To be pregnant and having a baby growing inside of you can feel magical, especially when baby starts moving and kicking. Many women positively bloom in pregnancy, with hair and skin glowing at their best and may sail through the whole 9 months, loving the whole experience. Most women, though, will have a mixture of positive and negative feelings, as 9 months is a long time and there will be different phases to go through. So there will be times when they feel happy and well and others when they feel tired and not so well. To make your pregnancy a more positive and enjoyable experience, it helps to become more knowledgeable about what to expect and how to lead a healthier lifestyle, to look after yourself and your growing bump.

Pregnancy test

If your usual monthly periods are late and you suspect that you might be pregnant you can get a pregnancy test kit from any local pharmacy. If the pregnancy test is positive then you should make an appointment to see your doctor or midwife. Your surgery will be able to put you in touch with your midwife. There are tests that your midwife will need to do before you are 10 weeks pregnant so if you think you are over 10 weeks pregnant you should see your midwife as soon as possible.

Early symptoms of pregnancy

In early pregnancy, as well as missing your periods, you might feel unusually tired, your breasts could be tender, some food & drink may smell or taste different, you might have cravings for certain foods and have bouts of nausea and morning sickness.

Bleeding in pregnancy

It is not uncommon for women to experience bleeding in early pregnancy, within the first 12 weeks. Try not to be alarmed if this does happen to you as many women who have experienced this do go on to have a healthy pregnancy. However, it can sometimes be a sign of something more serious so you should urgently be seen by your doctor or midwife.

Ultrasound baby scans

It’s an exciting and emotional moment when parents get to see an image of their growing baby on the monitor screen when having a ultrasound scan. It is usual for maternity hospitals in the UK to perform 2 scans during pregnancy for the following reasons:

First scan at 10 to 14 weeks:

The purpose of the first scan is to:

> estimate you baby’s due date

> find your baby’s heartbeat

> check for multiple babies

> measure your baby

Second scan at 18 to 21 weeks:

The purpose of the second scan is to:

> check the health and growth of your baby

> check the position of the placenta

What it feels like to go into labour

It can be confusing for pregnant women to know whether they are actually going into labour or not, especially as it is common for them to experience false contractions known as Braxton Hicks in the weeks leading up to going into labour.

Difference between Braxton Hicks & real contractions:

What Braxton Hicks feel like:

> come and go at irregular intervals

> causes a tightening of your abdomen but no pain

> will go away if you change position or empty your bladder

What labour contractions feel like:

> painful cramps which get more intense as time passes

> starts in lower back then comes to the front of abdomen

> can be timed at regular intervals which get shorter as time passes

Signs and symptoms of labour:

> contractions which are painful period like cramps (see above)

> lower back pain

> diarrhoea

> pinkish or brown discharge

> waters break

At what stage of labour should you go to hospital

When your contractions are coming at regular 5 minute intervals or if your waters break you should go to hospital with your hospital bag Go to Childbirth Tips for what to put in your hospital bag. Call your midwife, hospital or dr if you are unsure about anything. Some hospitals prefer you to call before you go to the hospital but this should be written in your maternity notes.

Meeting other mums to be

As the months pass pregnant women can typically begin to feel alone with their feelings as their family and friends may not fully understand what they are going through. It can help to talk to others who are also expecting a baby to compare experiences and share the journey to motherhood. Our service here at MumsMeetUp helps to combat loneliness by making it simple for mums and mums to be to find and meet up with others living nearby and it is totally free to use. Sign up here to meet other pregnant mums to be in your area.

TOP TIP: If you feel something is not right during your pregnancy, however minor you think it is, do not delay in seeking medical advice from your midwife or GP.

Pregnancy videos

The following videos by NHS Choices are packed full of facts and advice about pregnancy by Midwives. They are a must view for pregnant women and their partners.

The following is a list of UK organisations that provide free comprehensive information, advice and support to parents, pregnant women, their partners and families.

Association for Post Natal Illness: The APNI run a helpline for anyone who needs support and advice about postnatal illness. Their helpline is answered by women who have themselves in the past suffered from postnatal illness but are now fully recovered. Their confidential phone helpline is open from 10am-2pm Mon to Fri. They also offer online, email and postal support.
Go to Association for Post Natal Illness

Pregnancy Sickness Support: Providing support to women suffering from Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) and the severe form of the condition; Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). They have a telephone helpline for anyone suffering with information about treatment and coping strategies.
Go to Pregnancy Sickness Support

Ectopic Pregnancy Trust: For support, advice and awareness about ectopic pregnancies, including detailed information about what are the possible symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy and what women should do to seek urgent medical help.
Go to Ectopic Pregnancy Trust

MAMA Academy: Supporting mums and midwives to help babies arrive safely, including providing information, such as an extensive list of symptoms in pregnancy that should not be ignored and which should be reported to your maternity unit straight away and not the next day.
Go to MAMA Academy

Maternity Action: Giving free information and advice about the employment rights of pregnant women and parents, including the rights of women in the workplace not to be discriminated against or treated unfairly because of pregnancy or maternity. They also have a confidential telephone helpline which provides support and advice.
Go to Maternity Action

Miscarriage Association: Providing support and information to anyone affected by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy. Their pregnancy loss telephone helpline is available to provide support and information on pregnancy loss.
Go to Miscarriage Association

Money Advice Service: Set up by the Government, the Money Advice Service provide free and impartial information about the many benefits and entitlements pregnant women and parents can claim, whether in employment, unemployed or on a low income.
Go to Money Advice Service

Mummy's Star: Supporting women and their families affected by cancer during pregnancy or within 12 months after giving birth. Mummy's Star provides comprehensive information about cancer in pregnancy and helps women and their families get the support they need, access services that are available and, most importantly, for them to know that they are not alone when they are going through this.
Go to Mummy's Star

PANDAS Foundation UK: The PANDAS Foundation help to support and advise any parent who may be experiencing a perinatal illness, including Prenatal or Antenatal Depression; Postnatal Depression; Pre/Postnatal Anxiety; Postnatal Psychosis; Postnatal PTSD or Birth Trauma; Pre/Postnatal OCD. They also inform and guide family members, carers, friends and employers as to how they can support someone who is suffering from a perinatal illness. They also run a telephone helpline which is open from 9am-8pm every day.
Go to PANDAS Foundation UK

Petals Charity: Petals (aka Pregnancy Expectations Trauma and Loss Society) provides specialised counselling to anyone affected by still birth; neonatal death; trauma or depression following childbirth; diagnosis of fetal anomalies; antenatal anxiety or depression; miscarriage; IVF anxiety; or fear of pregnancy or childbirth.
Go to Petals Charity

Tommy's: Tommy's provides midwife-led online information and advice and support to pregnant women and parents to be. They run a free pregnancy telephone helpline which is open from 9am-5pm Mon to Fri, as well as email support.
Go to Tommy's

Pregnancy Symptoms

Bodily Changes

Scans

Morning Sickness

Miscarriage Risks

Pain Relief

Hospital Bag

Labour Symptoms