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Pregnancy and Childbirth

Pregnancy & Childbirth

If you have got this far and become pregnant with your sperm donor or co-parent then congratulations. You will now start to think about the details involved in your pregnancy and your changing body. It is also very likely that you will think about the labour itself. We have some great information that can help you with all aspects of your pregnancy and childbirth.

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Signs of Pregnancy

Most women don't suspect they're pregnant until they've missed a period, but there may be other signs that include:

  • Sickness and/or nausea
  • A strange, 'metallic'  taste in your mouth
  • Enlarged breasts and breast tenderness and tingling
  • The small bumps - 'Montgomery' stubercules' - on your nipples becoming more obvious
  • Stomachpains – light cramps not severe pain.
  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Needing to urinate more often
  • Loss of appetite for certain foods
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Some women experience very light bleeding (called 'spotting') that they mistake for their period

Morning Sickness

Around 90% of pregnant women suffer from morning sickness and it doesn’t always just occur in the mornings – for some the nausea and vomiting can happen throughout the day and night!

Here are our top 5 tips for reducing the symptoms of morning sickness:

  • Stay hydrated - Take little sips of water often to keep your body hydrated. Your body will lose fluid if you are vomiting so you will need to replace those lost fluids.
  • Eat foods richin B vitamins such as chicken, fish, liver and avocados.
  • Snack often throughout the day as the feeling of hunger can bring on nausea. If you are working try to be prepared by taking in lots of things to snack on. Try to eat carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice as this will help keep hunger at bay.
  • Avoid strong smelling foods and places with strong smells as this can bring on a queasy feeling.
  • Go herbal - visit your local herbal specialist with advice on nausea as traditional organic supplements such as ginger can help some women.

Your changing body

You may notice several changes in your body throughout your pregnancy –this is completely normal. Here are some of the common body changes you may experience:

  • Hair – you may notice the hair on your head (and indeed other parts ofyour body) becomes thicker during pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy Glow – your face may appear to be slightly redder in colour -this is because your blood circulation has increased.
  • Skin – You may get dark blotches appearing on your face which is commonly known as ‘the mask of pregnancy’. Make sure you use a high factor sun screen to protect your skin during this stage.
  • Acne - Many women experience increased pimples during pregnancy and if you suffer from acne it is likely to get worse so make sure you wash your face thoroughly and read the labels thoroughly on any medicated creams you may betaking for acne.


Feel your Baby Kicking

Feeling your baby kick for the first time is such an exciting moment. You may experience this feeling from around 16 weeks of pregnancy. At first the feeling may be gentle but as your baby grows you will certainly feel a real kick or two.

You baby will move inside you to get comfortable and will not stay in one position throughout your pregnancy. Your baby will move more and more towards the end of your pregnancy and eventually you may be able to feel his/her feet kicking your ribs as the head turns to face downwards.

Worrying Pregnancy Symptoms

The most import mat advice is to trust you own judgment. If you justdon’t feel right then don’t be afraid to get the option of a medical professional.

Vaginal Bleeding – light bleeding or spotting is common during the veryearly stages of pregnancy but heavy bleeding and associated pain can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage so contact your doctor immediately.

Belly pains – sharp pains or persistent pains in your belly can be asign of preclampsia or could be associated with anything from ectopic pregnancy to food poisoning so its best to get it checked out straight away. Light crampsand pains should be nothing to worry about but anything that gets your attention should be checked out.

Burning when you wee – urinary infections are common during pregnancy so if you experience symptoms such as burning when you pass water then go see your doctor.

Hospital or home?

You can choose to have your baby in hospital or at home as long as there are no serious complications with your pregnancy.

Your doctor will automatically book you into hospital for your birth unless you request otherwise. Hospitals are seen as the safest place to be when giving birth as expert medical staff are on hand in case of any complications.

Some women feel more comfortable in the thought of giving birth at home in relaxed surroundings. If you choose this option your pain relief will be gasand air but no epidural will be offered.

Water births are increasingly popular – you can ask for a water birth at home or in hospital. The warm water helps your body to release pain relieving hormones and many women who have experienced a water birth will recommend it.


Double trouble or double the fun? Particularly with sperm donation multiple births are common due to the fertility treatments used so you will need to be aware that there is a strong chance you may have twins or more if you are having fertility treatment through a clinic to become pregnant.

If two eggs are released during ovulation and both are fertilized by separate sperm then you will be pregnant with non identical twins. As non identical twins only share half of their genes they may not look the same.

Identical twins are born when one egg slits into two during the first 14 days of pregnancy. This will result in your babies looking very much alike.

It is very common for twins to be born early at around the 37 week mark so if you give birth naturally the smaller weight of the babies can make it easier but it is common for there to be complications during multiple births soyou may end up with a caesarean.

You will have lot’s of advice given to you about how to feed your twins or triplets and it may take some getting used to  but you will adjust quickly so whether you breastfeed, use formula or both stick with it.

Antenatal Tests

There are tests you can ask for during pregnancy. Sometimes these tests can be stressful but they also provide you with reassurance about the health of your baby.

Group B Strep (GBS) – Around one third of all women will carry this bacteria without knowing it and it is the most common cause of life-threatening illness in newborn babies. If this infection is transferred to your baby during labour it can cause blood poisoning, pneumonia, meningitis and can lead to death. You can request this test and if you are found to be carrying the infection you will be given antibiotics during labour to reduce the risk for your child.

Rhesus Negative– If your blood group is rhesus negative, as around 15% of the population are then there could be problems if your baby’s blood group is rhesus positive as your body will produce antibodies because it sees the baby as an invader. If this happens it will cause anaemia and jaundice. There is a simple injection available to prevent this happening so make sure your blood is tested prior to or during pregnancy.

Nuchal Translucency (NT) Scan– This is the test commonly sued to assess if you baby may have Downs Syndrome. Nuchal translucency is a collection of fluid under the skin at the back of your baby’s neck. You can ask for a scan at around 13 week’s pregnancy with which the fluid can be measured. Babies who have down syndrome may have increased levels of this fluid. This test givesonly an indication however if fluid levels are found to be above average then a diagnostic test can be performed to confirm the outcome. Tests can include a Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) or an amniocentesis test.

12 week scan – During this scan basic measurements of your baby will be taken in order to calculate how many weeks old your baby is. You can ask for a print out of your baby scan to show your family.

22 week scan This is a detailed scan during which various measurements will be taken to ensure that your baby is developing correctly. It is possible during this scan to work out the sex of the baby so you will need to decide if you want to know or not.

Pregnancy Risks

A premature baby is one who is classed as being born before 37 weeks. Around 7% of babies are born prematurely and fortunately with some great neonatal care on offer 9 out of 10 of these premature babies will develop normally.

A poor diet and smoking can lead to premature birth and it is highly likely that if you are carrying multiples then you may well go into premature labour. However for around one third of all births there is no apparent reason why the mother goes into premature labour.

If you go into labour before 35 weeks your doctor is likely to stop your contractions by giving your drugs to delay the birth. If your baby is born before 37 weeks he or she is likely to be placed in an incubator on a special care unit to help with breathing. You will have plenty of opportunity to bond with your baby during these times even if your baby is in an incubator.


Preeclampsia is a common condition that can affect women in the second half of their pregnancy. The symptoms include high blood pressure, swollen limbs and a high concentration of protein in the urine.

Preeclampsia can be a very dangerous condition as it can reduce the amount of blood passing through the placenta which can result in your baby having a low birth weight and other problems.

Do's and Dont's of Pregnancy

  • Do not eat blue-veined cheese, pate and raw eggs.
  • Cut down on your caffeine intake.
  • Try to avoid eating shell fish, tuna, marlin and shark.
  • Alcohol can damage your unborn baby’s brain so if you can’t give it up completely then limit your alcohol intake to one or two units per week.
  • Your sex drive could go one of two ways – either through the roof or you may not fancy it at all. Listen to your body, try positions which are comfortable for you and if you feel any discomfort or you experience bleeding then stop.
  • Bleeding gums are very common during pregnancy so don’t forget to take a trip to you dentist.
  • If you own a dog avoid picking up their poo. If you own a cat give the job of cleaning out their litter tray to someone else.
  • Take paracetamol instead of ibuprofen, codeine and aspirin if you experience any aches and pains. Always read the label.


Flying while pregnant

The safest time to fly is the second trimester between 18 – 24 weeks. If you have high blood pressure or a weak cervix you should avoid flying during your pregnancy. Most airlines will allow you to fly up to 34 weeks of pregnancy but check with your airline before you book.

If you do decide to take a trip abroad then make sure you stay hydrated on the flight drinking lots of water and don’t stay sitting for too long.

Exercise & Pregnancy

If you enjoy exercising then there is no need to stop when you find out you are pregnant however you may need to modify the way you exercise or the level of your exercise intensity. Here are some of our tips for exercise during pregnancy:

  • Staying shape will help you get your body back to normal after the birth.
  • Don’t worry about your weight – you will obviously gain weight during pregnancy so stay away from those scales and concentrate on enjoying your exercise and enjoying your new pregnancy body.
  • Avoid lifting exercise as this can put strain on your uterus.
  • Be aware of the intensity at which you are exercising and try to keep you pulse under 140 beats per minute. If you are super fit or not fit at all then this pulse may change for your individual level of fitness.
  • Stay hydrated– it is important during exercise to stay hydrated and especially important when you are exercising during pregnancy so keep a bottle of water to hand before, during and after exercise.
  • Stretch carefully even if you feel supple as your ligaments will be looser during pregnancy. Don’t over do it!

Stages of Childbirth

For almost all first time mothers there will come the time when you get a little bit nervous about the inevitability of giving birth. Obviously if you’ve never done it before no matter what people tell you, you don’t know what to expect. Here is some information about the process of labour.

During the first stage of labour your cervix is plugged with mucus which helps to keep away infection. Your cervix has to open to around 10cm dilated so that your baby can be born. Shortly before you go into labour your mucus plug may come out which will look like jelly stained with blood. This is a sign that labour has, or is about to begin.

You may experience gentle contractions like light cramping when your cervix dilates to around 3-4cm and then your contractions will become more painful and more regular. You may not be able to talk during these contractions and it ishelpful to carry out breathing exercises to help you cope with the pain. You will experience intense contractions every minute or so. When your cervix is around 8cm dilated you may be encouraged by your midwife to start pushing.

As the baby moves towards your vagina you will feel the pressure of your baby’s head between your legs. With every push you baby will move a little closer to the opening of the vagina. Just as your baby’s head is moving towards the opening of your vagina you will feel a burning, stinging sensation. As your baby’s head appears you may be asked to take short panting breathes for the next couple of contractions to make sure that your baby’s arrival is smooth and slow and to prevent vaginal tearing.

You will still be experiencing weak contractions which help the placenta peel away from the uterus wall. You may get the urge to push the placenta out of your vagina. You may be given an injection to help with this stage which means you won’t have to do any more pushing.

Once your baby is born you will get to hold him/her for the first time and this moment is one that you will have pictured a thousand times and it is a really special moment for you, or you and your partner.

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Getting Pregnant through Sperm Donation