I could probably write an encyclopedia of pregnancy questions and answers. Although the process of carrying and delivering a child is commonplace and ingrained in our existence, the entire ordeal can seem like a mystery to some.
Here I’ve chosen 5 common questions that most women have about pregnancy:
Can you get pregnant on your period?
Yes, although the probability of getting pregnant while on your period is low, it is still possible. The probability of getting pregnant varies throughout your cycle and depends on how regular your cycle is. For example, women with a regular 28-32 day cycle are less likely to get pregnant while on their period than women with shorter cycles.
That being said, sperm can live in your uterus for 3-5 days, so if you are, say, at the end of your cycle there is still a possibility that one of the linger-ers can fertilize an egg.
Bottom line: period sex is not birth control.
How soon can I take a pregnancy test?
The most accurate pregnancy test results are going to occur a week after your missed period. Once you have conceived, it typically takes your body 7-12 days to develop detectable levels of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin – a hormone produced by the placenta after implantation). Otherwise, results may be inaccurate if a test is taken too early.
What is a doula?
A doula is a birth companion that provides physical and emotional support to women before, during and after childbirth. They are different from a midwife because they are not medically trained and therefore cannot administer any medication. Doulas are typically certified through courses and practical training.
It has been proven that the support of a doula can help improve the overall health of mother and child. Most doulas will provide pregnancy care, help with labouring techniques and teach mothers how to breastfeed.
What do contractions feel like?
Like a swift kick to the stomach over and over. Seriously, contractions are usually described as menstrual cramps that progressively get worse. While contracting, you may feel your uterus tighten – the hardening and contracting of your muscles is your body’s way of pushing the baby into delivery position.
Contractions can feel like severe gas pains or occur as back pain. Women all experience contractions differently.
How do I induce labour naturally?
I know that when my daughter hit the 2-week-overdue mark that I would have done anything to get the show on the road. If you are past your due date, your doctor will take steps to try and get the ball rolling such as performing a membrane sweep, breaking your water or applying prostaglandin to your cervix to soften and thin it out.
However, there are certain methods you can try at home to encourage labour:
- Relax: Your body is less likely to go into labour mode if you are tense and stressed. Do things that relax you such as warm baths, massages or aromatherapy. Even a nice dinner out can help melt the stress away to encourage labour.
- Walk: Walking does more than keep your body in shape – the side-to-side movement of your hips while you walk helps to get baby into delivery position. Moving around may be the last thing you want to do when you feel like the size of a house, but it is one of the best way to nudge your baby into action.
- Pineapple: Pineapple, as well as papayas and mangoes, contains an enzyme that softens the cervix, stimulates muscle contractions and shortens labour.
Be wary of home methods that suggest ingesting products such as castor or evening primrose oils. While these oils are known to induce labour, they may have unpleasant side effects such as intestinal issues. Trust me, you stomach region is going to be in enough turmoil once it’s go-time, you do not need any additional pain or discomfort there.