Alice’s Pregnancy Diary {Weeks 12 to 16}

Last month we shared the first instalment of our guest pregnancy diary from reader Alice. That first was all about the initial excitement of discovering she was pregnant and that first amazing scan. Alice is back today with an update of her pregnancy in weeks 12 to 16 and everything that has been happening; from skin woes to the appearance of her bump. I’ll hand over to Alice to tell you more.

So these past few weeks have been all about moving into the second trimester. Everyone was telling me that I would love the second trimester, I’d be glowing (not happened, more on that in a second) I’d have more energy (definitely true) and I’d start to notice a real bump (true again).

But first my skin woes. So determined to share the good, bad, and the ugly of my pregnancy journey I guess I should admit I have been feeling pretty ugly of late. My skin has been awful. I have what a dermatologist referred to as stubborn hormonal acne, so it totally figures that I would get it again in pregnancy because of the major influx of hormones. However, after a good few years of crystal clear skin I forgot how horrid it could look, but moreover how depressed it could make me feel.

Now is the quandary – my skin is bad, yes it does leave pinkish pigment marks and because I’m so fair skinned (pale) they hang around longer than I’d like and I seem to be getting new acne on a daily basis at the moment. Its only around my chin, neck and jawline, I don’t get anything at all on my cheeks or forehead and actually these areas of my face are still lovely and clear which I know I should be very grateful for. But it’s the scarring that worries me. I don’t want that long term. So the quandary is do the benefits of going back to my GP to discuss medication outweigh any potential dangers to my baby? Well I did discuss it with my doc. I have a wonderful GP who is very sympathetic and knowledgeable about adult acne who prescribed the oral antibiotic erythromycin and Skinoren gel (also known as Finacea or Azelaic Acid). I was told by him (and then when I double checked with a pharmacist) that they are both category B drugs with regards to pregnancy which means they are not known to cause harmful effects to unborn babies. Nonetheless, I held the prescription papers for over a week while I ummed and ahhed about whether to take them or not. I googled the shit out of whether or not they were safe to take in pregnancy. I still don’t really know. I’d wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat worried I’d caused unnecessary harm to my baby (I hadn’t even used any of the medications yet)…..But I still felt depressed about my skin. I decided today as I write this to give the antibiotics a three month trial to see if they have any affect and use the topical gel sparingly once a day. I know this won’t be a lot of people’s choice, most preferring to tough it out, after all acne is just acne, but for me it has a real impact on my mental wellbeing and self-confidence so I made the choice and I will reap the benefits or repercussions in time. I will keep you updated of any improvements and if any of you mammas-to-be have any skin related advice please do share!

But the nicer things are definitely that my energy levels are on the way up! I can stay up past 9pm now and I no longer fall asleep on the squidgy chairs at work during my lunch break (this happened more times than I’d like to mention!) I’ve been doing my exercise regularly still – cycling on a weekend, CrossFit a few nights a week (at a pregnancy safe level) and I also tried swimming last week too. I’m a pretty rubbish swimmer but I did 30 lengths in 30 minutes so was pleased with that. I do get noticeably more out of breath quicker but I stick to the rules and always ensure I am able to maintain a conversation during anything that’s high cardio. I also do pilates once a week, which I’ve been doing for about five years and I hope it will be of huge benefit to my pelvic floor muscles later down the line!

Another little welcome arrival has been a little (well quite noticeable really) bump. I’ve gone from jeans feeling tight to bump in what feels like a very short space of time. Newly pregnant ladies take note, everyone will comment on your changing body – you just begin to get used to it. So everyone told me that it’s no surprise I was showing already because I was so slim before. Well, I was a size 8 before getting pregnant and I worked out a lot so all of my CrossFit buddies noticed pretty early on when a bump appeared. I got away with it a lot more a work because I wore loose clothing but there was no hiding it in sports kit. I haven’t weighed myself at home but I’ve taken note of the weights recorded at my antenatal appointments. I’d put on 1 kg by my booking in appointment (around 9 weeks) a further 2 kgs by 12 weeks (recorded at my first scan). If I was being tough on myself I’d say my face looks fuller but I don’t think anyone else would notice at all! Other than that I still feel happy with how I look. I sized up my jeans which are now much more comfortable but I haven’t started wearing maternity clothes yet. I can’t wear my size 8 a-line style dresses anymore as anything with a waistband does dig in a lot but I’m still able to wear most of my wardrobe. However, I am going to California when I’ll be 20 / 21 weeks so I think I’ll need to buy some maternity summer clothes to wear over there.

Other things I’ve noticed; my appetite is back to normal. I’m eating the same as I was pre-pregnancy no more insatiable appetite – thank goodness. I am counter-balancing my lifetime love of cake with my normal vegetarian diet which I am pleased to say has always included lots of fruit and vegetables, and continues to do so.

I’ve also noticed the occasional aches and pains in my tummy and uterus that are to be expected with growing a baby, particularly in the second trimester. Some are quite sharp, and take me by surprise but I know they’re all perfectly normal growing pains and they pass as quickly as they come.

Other random things, some pregnancy related (I’ve had a few nosebleeds, deffs preggo related due to the increase in blood volume and hormones) and I’ve been sneezing a lot?!
I also told work I was pregnant. I work for my local Council and will only be receiving statutory maternity pay. They have been very supportive so far, making adaptations for me (not that I really need any as I’m desk based) and making sure I liaise with HR and payroll properly to get the right arrangements. I am still discussing with my husband what we can afford for me to take off time wise and when I’ll need to go back to start earning money again. In an ideal world I would take the full 56 weeks I am entitled to, as a year at home with my baby would be a dream come true. However, as I will only be getting statutory pay I’m acutely aware that once this runs out after 39 weeks that leaves me with nearly three months where I will be unpaid. Argh big decisions to make!

Finally I also had my 16 week midwife appointment and received the letter for my 20 week scan (this is the one where they can tell you the sex of the baby). The 16 week appointment was quick and very routine. My blood pressure and urine were checked and I was also able to get a letter from my midwife to say she was happy I was fit and well enough to fly to America in a few weeks. The best thing about the appointment was getting to hear baby’s heartbeat using a foetal Doppler. This got me grinning from ear to ear, such a magical sound!

Image by Ben Yew.

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Lottie loves teaching her girls to be cake baking and crafting supremos. It may be messy but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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16 Comments. Leave new

Glad to hear you are feeling better overall Alice! I’m nearly 16 weeks, so about the same as you. I’ve been ok with my skin, except my lips which are alternating between looking very sunburnt or peeling (despite the lack of sunshine). Any tips for my lizard lips would be appreciated?
I’m in negotiations with work on maternity. Unfortunately, the laws aren’t quite as kind where I live, so I’ll have 18 weeks paid, with a maximum of 6 months in total. But it does make my decision for me I guess!
Very much looking forward to hearing the heartbeat next week. Has anyone bought an at home Doppler?

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Hi Sarah, my go to lip balm for difficult dry lips is always Blistex relief cream http://www.blistex.co.uk/Product-Formulation?BlistexProductID=9&ProductName=Relief-Cream I know it tastes pretty medical if you accidentally ingest any, but it really sorts them out. My other top tip is apply vaseline aloe vera balm every night before going to sleep – I’m pretty obsessed and find I cant sleep without applying a lip balm now!

I’m sorry you’re struggling a bit with maternity laws, that seems pretty tough, but I’m sure you’ll make it work for you and your family.

Hope you get to hear your baby too 🙂 I haven’t bought a home doppler as sometime midwives advise against them in case they give false results, but I would say it’s up to you if you feel comfortable using one.

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. Alice xx

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How exciting for you to hear baby, it’s magic!

I always had hormonal acne and always the chin area pre baby, but it vanished in pregnancy and hasn’t as yet come back. But before hand I had herbal tablets prescribed by my Mum who is an acupuncturist/herbalist and they worked wonders- I was SO sceptical but they were great. So if you are thinking of having acupuncture later on to prep for birth (or I know many people do when ttc) you could ask your acupuncturist about herbs if you are uncomfortable with the GP medicines? Or just needles if the herbs concern you? Always make sure your acupuncturist is British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) qualified though.

Very best of luck in the coming weeks.

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Hi Lucy, thank you – acupunture is not something I had even considered I must admit, I never even imagined it could be used for something like acne but I will certainly be looking into it now. Thank you so much for taking the time to offer advice / suggestions 🙂

Best wishes

Alice xx

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Just wanted to say try not to beat yourself up over the acne meds! And don’t listen to anyone who tries to judge in anyway. I took meds for horrendous morning sickness and even though I did the research and knew it was fine I felt horrible. I should have just been grateful that something could be done. Category b is fine – I would definitely take category b. The only reason that basically no drugs are category a is because you can’t run a randomised controlled trial on pregnant ladies. If your doctor prescribes something then they know what they’re talking about far better than Google or a random person on the street. I hope your acne clears up as it’s miserable. My skin was great when pregnant, but is shit now I’m breastfeeding so I feel your pain. X

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Thank you Mel, you lovely reassuring angel you. Made me feel so much better and I really appreciate it!

Stupid hormones eh, literally the bane of our lives – hope yours improves soon and well done with the breastfeeding. I’m hoping to breastfeed too so we’ll just have to see what happens to my skin when I do!

Alice xx

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Its worth noting that a lot of hospitals don’t do the heartbeat at the 16 week midwife appointment anymore. There is only a 50% chance of hearing the heartbeat so most have recently changed their policies. Likewise, most now don’t do a scan at 32 weeks anymore so make sure you get all the photos of the 20 week scan!

I’m now 22 weeks with Number II and can identify a lot with what you’ve said in this update – I told work at 21 weeks. The other symptoms haven’t really changed – still throwing up constantly and still as exhausted as before but that seems to be standard in my pregnancies. I’ve actually only put on 3lbs because of all the sickness although I’m being monitored and the scan was fine so they aren’t worried. The baby is obviously just eating all my previous weight.

What I would say is on the whole deciding how long to take thing – I found the first 4-6 months pretty hard going last time. The first 4 months you pretty much get nothing back as, all love in the world aside, they are pretty blob like. Then sleep got rubbish so months 4-6 were also pretty crap in comparison to now. So actually, I enjoyed it more and more and more after 6 months. I really would have struggled to go back at 6 or even 9 months. The thing to say is that I actually spent very little on maternity. Breastfeeding is free (another advantage) and I spent a lot of time in the Park in summer with picnics from home and at NCT pals homes in winter (biscuits being the only but significant cost). Don’t assume you’ll spend the same as you do at work where, for me at least, I popped into M & S for “odd bits” most days. Also, practically, don’t forget you also get your holiday AND your bank holidays back which equates to around 6 weeks holiday you can take at full pay AND you’re also entitled to get paid for 10 KIT days (I think). That should get you an extra two months!

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And also, you can claim childcare vouchers from the moment your baby is born so make sure you do! It makes a real difference when you decide to get back – its income based but even for top earners it equates to around £1500 a year – for mid income its more like £4,000 a year I think!

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Wow thanks for all this Rebecca, so so helpful!

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Helen Ingram
16th June 2016 1:14 pm

And don’t forget child benefit! That helps a bit. I took a full year off and used holidays to add an extra two months . It was and is a struggle as we couldn’t really afford it but I really loved that time being with him. Especially when he got more interesting after the 6 month mark. I wouldn’t change it and as my mum said you can’t get a do over. You’ll know when you are ready to go back to work. It comes quicker to some than others but you’ll know when the time is right

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Hi Alice,

I don’t want to sound like a sales girl but try Manuka Doctor’s range. I had terrible skin which plagued my young adult years and since using this product its transformed my skin. Definitely worth a go! I am now 27 weeks and my skin is holding out really well. Good luck and well done for all the exercise! You have done far better than me through the second trimester much to my frustration!

x

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Oh Thank you Jessica, I will certainly have a look into that 🙂

Alice x x

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Hi Alice, i’m nearly 15 weeks so not too far behind you. I have always suffered with severe hormonal acne and have been on various drugs and topical treatments since I was 18 to try to keep it at bay (stopped for pregnancy as they were all unsafe). In one of my worst moments I went to see a painfully expensive cosmetic dermatologist and we discussed pregnancy briefly – she also would have prescribed me azelaic acid so I would say go for it. Anyway, just to say I sympathise hugely and understand how awful it can make you feel.

Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy! xx

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Thank you Brooke, and thank you so much for taking the time to say so. It’s good to know that we are never alone with these things. Hope your pregnancy progresses well too – it’s a lovely time and we should remember not to let something like acne overshadow that! Best wishes Alice xx

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Kirsty warriss
17th June 2016 12:49 pm

In a bad way, it’s so good to hear of others with bad skin! I’m 14 weeks pregnant and been so lucky with morning sickness and not too much tiredness but my skin is another story!! Ive got flaky, dry patches around my chin and nose that I can’t seem to cover up with makeup. Then it turns into spots and then flakiness again- I know exactly how you feel about the mental impact as it really affects you. If anyone has any tips it wld be great fully received!!! Great post! Thank you x

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Hi Kirsty, yes you are never alone. Even though you might feel rubbish and a bit depressed about it – you are still beautiful and doing a very important job growing a gorgeous baby so we must both remember not to let it get to us! Sending you lots of love and hope your skin (and mine!) settles down soon! All the best for the coming weeks. Alice xx

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