Ten Questions About Pregnancy You Might Not Want To Ask Your Doctor
By Alan Cutler
Q1. Can I get pregnant following oral sex or heavy petting?
No. You can only get pregnant from full sexual intercourse.
Q2. How will I know if I am pregnant?
If you have had sexual intercourse since your last period and you are late for your current period, you may be pregnant. Following implantation of the fertilised egg menstruation should not occur, hence for women who have been sexually active and who have previously menstruated regularly, the absence of a period should be put down to pregnancy.
The most common way to confirm a pregnancy is to purchase and undertake a home test. These are relatively cheap and can be done in the privacy of your home. The manufacturers claim they are over 95% accurate.
If the home test has a positive result, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
Q3. Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?
For most couples it is normal for them to enjoy an active sex life throughout the pregnancy. Sexual intercourse will not harm the development of your baby as it is cushioned by a bag of fluid in your uterus.
Sex during your pregnancy may also help you both unwind and should help you maintain a strong bond with your partner, ready for the months ahead.
Q4. Does vaginal discharge increases during this time?
Yes, unfortunately it does. Vaginal discharge may well increase during all stages of your pregnancy and should be similar to the discharge you have previously had before a period. It is only if the discharge becomes very thick, smelly or blood stained that you need to seek medical assistance. If the cause is an infection, it can be easily treated with creams or tablets.
Q5. Will I get piles/haemorrhoids?
You may. Although people laugh and joke about piles, they are no laughing matter.
During pregnancy the walls and veins in your anus swell and blood flow becomes sluggish, causing the affected veins to throb and become painful.
There are precautions you can take to help reduce the chances of developing piles, such as:
Eat a high fibre diet and drink lots of fluid to avoid constipation.
Try to relax on the toilet and not strain.
Undertake regular exercise and pelvic floor exercises to help blood flow around your anus.
If you do get piles, your doctor, midwife or pharmacist will be able to suggest a suitable cream to ease the pain.
Q6. What is the best contraception to use after birth?
This will depend on how soon you wish to have another baby. If you want another baby soon (within one year), then short-term measures such as the cap or condom, ideally with the use of a spermicide, are probably the best contraception.
Long term, methods such as contraceptive injection, hormone implant and "the pill may be your best options.
Q7. How soon can I have sex after birth?
It is advisable to wait a few weeks after a normal delivery, and up to three months after a caesarean, as healing may take this length of time. It is important however that both you and your partner agree: neither should feel pressured into it.
Be aware that you may feel dry; though by using water-based lubricants there is no reason why sex should not be as enjoyable as before.
Q8. How will the midwife measure cervical dilation?
The midwife will measure how dilated (or open) the cervix is by gently inserting two fingers into the vagina. She assesses how open the cervix is by opening her fingers and feeling around its perimeter. She will also be feeling the position of the cervix and how soft it is.
She will always try to be gentle but sometimes the process can be slightly uncomfortable. Try to stay as relaxed as possible: the tenser you are, the more uncomfortable the procedure will be. Hold your partner's hand while the midwife examines you and ask him to try and distract you.
Q9. How will the hospital staff break my waters if they need to?
The midwife will discuss with you why you might need your waters breaking. Remember though, if you are not comfortable with this you can decline. If you fully understand the need to have your waters broken, and are happy to go ahead, the midwife or doctor will perform a normal vaginal examination then insert a long thin plastic hook that is a little bit like a crochet hook. The hook will be brushed over the bag of waters, which will usually be enough pressure to break it. The cervix does, however, have to be sufficiently open for this to be carried out.
Q10. If I have an episiotomy or perineal tear, how will it be repaired?
It is not always the case that your perineum (the area between the vaginal entrance and the rectum) will tear or need to be cut. Moreover, if it is, there is no way of knowing if you will require stitches. Some studies have shown that perineal massage can help prevent trauma. Your midwife will be able to advise you on this. Sometimes if a small tear has been sustained, it will be left to heal naturally.
If the area does require stitches, the midwife who has been looking after you will usually do it. You will be given local anaesthetic to numb the area before the midwife starts and she will check that you are unable to feel any pain before commencing. These days, stitches are almost always dissolvable and will not need to be removed.
Want to know more?
If you do want to know more about pregnancy, from conception to labour, you should take a look at "Pregnancy for Beginners - a comprehensive guide for the new mother-to-Be. Written by a State Registered Midwife, it is a simple, easy-to-understand, yet comprehensive, book you can download to your computer in minutes. See www.pregnancyfacts.org for full details of this invaluable guide for the newly pregnant woman.
About The Author
Written by a practising State Registered Midwife, this article gives a taster of her comprehensive, yet easy-to-read ebook, 'Pregnancy For Beginners'. See www.pregnancyfacts.org