1. Will my partner still find me sexually attractive after our baby is born?
Some partners love to get where the action is up close and personal as the baby is being born. The idea of not watching as closely as possible and perhaps missing out on something is just not an option for them. This prime vantage point of course gives a much different view than standing by the woman's side. If you’d prefer your partner not to see all the graphic details of your vagina stretching and your anus bulging, then say so during your pregnancy. You get to decide what your partner's role is as your support person and if you’d prefer them not to be by the business end, then say so.
You and your partner will find that sex changes after you have your baby, particularly if you have a vaginal birth. Because of the stretching from childbirth, your vagina will feel bigger and not as tight as it did before you had children. Despite how careful you are about doing pelvic floor exercises it's unlikely you will ever regain exactly the same level of tone in your vaginal muscles. A consultation with a pelvic floor physical therapist after you give birth can be very helpful. Often, couples deal with the changes and the majority find that sex is equally as pleasurable as it was before.
2. Why am I farting so much?
The reason why farting in pregnancy is more common is due to simple biology. The bowel lies adjacent to and behind the uterus. As pregnancy advances, the bowel needs to compete for space. This is one of the reasons why constipation is more common during pregnancy—space becomes an issue.
Progesterone is a relaxing hormone, and it helps the muscles and ligaments in the pelvis relax and prepare for birth. But it also changes the tone of the bowel, so it does not work as efficiently.
If you're bothered by excess flatus, then consider if your diet could do with some changes. High-fiber foods such as beans, vegetables, whole grains, and dried fruits can create more gas. You may want to limit your intake of these and go for more bland or easier to digest alternatives.
3. Why do I constantly feel wet?
A normal vaginal discharge is clear, yellow, or cloudy in color. It is generally colorless, odorless, and not a problem. However, if a vaginal infection is present, vaginal mucus can become smelly and its color can change. It can also be very irritating and increase in amount. If you feel you have a vaginal infection, then it's important to speak with your maternity care provider. There are a range of very effective treatment options.
Showering at least once a day and careful washing helps to keep the vagina and vulval area clean. Most pregnant women find they need to change their underpants a couple of times a day. Alternately, panty liners can help to absorb excess vaginal mucus and help you feel drier.
You could find that toilet paper just isn't enough to feel clean after you've urinated or had a bowel movement. Try using a moist wipe to freshen up. But be aware that you can't flush these down the toilet. You’ll be up for some pretty hefty plumbing costs if you do.
4. What if I pass stool during my labor?
Decades ago, laboring women were given enemas. This involved a tube being inserted into their rectum and warm water and liquid soap flowing into the lower bowel. This certainly had the desired effect of emptying the bowel of stool. These days, a small enema may be given if it's been a while since a woman has had a stool.
A full bowel can delay the descent of the baby's head and it does make for a rather messy birth. Tell your provider or labor nurse if you've been bothered by constipation or if your bowel feels full and you're uncomfortable.
Birth professionals are very used to women passing stool when they’re pushing. In fact, they don’t think anything of it and as much as it may pain you to hear this, your stool is not any different from anyone else’s. They see it all the time in some shape or form. Birth professionals are used to wiping away what comes out (usually in the most discrete way possible) so that the stool does not come into contact with the baby. It also helps to keep the area for birth relatively clean.
5. Can my provider tell if I've just had sex?
Apart from your own comfort, it demonstrates respect and consideration for someone who is about to get up close and personal.
6. What will I do if my baby is ugly?
A baby's face changes considerably over the first few days following birth. Birth pressure which caused swelling and puffiness will subside and little features which were almost undetectable at birth may become more obvious. Their nose, which may have first appeared big, is likely to reduce in size and shape. And that little blue face which came as such a shock will become pink and cute.
Your baby is designed by nature to help you fall in love with them. Even if your baby is not as pretty or lovely as you hoped they would be, give yourself and your baby time to get to know each other.
7. I’m terrified of getting fat. What can I do?
We used to think that pregnancy was an excuse to let all dietary restraint fly out of the window and for a pregnant woman to eat everything she wanted. But current guidelines are very clear that excess weight gain during pregnancy is directly related to increased risks. Check what your pre-pregnancy BMI (Basal Metabolic Index) was before you conceived, and this will give you an indication of how much you should gain.
Avoid thinking that you need to eat for two. You only need to eat for yourself and a bit more. If you aim for a total weight gain of 22 to 28 pounds over the entire term of your pregnancy, you’ll be doing OK.
8. Am I the only woman who hates being pregnant?
Very rarely, pregnancy can create feelings of intense unhappiness and dissatisfaction. If you feel this way, it's important you speak with a healthcare professional.
However, if you are like most pregnant women then you’ll have days when you’ll think pregnancy is the most wonderful condition in the world. You’ll feel comfortable, happy and all will be great. And other days won't be as harmonious. Your feet will ache and swell, you’ll spend more time on the toilet than anywhere else, and heartburn will feel like its eating away at your insides. Be reassured that usually discomfort is limited to the last trimester when space becomes a premium.
9. How soon can I find out who my baby's father is?
You may want to wait until after your baby is born to check their paternity. A swab is collected from inside the baby's cheek and the cells examined for paternal DNA.
10. What if I don't like my baby's gender?
If you have not been told what gender your baby is through ultrasound or genetic testing, then assume you've got a fairly equal chance of having either gender.
11. If I don’t like my provider, can I get another one?
What's important is that you feel comfortable, confident, and at ease. If for some reason this isn't the case, then explore other options.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.