“Is our baby developing normally?”, “Who will our baby look like?”, “How will our older child react?” Here are 25 facts about pregnancy to help guide you through this period.
Are you expecting your second child? Ideally, you should talk to your older child a few months before the birth of his sibling. “One good way to prepare older children for the arrival of a little brother or sister is by using books already written on the subject as a lead-in,” suggests psychologist Karine Lapointe. “Also, you can answer your older child’s questions at his own pace, to give him the time he needs to get used to the idea.” Small acts such as placing his hand on your tummy so he can feel the baby, asking him to help you choose clothes for the newborn or even suggesting that he put some stuffed animals in the cradle, can also make the situation more real for your older child.
What will your baby look like? Will he have daddy’s eyes or mommy’s? “We were very surprised when our son was born,” admits Étienne, father to 6-year-old Siméon, 3-year-old Margot, and 8-month-old Jeanne. “He was blond with blue eyes, whereas my wife has brown hair and brown eyes, and I have brown hair and hazel eyes. Siméon actually gets his blue eyes from his grandparents.” Physical characteristics like eye and hair colour, height, facial features and so on are passed on from parents to their children through genes. Half of a child’s genetic make-up (23 chromosomes out of 46) comes from the father, and the other half from the mother. Nature takes care of the rest, mixing up the genes and distributing characteristics from the parents to the child at random!
During pregnancy, several different hormones prepare the woman’s body for the baby’s arrival. Each hormone works hard to accomplish its purpose.
- BHCG (or hCG): this is the hormone tested in pregnancy tests. It is secreted as soon as the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. In the first few weeks, it ensures the embryo’s survival. Its presence is what causes the nausea that many women experience.
- Progesterone and estrogen prepare the uterus to host the baby. The same hormones are responsible for fatigue and for the changes in your breasts.
- Oxytocin is produced in large quantities during the delivery. It’s what provokes uterine contractions. Its production also helps to strengthen the mother/child bond.
It’s possible and even advisable to exercise during pregnancy, but some activities should be avoided. This is the case for sports that could cause falls or injuries to the stomach like tennis, soccer, combat sports, downhill skiing and hockey, as well as activities that involve changes of altitude or pressure, like scuba diving. “I always liked to keep active during my pregnancies,” says Catherine, mother of three. “I would bike ride, snowshoe and hike. I did go downhill skiing once, but I didn’t enjoy it because I was afraid of falling.” Some foods are also to be avoided during pregnancy to prevent illnesses such as listeriosis. These mostly include raw or insufficiently cooked meats, fish and seafood, raw eggs and unpasteurized cheese.
In 2014, there were 2,631 multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.) in Quebec, representing 3% of all births. A woman will have a higher chance of having fraternal twins, i.e. babies that develop from two different eggs, if there are already fraternal twins in her family. However, identical twins, i.e. babies that develop from the same egg, are the luck of the draw. Heredity does not play a part. Multiple pregnancies are considered high-risk pregnancies. “They are at greater risk for complications and premature births,” explains Dr. Nathaël Leduc Arbour.
Source: Naître et grandir magazine, October 2015
Research and copywriting: Kenza Bennis
Scientific review: Marie Fortier, nurse and prenatal class instructor
Photo credit: Catherine Larose (fact # 7 Genetics)