Ida’s questions about pregnancy and birth

Here, our resident midwife Sarah Denning answers Ida’s concerns. Ida is a keen sportswoman and plays to a high level. She wants to know what she can continue to play Sarah Denning is a midwife at The Birth Team, The Spires Hospital, Bushey.

“I’ve had really itchy feet over the past couple of months, mainly on the soles of my feet and between the toes. What can I do to soothe this?”

Itching on the soles of the feet and/or the palms of the hands should always be reported to your midwife or doctor in pregnancy, as it can be a sign of developing Obstetric Cholestasis (a potentially serious liver disorder).

If you have had a normal blood test result but the itching persists, it may be a fungal infection (these are more common in pregnancy). You may need an anti- fungal cream. You can also help the itchiness by avoiding synthetic fabrics on your feet and not going long periods with sweaty, damp feet.

Read more here about Obstetric Cholestasis

“What can my partner do to help me when I go into labour?”

Not panic! If he stays calm, this will help you to stay calm. Going to couples’ ante-natal classes is helpful, as you’ll both be more aware of what the signs of labour are, what’s normal and when you should get advice.

He should encourage you to stay as relaxed as possible in early labour – carrying on with normal activities until labour is in a strong, regular pattern. He can distract you with a walk or a film and remind you to stay hydrated and eat little and often, though you may not have much of an appetite.

When contractions are strong, it’s not the right moment for a chat! So being quietly by your side during a contraction usually works best for most women. In between, you feel quite normal and at that point, chatting about everyday things can make you feel relaxed.

Your partner doesn’t need to be an expert masseur but a back, foot or shoulder rub can be much appreciated when you’re in labour to help you get through the pangs.

When labour gets stronger, the best support your partner give you is just to be there; the presence of a supportive, calm partner makes a lot of difference to how well you manage during the birth.

“Can I keep doing sports while pregnant?”

It is much better for you to be fit and active during pregnancy. If you have been used to doing lots of sports before you got pregnant, there is no reason not to continue doing it, unless the activity you do is high impact, i.e. a contact sport, or is liable to raise your body temperature to a level that can be harmful during pregnancy.

Pregnancy hormones cause some softening in ligaments and cartilage that can leave you more prone to injury , so moderation is the key. Daily exercise that keeps you fit and healthy is very good for you throughout pregnancy unless you have been advised by your doctor or midwife not to do it. You should tell your instructor that you are pregnant, as they can normally modify exercise to be suitable for you.

If you haven’t done exercise before you got pregnant, there is no reason why you can’t start with moderate walking
or swimming once you are past the first trimester. Just make sure that you go to classes that are specifically for pregnancy (Many classes will not accept you until you are past the first trimester).
Read more about exercise in pregnancy

“What should I look out for to feel for how my baby is lying?”

It can be really difficult to know how your baby is lying – most mothers have no idea what position their baby is in!

If your baby is in the breech (bottom down) position, it can feel as though you have a lot of pressure under your ribs and you may feel kicking near your bladder but baby bottoms can feel hard and round, so it is quite hard to know.

If, as is normal, your baby’s head is towards your pelvis, usually sometime around 36-38 weeks (it can be earlier) the head will move down into the pelvis, ready for when your labour begins. What you might feel is a heavy feeling down low in the pelvis, and a bit more room at the top of your bump.

You may find that any heartburn eases off, you can comfortably eat a bit more and you can take a bigger breath than you have been used to.

This doesn’t mean labour is imminent – it’s a good sign as it means the baby’s head ts through the brim of the pelvis and is settling into a good position. But labour could be weeks away yet.

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