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Health Zone: What's up doc?

Q I AM just over six months pregnant and my bump is a lot smaller than anyone else I know who has had a baby. Everyone keeps telling me that I don't look pregnant and I can still wear exactly the same trousers I could when I wasn't pregnant. Is it normal?

A From Sue Jacob, Midwife from The Royal College of Midwives: There are a number of reasons for your pregnancy not to show for up to 24 weeks of gestation. There is more development of a baby's organs and systems than growth during the first half of the pregnancy.

Also it is common in first-time mothers not to show their pregnancy until later as their uterine and abdominal muscles are strong and taut which help keep the baby compact and snug inside the uterus. Although you are not showing much you should feel your baby moving frequently.

You should notice more growth towards the end of pregnancy. The abdominal girth increases by about two centimetres per week after 28 weeks. However it may be that your baby is not receiving optimum nutrition and may be small for the duration of pregnancy.

We advise you to contact your midwife and share your concerns. Midwives are trained to recognise abnormal growth patterns and refer women to specialists. Overall I'd say don't worry, this is not unusual for a first-time mother.

Q I'VE been married for five years and still enjoy a good sex life with my husband, but I find myself fantasising about other men we meet. I don't want to be with them in real life but feel guilty for these thoughts.

A From sex therapist Phillip Hodson, author of How to Make Great Love To A Man: We cannot help what we dream about: winning the Lottery, getting a big red Ferrari. Or in your case a severe dose of the Brad Pitts.

People have fantasies without planning them, so they are nothing to feel guilty about. You are not responsible for them anymore than for the dreams you had in bed last night.

It does not mean you are about to cheat on your husband. Nature designed us with a special system inside called sexual attraction. It would be strange if this suddenly switched itself off just because we got married.

You're allowed to look and dream. Just don't touch. My advice is to share the sexy benefits with the man who matters - your husband. Many couples find that once they share their fantasies rather than feeling embarrassed, their sex life improves and matures.

Q WHENEVER I have had an injection for a filling it seems to take two or three hours to wear off. Is it possible to ask for less as the treatment hardly ever lasts more than half an hour and I find the numbness unpleasant.

A From dentist Phil Stemmer at the Teeth For Life Clinic: Your experience is absolutely normal. But if you feel that the numbness is too inconvenient or unpleasant you could ask your dentist to use a local anaesthetic, which is less powerful and acts for a shorter time.

But this may compromise the depth, or effectiveness, of the anaesthesia, and you may feel discomfort or pain, especially towards the end of the procedure. Perhaps it is better to be safe than sorry and put up with the numbness as most people find this preferable to feeling pain when they are having work done.

Q One of my eyelids is slightly droopy and it has got worse in the last year since I have been studying at university for my finals. Is this because I have been straining my eyes and will it go away once I have stopped studying and is there anything I can do now to make my eyes more equal again?

A From optician Trevor Rowley: The condition where your eyelids become droopy is called Ptosis. This has many possible causes, some of which can be quite serious, although by far the most common cause of ptosis is old age, but not obviously in your case. While it is entirely possible that the stress and fatigue caused by your university final exams are responsible for this droopy eyelid, it is very important that you visit your doctor to ensure that this is not a symptom of anything more serious. If there is no other cause, then the problem should resolve itself after your exams are over. There are, however, no exercises or self-treatments available to help treat ptosis, it generally heals itself over time.

Q MY first child is now four months old. Is it OK now to resume a normal sex life with my husband and are there any potential problems (I had a normal delivery)?

A From gynaecologist Anne Szarewski: It is a myth that you should wait ages after you've had a baby before resuming your sex life. You may be tired and sleep deprived, but there is no physical reason.

If you had a tear or an episiotomy during your delivery sometimes the scar can give a twinge, but this shouldn't happen after a few months.

If you do experience pain, see your doctor as this should not be the case. Probably the biggest problem is the sound (or anticipation) of the baby crying. But I'd imagine that after six months you will be absolutely fine. In fact, a month is usually sufficient unless it has been a complicated birth.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 31, 2001
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