Prevention & Recovery

7 things you're dying to know about your pregnancy

By: Melissa Heckscher and Emily Sikking

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

7 things you're dying to know about your pregnancy

By: Melissa Heckscher and Emily Sikking
This story was originally titled "The Pregnancy Test" in the September 2011 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Whether you're a first-time mom-to-be or an experienced veteran, you're bound to have a few blush-worthy questions about your pregnancy. Where exactly is all that weight coming from? Why is your guy suddenly craving ice cream and pickles? Will sex ever be the same again? In The Pregnancy Test (Quirk books, 2011), authors Melissa Hecksher and obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Emily Sikking present a guessing game of 150 rapid-fire – and refreshingly frank – questions and answers that help take the mystery out of maternity. how well would you score, based on these seven sample questions?

1. True or False?: Men can get morning sickness, too

Though they're not the ones carrying and delivering the baby, up to 65 per cent of men may experience symptoms like those of their expecting partners. Usually beginning around the third month of pregnancy, the symptoms include mood swings, cravings, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, weight gain, stomach cramps and even a bloated belly.

This phenomenon is called couvade syndrome, and theories abound to explain it. some experts believe it develops when a man, programmed to protect his family, realizes he can't do anything to alleviate his partner’s pain. Since he can't "fix" the problem, he takes some of it on himself. other scientists theorize that experiencing pregnancy symptoms is a man’s instinctive display of commitment to his partner.

Recent studies suggest that men experience significant hormonal changes during their partners’ pregnancies – specifically, higher levels of prolactin, a hormone associated with milk production in women and possibly maternal and paternal behaviour. These changes may help men bond with their children, making them more likely to stick around for child rearing.

2. My doctor says my baby weighs only one pound, so why have I gained 15?
a. Blood, breasts and baby fat are heavy baggage.
b. Pregnancy slows your metabolism.
c. The placenta weighs 14 pounds.
d. Too many Twinkies.


It's not just your baby that's getting bigger. Pregnancy packs on pounds in ways you probably never imagined (all of which are temporary, provided you don't overdo it with the late-night ice cream cravings). As early as the 10th week, hormonal fluctuations will likely add a pound or two onto your boobs alone. From then on, you'll probably gain about seven pounds of fat (reserves for your baby in case you skip a few meals) and eight pounds of added blood volume and retained fluids.

All told, your body will have accumulated about 30 pounds [13.5 kilograms] by the time you give birth.

Here's the breakdown:
Baby: 7 to 8 pounds [3 to 3.5 kilograms]
Placenta: 1 to 2 pounds [500 grams to 1 kilogram]
Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds [1 kilogram]
Uterus: 2 pounds [1 kilogram]
Maternal breast tissue: 2 pounds [1 kilogram]
Maternal blood: 4 pounds [2 kilograms]
Fluids in maternal tissue: 4 pounds [2 kilograms]
Maternal fat and nutrient stores: 7 pounds [3 kilograms]

Page 1 of 3 - find the answers to 5 more of your most pressing pregnancy questions on the next pages
3. True or false?: It's possible for the penis to hit the baby during deep penetration.

Even if your partner is extremely well endowed, his penis won't touch the baby during sex because your tightly closed cervix stands in its way. That said, he may bump up against your cervix, particularly during deep thrusts. The sensation may be painful, but it's not harmful. Try switching to a position in which you can control the depth of penetration (girl-on-top works well).

Don't panic if you notice a little spotting after sex. It's probably coming from your cervix, which can become irritated due to amped-up circulation and increased blood flow to the area. It’s fairly common but nevertheless may be worth mentioning to your doctor, just to rule out any problems with your placenta (which can also cause bleeding).

As silly as it may sound, it's common for men to worry that their penises are getting too close to their offspring. And though such fears may lead to a temporary bout of abstinence, most women can safely have sex right up until the day they go into labour.

4. What's wrong with kissing and snuggling with a cat or dog?
a. Pets may harbour infections that can be dangerous to your unborn baby.
b. Flea bites can be dangerous for your unborn baby.
c. Pets are more likely to bite you when you're pregnant.
d. nothing – cuddle away. (Just don’t touch any poop.)

Answer: d.

Few infections can pass between people and animals. In fact, it's a lot more likely you'll catch a cold from snuggling with your significant other than from your pet.

Still, cats can carry a disease called toxoplasmosis that can be passed on to people via feline feces. For this reason, pregnant women should avoid changing cat litter or wear latex gloves and wash hands afterward.

Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check if you've already been exposed. If you have, no need to worry. If not, just take the following precautions:
• Change the litter box daily. The parasite does not become infectious until one to five days after it is shed in the cat's feces.
• Keep your cats inside. Indoor cats are less likely to become infected.
• Don't adopt or handle stray cats.
• Don't get a new cat while you're pregnant.
• Don't eat raw or undercooked meats.
• Don't feed raw or undercooked meats to your cats.

Check out these great tips for prepping your pet for the arrival of your baby.

Page 2 of 3 - find the answer to three more of your most burning pregnancy questions on the next page.

5. True or false?: The use of air freshener can be harmful for my unborn baby.
Answer: True.

Air freshener may smell good, but it's not so good for your little one. According to a British study of 14,000 pregnant women, children whose mothers used aerosols and air fresheners daily during pregnancy had a higher incidence of diarrhea and earaches in infancy and childhood.

If that's not convincing enough, a 2007 study by the U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that many air fresheners contain phthalates, chemicals that can affect testosterone levels and lead to reproductive abnormalities, including irregular genitalia and reduced sperm production. Doctors are most concerned about exposure to phthalates during the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy, when the sex organs are developing.

So how to keep your home smelling fresh without contaminating the air?
• Place stink-fighting baking soda or a little vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes around the house, and invest in houseplants.
• Simmer a little vinegar on the stove while cooking to alleviate the scent of stinky foods.
• Throw a slice of lemon in the garbage disposal to reduce food-scrap smells.

6. True or false?: Unborn babies can taste the foods their mothers eat.
Answer: True.

Studies suggest that once your baby is at least 28 weeks in the womb, he may be able to taste what you're eating. Tastebuds develop around nine weeks after conception, though the brain connections that help distinguish tastes aren't fully functional until near the beginning of the third trimester. By this time, your baby is swallowing amniotic fluid by the mouthful and is likely tasting hints of flavours from your meals, especially if you're eating potent spices such as garlic and curry powder, which have been shown to be strong enough to change the odour of amniotic fluid.

What you're eating while you're expecting may also influence your baby's taste preferences after birth, according to a study at Philadelphia's Monell Chemical Senses Center. Researchers assigned 46 pregnant women to one of three groups: Those in one drank carrot juice daily; the second group drank water; and the third avoided carrot juice altogether. After the babies began eating solid foods, researchers offered them a choice of plain cereal or cereal mixed with carrot juice. Babies whose mothers drank carrot juice while pregnant ate more carrot-flavoured cereal and showed fewer negative facial responses to it than babies whose moms had avoided carrot juice.

7. True or false?: Childbirth will change my vagina.

Your vagina must stretch to squeeze out that little human being. It will shrink back after your baby is born but will remain a little bit larger, especially if you delivered a big baby. Most partners say they can't tell the difference, and it won't feel any different to you. Doing daily Kegel exercises may help you regain your prebaby tone.

Don't expect to have sex right away: You should wait six weeks to allow your cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop, and any tears or stitches to heal. The vaginal tissue may be tender and dry for up to several months after delivery, so sex may hurt the first few times. C-section moms aren't immune from sexual discomfort; studies show that they are just as likely to suffer from painful sex after childbirth as women who deliver vaginally.

For a minority of women, a feeling of "looseness" may linger, especially after giving birth to a large baby or after several vaginal births. This can be alleviated with daily Kegel exercises or, in severe cases, vaginal surgery.

You can find more great advice about your pregnancy here.

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Prevention & Recovery

7 things you're dying to know about your pregnancy