Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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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.
Bigger than an acorn. Smaller than a kiwi. At 10 weeks, a fetus is about an inch long, but makes itself known in larger-than-life ways. When I was pregnant with Sylvia, I spent a week on a college campus, and I have never known such love for a cafeteria. The food wasn't especially good, but there was always so much of it, so many different little bits of food, and they were already made. When I'm not feeling well, I cannot even fathom food preparation. If I'm hungry, I need the food now.
Here are some signs that I'm feeling better today, better than I've felt in weeks:
This morning I wake up feeling fine. I'm five weeks, two days pregnant, so if this is anything like my previous pregnancies with my girls, I should start to feel nauseous any day now. This morning, as I shuffle into the kitchen bleary-eyed but otherwise well, the only thing I feel is a slight lurch in my stomach when I go to make my usual cup of decaf latte. I stand for a moment and survey my physical state. After a moment the feeling disappears, and I start to feel panicky.
Even if all you can eat is potato chips, go for it. So many women are determined to eat what they’re supposed to eat, but the real key when you’re sick is to eat anything as long as you can keep it down.
— Miriam Erick, M.S., R.D. founder of the Morning Sickness Nutrition Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
By her third pregnancy, Janet Boggess knew exactly what she had to do: Never leave home without a supply of towels and a fresh stack of plastic bags. And don’t go anywhere — especially where food is served — without a lemon.
Thus equipped, the 36-year-old pediatric nurse from Nicholasville, Ky., could weather any alimentary storm. Whenever she became overwhelmed by smells — coffee, cigarettes, cooking oils or perfume — Boggess grabbed a lemon and took a bite.
Some days, summer seems like it’s a season straight from heaven. On others, soaring temperatures produce scorching heat — the kind that’s a master at quelling appetites. Add to that the tidal waves of nausea and dreaded morning sickness that many expecting moms face, and it can be hard to think about eating anything. For some, warm foods seem even more unpalatable.
For Janice Stagnitto Ellis, “morning” sickness was a misnomer. During the entire first trimester of her pregnancy two years ago, Ellis, 38, of Silver Spring, Md., would wake up, go to work, come home and go to bed — queasy all the while. And her churning stomach wasn’t the worst of it. “I felt really guilty,” she says. “How could I keep myself — and my baby — healthy, when eating was so awful?”
Before my first pregnancy, I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner and an occasional big, juicy chili dog. But even in those very first days after I conceived, the wine tasted flat and the hot dog repulsed me. Fast-forward a few weeks. With a positive pregnancy test in hand, I realized that my body knew I was pregnant before my mind did. Of course, the earliest symptoms of pregnancy wax and wane and are different for each woman; in fact, some women may experience (or notice) none of them. But several can crop up well before you even miss a period.
For centuries, expectant parents have been trying to determine the gender of their babies in utero by scrutinizing everything from morning sickness to how the mother is carrying to fetal heart rate. While looking for clues to this mystery may be part of the fun and excitement of pregnancy, none of these factors has been shown to accurately predict gender.
Bendectin was first marketed in the United States in 1956. In 1983, because of numerous lawsuits claiming that the drug caused birth defects, its producer, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, voluntarily withdrew Bendectin from the market. After reviewing 30 years of research, however, doctors and scientists now believe that Bendectin poses no detectable risk of birth defects. The medication was and is safe to use, and many women who suffer from unrelieved nausea and resultant dehydration may want to take it to relieve their symptoms.
Pushing a stroller with the added weight of your baby (and all his gear) turns a simple walk into a fat-burning and endurance-building activity. It also gives you an opportunity to bond with your baby—and other new moms. The best part? No babysitter required.
• Make a walking date with a fellow mom in your neighborhood. By getting together with other parents, you can help to combat the new-mom feelings of loneliness, isolation and exhaustion.