There’s a reason a baby belly is so big. It’s full of secrets and stories that supply an expecting momma with nine months’ worth of experiences – with each experience neatly wrapped in one of the 26 letters of the alphabet. It’s called the pregnancy alphabet – a unique glossary of words capturing little moments of your pregnancy. Happily, these words mesh together like a warm quilt, to carry you through the course of your pregnancy. And, they’re alphabetical.
Let’s get you acquainted.
A for Anaemia
Your baby needs a large amount of iron as it grows, which means that your own iron levels will silently deplete. That’s when the tiredness, breathlessness, lethargy, and irritability will kick in.
B for Backache
Your back becomes an axis that supports two humans during the later months of your pregnancy – something that can be tough on any expecting mommy. The ligaments in the lower back and pelvis work harder, primarily due to a change in posture, as the belly grows to accommodate its new resident.
C for Cramps
Ugh. Cramps can be recurrent, and rather unwelcome, visitors during pregnancy. And curiously, they tend to make their presence felt late at night, just when you want to call it a day. Pregnancy cramps are common around the calf muscle.
D for Diet
Pregnant mommas and good food go hand in hand. Which is why you should talk to a nutritionist to set out a meal plan for yourself during your pregnancy. Your baby needs a healthy mix of foods from each food group, Also, who wouldn’t say yes to nine months of planned deliciousness? We certainly would.
E for Expected Date of Delivery
Know when your baby will be ready to meet you, by calculating your Expected Date of Delivery. There’s a simple formula for this: Add 1 year from today, minus 3 months from that, and add 7 days from the first day of your last period. There you have it.
F for Feet
Hello, Hulk feet. It’s natural for your feet to grow half an inch when you’re pregnant, courtesy hot fluid retention. Pick a pair of flat shoes, and set the stilettos aside for a while. Your Hulk feet will disappear once your baby is born. Thank your husband for the foot rubs while they last.
G for Gums
Gum infection and tooth decay are increasingly likely during pregnancy… Also, visit your dentist to chalk out an oral care plan for your pearly whites. Because they deserve to stay pearly. And white. Because how else will you smile for the cameras the day you deliver?
H for Haemorrhoids
Yup, the pregnancy alphabet ain’t all sunshine and roses. Because most often, a pregnancy isn’t either. Haemorrhoids, or piles, as they are known in common parlance, can really strain your relationship with the toilet. Haemorrhoids are normally a result of constipation, an imbalance in progesterone, or the weight of the baby’s head on the pelvis in the final stages of pregnancy.
I for Incontinence
Have you ever laughed so hard that you’ve wet your underwear? If you have, you’ve already had your introductory lesson in incontinence. Pregnancy can make bladder control a tad more difficult, what with the baby pressing against it in the second and third trimesters.
J for Joints
Hormones during pregnancy can soften the ligaments that support the joints of the pelvis. Rest your body as often as it needs to.
K for Kicks
Your baby’s little kicks are an exciting reminder that there is a little person housed inside you. Your baby’s activity may range from quiet, restful times to busy, spirited football sessions.
L for Libido
Your sex drive may veer to either extreme when you’re pregnant. Libido is governed by hormones. And hormones, as you know, take on a life of their own when there’s a baby on board.
M for Morning Sickness
Say thanks to your hormones. Morning sickness can be a pain, not only in the morning. It can strike at any time during the day, and usually occurs about six weeks into pregnancy. Start your day with a cup of tea and some dry biscuits to ward it off.
N for Nose Bleeds
Blood flow to the nose increases when you’re pregnant, so if you find your nose bleeding after you blow it, you now know why. The bleeding should stop after a few minutes, and an ice pack will help relieve the pain.
O for Oedema
Otherwise known as swollen ankles. The body retains up to six litres of additional fluid during pregnancy. The revised pattern of blood circulation can can swell your ankles and lower legs. As long as the swelling is confined to your lower legs and occurs only during the evening or at night, you have nothing to worry about. Otherwise, seek out a doctor – you may have symptoms of hypertension.
P for Palpitations
Rapid heartbeats – the kind you get when you watch a horror movie. And the kind you get when you’re pregnant. Your heartbeat increases by about 15 beats per minute, by the time your baby is due. That’s a lot of heart.
Q for Quickening
Quickening refers to the first noticeable movement of your baby. You’ll feel it at about 18 weeks into your pregnancy, and possibly earlier in your subsequent pregnancies. You won’t feel much at first – just a gentle whirling in your belly.
R for Rest
You’re allowed bonus sleep when you’re pregnant. Your body needs it. Make sure you get about 8 hours of sleep at night, and about 2 additional hours during the day. If you work and don’t have the option of resting, take breaks during the day to elevate your feet.
S for Skin
Pregnancy can act as a great moisturiser for some women. You may notice your skin becoming clearer and more radiant. For other women, acne, pimples and dry skin may accompany pregnancy – in which case, moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
T for Taste
Your taste buds may go on a trip while you’re pregnant. Foods you used to enjoy may suddenly become repulsive, and you may acquire a taste for some others you never used to have a preference for. Your palate will surprise you during your first trimester. Be prepared. With a plate and a fork.
U for Uterine Contractions
At about 30 weeks, you may start experiencing uterine contractions, your uterus’s way of warming up for the grand finale. Unlike true labour contractions, these are painless and irregular, and last about 30 seconds.
V for Veins
Varicose veins – the bluish network of intricate veins in the leg – are caused by long periods standing, or significant weight gain. You may also notice a superficial web of red and blue veins that appear during pregnancy. Use support stockings and sit with your feet up, to stimulate blood flow.
W for Weight
You’ve been waiting for this one, haven’t you? The amount of weight that you gain has a direct bearing on the progress of your pregnancy. Standards for weight gain during pregnancy range between 9 and 12.5 kilos – of this, about 4.4 kilos are the foetus, placenta and amniotic fluid, 1.1 kilos go to the uterus and breasts, 1 kilo goes in additional blood circulation, 2 kilos go to fat deposits, and 4 kilos amounts to fluid retention.
X for eXhale
Learn to relax during your pregnancy to shake off any stress you may have from office or home. Try activities like swimming, aromatherapy and yoga, to draw positive energy into your body. Try to meditate for about 20 minutes per day; inhale and relax your shoulders. It’ll soothe your nerves and calm your mind. When you exhale, you’ll find that some of the stress that you had shouldered is gone.
Y for You
It’s all about you, these nine months. You’ll be the centre of attention. Enjoy it, pamper yourself and make time for self-indulgence. When your baby arrives, she’ll need all your time. These nine months are yours.
Z for Zodiac
The zodiac, they say, can govern the personality of a person. It’s exciting to think about which zodiac your child will be born in. Little people have the biggest personalities, you know.
Z also stands for ‘Ze End’.
We’ve reached the end of the pregnancy alphabet. You’ll discover the words each letter stands for, as you go along these nine months. With each passing day, new experiences will find a home in your belly, causing it to become a little bigger than it was yesterday.
And you thought it was just the baby.