beyond a big belly
“I’m pregnant.” With these words, twopeople begin the journey to becomethree.
Men’s role in pregnancy is crucial,but babies grow within their mothers’bellies. From conception on, a woman’sbody slowly but surely changes toaccommodate this growth.
As the baby grows, the changes toa pregnant woman’s body usually gobeyond a growing belly. Internal organsshift and are compressed, breasts tend toswell and be tender, hips and feet widento carry the extra weight, and almosteverything else can swell. No singlestatement can describe pregnant women.
Some are blissful and lithe, others canbe cranky and achy and the rest canbe virtually anything in between.
Pregnancy can be a bit like the openingline of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of TwoCities: it was the best of times, it wasthe worst of times. Some pregnancyhormones can actually change brainchemistry, causing depression or anxiety.
Statistics show about 10 per cent ofpregnant women become depressed,compared to six per cent of womenwho aren’t pregnant.
Pregnant women can also becomemore emotional and unpredictablebecause of fluctuating hormones.
Excitement, fear and anxiety andwaning self-esteem can also takea toll on nerves and confidence.
AHS’s Bounce Back Book notes thatfeelings of joy, excitement, enthusiasm,happiness and love accompany thearrival of a new child. However, it is notunusual for parents (most commonlybirth mothers) to feel irritable, sador overwhelmed after a baby’s birth.
This is known as the “baby blues.”
If the baby blues last for more
than two weeks, it’s time to contact
a physician or public health nurse.
Feelings of this nature have beenlinked to post-partum depression.
It is also important to rememberpost-partum depression is not just a“woman’s thing”—it has been foundin other caregivers as well, such asfathers and adoptive parents.
Having a baby is hard work, andtough on a woman’s body. There aretwo ways a woman can give birth:naturally (vaginal delivery), or throughCaesarean section (C-section) surgery.
All mammals, except those that layeggs outside their bodies, give birthto offspring by a vaginal delivery.
The process can take a matter of minutesor go on for hours, but it always hasfour stages: stage one involves earlylabour and active labour; in stage twothe baby moves through the birth canalto be born; in stage three the placenta(which supplies food and oxygen tothe baby through the umbilical cord)is delivered; stage four is the firstfew hours after birth. Any numberof situations can arise during labour;attending a prenatal class helps bothmoms and dads understand them.
C-section surgery is used when awoman cannot have a vaginal delivery.
For the baby to be born, the doctormakes a cut in the belly just abovethe pubic hairline.
Not surprisingly, it can take painmedication and a few weeks to physicallyrecover from either type of delivery.
Meanwhile, a woman’s body willcontinue to change after either typeof delivery. Women who breast andbottle-feed can experience swellingand discomfort as breasts fill with milk.
You can help her by offering a warmcompress, bringing the baby to nurse,and caring for the baby when she needstime for rests and other tasks.