As we enter week 8 of our first pregnancy, the heady euphoria of the past two months has been replaced by something altogether more sinister, as the most unpleasant pregnancy symptoms officially take hold.
You may recall from my blog last week, “Life as an impatient Dad in waiting”, I was desperate for the morning sickness to kick in (sadistic, I know), just to give us both some outward sign that the pregnancy was progressing as it should.
But let me tell you, this week the nausea has well and truly struck, bringing with it a number of other side effects, including heightened emotions, severe fatigue, sore boobs, constipation and the dreaded mood swings – albeit I can’t lie; she’s generally been in surprisingly good spirits on the most part!
As the pregnancy Apps inform us, this turn of events is entirely normal and to be expected, saying “they may be giggling one minute, and crying the next for no apparent reason”, while becoming easily irritated with us and everything around them, as hormone levels fluctuate more than the global oil price #topicalreference.
The reasons for this volatility are, as ever, pure biology in action.
When you conceive, the amount of oestrogen and progesterone in the mother’s blood increases by 30-50 times to prepare her body for pregnancy. This affects not only her mood but also contributes to an increased need to pee, swollen and painfully tender breasts as well as morning sickness. And that’s not even the half of it…
Mentally, the fear of the unknown will be wreaking havoc on her (and probably your) emotional state; questions like whether she’ll be a good mother, the risks of miscarriage and therefore whether the baby will make it full term, how she’ll cope with labour and getting back to her pre-pregnancy weight. I could go on…
Physically, the changes taking place in her body during the first trimester are intense, even if from the outside there are few signs that she is pregnant. Her heart is now working 40% harder than ours (I mean, she’s growing a human being after all), contributing again to the worsening morning sickness, painful heartburn and the zapping of her energy levels.
If you want to put yourself in her position, imagine you are suffering from a hangover, having gone to bed at 3am last night after your favourite football club lost 5-0 to a team in the relegation zone. On top of that, you haven’t had a poo in three days, you’re feeling too ill to eat and yet you still have to go to work (but can’t let on to anyone why you are feeling so sh*t). That, my friends, is how it feels…every day…for about 6 weeks.
Knowing all this, the mood swings suddenly make a lot more sense to me. Thankfully, most women find that their moods become more manageable in the second trimester (week 12/13 onwards), so the end is in sight.
But in the meantime, there are a great many simple and free/cheap things that you can do to help ease her suffering and win major brownie points at the same time. Here is just a small selection of ideas that have worked a wonder in my house:
Go to bed early – before 10pm guys…she’ll love you for it. Plus you might as well enjoy your sleep while you can before the baby arrives.
Constant supply hot water bottles – to keep her and the baby warm, while soothing her aches and pains.
Foot massages – by no means my favourite pass time, but these go down a treat and it’s worth getting into the routine early, before her feet start to swell in the third trimester.
Morning snacks by her bedside – to help combat morning sickness, I’ve been leaving McVities Rich Teas on her bedside table before I leave for work – makes a big difference to her morning routine and helps reduce nausea on her way to work (made worse by an empty stomach). Plain crackers are also a good shout.
Limit any late night social plans – tiredness is one of the main reasons for the mood swings, so best avoid going out out for the next few months / ever again – remember, happy wife = happy life.
Take on more of the housework – boring, but somebody’s got to do it.
Pregnancy supplements – make sure she takes them daily and doesn’t forget (as my wife does). Deficiencies in minerals such as iron and zinc have both been linked to depression, so best to make sure she’s topped up.
Fulfil her every craving – this sounds sexier than it really is…of course I am referring to food. If she wants it, go get it for her, whatever the hour.
Don’t forget date nights – in a few months time you won’t be able to go out, just the two of you, without employing a babysitter, thus doubling the cost of every date night. So enjoy it while you can!
Keep her well hydrated – she won’t want to, but she needs to drink a lot during pregnancy. But avoid too many fizzy drinks or traditional teas/coffees as they contain caffeine, which can be harmful to the baby if you have too much of it – fruit teas, water and squash are generally your best bet.
Careful with her boobs – I know it’s tempting, especially as they get bigger every day, but best to just admire from afar unfortunately (for now at least).
If all else fails, just remember this is the woman you love and the future mother of your child, so bite your tongue, think of England and absorb any seemingly unfair or outrageous pregnancy outbursts over the coming months like a real man. I’m assured the mood swings won’t last forever!
Good luck guys – hang on in there. 32 weeks left to go.
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