How to Know If You Are Pregnant

Most women learn if they are pregnant or not in the first two months since conception. Pregnancy home tests and blood tests are not 100% reliable and an ultrasound won’t tell you much in the first month. Ultrasounds can check for pregnancy in the second month of pregnancy, but in some situations only a viability scan in the seventh week will accurately confirm your pregnancy.

The home pregnancy test

Home pregnancy tests detect if your urine contains hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone. This is produced after conception and fertilization, although elevated levels of hCG can also be produced by a cancerous tumour.

Home pregnancy tests are easy to take and read in the privacy of your home, which is very convenient. Most women take this test a few days after noticing a missed period – which is another first sign of being pregnant.  You can take the test earlier if you know that it’s possible to be pregnant, but the test will be less accurate.

The accuracy of urine pregnancy tests is about 97% if the test is taken correctly. Follow the instructions inside the package and take the test in the morning – that is when the urine is most concentrated.

After taking the test, schedule an appointment with your doctor for confirmation of pregnancy through more sensitive tests.

The blood test

Blood tests are more accurate than urine tests and are performed at a clinic. You will not get the results right away. Only schedule an appointment for a blood test if a least a week from a missed period has passed. After this week, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re pregnant, so you are ready to take further tests. Pregnancy tests – both urine and blood tests – are much more accurate after that week.

The Early Pregnancy Scan

Also called a Viability scan, this is an ultrasound carried at weeks 7-11. The sonographer can detect pregnancy earlier than that, but sometimes the scans are not clear before week seven. The nicest thing about the Early Pregnancy scan is the picture. At our clinic, you will get two printed images from this scan, to take away and share with your close ones.

Your doctor will also calculate you EDD (estimated due date) at this appointment and check for twin pregnancy. For clear results, drink a pint of water and do not empty your bladder in the hour before your scan appointment.

How to Cope with Early Pregnancy Symptoms

The four most common symptoms in early pregnancy are tiredness, morning sickness, mood swings and frequent urination, followed by other first signs of pregnancy. Learn how to keep them under control and cope with the changes they bring in your early weeks of pregnancy.

Tiredness

A very common pregnancy symptom is feeling tired. This is more intense in the first and third trimester.

Take naps as often as possible. You need plenty of rest, especially in early pregnancy, so try to go to bed earlier and take several short naps during the day.

Include carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables in all your meals and snacks throughout the day. A healthy pregnancy diet will keep you energetic and reduce the fatigue symptom.

Keep an exercise schedule and generally try to stay active. Even if you exercise lightly, establishing a daily routine will make you feel stronger and less tired.

Morning sickness

This symptom is commonly experienced in the first trimester of pregnancy. Nausea is sometimes accompanied by vomiting, especially in the morning.

Feeling nauseous can be accentuated by the food you eat. Keep your meals small and often, and replace foods that cause you nausea with their nutritional equivalents.

Natural remedies can be efficient against morning sickness. Examples include ginger, mint tea and Roman Chamomile tea.

Stay hydrated to diminish nausea. Have water, lemon juice or your favourite herbal tea with you to sip regularly throughout the day.

Frequent urination

This symptom is especially common during the first and third trimester of pregnancy. While your body produces more urine, the pressure on your bladder will increase, resulting in the frequent need to pee.

There are no options to go around this symptom. It’s very important to stay hydrated during pregnancy, so don’t cut back on fluid intake. Coffee makes you pee faster and is not very hydrating, so giving up caffeinated drinks will help. The frequent trips to the toilet at night can be reduced if you drink less water in the two hours before bedtime.

Mood swings

If your mood changes from one minute to the next, know that it’s normal. Mood swings are caused by hormonal activity and are very common during the first trimester.

You can’t really control the hormones responsible for your pregnancy symptoms, but there are ways to cope with mood swings. Exercise, rest and talking about your mood swings with your partner and friends will make you feel a lot better. Feeling guilty over your mood swings will only lead to more stress and is unjustified, as they’re out of your control. Be kind to yourself and find moments for reflection and relaxation. Reflecting on your pregnancy and becoming conscious of your baby is an important step towards a healthy pregnancy and giving birth.

5 Ways to Communicate with Your Baby in Womb

As you approach late pregnancy, you might feel the desire to communicate and bond with your baby, by telling stories or playing music to your womb. The feeling of bonding with the baby in womb can be very rewarding and it will help you be more peaceful and joyful.

1. Talk to your baby

After about 23 weeks, your baby is able to hear sounds from outside the womb, which means she’ll already start to learn your voice. Studies have indicated that hearing is developed so early because it helps babies familiarize with the mother’s voice and form an attachment early on. New-born babies also pay more attention to the mother’s voice than to other voices.

It might feel unusual at first to talk to your bump, but once you’ll get used to it and become more aware of the fact that your baby can hear you, it will be rewarding. The long chats with your bumps are one of the best experiences in the third trimester of pregnancy.

2. Play music to your baby

Play an album with relaxing music when you take a break or when you are reading, exercising or just pampering yourself with a nice bath. Meditation music can have a very calming effect for both you and your baby. Listen to this playlist to see what we mean: Meditation – The Sounds of Your Pregnancy. This album was created for Baby Clinic of Harley Street and contains 9 tracks of relaxing sounds for a soothing afternoon spent with your bump.

3. Sing to your baby

What can be more bonding than singing a lullaby to your baby in womb? Try one song every evening when you are in your third trimester. Your baby will familiarize with your voice and enjoy the sounds of the lullaby. It’s a great way to bond with your bump. Try singing the same lullabies and playing the same music to your baby after birth. You might notice that your baby pays special attention to those songs than to other sounds.

4. Gently massage your bump

Starting with the second trimester, it’s perfectly safe to massage your belly with oils or lotions. Make sure you use gentle movements, without pressing on your bump.

5. Respond to your baby’s kicks with gentle strokes

Although there is no evidence that stroking your bump every time you feel a kick will have any benefit, your baby can feel when you touch and stroke your tummy. For most pregnant mothers, responding to kicks feels very much like bonding and the first experience of a two-way communication is amazing.

Week 14 of Pregnancy

At week 14, your baby is about the size of an apple, weighting around one and a half ounces. Interesting developments are taking place, from tiny face muscles to peeing. Your early pregnancy symptoms have diminished by now, and you should start feeling better and more energetic during the following months. This is the most enjoyable part of pregnancy for most women.

Your baby’s development in week 14

Several facial features are developed around week 14. Your baby can frown and make all sorts of grimaces. The mouth roof is developed as well, and other particular features continue to fine-tune during this week. At your next ultrasound, you might be able to see your baby grimacing, grasping, sucking her thumb and being more active in general. Her body is growing longer and by the end of the week the length of her arms will become well-proportionate to her body.

How your days are changing during week 14

As the second trimester begins, you will notice that your energy levels return to normal and symptoms such as morning sickness, nausea and breast tenderness have diminished or disappeared completely.

You may experience abdominal aches due to the stretching of your belly muscles. Snoring, breast growth and an increase in appetite are other symptoms you may experience during week 14. A common symptom that appears at the start of the second trimester is forgetfulness. Your memory might feel foggy at times. This is not a severe symptom and should not be a reason to worry.

If you haven’t already announced your pregnancy to friends and colleagues, now is the time to do it. A small bump will start to show soon and the risk of miscarriage is low by this time. The announcement will also enable you to make sure that the environment at work is safe for your pregnancy.

Ultrasound scans at week 14

The next important ultrasound scan will be at week 16: the Growth Scan. This will check the measurements of your baby and confirm the healthy development. If everything is normal at the growth scan, the risk of miscarriage drops under 1%.

You will be able to find out your baby’s gender starting with week 17, through a gender scan or a 3D scan. You can already start thinking about whether you want to know your baby’s sex or not, and make a decision for your next appointment. Finding out the baby’s sex is always optional during our ultrasound appointments.

Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for the Second Trimester

Prenatal yoga is a great exercise for mums to be. When practiced safely, you will feel more energized, more comfortable and your body will be stronger and more flexible. If you’ve been practicing yoga regularly in your first trimester of pregnancy, you will now notice an increase in energy and a general decrease in discomfort. This is the most enjoyable time for exercise, as the pregnancy symptoms from the first trimester have diminished and the major physical changes of the third trimester are not an obstacle yet.

How is yoga different in the second trimester?

Now that a small bump is becoming visible, yoga practice will help you to become aware of the responsibility for the little one your carry. Yoga helps you reflect on this newly learned selflessness and on letting go and accepting.

Your baby is starting to shift the centre of gravity towards the growing belly, putting pressure on your back. This means you will have to modify your balance poses and use support for most of the poses.

At your prenatal yoga classes, you will learn how to adjust your practice to alleviate discomfort in the lower back and other sensitive areas. Standing poses and balance poses are very beneficial in the second trimester, as they build the muscles in your legs and prevent swelling, but most of them have to be adjusted by using support such as a chair. Warrior I and Warrior II are excellent poses that will help you improve your balance and strengthen the knee joints and thigh muscles. Don’t avoid them if you feel worried about your balance, and instead practice these poses near a wall.

Safety tips for practicing yoga in the second trimester

As your sense of balance gets affected by the growing belly and joint and muscles have loosened up, be extra careful during your exercises. Don’t push yourself by locking into a yoga position for too long or forcing your body over its limits. Overdoing it at this stage of pregnancy can result in injuries. If your yoga class is not dedicated to prenatal exercises, make sure your instructor knows that you are pregnant and in order to give you advice on what support to use during standing poses and how to adjust poses to accommodate your bump and release the pressure on your lower back. Avoid poses that involve lying flat on your back. This can put pressure on your spine and can restrict blood flow to your womb. Choose a side-lying position as your resting pose instead.

The Benefits of a Well-Being Scan during Late Pregnancy

The Well Being scan is an ultrasound carried out in the third trimester of pregnancy to check the well-being of your baby after 24 weeks. During this scan, the sonographer will take several measurements of your baby and check the position of the placenta as well as the amount of amniotic fluid. It is quite similar to the Growth Scan, only the focus of this scan is to check if everything is in order for the approach of the labour moment.

What happens during the Well-Being scan?

The baby’s development is assessed by measuring:

  • the head circumference
  • the circumference of the abdomen
  • the legs (the length of the femur)

In addition to the baby’s measurements, the baby’s position in the womb, the position of the placenta and the amount of amniotic fluid present will be assessed by the sonographer. Several other details are observed and reported, such as breathing movements and umbilical artery blood flows using a Doppler test.

At the end of the scan, all measurements and observations will be included in a report of the scan, which can be used for reference in follow-up appointments or when going into labour. Follow-up appointments are only necessary in case any problem is detected or suspected.

How do I prepare for a Well-Being scan?

There are no requirements prior to taking a well-being scan. You should eat and drink as normal on the day of your scan appointment. Having a full bladder before the scan is not necessary. It is recommended to wear loose clothes, as the sonographer will need to position and move the ultrasound probe along your abdomen. The most important thing is to feel comfortable during the appointment.

When can I take the Well Being scan?

Any time from the 25th week of pregnancy to the final stages of pregnancy up until week 36 is a suitable time for taking a well-being scan. While growth scans are recommended at different points in time to check the evolution of measurements, this is not the case with the well-being scan. If you had a growth scan during your second trimester, bring the report with you at the wellbeing scan. This will help the sonographer to better assess the development of your baby and the transition from mid pregnancy to late pregnancy.

Week 13 of Pregnancy

You’ll already start to feel more energetic at week 13 and you’ll be relieved to see that some early pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness and nausea will diminish. Many women also notice an increase in their libido around this time. Read on to see the developmental changes of your baby and how your body and lifestyle are changing at week 13 of pregnancy.

How your baby’s doing in week 13

About the size of a peach, you baby continues to grow and get ready for the outside world. She now has fingertips, which will develop in all their complexity in the following months. Her body length is increasing and tiny bones are forming in her legs and arms. The suckling muscles in her cheeks have already developed by now, and when she’ll feel movement through the tummy she will start rooting. This is very important for the instinct of searching for your nipple. By week 13, the ovaries or testes are fully formed inside the body.

Your body and lifestyle at week 13 of pregnancy

Around week 13 and week 14 you’ll likely see most of the uncomfortable symptoms of early pregnancy fade away. You’ll feel that you’re energy has returned and some women experience a greater sex drive. You may also notice an increase in vaginal discharge in the following weeks. This is not a reason to worry, as this is a harmless discharge with the role of preventing bacterial infections in your vagina.

Your risk of miscarriage is now much lower than in the first trimester of pregnancy. If you haven’t already announced your pregnancy to your friends and colleagues, now is the time to do it. Around weeks 13 to 15, a little bump should start showing and you will soon switch your wardrobe to more comfortable and stretchy maternity wear. It’s recommended to switch to bras with better support, as you’ll start to feel tenderness in your breasts due to hormones and the increased levels of blood flow to your breasts. There is a general increase in blood supply throughout your whole body in weeks 13 and 14 which is why most women notice a network of veins on their body around this time. This network however will fade away after you’ll give birth.

Ultrasound scans at week 13

The 13th week of pregnancy is the last week of the recommended period of time when you can take a Nuchal Translucency scan to check for Down syndrome and other pregnancy risks. During the NT scan, you will be able to see your baby on the screen in real time and get her measurements compared to the average measurements at this week of pregnancy.

Packing the essentials for your hospital bag

You should plan the list for your hospital bag as soon as you decide whether you will give birth at the hospital or at a birth clinic. The bag should be all set up and ready to grab two or three weeks before your due date at the latest. Your midwife or your antenatal class instructor will help you with the details, maternity notes and all the important to-do lists for the big moment.

It is recommended to pack two small bags, in order to have the items for labour separated from the items prepared for after birth.

Make sure to include the following essentials in your labour bag:

  • your maternity notes
  • a list of all the important phone numbers (have them in your phone as well)
  • about 3 changes of loose clothes to wear during labour; pick the most comfortable and breathable clothes
  • a dressing gown and slippers
  • socks or leg warmers
  • a birth ball, in case you’ve planned to use one (check with the hospital or your birth clinic to see if they already have one)
  • a toiletry bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towel, hairbrush, hairbands and clips (if you have long hair) and a lip balm
  • a sponge or a water spray for your partner to cool you down during the heat waves of labour
  • sanitary pads
  • healthy snacks, drinks and a straw
  • your tablet, iPod, magazines or a book to help you pass the time or relax
  • phone and charger
  • props or pillows to make yourself more comfortable at the hospital (they might not have enough extra pillows)

Have a separate bag for items needed after your baby is born. If you will have a straightforward birth, you and your baby will probably arrive at home a few hours after birth. If you will give birth by C-section, you may stay between 3 and 5 days in the postnatal ward, in which case you may need to pack a few extra essentials.

Here are the basic items for your after-birth bag:

  • comfortable clothes to wear after you have given birth and for going home
  • a baby blanket to wrap your new-born baby in
  • baby clothes, hat and nappies
  • if you’re giving birth in the winter, pack a jacket or a snowsuit for the baby
  • an infant car seat
  • two or three nursing bras
  • breast pads
  • maternity pads
  • front-opening shirts will come in handy for breastfeeding
  • travel-size toiletries
  • towels
  • eye mask and earplugs for restful sleep and naps

How to Throw a Baby Shower

Congratulations on throwing a baby shower! There’s no strict etiquette regarding baby shower parties, so you’ll have the freedom to organize it the way you want it to be. Before your start your to do list for the awesome baby party, here are the most important aspects to consider.

Who should throw the baby shower?

Usually baby shower parties are thrown by a close friend or by several friends. The organizer handles invitations, decorations, catering and the planning of games. It does not have to be a surprise party and most often the parents want to be involved in the party planning.

When to throw the baby shower

There is no rule for this either. Many moms prefer to have the party in their final weeks of pregnancy, because the moment of birth is closer and it feels right to celebrate as close as possible to the big event. Also, it’s more likely that the baby’s sex is known by the third trimester, so guest will be less clueless on what presents to choose. It’s also nice to throw the party after the baby is born: everyone will be joyful and happy to see the baby.

What location to pick for the baby shower

Usually the baby shower takes place at the mum’s house or at one of her close friends’ house. Only close friends are invited to the baby showers, so the intimacy of a home is preferred. When there is not enough room for the number of guests, it can also be held at a restaurant. Just make sure the place is private enough for everyone to feel comfortable and up for playing games.

Baby shower invitations

You can send the invitations by e-mail, post, or by handing them directly to the guests. Don’t create a Facebook event where you invite everyone. Not all will see the notification and every guest deserves a proper invite. The invitation should state the basic information: date, place, who is organizing, RSVP info and the baby shower theme.

What to do at a baby shower

Picking a theme for the baby shower will make everything more fun and get the guests excited about the party. Usually some food and drink is served. Restaurant parties with many guests will feel more formal, while some prefer a casual buffet at home. Just make sure there will be a cake, too.

There are plenty of ideas for baby shower games to keep everyone entertained, yet they’re not a must. Other activities can be planned instead, such as decorating a baby book or baby clothes.

It’s custom to give a favour to every guest at the end of the party, something small to take away and remember the lovely party.  It’s usually a goodie bag or something related to the theme of the party or to babies and it should not be an expensive gift.

Top Questions in Early Pregnancy

When does morning sickness start?

Morning sickness symptoms are caused by the pregnancy hormones in your body and for most women it starts around the 6th week. You might experience nausea from particular smells or foods. Read more on what morning sickness is and how to cope with it. As you advance in the second trimester, your morning sickness and nausea symptoms should ease up.

When will my pregnancy bump show?

If this is your first pregnancy, a bump will only be visible at the start of the second trimester, around weeks 12-16. If it is not your first pregnancy, your bump may be visible sooner, because belly muscles may be still stretched from your last pregnancy. Body weight, age and genes are also factors that influence how soon you will start to show a bump. If your bump shows too early, you might consider booking an appointment for an ultrasound scan to calculate the due date.

When will I have my first baby scan?

The very first scan you can take is the early pregnancy scan, which confirms whether you are pregnant or not and calculates your estimated due date. Twin pregnancy can be detected with this ultrasound. Also called viability scan, the early pregnancy scan can be taken from week 7 to week 11 of pregnancy. Your doctor or midwife might recommend this scan especially if you have had miscarriages or complications during previous pregnancies.

How soon does frequent urination start?

Frequent urination is one of the first signs of pregnancy, and will be at its peak during the first and last trimester. This is caused by the shrinkage of your bladder and by the fact that your body will start to produce more urine during pregnancy. This is a symptom you’ll have to get used to, as there is not much to do to reduce it. It’s important that you continue to drink the necessary amount of fluids. Try to give up caffeinated drinks, as these make you urinate more often and do not hydrate your body very much.

Why am I so emotional during pregnancy?

Mood swings are a common symptom during the first trimester of pregnancy. There’s not much reason to worry if you’re going from calm to irritation in seconds or if you’re feeling that your emotions are not as balanced as before. Mood swings are caused by the increase of pregnancy hormones in your body, as well as by the fact that there are many changes you need to go through during pregnancy. During the second trimester, mood swings should disappear. Read more about how to cope with mood swings and other common symptoms during early pregnancy.