Being a midwife is a wonderful job. It’s an incredible thing to watch a woman become a mother. Each birth shapes women and their families in new and different ways. Challenges might be different; pregnancies straightforward or more complicated, fast births, high-tech births, breastfeeding, bottle feeding. There are so many paths to choose from and different choices along the way. However, the more we watch women as they grow as mothers, the more we are convinced that similarities outweigh differences. For starters, we all have the same questions! No question is silly (and we have had a lot of questions in our time) and if you aren’t asking it, we can bet someone else will be! In this post I have brought together some commonly asked pregnancy questions and in the weeks to come we will look at specific birth, feeding and postnatal questions. Watch this space!
Will I be pregnant forever?
It might feel that way but I promise you, your pregnancy will end at some point! It can be hard when you go overdue (as many first time mothers do!) and everyone starts to message and ask if your baby has arrived. One of my top tips is to not tell people your actual due date because as soon as you do, everyone will be messaging you around that time. And I think that adds an element of pressure that increases our adrenaline levels, which decreases our oxytocin levels, which may make it less likely that we will go into labour! Try and see the extra days as ‘bonus days’. Days that you and your partner can enjoy some time together - go to the cinema, go out to eat and stay in bed late. Enjoy this time together as much as you can. Your midwife will discuss options with you and you can make choices regarding sweeps or an induction. Some women are very keen to have an induction as soon as possible and others want to avoid induction altogether. It’s your body. So do some reading, chat it through with your partner and discuss it all at your midwife appointment.
2. Will the nausea/sickness/vomiting never end?
Nausea in pregnancy is really common. It may feel worse in the morning or it might strike at any time of day. Normally the nausea and vomiting subsides around 16-20 weeks. Midwives advise small, light meals, sipping fluids and getting as much rest as possible. You might find ginger helps too. Don’t worry about kale and spinach smoothies at this point. Toast or crisps might be all you can face! It can be so tricky attempting to keep your pregnancy hidden when you feel so rough. Thank goodness for home working if you can! If the sickness continues, It may be worth asking your midwife about anti-sickness tablets (antiemetics). For some women, the nausea and vomiting may continue throughout pregnancy which can be really debilitating and upsetting. Ask for help and take things slowly. You can become dehydrated if you can’t keep any fluids down so make sure you speak to a health professional if you are struggling to eat and drink.
3. Help! I ate sushi last night/had a glass of wine/my steak was rare?
When I meet women for their very first appointment, many are concerned about what they ate or drank when they didn’t know they were pregnant. Or maybe you have a momentary lapse (we can’t be thinking about our pregnancies all the time!) and ate some brie before you remembered. Please don’t panic. It happens a lot. If you did have a boozy night out before you realised you were pregnant or you tucked into something on the ‘forbidden’ list by mistake then mention it to your midwife. The recommendations around certain foods are mostly to do with concerns over infections such as listeria, toxoplasmosis and salmonella. The NHS has a really useful website here if you are unsure; I would recommend sticking to British websites when looking up this information - different countries have different recommendations.
4. What the dickens is a birth plan?
It’s ok to have a blank face when the midwife asks you about your birth plan! Birth plans are something you may have read about or heard about from friends. Over at Grow and Gather we prefer the term, ‘preferences' to 'plan' because it allows you to think about all eventualities and recognises that whilst we may have an ideal scenario in mind, baby might have a different idea on the day! In the same way that you wouldn’t let your wedding planner make every decision about your wedding day, writing down some birth preferences encourages you to be actively involved in the birth process (no matter how it might go!). And this starts from pregnancy. Think about your options. What would you prefer to happen? Once you have thought about it you can work towards that and put some ‘plans’ in place to make it happen. Want to avoid an epidural? Ask about using the birth centre and think about what other comfort measures you can use instead. Thinking about an elective caesarean? Discuss this with your midwife so she can get you booked in to see an obstetrician to discuss your options. Keen to have skin to skin straight after your birth? Note it down. If you do have some birth preferences, pop them on a sheet of paper and file that in the front of your labour notes so anyone looking after you can have a quick read. This means healthcare professionals don't have to guess or ask you questions whilst you are focusing on having a baby!
5. What do I need in my birth bag?
We get asked this question all the time. There should be a list in your birth notes and a list of essentials is easy to find online or in most birth preparation books. Or why not come along to our antenatal classes and chat it through with us! A little hint though; it’s not nearly as much stuff as you think!
There are a million and one other questions that we could have included on this list. Any questions you want answering ? Send them our way! Next time we will take a look at some of the common questions we get asked about labour and birth. Come and join us.