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Keeping open lines of communication between you and your midwife will help you to relax and enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible. But even if you do have an easy and good rapport, there are some questions which, no matter how carefully worded, could be classified as too much information. Which is why we’ve written this intriguing article.
At Huggies we believe that no question is off limits or too personal to be answered. So we’ve gathered together, in no particular order, the ten most popular embarrassing questions from pregnant mums, just so you don’t feel you’re alone.
You’re not the first pregnant woman to wonder about this and you won’t be the last. Many women worry that their partner will be turned off sex with them for life if they watch their baby being born. And if the truth be told, it’s not such an uncommon fear for prospective partners either. Seeing a large head being forced out of a small space is very confronting and can come as quite a shock, no matter how well prepared you both are.
Some partners love to get where the action is and up close and personal to the vagina as the baby is being born. The idea of not watching as closely as possible and perhaps missing out on something is just not an option. This prime vantage point of course gives a much different view than standing by the woman’s side. If you’d prefer your partner not to see all the graphic details of your vagina stretching and your anus bulging, then say so during your pregnancy. You get to decide what your partner’s role is as your support person and if you’d prefer them not to be down the business end but closer to your head then say so.
But sex feels so different now!
You and your partner will find that sex changes after you have your baby, particularly if you have a vaginal delivery. Because of the stretching from childbirth, your vagina will feel bigger and not as tight as it did before you have children. Despite how careful you are about doing pelvic floor exercises it’s unlikely you will ever regain exactly the same level of tone in your vaginal muscles. But this is something which couples just deal with and the majority find that sex is equally as pleasurable as it was before.
Whatever you call it, wind, farting, fluffing…pregnant women do tend to pass more wind. It’s just a fact of life. Controlling where and when to let go can be completely out of your control and before you know it, you’ve done one. This is bound to happen at some stage of your pregnancy but honestly, just try and laugh it off. Any other pregnant woman will understand and so will other mothers. We’ve all been there.
The reason why farting in pregnancy is more common is due to simple biology. The bowel lies adjacent to and behind the uterus. As pregnancy advances, the poor old bowel needs to compete for space. This is one of the reasons why constipation is more common during pregnancy – space becomes an issue. Progesterone is a relaxing hormone and it helps the muscles and ligaments in the pelvis relax and prepare for birth. But it also changes the tone of the bowel so it does not work as efficiently.
If you’re bothered by excess “flatus”, then consider if your diet could do with some changes. High fibre foods such as beans, vegetables, wholegrains and dried fruits can create more wind. So you may want to limit your intake of these and go for the more bland and easy to digest alternatives.
Vaginal mucous secretions increase during pregnancy. The hormonal effects of oestrogen and progesterone have a direct effect on the mucous producing cells of the vagina and cervix. This helps to protect the mother and her baby from infection.
A normal vaginal discharge is clear or yellow/cloudy in colour. It is generally colourless, odourless and not a problem. However, if a vaginal infection is present, vaginal mucous can become smelly and its colour changes. It can also be very irritating and increase in amount. If you feel you have a vaginal infection then it’s important to speak with your midwife or maternity care provider. There are a range of very effective treatment options.
Showering at least once a day and careful washing helps to keep the vagina and vulval area clean. Most pregnant women find they need to change their underpants a couple of times a day. Alternately, panty liners can help to absorb excess vaginal mucous and to let you feel dryer. But these need changing a couple of times a day, even if they aren’t particularly wet.
You could find that toilet paper just isn’t enough to feel clean after you’ve done a wee or a poo. Try using a moist wipe or even nappy wipe to freshen up. But be aware that you can’t flush these down the toilet. You’ll be up for some pretty hefty plumbing costs if you do.
If you are having a vaginal birth then the chances are very high that you will. Avoiding this is almost impossible. Some women try to “hold on” during the pushing stage because for fear of doing a poo, but there comes a point where this is impossible.
In the “olden” days labouring women were given enemas. This involved a tube being inserted into their rectum and warm water and liquid soap flowing into the lower bowel. This certainly had the desired effect of emptying the bowel of poo. These days a small Microlax enema may be given if it’s been a while since having a poo.
A full bowel can delay the descent of the baby’s head and it does make for a rather messy birth. Tell your midwife if you’ve been bothered by constipation and if your bowel feels full and you’re uncomfortable.
Midwives are very used to dealing with poo. In fact, they don’t think anything of it and as much as it may pain you to hear this, your poo is not any different to anyone else’s. They see it all the time in some shape or form. Midwives are used to wiping away what comes out (usually in the most discrete way possible) so that the poo does not come into contact with the baby. It also helps to keep the area for delivery relatively clean.
Not unless you don’t shower and have a pelvic examination immediately afterwards. It’s normal to have some vulval swelling and engorgement during and after sex but this quickly settles. Just like at any other time, it just makes good hygiene sense to shower and change before seeing a health professional. Apart from your own comfort it is just demonstrates a little respect and consideration for someone who’s about to get up close and personal. Check here for more information about safe sex during pregnancy.
There’s nothing you can do; but be reassured that most babies are not particularly attractive when they are first born. They are often covered in vernix (the white greasy substance which helps to keep their skin soft), blood and mucous. They are wet, may be blue in colour and not look anything like what you expected. Your baby may have lots of hair or be completely bald, his or her features may look very squashed up and their head misshapen. There are all sorts of variables when it comes to a newborn’s appearance. You may look at your baby and see features which remind you of yourself, a family member or no one in particular – they just look like themselves.
A baby’s face changes considerably over the first few days following birth. Birth pressure which caused swelling and puffiness will settle and little features which were almost undetectable at birth become more obvious. Their nose, which may have first appeared so big, is likely to simply reduce in size and shape. And that little blue little face which came as such a shock, has become pink and really, isn’t so bad after all.
Your baby is designed by nature to help you fall in love with them. Even if your baby is not as pretty or lovely as you hoped they would be. Give yourself and your baby time to get to know each other. Once they have more in their past than just their birth and they become a little person, you will see them in a completely different way.
There’s a big difference between gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight and becoming overweight or obese. Don’t think you’re being shallow and vain by worrying about your weight gain. In fact, you’ll be doing yourself and your baby a big favour by watching your kilojoule intake.
We used to think that pregnancy was an excuse to let all dietary restraint fly out of the window and for a pregnant woman to eat everything she wanted. But current guidelines are very clear that excess weight gain during pregnancy is directly related to an increase in risks. Check what your pre-pregnancy BMI (Basal Metabolic Index) was before you conceived and this will give you an indication of how much you should gain.
Avoid thinking that you need to eat for two. You only need to eat for yourself and “a bit”. If you aim for a total weight gain of 10-12 kgs over the entire term of your pregnancy you’ll be doing OK.
No, you are not. Some women just love being pregnant, some hate it and others feel quite neutral. This is just a fact of life. Some women, if given the choice would be pregnant all the time. They really love the whole “Mother Earth” aspect of growing a baby and how it makes them feel. Other women feel that every day of their pregnancy is a burden and can’t wait until “it’s” out.
Very rarely, pregnancy can create feelings of intense unhappiness and dissatisfaction. If you feel this way then it’s important you speak with your midwife or another healthcare professional. Feeling resentment towards yourself or your baby during your pregnancy is a sign that all is not well.
However, if you are like most pregnant women then you’ll have days when you’ll think pregnancy is the most wonderful condition in the world. You’ll feel comfortable, happy and all will be great. And other days won’t be as harmonious. Your feet will ache and swell, you’ll spend more time on the toilet than anywhere else and heartburn will feel like its eating away at your insides. Be reassured that usually discomfort is limited to the last trimester when space becomes a premium.
If you are unsure who could be your baby’s father, you don’t need to wait until they are born to find out. It is possible to have paternity testing done during pregnancy – however, not before 10 weeks of gestation. Before then the level of baby’s DNA in the mother’s blood is insufficient to accurately measure. By ten weeks a blood test can be taken to see what the levels are and determine paternity.
Another option is chorionic villus sampling, where cells from the placenta are collected. Again, this cannot happen before 10 weeks gestation though it does carry a risk of miscarriage. Amniocentesis is another way to check DNA and can be done up to the 21st week of gestation.
You may want to wait until after your baby is born to check their paternity. A swab is collected from inside the baby’s cheek and the cells examined for paternal DNA.
Some mothers are very keen on having a boy or a girl baby and really don’t want to consider the alternative. Expectation can be very high, especially for parents who are trying for a particular sex. It’s one thing to know the statistical odds are around 50% chance for each (slightly higher for boys), it can still be hard to have your heart set on a boy or a girl. If you are disappointed, you won’t be the first. Be reassured though that you will learn to love your baby and that time will help.
If you have not been told what gender your baby is (through ultrasound or genetic testing) then assume you’ve got a fairly equal chance of having either gender.
Yes you can as long as they are available. Like any relationship, the one you have with your midwife may be good or otherwise. As a health consumer you are within your rights to request another midwife to care for you. Similarly, if a midwife is not comfortable caring for you, she/he is within their rights to request a transfer.
What’s important is that you feel comfortable, confident and at ease. If for some reason this isn’t the case then ask politely if you could arrange for another midwife to care for you. Simple.
This article was written by Jane Barry, midwife, child health nurse, freelance parenting consultant, copywriter and director of www.mybabybaby.com.au