Charlotte wants to know about stretchmarks and pregnancy weight gain

pregnancy weightHere, our resident midwife Sarah Denning answers Charlottes’s questions.

Sarah Denning is a midwife at The Birth Team, The Spires Hospital, Bushey.

I’m four months pregnant but haven’t changed weight yet. My pre-pregnancy BMI was in the healthy range. How late in pregnancy is it OK for weight gain to start?

In the first half of pregnancy it’s normal not to gain weight; as long as you are eating a good diet and the baby is growing normally there is no need to worry. Most women will gain between 9-11 kilos in total and the majority of the weight gain happens in the second half of pregnancy, when the baby gets bigger faster, there is more fluid around him or her, your blood volume increases and you begin to lay down some fat stores.

I’ve been shown around the birthing centre at my hospital and told that my pregnancy is “low risk”. I already know that I can’t have an epidural in the birthing centre, so what will help me know if I would be better off in the labour ward?

You’re right, you won’t be able to have an epidural in a birthing centre; this must be performed by an anaesthetic and needs to be carried out with the right equipment on the delivery suite. Knowing if you will want an epidural is hard to know in advance, as every labour is different. If you’re healthy you have every chance of having a normal birth
in the birthing centre; they will have a range of pain relieving options you can use if you need them, in fact everything except epidurals, so be confident.

Be informed; go to a really good antenatal class (midwife-led classes are excellent) and search reliable information sites like labourpains.com by the Obstetric Anaesthetists Association.

Try not to be in influenced by other women’s experiences; it’s a very individual and personal experience and what worked for them may not for you.

If you are in a birthing centre and you decide that you do want an epidural, transferring to the labour ward is simple – no one is going to lock you in the birthing centre if you decide to change your mind!

I’ve heard that if your weight gain is kept under control throughout the pregnancy then the chances of me getting stretch marks are minimal and I don’t need to spend lots of money on stretch mark creams. Is this true?

Rapid weight gain does increase the risk of stretch marks; if you put on a lot of weight really quickly, your skin doesn’t have time to grow to accommodate and breaks happen in the deep layers of the skin, showing as stretch marks. Having said that, it also comes down to skin type – some women just naturally have more elastic skin than others and do not get stretch marks, whereas others who haven’t put on excessive weight and have religiously used special creams will get them.

How much do I need to restrict alcohol once I’m breast feeding?

Well, alcohol does go into your breastmilk at about the same level as in your bloodstream. It is at its highest level for 30-60 minutes. If you want to drink, only have a small amount and time it straight after a feed, so there is time for your body to metabolise the alcohol.

At what age do I need to “baby- proof” my home for my baby?

Babies change quickly and you don’t want to be caught unawares. Getting into good safety habits early is helpful. Safety proofing should happen before a baby is mobile, which can vary. If your baby is beginning to roll over, it won’t be long before they are on the move, and if you haven’t got things in place before then, it is time to get prepared.

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