. During the first months, the mere sight of a pillow will put you to sleep. In the last months, insomnia may become the issue instead. Don’t resist sleep. Get a few extra hours of sleep whenever you can, as your body needs the rest to fully experience this great adventure.
Again, you will have 9 months to prepare for this. Twin pregnancies are not massively different from classic pregnancies. Naturally, Mum will gain on average 3 to 4 extra kilos. With less space in the tummy, babies will be born earlier. But rest assured, this is generally just a fortnight before the birth of a mature single foetus.
This infectious disease is caused by a parasite. While it is usually benign, it can have serious consequences on babies of pregnant mothers who were not exposed to the parasite before their pregnancy.
How does contamination occur?
You can get toxoplasmosis by eating infected raw meat, unwashed raw fruits and vegetables, and contaminated water. This is why it is best to eat well-cooked foods and to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. More rarely, the illness can also be transmitted from infected cat faeces.
- A morphological examination of the baby: general observation of the foetus’s development and organs, and detecting any genetic anomalies and malformations.
- A biometric study of the foetus: monitoring growth by measuring the limbs, skull, and diameter of the abdomen.
- To check on the baby’s vitality: responsiveness, limb mobility, respiratory and cardiac motion, swallowing.
- To monitor the uterine environment: amniotic fluid volume and condition, placenta implantation and location.
These are painless and totally innocuous tests, both for you and for your baby.
Why? Because these scans use ultrasound technology, which can go through tissues, bounce on an obstacle, and come back transmitting extremely detailed images of the foetus and its organs.
Beforehand: the practitioner will ask you not to apply creams, gels, or other substances on your abdomen the week before your scan.
You will also be asked to drink a lot of water to enlarge your bladder.
During the scan: the practitioner will apply gel on your skin and slide the ultrasound probe across the entire examination area.
This is a very moving moment; you will hear your baby’s heartbeat and see images of her.
Pregnancy hormones stimulate the glands that stimulate perspiration. All folds of skin (armpits, chest) are prone to this.
The right approach: Use soap with a neutral pH. Wear cotton clothing. Choose a deodorant without paraben, or try talcum powder. Your doctor will advise you.
This type of complaint is common and can have 2 causes:
- hormonal: progesterone, a hormone that is produced in higher amounts during pregnancy, can disrupt digestion.
- mechanical: towards the end of pregnancy, the uterus presses on the stomach, triggering reflux.
What can I do about it?
- Do not lie down right after eating, avoid large meals at night, and elevate your head a bit when sleeping.
- Avoid acid foods (pickles, vinegar, citrus fruit, etc.), stimulants (tea and coffee), fizzy water and soft drinks, and high-fat foods.
- When in doubt, ask your doctor.
In the 1st trimester, this is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy arising from hormone changes. In the 3rd trimester, this is caused by an increasing pressure on the bladder and uterus and by the baby’s movements.
Not drinking in order to urinate less is not the right solution: regular hydration is essential. By letting thirst set in, you are harming your cells and your baby’s cells. Drink at least 1.5 litres of water throughout the day.
This is primarily a mechanical issue: as your growing uterus presses on your digestive system, it hinders evacuation. Progesterone, a hormone that is produced in high amounts, can disrupt digestion. Pregnancy also tends to coincide with being more sedentary, and this reduced physical activity can cause constipation.
The right approach:
Drink lots of water, preferably enriched in magnesium. Eat more fibre-rich foods (vegetables, fruit, whole grains, etc.). Be more active: walking for half an hour every day will help solve the problem if you are not too tired. Talk to your doctor, who will give you advice.
This kind of pain might make you worried that you are having a miscarriage.
At the start of pregnancy, these cramps are caused by changes in your uterus.
Later on in pregnancy, pelvic joints gradually loosen in preparation for birth.
Try to relax and rest. Talk to your doctor if the pain persists.
At the start of pregnancy, this light bleeding is a normal sign of pregnancy. While you may be concerned, most of the time it is not dangerous. Spotting marks the time when you would have had a period. It can also be caused by the fertilised egg implanting in the lining of the uterus. If in doubt, ask the doctor or midwife who is following you.
Cramps tend to come at night starting in the second trimester of pregnancy. They can be due to circulatory disorders and to deficiencies in B vitamins or calcium.
There are several types of muscle pain: lumbar pain, pelvic and lower abdomen pain, pain in the ribs or buttocks. They are caused by postural changes in the spine. They are a secondary effect of hormonal changes or of vitamin deficiencies. Rest alleviates this type of pain. If it persists, your doctor will advise you.
This is a circulation problem, a problem many pregnant are prone to.
The right approach: Rest and keep your legs elevated when you are lying down to increase your venous flow. Your doctor may also prescribe compression stockings for support. Avoid hot baths, and heat in general. Do not stand for long periods without moving. Here again, walking and swimming are solutions to keep your blood flowing. Ask your doctor for advice.
This pain is due to the increasing weight of your baby and to your centre of gravity shifting, caused by your tummy growing rounder and heavier.
The right approach:
Watch your posture: avoid arching your lower back, try to hold yourself upright by tilting your pelvis, to create less strain on the lower back. Never be tempted by self-medicating.
If your pain is too much to bear, please see your doctor.
These dark spots on white skin or light spots on darker skin generally appear in the 4th to 6th month of pregnancy. They disappear provided you don’t expose yourself to the sun.
This hyperpigmentation is caused by hormonal changes: the spots mostly appear on the forehead and upper lip, creating that mask effect.
Apply day cream with a high sun protector factor daily, and sunblock if you will be going in the sun. Protect your eyes with sunglasses; wear a hat and t-shirt.
The bane of pregnant women, these zebra markings reveal where the skin’s elastic fibres have torn. Their initial purple colour eventually fades, leaving pearly white traces.
They result from a genetic predisposition. Excessively rapid weight gain further stretches tissues, aggravating the phenomenon. Massaging stretch marks with a special moisturising cream or with sweet almond oil daily for at least 5 minutes may mitigate their appearance.
The onset of labour is not always obvious, especially if this is your first pregnancy. One of the main signs of labour is long, regular, painful uterine contractions, which you will feel in the abdomen and lower back.
- They have a distinctive rhythm,
- They will come closer and closer together and will be increasingly longer, intense, and painful,
- You will start “checking out” from reality,
- Walking between contractions will be difficult.
Good to know:
Try not to stiffen your body when a contraction comes. Instead, relax your muscles and focus on breathing deeply to enhance dilation.
- Though you may not notice it, your mucous plug will dislodge about 24 to 48 hours before the real onset of childbirth. This happens as the cervix starts to open.
- Waters break: the amniotic sac may break at different moments. Sometimes, your midwife will break the waters herself. This causes a whitish liquid to leak. Amniotic fluid continually replenishes, so your baby will continue to bathe in it until birth.
In all three cases, it is time to head for the maternity unit. If you are travelling, try to lie down or to keep your body reclined. If you are giving birth at home, call your midwife.
If birth is imminent, you will receive immediate care.
Otherwise, you will have time to fill out paperwork. You will first head to the examination room, where a midwife will check your weight, blood pressure, temperature, and will measure your dilatation to see how far along you are. As your cervix dilates, you will be taken to a room where you will be monitored by midwives before heading to the delivery room.
Your midwife will support you through every stage. Trust her, tell her what you are feeling, listen to her advice, and follow her guidelines.
Babies know how to regulate their appetite and feel when they no longer need to eat. Once they are full, babies will naturally stop feeding.
Pregnancy is what transforms your breasts, not breastfeeding. Wear a special bra for as long as you are breastfeeding for adequate support and easy access to your breasts.
Once you get used to breastfeeding, it will be no trouble at all to do so discretely.
Wear loose clothing or wrap yourself in a shawl.
Your doctor or chemist will be able to tell you if your medicine is compatible with breastfeeding or not. This will also depend on your baby’s age and weight. You should generally avoid self-medicating.
Engorgement happens when mammary glands produce too much milk, which tends to happen when your baby is not feeding frequently enough. Your breast will become swollen, red, and painful. The nipple will flatten out, making it hard for your baby to latch on. For relief, encourage the flow of milk by feeding your child, by expressing it manually, or using a breast pump.
When your baby is 3 months old, she can take a bottle when you are at work and be breastfed when you are home. Let-down may be a bit tricky, though.
You can continue breastfeeding by using a manual or an electric pump to express milk for bottles when you are away. But follow strict hygiene rules to store your milk: sterilise all equipment and keep your milk in the coldest part of your fridge, at 4° C (not in the door).
Your doctor or your child’s paediatrician will advise you and help you navigate this important milestone.
Follow-on and second stage milks contain nutrients that are essential to the growth and development of your child, in accordance with current regulations.
They have been carefully formulated to meet the requirements of infants aged 6 to 12 months who are starting complementary feeding.
You will ideally have several; allowing for a rotation between meals when you are washing and sterilising them. They must all meet the same infant safety requirements.
Bottles come in glass and in plastic, in varying shapes and sizes:
- glass bottles are more resistant to sterilisation and to frequent washing. They hold the heat well, but are heavier, and more breakable. They are good for starting out.
- plastic bottles will quickly end up looking duller, but are solid and light. Offer them when your baby is able to hold them by herself.
Most importantly, the markings on the bottle should be clear and easy to read.
At this age, even if her diet is more like yours, growing-up milk is still a crucial food. It is therefore essential for your child to continue drinking 500mL of growing-up milk a day.
These foods are generally too oily, salty, and/or sweet. They are nutritionally worthless, as they mostly have low vitamin and mineral contents. It is therefore a good idea to restrict these to special occasions. Your child will enjoy them even more!
Sweets have no nutritional value, but do bring pleasure.
Let your child have a sweet now and then or for special occasions, preferably after meals.
It is best not to feed your child in between meals. Make sure that they eat enough at mealtimes. If your doctor finds their growth chart normal, there is no need to restrict them, as long as you make sure they are getting a balanced diet. For example, you might increase their vegetable portion, and offer a small piece of bread.
Her growth chart is the only valid marker that your doctor will be monitoring. If the doctor says it is normal, that means that your child is eating what she needs. Never force your child to finish and adapt quantities depending on her needs and appetite. It is better to start with small helpings and to serve give your child more as needed.
Baby at home
Your baby must learn to fall asleep again by herself in between sleep cycles. If she sleeps through the night, she will go back to sleep—otherwise, she will wake you up. Lying alone on her back, in the dark, she is crying for reassurance.
Help her find her own rhythm, with minimal intervention: lay her down in her bed, gently stroke her head to reassure her, and wait for her to go back to sleep by herself, even if she cries a little.
Practising at naptime will make this easier to do at night.