BEING pregnant can be an exciting prospect for a first time mother, and the thought of the little bundle at the end of nine months outweighs any issues doctors and previously pregnant friends can warn you about.
But there are certain things that don't come in the 'bigger boobs and morning sickness and swollen feet' talk — things no one really includes in the pregnancy advice; things even some pregnancy books shy away from.
Below we list some of them — 10 things you may never have known about pregnancy, as confirmed by gynaecologist at the Winchester Surgical and Medical Centre, Dr Lloyd Goldson.
1 You may need to be stitched after childbirth. Childbirth can be very traumatic for some mothers. In fact, many mothers receive a tear in the area between the vagina and the anus and have to be stitched up afterwards. While getting a tear may sound horrible, mothers have confessed to not knowing exactly when this took place as the force of pushing out the child takes precedence over any other pain. In fact, it is believed that nine out of 10 women have some type of vaginal tearing after birth.
2 Your sense of smell gets better. Dr Goldson said during pregnancy, it is possible that a woman's sense of smell increases as does her sense of taste as a result of the increased level of blood flow to the nostrils. Scientists theorise that this is to help pregnant mothers avoid eating small levels of toxins that might not be dangerous to an adult, but could be deadly to a foetus.
3 You still have contractions after childbirth. Dr Goldson said contractions will continue after childbirth while the mother breastfeeds. "Breastfeeding produces oxytocins which make the uterus contracts," he said. As a result the new mother will feel the pains as this takes place. Research says these muscle cramps are also the body's way of stopping excess blood loss.
4 You don't need to eat for two. We've all heard the old wives' tale that when you are pregnant you need to eat for two as mothers need to pack on the pounds. This, Dr Goldson said, is not true. He said once women are taking vitamins and eating properly then they are OK. Most women only need to gain about 25 pounds throughout their entire pregnancy.
5 Your feet can grow one shoe size more. Dr Goldson said during pregnancy the body retains water so the ring gets tight and the feet get big. "This normally goes down afterwards depending on if she loses weight and loses the water. But the thing is that a lot of women retain the weight afterwards," he said. The excess pressure on the feet, the added pounds gained, along with relaxed ligaments in the body can cause the feet to grow up to one shoe size more. It has also been found that as pregnancy matures, the body starts to release the tightness of its ligaments to help with the birthing process; this also means that your feet will lose their arch and stretch out on the sides. The flatter, wider shape of your feet will probably be temporary, but if they grew too much, the change could end up being permanent.
6 A male foetus can get erections in the womb. While this may be hard to believe, in fact it is believed that this is sometimes how doctors are able to tell through ultrasound the sex of your baby. Dr Goldson said an erection in the womb is possible especially since males usually wake up with an erection in the morning. "This may be something that started from in the womb, but it has never been something we have discussed medically," he said.
7 You will poop. Because the muscles used to push the baby out are the same ones used during a bowel movement, women giving birth often defecate in the delivery room during the process. Another contributing factor is that the baby pushes directly on the rectum as it makes its exit, helping to squeeze out anything near that exit. In fact, many doctors/nurses warn women in labour not sit on the toilet if they feel like going because this could be the baby making its way out.
8 Fathers sometimes show symptoms of pregnancy. Thirty-four-year-old Leon W said while his girlfriend was pregnant, she never got sick once. Yet every morning he woke up nauseous or vomiting. Dr Goldson explained that while there is no scientific explanation, the number of incidences seen leaves one to believe this is true. He said some fathers even feel the symptoms and are the ones who let their partners know that they are pregnant. There are also some fathers who gain the weight and even feel cramps in their lower abdomen.
9 Sleeping can be very uncomfortable. As the tummy gets larger, mothers-to-be will find it very hard to sleep comfortably in any position. Tossing and turning can result in many sleepless nights. Dr Goldson said if the woman lies on her back she will feel as if she is suffocating, while if she lies on her right side, the baby presses on the vein that carries the blood to the heart preventing enough blood from flowing to the placenta. It is recommended that women lie on their left side.
10 It hurt! Because of the increase in the size of the tummy there is a lot of stretching which results in the woman feeling pain. "A lot of patients have backaches because the ligament stretches ," Dr Goldson said. He said if the woman has fibroids there will be even more pain as a result of the stretching.