They call it “momnesia”: those times you put the milk in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator; or you walk into a room, only to forget why you’re there. But “mommy brain” is more than a punch line, says Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in San Ramon, Calif., who specializes in prenatal and postpartum counseling. Experts say it’s a very real neurological issue resulting from powerful endocrine and brain chemistry changes. Fortunately, Bennett says, you can take steps to minimize the impact of mommy brain:
You’re not quite ready to divulge your happy news, but explaining away your exhaustion and frequent bathroom trips is getting tricky. Or you’re uncertain what sort of maternity leave you’re entitled to and, more importantly, how much of it is paid. These are just a few of the common scenarios you’ll need to tackle as you navigate the next nine months on the job. Our detailed guide will see you through.
The following is a summary of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ guidelines for exercising while pregnant:
1. In the absence of contraindications (see below), pregnant women are encouraged to engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week. (See “Don’t Exercise If ...” below.) As always, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Your first clue: Your menstrual period is late! (Dating a pregnancy actually starts from the first day of your last period, so by the time you miss your period you're considered four weeks pregnant.) You also may have swollen, tender breasts; up to 5 pounds of extra weight (much of it water); deep fatigue; mild to extreme nausea any time of the day or night (with or without vomiting); food cravings and aversions.
There are things nobody tells you: That your belly will itch so much it feels like the prickle is on the inside. That when traffic makes your husband an hour late, you'll have the phone in hand ready to call the police, absolutely positive that he's become a paraplegic in a five-car pileup. That your "morning" sickness will happen at night and last for more than six stomach-churning months, and your husband's breath will smell like rotting meat.
So, my boobs were sore. I felt a little... funny. But I didn't have my hopes up, since what had that gotten me so far? About $50 blown on home pregnancy tests and a feeling of defeat. But in a weird coincidence, I just happened to have my annual gyn exam--you know, an appointment I made about five months earlier--the day before I was supposed to get my period.
I was crying in the examining room.
The midwife looked concerned. "Has this happened to you before?" She meant the "faint line" on the pregnant test she'd just told me about.
I tried to wave away my tears with my hands. "No, no," I said. "I'm just emotional. But how can it be okay that I have a faint line? When I came here with my last pregnancy, the nurse said the line was nice and dark, and that it meant I was 'definitely pregnant.' So if the dark line was good, how can the faint line be fine, too?"
In a way, it's hard for me to believe, and I even now wonder if I'm jinxing myself by saying it: I'm pregnant. I'm pregnant!
I'm starting this blog privately before putting it out there in the world, and hopefully, knock on coffee table, by the time my second trimester is underway, I'll feel confident enough to make it "live." It's not that we're keeping it a secret--who, me? Turns out as lousy a secret-keeper about other people as I was in high school, I'm even worse in adulthood when it comes to my own news.
I want to start off this week with a shout out to Jessica. She's my niece and had her second son recently. She wrote to me today that her little guy's a real chow-hound. He's nursing every two hours. She's hitting the wall of sleep deprivation and wonders if anything other than IV caffeine will help. Nope. That's the only thing. IV coffee. The only other cure for life among the vampires is sleep. Good luck with that, honey.
Readers are thinking about sex and stuff this week. No surprise there. It's cold outside and no one can afford any outside entertainment so...whatcha gonna do? I got two emails from ladies who are still early in their pregnancies and had a little bleeding and brownish, gunky discharge after sex. Neither one had cramps and both felt fine otherwise but, obviously, bleeding's a worrisome thing.
Let's talk about cramps. You thought you'd leave those suckers behind for nine months once you got pregnant. You figured you'd have a bunch of big whoppers when you went into labor but other than that, you'd be cramp-free. Along with no period, isn't that supposed to be one of the perks of pregnancy? But then you notice some twinges. A little aching that comes and goes. Maybe you're just a few weeks along and worried there's a miscarriage coming. Maybe you're in your second trimester and worried it's preterm labor.
I've gotten quite a few emails lately with questions about miscarriage and first trimester bleeding. Nadine had an early miscarriage recently and was advised to wait three months before trying again. Amber had her first OB appointment and was told she wasn't nine weeks along as she thought but six weeks. Her placenta was big and there was no heartbeat. Kerri recently had her first prenatal appointment and reported a little spotting but didn't get any response or advice from her doctor.
Is there anything more frightening than a threat to your child? Even if your child is still just a squiggle on the ultrasound screen, a little nausea and a whole lot of hope? Kelly wrote about being newly pregnant and spotting. She's only known about her pregnancy for a couple of weeks and says she felt "elated" for the first 6 days. Then the spotting started and the worry. Ultrasounds have been reassuring that the baby is ,indeed, alive and well with a tiny beating heart.