It's the next instalment of our A-Z of pregnancy, this week bought to you by the letter B

The next instalment of our pregnancy A-Z is all about the letter B...which contains some of the less glamorous aspects of pregnancy life (back pain, bloating and bowel movements, anyone?!)

Make sure you also catch-up on the first post in our Pregnancy A-Z (all the As of pregnancy).

B is for...back pain: Back pain experienced by pregnant women is caused by the ligaments between the pelvic bones softening and joints loosening in preparation for the baby’s passage through the pelvis.

This movement can cause considerable discomfort on either side of the lower back, often with walking, and especially when going up and down stairs. During the second trimester, the uterus becomes heavier and changes the woman’s centre of gravity. Gradually - and perhaps without being aware of it - women begin to adjust their posture and the way in which they move.

These compensations can result in back pain, strain or other injury. The separation of the muscles along the front of the abdomen during pregnancy may also contribute to back pain during pregnancy. These two parallel sheets of muscles run from the rib cage to the pubic bone. As the uterus expands, they sometimes separate along the centre seam, which can make back pain worse. Careful lifting and carrying during pregnancy is important to prevent injury.

Birth weight: The average birth weight in the UK is 3.4kgs (7.5lbs), but this can be reduced if you are expecting your first child, or if your baby is a twin or triplet. Your midwife will check the size of your baby by measuring your bump at intervals throughout your pregnancy. They may need to arrange an ultrasound scan to check the health of your

Bloating: The sensation of bloating occurs during pregnancy because of hormones that slow your digestion and the pressure of your growing uterus on your stomach and intestines. Eating plenty of fibre and drinking adequate amounts of fluid may help to alleviate this.

Bowel movements: Constipation (difficulty passing bowel movements) is common in pregnancy due to hormones slowing the gut and the physical pressures of the baby. After child birth some women may experience bowel problems. An adequate fibre and fluid intake should help with this, but see your GP if you have any concerns.

Breastfeeding: And finally, B is for...Breast milk is the best possible nutrition for your baby. During breastfeeding, your baby is entirely dependant on you as their only source of nutrition. By ensuring your diet contains adequate levels of specific vitamins and minerals, your baby will receive all the nutrients they need. Some women choose to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement that is specifically designed for pregnancy and breast-feeding, for extra peace of mind and to safeguard their own nutritional requirements (check out the entire Pregnacare range). You can also read our posts on breastfeeding when your baby has allergies.

We'll be back shortly with the Cs of pregnancy! And if you're pregnant, make sure you read ourAsk our Midwife posts as well as that all-important question of what to wear during labour.

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Alexandra Phillips

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