When it comes to managing pregnancy for personal wellness, it is best to be as prepared as possible… but are you? Is the common wisdom, and what you’ve heard from family and friends, adequate preparation for the day-to-day challenges of maintaining a healthy pregnancy—both for yourself, and for the child you are carrying?
With that in mind, here are five little tidbits of information which many pregnant women aren’t aware of in advance.
You’re probably used to hearing that pregnancy lasts nine months, but in reality, it might be a little longer. According to WebMD, the average length of pregnancy is closer to 39 weeks, which is even down from 40 weeks in the 90’s. That means it’s closer to ten months than nine. This is likely due to better fetal monitoring, which in turn leads to more medically-assisted births. As a result, the risk of stillbirths and other delivery-related deaths can be avoided, increasing the average pregnancy term.
A pregnant woman’s body produces relaxin, a hormone which softens muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the pelvic region. This may result in pelvic pain, along with pain in immediately outlying areas, as softened tissues are much easier to pull or strain than they would otherwise be.
Effective treatments include pelvic floor exercises, which help strengthen your spinal, tummy, pelvic girdle, hip, and pelvic floor muscles. Other safe methods worth exploring include acupuncture and osteopathy. Pelvic support belts, which wrap around your stomach and pelvis, can also help to alleviate any pain you may have throughout the day.
But it won’t be forever either. Even after you deliver your baby, you may feel the need to follow an extreme diet or exercise plan. Keep in mind that your body is tired and sleep-deprived, so instead of any major diets, just focus on eating healthy each day, supplemented by some aerobic exercise, like running, cycling or swimming. After about 6 weeks, you can return to a more active program, unless you weren’t active in the past, in which case you should consult your doctor.
Nutrition consultant Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, believes that losing baby weight can take up to 12 months or more. “Ideally, you should take the weight off gradually,” says Ward, “aiming for 1-2 pounds per week.”
Despite their best intentions, even our loved ones are blinded by what they can’t experience. You may hear pregnancy horror stories, or repetitive questions (“Is it a boy or a girl?”) but they may not realize that their words might bring you stress or anxiety, especially during this time.. Just smile and don’t let it get to you. There are counsellors and doctors you can talk to if it gets to be too much.
It’s called “pregnancy brain” by some, and it’s a documented reality. Not only do a pregnant woman’s hormonal changes affect her memory directly, but she is also more prone to losing sleep—in itself an impediment to a healthy, functional memory. The result is a kind of brain fog: pregnant women are prone to forgetting appointments, to losing focus on what they are doing mid-task, and to losing track of objects around the house.
The theory behind this is that it is meant to help facilitate the emotional connection to her newborn’s facial expression, giving an early boost to the mother-child bond. The best way to confront the effects is to leave things in proximity to where they are needed: like hanging keys someplace conspicuous near the front door. Making checklists for “what needs doing” can also be extremely helpful.
There are many more little things to learn about the challenges involved in being pregnant—and how to deal with them. Additional information may be found in the following locations:
ConceiveAbilities believes that every unborn child deserves the healthiest and least stressful environment possible, in which to grow and develop—and that mothers-to-be deserve as much support as they can get! Whether you are a surrogate mother carrying a child for intended parents, or a woman who is building her own family via traditional means, you and your baby deserve the best.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.