All posts filed under: pregnancy

birth prep

Do antenatal classes really make a difference?

I was asked this question the other day. And, as an antenatal teacher, my answer is yes – if I didn’t think they made a difference, I wouldn’t be doing this job. I love what I do and I honestly believe it makes a difference – this will be different for everyone because some parents need more information and support than others and it also depends on the antenatal classes. I can only talk about mine which I have designed to provide information, practical skills, discussion and the opportunity to ask questions – and they are based on 15 years experience working with expectant and new parents. Parents book on to my antenatal courses to get better prepared, to gather information, to feel less anxious and to have more control over the unknown they are faced with. My antenatal classes can make a difference because they give you the opportunity to think about labour & birth so you know… more about the physiology of labour and birth, so you are not scared of your contractions …

Labour & Birth: why does how you breathe matter?

We can all breathe right, so why do we need to know how to breathe for labour and birth? I have focused on Relax & Breathe for the past 10 years and I have seen how relaxed breathing has made a difference to how women feel in pregnancy, as well as how it can affect how they feel and work with their contractions during labour. My practice is all about keeping it simple – you don’t need to learn a new way to breathe, it is all about slowing down your breathing and learning to switch off and to focus on just breathing. So many of the pregnant women I work with comment that they didn’t realise how much tension they were carrying – but having a session to slow their breathing and to relax their body makes them aware of their tense jaw and stiff shoulders. Stress and tension isn’t that great for us – it can make us ache and it can make us tired and carrying this tension into labour isn’t helpful …

Pregnancy: aches & pains

Pregnancy is so different for every woman – I have had three pregnancies and I had worked with hundreds of pregnant women and I have seen women blossom and I have seen women struggle. Our bodies grow, adapt and change throughout pregnancy so it is inevitable that there will be tiredness and a few aches. Pregnancy may not be a time of illness for many of us but it is a time of listening to our bodies, of taking it easy when it demands us to rest and when it hurts. Your back and your hips can ache as your body changes shape, your legs can become restless, your may develop carpal tunnel in your wrists and hands, your pubic bone can ache and hurt and you may experience headaches. This can start in your second trimester or you could be close to the end of your pregnancy – you still need to listen to your body. Rest is good and use as many pillows as it takes to be comfortable – under your bump, …

pregnancy newcastle and tyneside

Your body during pregnancy

Here’s what happens to your body during pregnancy and birth…   Your body during pregnancy – hormones As soon as the placenta starts to form and the cells which are fast becoming your baby have implanted into the side of the uterus, your body will produce human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) – these levels will double every couple of days, reaching its peak by about 10 weeks, when the levels start to level out as the placenta starts to function. Oestrogen  This hormone is needed to: stimulate the placenta – to ensure that it grows and works develop your baby’s lungs, liver and kidneys work with progesterone to grow your breast tissue for milk production The rapidly growing levels of oestrogen in early pregnancy may cause sickness and nausea. Oestrogen and relaxin creates the loosening of the ligaments and joints throughout the body, which is needed to enable your body to expand for your growing baby and to provide the space for your baby to be born.   Progesterone This is a very powerful hormone – its levels are very high during pregnancy. In early pregnant it is needed: to stimulate blood vessels to increase the blood flow to your womb for the glands in the lining of the womb to produce the nutrients that are needed for your embryo baby to enable the lining of your womb to thicken and to aid the attachment of the placenta and the implantation of your embryo baby to form the placenta Throughout pregnancy, progesterone is needed: for the development of your baby to prevent your womb contracting before labour needs to start to prevent lactation until after your baby is born to help strengthen the muscles of your pelvic wall for labour   Oxytocin The posterior pituitary gland releases oxytocin during pregnancy, this will increase at the end of pregnancy to stimulate the contractions needed for labour.   Human placental lactogen (hPL) This hormone, also known as human chorionic somatomammotropin, is made by the placenta. It provides nutrition for your baby and it stimulates the milk glands in your breasts in preparation for breastfeeding. Your body during pregnancy Your heart during the second trimester your heart is working 40% harder than normal – your heart is working efficiently to pump more blood with each beat your heart rate may increase by about 15 beats per minute blood volume increases throughout pregnancy Plasma can increase by 40-50% and red blood cell mass increases by 20-30%, which can mean you need more iron and folic acid   Your lungs throughout pregnancy, the air going in and out of your lungs increases by about 50%, with higher blood oxygen levels – you  could consume 10-20% more oxygen the shape of your chest changes in pregnancy as your diaphragm can rise by 4cm, which reduces lung capacity by 5%   Your cervix & uterus The cervix acts as a barrier against infection during pregnancy and it protects your baby by staying firmly closed until labour starts. The hormone progesterone causes the cells of the cervix to create mucus, which forms the mucous plug. Your uterus will contract throughout pregnancy – these Braxton Hicks contractions will help to aid the blood circulation to the placenta.   Nausea and vomiting  This affects about 70% pregnant women – it is usually caused by relaxed stomach muscles and increased oestrogen About 20% of women will experience it throughout pregnancy   Appetite About 50% of all pregnant women experience an increased appetite   Heartburn  This affects between 30-70% of women at some point in pregnancy – it is caused by progesterone which relaxes the oesophageal sphincter.   Weight Gain in Pregnancy The expected weight gain in pregnancy is: 4kg (9lb) in first 20 weeks and 8.5kg (1stone 5lb) in last 20 weeks (12.5kg in total) Boobs: 0.4kg (1lb) Fat: 3.5kg (12lb) Placenta: 0.6kg (1lb5oz) Baby: 3.4kg (7lb 7oz) Amniotic fluid: 0.6kg (1lb 5oz) Increased uterus size: 1kg (2lb 3oz) Increased blood volume: 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) …

Pregnancy: You & Your Baby

  The length of each of these foods is a rough guide to the length of your growing baby throughout your pregnancy.  First Trimester Right from the beginning, your body is very busy. Once fertilization of an egg has taken place, the egg starts to divide as it travel down the fallopian tube, towards the uterus.  The lining of the uterus has  already thickened and is ready for the egg to implant into it.  The levels of hCG will rise which  prevents a period from taking place. Most women will be aware of a missed period by now and might be starting to experience some of the symptoms of pregnancy, which can include: nausea and sickness tiredness sore and swollen breasts strong sense of smell and/or taste needing to wee more frequently you might go off certain food and drinks your baby… looks like a tadpole the neural tube is formed, which will become the spinal cord and brain the heart forms and develops into 4 chambers and starts to circulate blood around the body your baby… limb buds start to develop the stomach is formed the head is formed veins can now be seen beneath the skin the placenta develops the tail begins to disappear and the hands becoming noticeable you… your metabolism will speed up and your blood volume will start to increase to meet the demands of pregnancy. This increased blood volume could give you headaches. your uterus is about the size of a grapefruit, which could cause lower backache you be feeling quite rough and tired your baby… The nose,  mouth and lips are almost developed and the eyes are at the front of the face The testes or ovaries develop and the ovaries will begin to produce eggs The limbs are getting longer your baby… your embryo now becomes a fetus – this means that the critical part of your baby’s development is now complete your baby’s mouth can open and close and he can swallow reflexes are developing so your baby can move your baby’s brain is developing into to halves fingernails start to grow your baby is now fully formed you… your boobs and waist may feel bigger …