Becoming a Mother
If youÂre not already immune, get a measles-mumps-rubella vaccination at least three months before becoming pregnant, the chickenpox vaccine one month before. Get a flu shot if youÂll be in your second or third trimester during flu season.
Changes} As your uterus grows and your center of gravity shifts, added strain is placed on your lower back, causing pain.
Releif} Get massages from a prenatal-massage therapist; take daily walks; apply heat or ice;
wear low-heeled (not flat), supportive shoes; sleep on your left side; try wearing an abdominal-support garment.
Legs & feet
Changes} Swelling and pain may occur, particularly as your uterus expands. Varicose veins can
develop in the second or third trimester. Painful leg cramps may wake you up at night.
Relief} Limit salty foods; rest with your legs elevated. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods; try support stockings. Stretch legs before going to bed; avoid pointing your toes.
Butt & lower belly
Changes} Constipation can start in the first trimester. Hemorrhoids (swollen veins in the rectum) may develop, particularly if you’re constipated. The need to urinate increases in the first trimester, subsides in the second, then increases again during the third.
Relief} Exercise; drink lots of water; eat foods high in fiber. Take warm baths and use doctor-approved, over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or pads. Avoid drinking large amounts of water just before bedtime.
What can go wrong Call your doctor if the baby’s movements decrease markedly or if you have any signs of preterm labor. Also call if you experience bleeding or leaking of fluid from your vagina, severe headache, excessive swelling in your face or hands, sudden weight gain, blurred vision or constant and/or severe abdominal pain.
Countdown to delivery
Signs that labor may be starting soon:
>Lightening (“dropping”) The baby usually descends into the pelvis two to four weeks before you go into labor. You’ll
typically need to urinate more frequently and will feel pressure on your rectum.
>Expulsion of the mucous plug This can occur anywhere from one to two weeks or just hours before labor—or not at all. When tinged with blood, it’s called “bloody show.”
>Braxton Hicks contractions (aka false labor) This mild, irregular cramping and tightness lasts a few seconds and often starts three to four weeks or more before delivery.
>Water breaking The amniotic-
fluid sac (aka membranes, or “bag of waters”) sometimes ruptures on its own before labor starts, releasing a trickle or gush of warm fluid.
Signs that labor really
>Regular contractions They start occurring closer together; changing positions doesn’t stop them.