Being pregnant raises lots of questions – especially for first time mums. You may be wondering what the early signs of pregnancy are, which vitamins you need to take, or if you'll have any cravings. These questions are perfectly normal – especially when your body is going through so many changes. Hopefully, our top 10 pregnancy FAQs below will answer some of your questions!
The earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. If you have a regular monthly cycle, normally you get your period about 4 weeks from the start of your last period.
To find out if you're pregnant, you can do a pregnancy test from the first day you miss your period. Home pregnancy tests are very reliable, but see your GP to be sure and also to start your antenatal care.
Many women still feel fine at 4 weeks, but others may notice sore breasts, fatigue, frequent urination, and nausea (feeling sick).
Sometimes pregnant women have some very light bleeding, called "spotting", at the time when their period would be due. This is also known as implantation bleeding, which is when the foetus plants itself into the wall of your womb. Spotting is completely normal and does not need any medical treatment.
Every woman is different and not all women will notice all these symptoms.
If you're eagerly looking out for any hints that you might be pregnant, other early signs of pregnancy include:
There isn't a specific time when pregnancy food cravings start. It's different for every woman – and you may not necessarily have any cravings.
If you do start having cravings, it'll probably be in your first trimester (it could be as early as 5 weeks into pregnancy). They'll get stronger in your second trimester, and then eventually stop in your third trimester.
Cravings come in all shapes and sizes. Some women crave fatty foods like chips. Others get pregnancy cravings for things they didn't like before they got pregnant, or strange combinations of food such as mars bars with bacon.
Try to eat as healthily as possible – keep those unhealthy temptations to a minimum!
If you find yourself craving things that aren't food, like toothpaste, coal or even soil, speak to your midwife or doctor, as this may be a sign of a vitamin deficiency.
Weight gain in pregnancy varies from person to person. It also depends on your weight before you become pregnant.
Most pregnant women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22lb to 26lb), putting on most of the weight after week 20. Much of the extra weight is due to your baby growing, but your body will also be storing fat, ready to make breast milk after your baby is born.
Putting on too much or too little weight while you're pregnant can lead to health problems for you or your unborn baby. But don't worry, it's easy to make healthy food choices. Find out what to eat when pregnant and what foods to avoid.
You'll get most of the vitamins and minerals you need by eating a healthy, varied diet. But when you're pregnant (and while you are trying to get pregnant) you also need to take a folic acid supplement. It's also recommended you take a daily vitamin D supplement – especially in the winter months (October to March) when you don't get enough from the sunlight.
Along with the vitamins you should take, there are also some to watch out for and avoid. You should avoid supplements and multivitamins containing vitamin A (retinol) – as too much of it can harm your baby's development. You should also avoid liver and liver products (including fish liver oil), as they are high in vitamin A.
Find out more about vitamins and supplements in pregnancy.
Keeping active and doing exercise while you're pregnant is great for you and your baby. You can keep up your normal level of daily activity and exercise regime, as long as it still feels comfortable.
Here are some tips for exercising while pregnant:
For a few pregnancy exercises, read about exercises for a fitter pregnancy.
Depending on how you normally like to snooze, you might have to rethink your favourite position while you're pregnant.
If you sleep on your back, it's safe to continue during the first trimester, but as your bump gets bigger and heavier you'll need to sleep on your side, so it's best to get into the habit as soon as you can.
By the third trimester (after 28 weeks of pregnancy), sleeping on your side is the safest position for your baby as it helps prevent the risk of stillbirth. Don't worry, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated your risk of stillbirth is low (1 in 200 babies are stillborn) and going to sleep on your side will make it even lower.
It's ok if you end up in all sorts of positions when you are asleep. The important thing to remember is to fall asleep on your side, as this means you are sleeping safely for your baby. If you wake up on your back, don't be alarmed, just turn onto your side and go back to sleep.
Try sleeping on one side with your knees bent, it'll help reduce the amount of pressure on your uterus and help you breathe better. Plus, this position can help relieve backache. You can use pillows under your belly, between your legs, and behind your back if you like.
You should go to sleep on your side whenever you have a snooze, including:
Antenatal classes are available to give you and your partner lots of helpful information on labour, birth and early parenthood.
They're usually informal, fun and sociable, which makes them a great place to meet other parents-to-be. The friends you make at antenatal classes can become a great support network.
Antenatal classes usually start 8 to 10 weeks before your baby is born, and happen once a week for about 2 hours.
You can choose classes that are just for pregnant women, or classes that welcome a partner or a friend. There are sometimes classes especially designed for single mothers or teenagers.
Antenatal classes may include info on:
There are 2 different types of breast pump: electric and manual. They're both designed to mimic the sucking action your baby makes when they're breastfeeding.
When you use a manual pump, you squeeze the plunger by hand. This type of pump:
An electric pump does the hard work for you. This type of pump:
Mums often say that a manual breast pump is better if you're only expressing occasionally, while an electric pump is more efficient if you need to express milk quickly and often, for example if you've gone back to work.
If you're giving your baby expressed or formula milk, you'll need to buy some bottles. The choice of baby bottles can be overwhelming as there are quite a few options.
When you start bottle feeding, don't buy loads as your baby may not necessarily like the ones you've chosen. Better to start off with a few and, if your baby approves, you can always buy more.
The main types of bottle include:
You can choose between silicone and latex teats for most of these bottle types.
The teats come in a bell shape, or a bulbous shape that's designed to feel more like a nipple. You might want to try both shapes when your baby first starts bottle feeding to see which one they prefer.
The teats often come with different flow rates. To find out which flow rate is best for your baby takes a bit of trial and error. If they're spluttering or choking with their current bottle, they need a slower flow. But if they're sucking quite hard and seem to be getting frustrated while they're feeding, you might want to try a faster flow.
You can also get variflow teats – some of these can be manually adjusted, while others automatically increase in flow as your baby's sucking gets stronger.
A birth plan is a way of letting your midwife, nurses and doctors know what you want to happen during your labour. It's a chance to plan things like where you want to give birth, who's going to be with you during the birth, and what facilities you'd like to use.
It's important to remember that giving birth doesn't always go perfectly to plan, and things may have to change at the last minute (but your midwife will be there to help you make the best and safest decision for you and your baby).
Things to think about and include in your birth plan:
You can download an NHS birth plan template. While you're writing your birth plan, talk to your midwife about your choices so they understand and can advise you.