Category Archives: Pregnancy

What a “good” pregnancy looks like


After cleaning out my purse recently I discovered my NHS Maternity Exemption certificate cards for the pregnancies for both DS1 and DS2 (shows how often I have a clear out…).

This has caused me to ponder my pregnancies and the fact that, insha’Allah, they’ll be the only two I’ll ever have. I’ve been fortunate enough that they both went to full term and ended in good, natural, births in water – in both cases within less than an hour of arriving at the birth centres (may I take this opportunity to recommend the gorgeous boutique hotel-cum-labour rooms of the St Mary’s birth centre in Paddington. Worth having a baby just to get a free overnight stay.)

When people ask how my pregnancies were, I always say ‘fine’. After all, I didn’t end up in hospital on a drip from vomit-induced dehydration, or have to take to my bed to lie horizontal for months on end. They were not, however, entirely symptom-free, so for my own purposes I’m going to log here my total catalogue of pregnancy-related experiences, from head to toe. I’m hoping it will serve as a reminder for me if I ever feel broody again (hard to imagine at this particular moment, where my eyelids are only held open by matchsticks and Diet Coke) that those 9 months are not something to be entered into lightly.

Warning: this list is not for the faint-hearted.

  • Hair got thicker and acquired more ‘body‘. I’ve been searching for 40 years for this. This was a Good Feature.
  • Headaches that lasted for several days.
  • Inner ears seemed to get swollen and blocked and needed several syringes. Have regained hearing completely since births.
  • Pigmentation darkened meaning I’ve got more freckles, plus two moles that appeared out of nowhere and needed surgically removing (particularly as one was on my cheek and my mother thought I’d been wandering around all day with a toast crumb on my face).
  • Colds and flu that were untreatable through normal means. Lost voice throughout a visit from the in-laws.
  • Metallic taste in mouth in early months.
  • Halitosis – not enough (I hope) to lose friends, but generated sufficient complaints from bedfellow to have to resort to a quick spray of mouthwash before I said hello in the morning.
  • Free dental checkups. Good Feature. Bleeding gums were not.
  • Heartburn.
  • Nausea for months and months. Ate a lot of ready-salted Pringles.
  • Regular vomiting (esp with DS2; with DS1 it was only if my waistband was too tight because I was still trying to squeeze myself into suits).
  • Anaemia, which, until diagnosed, meant that the second trimesters were not quite the ‘blooming’ experiences they were supposed to be. I was knackered!
  • Stress incontinence. Particularly nice when combined with vomiting.
  • Thrush. For months. Hideous.
  • Vaginal/labial variscosities. The ailment that no one talks about, instead worrying themselves sick thinking they’ve got a tumour, or the baby’s making an early arrival. More common the more babies you have.
  • Diarrhoea, particularly if I ate too much or too richly. Not good when waiting for the last ferry back to Naples from Capri, almost 8 mths pregnant. But counteracted by…
  • Constipation. And even worse than that, a tendency for my body to just give up half way through evacuation leaving me sitting on the loo wondering what the f*** to do. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, reassured only by the hope that this was all good muscle training for labour.
  • Sore back and hip aches at various times (esp from carrying toddler when pg with DS2). As a result, in tears at the discomfort of sleep, I blew the whole of my Health in Pregnancy grant of £190 on a memory foam and duckdown mattress topper from John Lewis.
  • Sprained ankle as a result of loosened ligaments (and foot slipping on a rock). This happened on a reef in the Channel Islands with the tide coming in. Several learning points there.
  • Appalling state of footcare due to inability to see feet for several months.

As I said, ‘fine’ pregnancies. Any brave gentlemen who’ve read this far, think on’t. Pregnant women deserve Respect.


Pregnant and feel like you’re sitting on a rugby ball?


Vaginal varicose veins. Umm, nice.

One of the few pregnancy ailments that are barely mentioned (understandably), but now that I’m suffering I’m finding that most others are in the same boat (particularly second-or-more timers). Basically the weight of the baby and the increased blood flow to that area means that the veins are filling up with blood and it’s not flowing easily through them.

On the plus side, they should subside post birth (I’ve had reports that this happened).

On the negative side, they can burst during birth (also reported by a close friend) leading to potentially serious blood loss for the mother. The person this happened to had quite severe veins and had to sit on icepacks when pregnant just to ease the discomfort and heaviness.

Mine are apparently ‘mild’ (though things do feel swollen in that department) and the birth centre, which doesn’t have a labour ward attached to it, where I want to give birth in 2.5 weeks have said I don’t need to worry.  The midwife there said if they burst they’ll tie a knot in them (I think she was joking). The pregnancy yoga teacher said to focus on pelvic floor exercises on short, sharp bursts, rather than long holds, to try to encourage the blood flow.

I think it’s interesting that, at least in the UK, you can go through a pregnancy without anyone actually having a look around that area. So if you don’t feel confident enough to mention that things are uncomfortable, I imagine that lots of people experience these varicosities without any explanation of what they are, just putting them down as one of the many ailments of pregnancy that we just grin and bear.

More on that list later…