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.