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Why am I tired so tired – I’m pregnant, not ill!

If you’re feeling tired as a dog, you can know that it’s quite common. In fact, fatigue is often the first sign of pregnancy.

Remember, your body is a 24-hour factory with only one person working all the shifts, so some tiredness is to be expected! Tiredness mostly improves in the second trimester, but by the third trimester, fatigue might well increase again from carrying the extra weight.

There’s fortunately a lot you can do to help yourself feel less tired and more energised. Quite a few helpful tips relate to your diet, like:

  • Having a diet rich in fresh seasonal fruits and lightly steamed veggies is essential.
  • Drinking plenty of water, as dehydration can cause fatigue; cool beverages can give you a bit of ‘pep’.
  • Snacking on almonds, bananas, dates or fresh berries if you’re in need of a quick boost.
  • When cooking, using cooling herbs like mint if you feel all hot and bothered, or if you feel cold and lethargic, using warming spices like cinnamon and ginger to energise you.
  • Having a cup of refreshing herbal tea like green or rooibos tea.

Other tips that you may well find give you a bit of a spring in your step are:

  • Wipe your face with a refreshing cool cloth every now and then.
  • You may need to try a few different pregnancy supplements before finding one that agrees with your system, but this could help improve energy levels by topping up those nutrients you haven’t taken in from your food.
  • Sleep disturbances can contribute to tiredness. Takemini-breaks, go to bed early as pre-midnight sleep will help you feel more rested, and take a homeopathic remedy to help induce safe, restful sleep.
  • Regular exercise can help improve energy levels; the more stamina you develop and the more toned your body is, the easier you will cope with the extra physical and emotional strain of pregnancy.
  • Go for a walk outside each day; sunlight and fresh air will do wonders for your energy levels!

See your midwife or doctor if your fatigue doesn’t improve or you are often dizzy, ask your doctor to test you for low blood pressure and anaemia.

Exercise when expecting

So many women (and their families) immediately focus on what they should rather stop doing when they have confirmation that they are pregnant. How sad, because being active is one of the best things for a woman to be, not only before and after pregnancy, but throughout her 40 week wait for her baby.

While an excessive – and I mean really excessive - exercise programme may delay conception, overall fitness can even be beneficial for optimal fertility. Once you‘re pregnant, it’s just as important to exercise regularly, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fun and tailored to you, the individual woman! It’s probably because the word ‘exercise’ sounds so much like hard work that so many women feel disinclined, and even think they have good reason to back off during pregnancy. That’s why I prefer to talk about ‘movement therapy’! It’s all about using your body to keep it strong and supple.

See exercise in a new light

If you have never exercised before, simply start doing ten minutes of whatever activity most catches your fancy, five days a week. If you enjoy whatever it is that you are doing, increase the time a bit each day or indulge yourself again later in the day. You will soon start reaping the fruits of your labours and that will be sufficient motivation to continue. Exercise in pregnancy will help you:

  • Feel and look good, improving your self-esteem
  • Ensure maximum fitness and stamina for labour and birth
  • To improve mood, balance emotions and lessen cravings
  • Have less aches and pains because posture and muscle and ligament tone is improved
  • Experience less digestive symptoms like constipation
  • Have less swelling of your ankles and feet
  • Ensure optimal vestibular development of your baby
  • Feel stronger and less tired in the final weeks of pregnancy
  • Recover more rapidly after birth

The secret is to realise that exercise isn’t all about gym sessions and jogging. Choose something you love to do that keeps you active, whether it’s gardening or cycling, and you’ll already be more than half-way there. Here are five tried and tested exercise options for you to consider as the basis of your pregnancy workout, because they are safe, easy to start doing while pregnant and are of particular benefit in pregnancy:

  1. Going for regular walks will tone your whole body, inside and out.
  2. Water exercise is great in pregnancy – swim or take part in a pregnancy water aerobics class.
  3. Regular dancing is a great way to exercise; do it for at least half an hour at a time.
  4. Exercising on a pregnancy ball is excellent for your back and core muscles.
  5. Yoga is fantastic for body and mind – just make sure the instructor is experienced in pregnancy yoga!

General exercise hints and cautions

If you’ve already found your ideal form of exercise, feel free to stick to it if it’s safe in pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses, bear these pointers in mind:

  • Always get an all-clear from your practitioner for a full gym-style exercise regime and participation in more adventurous, demanding and high-impact sports like rock-climbing, heavy aerobics, horse riding and weight-lifting.
  • Some sports should be put on hold during pregnancy for rather obvious reasons – martial arts, white water rafting, and sky-diving, to name a few.
  • Always warm up at the start of an exercise programme and cool down at the end.
  • See your doctor if you feel unwell, your pulse races or breathing is difficult during exercise.
  • If you bleed or leak water from your vagina, or have cramps in your lower pelvis, stop all exercise immediately and see your doctor before resuming your programme.
  • Never over-exercise, as this can make labour more difficult and Baby more fretful after birth.

Catching contagious diseases during pregnancy

The good news is that you generally don’t have to worry too much about being exposed to most contagious childhood diseases during pregnancy, even though the risks of some to your unborn baby can be severe. That’s because it takes quite a lot of circumstances to come together for the risk to become reality.

Contagious childhood diseases are usually only a problem if they’re contracted in the first trimester, if you’ve never had them before (and therefore don’t have immunity against them), if you develop one of the quite rare secondary infections like meningitis or encephalitis, or if you develop an exceptionally high fever. Fortunately, your body has a number of safeguards in place to protect Baby, such as regulatory systems which keep your core temperature constant and help prevent Baby from overheating; and the placental barrier to ward off crossing of many microorganisms. Baby will also only be affected if the virus crosses the placenta, which doesn’t always happen. So, even if you contract one of these diseases, it’s not to say your baby will be affected!

Nonetheless, one should try and avoid exposure to children with these diseases if possible. Of course, it’s quite difficult to always avoid contact with infected people because often even they don’t realise they have the disease – the most contagious time for many childhood diseases is before the symptoms appear. In most cases you need to be in pretty close contact with droplet infection from coughing or sneezing in order to get infected. Many people become infected without realising it because they get flu-like symptoms which never develop into the full-blown disease – this may mean that you are immune to this disease without even knowing it. It’s best to minimise or avoid contact with anyone who has an infectious childhood disease just to be safe though.

Common childhood diseases

German measles

This is the most risky childhood disease if it’s contracted during the first trimester. Most women are tested for antibodies against German measles (rubella) in early pregnancy and are advised to stay away from small children if they don’t have any antibodies. It’s a good idea to do this test a few months before you fall pregnant so that you can be immunised and develop antibodies if you need to. If you have had  German measles and you’re pregnant, it is highly unlikely that your baby is at any risk.


Usually mumps isn’t a problem if it’s contracted during pregnancy – it runs the same course as usual. You can’t be immunised against mumps during pregnancy because it’s a ‘live’ vaccine.

Chicken pox

Roughly 90% of pregnant women have antibodies to the chicken pox virus, even if they don’t realise it – it may never have developed past the flu symptom stage! As is the case with most childhood diseases the symptoms are far worse when contracted as an adult – especially during pregnancy. In extreme cases chicken pox can cause skin lesions, smaller than normal limbs, eye defects, and mental retardation in Baby. This is very rare though and only 5% of women who don’t have the antibodies will contract the disease and have a baby with problems. Chicken pox is mostly a problem if it’s contracted in the first 12–16 weeks, although if it’s contracted a few days before delivery Baby will need intensive neonatal care. There is a chicken pox available for certain stages of pregnancy, but it’s still quite controversial.

Take-home message

Don’t worry unnecessarily about contracting childhood disease during pregnancy; simply keep your immune system as healthy as possible, make sure you are tested for antibodies to diseases like rubella, and see your doctor if you get flu-like symptoms.

The serious side of pregnancy health

Pregnancy is mostly uncomplicated, even if you do experience a few niggles along the way, or have one or two less pleasant times. One of the most essential and helpful things you can do to ensure that you have a normal, happy, healthy pregnancy is to believe that this is not a medical condition but rather, a life experience. Take your responsibility to live as healthily as possible seriously, and in most instances you can influence the outcomes of this momentous new phase of your life for the good.

It is so distressing when expectant couples seem to hand over their role in this prime human experience to the medical world. Yes, there are sometimes complications and risks, there are times when you may need treatment or intervention – however, many interventions and complications are like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted; or interventions may even lead to complications.

Needlessly worrying about pregnancy and birth is simply using up your emotional energy which could translate into the best medicine of all – optimism!

Warning signs in pregnancy

If you experience any of these seven signs, you should bring them to the attention of your midwife or doctor as soon as possible:

  1. Bleeding and other abnormal vaginal discharge. This could be an indication of any number of possible pregnancy complications, some more serious than others.
  2. Excessive or very poor weight gain, especially after week 20. This may indicate abnormal swelling on your part, or that your baby is not receiving sufficient nutrients via the placenta.
  3. A significant change in your baby’s movement pattern after week 25. Generally, you should feel no fewer than 10 periods of movement from Baby each day; most important is that Baby does move and that you don’t sense any marked change in pattern – Baby’s movements are the single most important way you can tell that all is well.
  4. Headaches with nausea and visual disturbances. This might indicate that you have pre-eclampsia, and will need careful treatment.
  5. Burning leg pain. This is different to leg cramping, and could be an indication of embolism (blood clots). See your doctor as soon as possible.
  6. Excessive shortness of breath. If it’s more than you would expect from carrying the extra pregnancy weight, it might be serious.
  7. Exceptional swelling, especially if accompanied by visual disturbances, headaches, dizziness and nausea. This should be addressed as soon as possible; it is common with pre-eclampsia.

Cosmetic safety in pregnancy

In an age where our senses are continually assaulted by advertising hype for any and every conceivable wonder product, apparently guaranteed to keep you young and beautiful forever, it’s each one’s responsibility to take a deeper than skin look at the colourful array of options on the market.

For instance, some chemicals in body lotions and creams can be harmful to your developing baby. It’s important to read the labels of every product you use, and choose only those that specify that they’re safe for use during pregnancy. To be extra safe, avoid any products that contain these three ingredients:

  • Salicylic acid: This is found in various cleansers, toners, exfoliants and chemical peels. It’s also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA.
  • Retinoids:These are often found in anti-aging moisturisers and tissue oils. Retinoids taken in pill form cause serious birth defects, so it’s best to avoid creams that contain these too. Other names include, Retin-A, retinoic acid, and tazarotene.
  • Phthalates:These are found in a variety of products, including skincare products, plastics and food packaging. They’re often referred to only as ‘Fragrance’. It’s extremely difficult to avoid these completely, but try to limit your exposure as much as possible.

In pregnancy, beauty treatments must be used with caution. Some are safe, some are not.

  • Chemical bleaching or peels:These chemicals are dangerous for your developing baby, and should be avoided. If you have chloasma (dark ‘patches’ of skin during pregnancy), avoid soy-based skincare products, as they’ll only make it worse.
  • Waxing: This is safe, but go to a reputable salon and make sure the beautician knows you’re pregnant. Note, because there’s more blood flowing to your skin, a wax will be more painful than you’re used to, especially if you go for a bikini wax or Brazilian.
  • Tanning: Gentle exposure to the sun is good for you, but make sure you don’t burn, and stay out of midday sun as Baby may overheat in the womb. Stay away from sunbeds completely. Don’t use tanning lotions or sprays, as the chemicals may be harmful to Baby.
  • Hair dye and treatments:Professional products are mostly safe if used infrequently. Go to a good salon, and make sure the stylist knows you’re pregnant.
  • Manicures and pedicures:Nail polish may contain tolulene, dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde, which are all dangerous for Baby. Avoid painting your nails during the first trimester, then choose nail polish that doesn’t have any of these chemicals.

Beat pregnancy nausea and cravings with your diet!

Although pregnancy nausea is often blamed on a woman’s changing hormones, it’s important to remember that some hormones are produced in the gut…

This mostly-forgotten fact may partly be why a woman’s digestive system seems to rebel in early pregnancy! A vitamin B6 deficiency could cause nausea, while some pregnancy supplements may trigger it too. Some instances of nausea are also believed to protect the mother and her developing baby from eating harmful substances during the first trimester.

Pregnancy nausea can occurat any time of day (not just the morning!), and usually improves by 12–14 weeks of pregnancy.

What goes in…

These tips will help your digestive system from within:

·         Sip ginger tea or chew a small piece of fresh gingerroot at least once a day, or choose a pregnancy supplement that contains ginger.

·         Take a supplement rich in Vitamin B, especially B6.

·         Eat smaller meals more frequently, and eat a little before rising in the morning.

·         Chew on a mint leaf.

·         Add three drops of peppermint essence to a cup of boiled water, and sip on this once or twice a day.

·         If you think your pregnancy supplement is the cause, stop taking it for a few days to see if matters improve, and change brands if necessary.


Eat a wide variety of healthy foods. If you crave something sweet, eat a banana or date before reaching for a chocolate. Satisfy savoury or salty cravings by eating an avocado, a few olives or a baked potato with a sprinkle of celery salt. It may also help to eat smaller meals more often.


Cravings for abnormal substances like soil, ash, chalk and paint is called pica, and usually indicates a deficiency of an important nutrient. Discuss these cravings with your doctor or midwife, but don’t eat any of the substances!

Doctor, doctor!

See your doctor if you have excessive nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, called hyperemesis gravidarum, or if nausea starts in the second half of pregnancy, as this could be a sign of blood pressure abnormalities, low blood sugar or anaemia.

Sister Lilian’s special pregnancy stress relievers

There are a number of stress-relieving techniques that can make a positive difference in everyone’s lives, and emotional pregnant women are no exception. Turn to these when you notice that your stress levels are on the increase or if you are someone who becomes anxious or uptight easily.
Tongue trick

Be seated in a comfortable chair, gently close your eyes but resist the impulse to go to sleep. Rest the tip of your tongue against the fleshy part of your upper gum just above and behind you front top teeth. You will feel how your facial bones and muscles immediately realign leaving your face and neck feeling very relaxed. This is often one of the first areas to register tension. Migraine and other headache sufferers profit enormously from this very simple yet effective technique. Try to empty the mind of all angry and resentful thoughts while you do this, for maximum effect.

Magic mini-massage points

Sit comfortably and using your index finger, gently and slowly massage the point between your eyebrows using a circular motion. Massage your temples too. Now lightly, using an up-and-down curvy motion, massage behind your ears. This will help induce peaceful sleep and relaxation.

Visit nature often

Very few people do not respond to the inherently relaxing, soothing and energising effects of a picnic under a tree, sitting alongside a lake, breathing in the fresh aroma of rain while walking barefoot through puddles, and so on. Make this a priority and Mother Nature will automatically help you cope better with the stresses and strains of pregnancy.


Make music a habit, in the background as you work, in your car and frequently in the home as you go about your daily life. Different people respond to different music and there are no absolute guidelines about what music is the most soothing and inspirational – choose whatever relaxes you best.

If you still feel depressed and nothing seems to improve matters, help yourself by taking a homeopathic anxiety remedy as often as you like – you cannot overdose on homeopathy and Baby will not be affected. Also use the many resources found on the Sister Lilian Centre website-

You don’t need to worry too much about how heightened stresses, strains and emotionality will affect Baby though. Newborn babies may be a little more restless and colicky if their moms are very unhappy or stressed during pregnancy, but usually no more than that.

Buying for Belly, Birth & Baby

Here’s a mega-list for you to download to help you prepare for all your pregnancy, hospital stay, and life-with-a-baby essentials.

Not only that, but we also have a handy checklist for you for handling the changes ahead, as you prepare for pregnancy and parenthood.

Get your body ready

Here are some important ways to prepare for a healthy pregnancy:

·         Start keeping track of your menstrual cycle, if you aren’t already. This will be helpful in determining your due date when you fall pregnant.

·         Schedule a check-up with the dentist, as you may not be able to have certain treatments when you are pregnant.

·         Speak to your doctor about your vaccination history. Illnesses like German measles can be very dangerous while pregnant, so you may need to get vaccinated for these before conceiving.

·         If you have a chronic medical condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or depression, speak to your doctor before trying to conceive. You may need to adjust your lifestyle or medication before pregnancy.

·         If you are a smoker, it is best for you (and your partner!) to quit before you fall pregnant. Not only will it increase your chances of conception, but it means you won’t have to worry about your unborn baby being exposed to the harmful effects of smoke later on.

·         Eat a balanced diet (be sure to get lots of pulses, legumes, wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, not only protein) and drink plenty of water. Nutrition is truly fundamental to well-being.

·         Avoid fish with a high mercury content (such as swordfish, tuna, king mackerel and tilefish) as a build-up of mercury on your body could be harmful to your unborn baby.

·         Start taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid. Your baby starts developing before you even know you’re pregnant, and these will ensure your little one is off to a good start. 

·         Get enough exercise. An active lifestyle will help you to stay optimistic, and is important for your physical health too.

·         If you are on medical aid, check what maternity care you are covered for so you can update your policy if necessary.

Childproof your relationship

Parenthood will change your relationship, that’s for sure. The effect it will have will depend on you and your partner. Here are a few important things to consider before conceiving:

·         Children can bring out the best in you but having a child will seldom heal a deep rift in a relationship. Before you embark on the road to parenthood, be honest with yourself – are any problems you and your partner experience deep and longstanding?

·         Having a baby is not cheap. Are you and your partner financially secure, and able to talk about finances and budgeting openly?

·         Pregnancy and parenthood will change your lifestyle. Have you both discussed how this will affect your relationship and do you have realistic expectations?              

Here’s how to massage your perineum, Mom-to-be

The vagina is a hollow muscular area and is perfectly capable of birthing a baby! It has extensive folds which allow for expansion and stretching as Baby is born. There will be some side effects after birth such as some stretching, swelling, and pressure, but these should settle and recover completely within a few weeks – although if you have poor muscle tone and don’t do any exercise it may take longer. There ‘s a slight chance that your sexual experience and ‘leaking’ will be affected, but this is more common after an episiotomy and forceps or vacuum assisted delivery. How much your vagina is affected is influenced by a number of factors, including:

·         The type of birth you have– if you give birth while lying on your back you’re likely to have more vaginal tearing because you’re having to push out your Baby ‘uphill’.

·         The amount of exercise you do– many women lose elasticity and strength in the muscle tissue of the vagina and surrounding areas over time, even after a C-section, so overall exercise is vital.

·         Vaginal ‘training’– you can teach your perineal muscles to react to voluntary messages about contracting and relaxing by using ‘pinching’ exercises in midstream when you pass urine – this will also help strengthen your perineal muscles.

·         Homeopathic remedies– the tissue salt remedies Calc fluor and Ferrum phos are very useful for improving the elasticity and strength of all body tissues, including your perineum.

·         Perineal massage – massaging your perineum for four to six weeks before birth can help to make the area more supple and able to stretch, and using the correct oil and technique can help you to avoid tearing or needing an episiotomy.

Perineal massage techniques

Do this before you go to bed at least five nights per week:

·         Wash your hands thoroughly

·         Pour some almond, grapeseed, or medicinal olive oil onto your fingertips

·         Place your thumbs into the vaginal outlet and massage the perineum – the thick muscle wedge between your vagina and anus – between your index, middle                   fingers, and thumbs for a few minutes until the area feels softer

·          Keep your thumbs in position and stretch the vaginal outlet sideways a few times and then down and slightly forwards

·         Stand with one foot up on a chair or ask your partner for help if you can’t reach the area well near the end of pregnancy

·         Take note of the stretching feeling so that you know what area to focus on during the birth process

·         Wait until any infections or vaginal thrush has cleared completely before doing perineal massage

Make sure that you mention to your doctor or midwife that you’re hoping to avoid tearing or an episiotomy so that one isn’t done simply as part of the procedure. Using a more upright labouring position can help to prevent tearing too and gravity will assist with an easier birth. After birth use appropriate arnica homeopathic remedies for the first week or so to reduce swelling, promote healing, and relieve pain.

Massage oil considerations

Grapeseed carrier oil differs from other essential oils in that it is not as concentrated so its effects are generally mild. It also doesn’t interact easily with other substances and is generally considered to be highly unlikely to have any negative effects as long as it’s:

·         From a trusted source

·         Used only as directed

·         Applied externally and not drunk

There is a slight chance that it can cause allergies, so rather apply it on a small patch of skin first to test. If you’re on blood thinning medication you should be cautious – especially when using it long term.

Owning responsibility for your pregnant health

Increasingly women and their partners realise that preparing for conception, pregnancy and parenthood is the very best form of preventative health and well-being.

You may think that you don’t have much influence over how things go, but nothing could be further from the truth! To be very direct about it, as a couple, you have most capacity to influence the outcomes of your own personal well-being, as well as that of your developing baby. No longer need people leave the responsibility for how things turn out solely at their health practitioner’s door – there’s just too much information available to guide you to a state of empowerment, with a focus on wellness rather than illness, a state of ease, rather than of dis-ease.

In a nutshell, you shouldn’t take any chances when it comes to the many things you can control – after all, you’re growing a whole new life! For the best possible outcome, there are three basics to think of, and they aren’t all tangible factors either:

  1. You need a healthy body

For the best pregnancy you ideally need to invest time and effort into attaining glowing health before you conceive. A healthy, active lifestyle before, during and after pregnancy will make your whole experience better and easier. Nutrition is truly fundamental to well-being. It’s simply not good enough to continually compromise on what and how you eat in pregnancy, as you are now growing a baby. Your pregnancy well-being is also directly related to your diet.In addition, understanding the cause of niggles and discomforts and the best, natural ways to relieve them, will make your pregnancy so much easier.

2. You need a healthy mind

While you might find it easy to conceive, be mindful of your reasons for wanting a child and the responsibility awaiting you. Pregnancy is a special window of opportunity to develop your emotional resources, and the impact will be felt for generations to come. Optimism and consideration of people and the planet are just as important.

3. You need a healthy relationship

Babies don’t save marriages and life partnerships, yet it is amazing how often couples in an ailing relationship pin their hopes for family happiness on having a child. Yes, children can bring out the best in you but having a child will seldom heal a deep rift on a permanent basis. Before you embark on the road to parenthood be honest with yourself – are the problems you and your partner experience deep and longstanding, is there mutual respect, do you enjoy a wide variety of similar interests and friendships and do you support each other in your personal ambitions?

Making love in pregnancy

Your pregnancy shouldn’t affect your love life, but most women – and men – have quite a few questions about the dos and don’ts! Most importantly, if you have a normal, healthy pregnancy, it’s completely safe for you to make love; if there are complications, you will need specific guidance. Here are five other perspectives to consider:


1.       It might physically feel different

During pregnancy, you’ll have increased blood flow to your pelvic region, which means you’ll experience heightened sensation to the genitals… this generally means more pleasure. On the other hand, this sensation may even feel a little painful for a few women – relax, enjoy the hormonal high and you might just find that lovemaking has never been better! Your breasts may be very tender too but generally, the more caring and tender your relationship is, the better the experience of lovemaking during pregnancy will be - because if you’re unhappy or anxious, you could experience inadequate lubrication and pain.

2.       You may notice a change in libido

This could go either way – you may notice that you have a greatly increased desire to make love, or sex may become the last thing you feel like. There are a lot of factors involved in this, including:

·         Pregnancy symptoms: Fatigue, nausea, aches and pains, swollen limbs, heartburn… None of these really generate passion, do they?

·         Shyness about your changing body: Most men find the woman's changing shape delightful and interesting, so try not to worry about this.

·         Anxiety about upcoming motherhood: This can usually be overcome with open communication and goodwill.

Remember, there is more to intimacy than just sex – cuddling, talking, kissing and even going on a date night can all go a long way to ensuring a little pregnancy passion!

3.       Your partner may have reservations about sex

Many men think that lovemaking during pregnancy will hurt the baby. Others feel embarrassed, almost as if the baby is watching them! Men generally don’t talk about these fears, so take the initiative and let him know you’re keen to make love and that it’s fine to do so. It really is, if you’ve been given the all-clear.

4.       You may need to experiment a bit

Most couples will need to find positions other than man-on-top, because as your belly swells, it may become too uncomfortable, and your partner should avoid pressing too hard on your belly. This could be a fun way to spark up your relationship!

5.       When to call your midwife or doctor

If you bleed after intercourse, it could be because of a raw patch in the vaginal wall, low progesterone levels, or a low-lying placenta. Either way, tell your doctor or midwife, who will determine whether it’s safe for you to make love for the rest of your pregnancy. You should also tell your doctor if you notice abnormal discharge, a change in Baby’s movements or pain in your womb, or if you feel very unwell. 

When will my pregnant belly become visible?

Did you know that preggy ‘bumps’ come in a whole variety of sizes and shapes? Don’t panic if yours doesn’t look like photos in books, often these portray an idealistic view, just like books and magazines do with non-expectant women!

You’ll see first!

The swelling of your abdomen in pregnancy will become visible to you long before other people notice it, and how soon it becomes noticeable varies from woman to woman depending on a number of factors. Women with good muscle tone might show a lot later because the abdominal muscles keep the womb further inside the abdominal cavity. Short women might show sooner because the pregnancy grows 'outwards' sooner. Generally, first pregnancies take longer to show, because with subsequent pregnancies the abdominal muscles have already stretched considerably.

From about 16 weeks, pregnant women often notice a slight bulging around the waistline or above the pubic area. Weight gain is usually also slow until about 20 weeks; round about the time other people might start to notice your growing bump. Some women are surprised to find that they seem to be carrying more around their bums than their tums; don’t worry, this is just your body putting away some extra energy to build a ‘supply’ in case your body needs more during and after birth! Sometimes moms-to-be are concerned that something is wrong with Baby if they do not show by early in the second trimester, but this is mostly completely unfounded; your regular clinic check-ups should put this anxiety to rest.

The shape of your growing bump is very individual

If Baby’s development seems fine at each check-up, you don’t need to worry at all about the size and shape of your preggy belly. Your belly’s size also doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on how big Baby is, the ease of giving birth, or the need for a Caesar.

When should you tell the world the big news?

There’s no ‘right’ time to tell other people about your pregnancy, this is something each couple will have to decide for themselves. Many choose to wait until after the first trimester, when most risks have passed and they can be quite confident of a successful outcome to the pregnancy. On the other hand, others simply can’t wait to share the exciting news! If something does go wrong in the pregnancy, some women prefer to have nobody know about it; however, others find comfort in other people knowing and offering support during this hard time.

However you’re showing, and whenever you choose to tell, embrace this time in your life – and your changing body. My hope is that your love for your little miracle grows right along with your beautiful belly!

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