If you've ever wondered what it would be like to try on a different body and maybe have a new personality for a while, here's your wish come true. During the nine months of pregnancy, your body will do things you never thought it could (or should) do. The whole world will notice that it is growing in all directions. Not only will you lose your waist, but also you'll see your hips, your arms, and maybe even your ankles expand. Other changes will be more subtle: Your hair might become thicker or thinner, curlier or straighter, and your skin might become drier or oilier. Your sleep patterns might change. Even your personality might take on a new dimension. One thing is for sure: Every day will be a new adventure.
Although your breasts grow very large during pregnancy, they don't gain a single ounce of fat!
Do your breasts a favor: Wear a bra. Without support, the extra weight is going to strain the connective tissues. To prevent permanent changes (such as sagging) after childbirth, some women even wear their bras 24 hours a day during their pregnancies.
One of the first signs of pregnancy is a change in breast size. Your breasts are changing now to prepare for your baby's arrival. From the moment of conception, your breasts become stimulated by the hormones of pregnancy. At first blood vessels dilate and grow to nourish the breast tissue. Then the milk ducts branch out and expand.
In addition to increased size, most women find their breasts are tender. This discomfort is similar (but usually a bit more intense) to the way your breasts might feel just before you get your period. Your nipples, too, might react to the news. They might get hard and sensitive. This breast discomfort should ease after the first month or so.
You might also find that the area around the nipple (the areola) will get darker. And if you look closely, you'll see blue lines under the skin of the breast. In the second half of the pregnancy, many women begin to notice fluid leaking from their nipples. If this happens, there is no need for alarm. This fluid is called colostrum—a thick yellow fluid that is the earliest form of milk. This can happen to any pregnant woman but is more common in women who have already delivered a baby.
Your breasts are not the only part of your body getting bigger right from the start. By the time you get a positive result on your pregnancy test you might find the waist of your pants fitting a bit tighter (especially if you're having more than one baby or if this is your first pregnancy). It's not that you're growing a pregnancy belly yet. It's just that as your insides start to shift around to make room for the soon-to-expand uterus, the waistline seems to be the first to go. Long before you begin to "show" you'll find you can't close the top button of your pants.
After the waistline goes, you might notice that your body is beginning to take on an upholstered look. To protect the fetus your body will add layers of fat to your lower abdomen, hips, thighs, and buttocks. This insulates the womb and stores up a source of energy for the end of the pregnancy when you begin to eat less (this will happen!).
There's good news and bad news about your partner's growing breasts. They look terrific—but you might not be allowed to touch. In the beginning, the breast and nipple can become very sensitive and will hurt if "manhandled." Check with your partner before jumping in to play.
Your pregnancy can be broken into three trimesters. The first trimester of your pregnancy is months one, two, and three. The second trimester of your pregnancy is months four, five, and six. The third trimester is months seven, eight, and nine.
Your wife isn't milking this pregnancy when she says she just can't vacuum today. It's very likely she really doesn't have the energy to stand up, never mind push something heavy around. This is your chance to play the hero. Take the vacuum out of her hand, give her a pillow, and direct her to bed. She'll love you for it (and maybe, just maybe) she'll recoup enough energy to feel sexy tonight.
Ask a pregnant woman (especially in the first and last trimesters) what is the one thing in the whole world she would like most at that exact moment, and she's likely to say "To take a nap." The fatigue of early and late pregnancy can be overwhelming—you just can't keep your eyes open.
This tiredness is very natural and a good sign that your body is hard at work. In the beginning, you can't see the results of these efforts, but inside you is a construction crew that works around the clock to build your baby's life-support systems within the womb. Your body is also very actively adjusting to the many physical and emotional demands of pregnancy. So much to do and so little time in which to do it! At the same time that you're so tired, the fluctuating levels of hormones can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to get continuous, sound sleep. When you finally do fall into bed at the end of the day, you might find that you wake several times during the night.
Fatigue and disrupted sleep are your body's way of sending a message that says: Rest! What a wonderful excuse for an afternoon nap, sleeping late, for turning in early. Of course, your daily schedule will have something to say about this: Sleeping during a business meeting is still not part of the corporate culture, and sleeping while your other children are running wild won't do, either. But where there's a will (and eyelids that feel like bricks) there's a way.
Speak up and ask for help here. Can your mother watch the kids while you sneak in some zz's? Can your husband do the grocery shopping on the weekend so you can put your feet up and rest? Can you find an out-of-the-way corner at work where you can put your feet up during lunchtime? Don't say, "I can't." Your feet are dragging and your eyes are closing because your body is demanding the rest it needs to do the job of creating a child. You've got to give it a break occasionally.
Because exhaustion might be a constant companion during this time of your life, make it your friend. Work with it, not against it. If you're feeling tired right now, close the book, put your feet up, pull up the covers, and take a snooze.
One of the annoying things about nausea in pregnancy is that it's just not the same for everybody. Some pregnant women have none—not one minute—of the queasy, stuck-on-a-merry-go-round feeling that just won't quit. Some have a gnawing uneasiness that makes them feel like they should be throwing up, but nothing happens. For others, daily vomiting is a constant occurrence in the first three months. Some women seem to develop "morning sickness" five minutes after conception; others feel fine until week eight or so and then they can't get their head out of the toilet bowl. That's the fun part about being pregnant: You just can't be sure what's around the corner until it happens to you.
It is not completely clear why about one half of all pregnant women suffer from nausea. It might be because of rising hormone levels. Their highest peak is in the first three months of pregnancy, when nausea is usually most severe. There's also a theory that nausea might be the body's way of keeping you away from harmful foods. Your sense of smell is immensely improved during pregnancy and the slightest spoilage on a piece of cheese or meat can throw your stomach into a cartwheel. In either case, take heart in knowing that nausea is a sign of a healthy pregnancy.
If your "morning sickness" has nothing to do with the morning, don't panic. The term morning sickness is very misleading. Although nausea might be worse in the morning because the stomach is empty, any woman who has experienced nausea in her pregnancy will tell you that it's a morning, noon, and night occurrence.
Be sure to brush your teeth after you vomit. This, of course, not only will make your mouth feel fresher, it will get rid of the bacteria in vomit that can seriously damage your teeth and gums.
There are a few things you can do to manage the nausea of pregnancy. For starters, try to keep track of the smells that trigger the upchuck reflex. If you throw up in the sink every time you open a can of dog food, hand the duty over to your partner. What other smells set you off? Coffee? Fried foods? Cooked vegetables? Then steer clear. If you have to stay out of the kitchen for a while (don't be too upset about this) hand the apron to your partner or order out.
You can also calm an upset stomach by keeping food in it. Sometimes women try to beat their nausea by staying away from food. But an empty stomach is much more apt to be upset because the stomach acids have nothing to digest and because blood sugar drops when there's a long stretch between meals. Start eating very small meals throughout the day. Keep nutritious snacks, such as dried fruits or whole grain crackers with you at all times. Nibble even when you're not hungry.
Don't force yourself to eat anything. When you're throwing up every day, of course you'll worry that your baby might not be getting all the nutrients she needs. But what good is eating a bowl of steamed broccoli if you're going to flush it down the toilet a few minutes later? True, you might not gain much during the first few months, but most women put on only two to four pounds then anyway. Such a small increase doesn't have an impact on the baby's growth at that point. Most women who have morning sickness gain as much weight by the end of pregnancy as women who haven't had the problem. For now, eat whatever you can keep down.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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