Pregnancy – particularly your first – is filled with a lot of question marks. We have taken it upon ourselves to ask one of the most experienced midwives we know to answer your most Googled questions about pregnancy and labour. June Poole, a midwife with over 42 years of experience, answers your questions below.

What are the earliest symptoms of pregnancy?

The best symptoms to rely on are a missed period, breast tenderness and occasionally nausea and tiredness.

What foods should I avoid eating?
Unpasteurised dairy foods. For example: mould ripened cheeses or blue cheeses
All pate, including any liver products
Undercooked meats
Undercooked or raw eggs- unless British lion
Cured rather than cooked meats
Raw shellfish
Some fish such as shark, swordfish, marlin. And limit your tuna to 2 steaks or tins per week. Also limit your oily fish to 2 portions per week.

What exercises can I do?
Whatever is normal for you as long as you are comfortable and not breathless, unless advised otherwise for medical reasons. Aquanatal classes, swimming and walking are ideal but try to avoid breaststroke where possible. Pregnancy yoga and pilates are also great ways to stay fit in pregnancy.

What is normal weight gain?
Approximately 10-12kgs (22-26lbs) give or take, keeping in mind that everybody is slightly different.

What does the baby moving feel like?
Like a feather tickling initially increasing to powerful kicks that can feel very uncomfortable and changing to rolling or stretching movement in the last few weeks when there is less room.

Is it safe to have sex?
Yes, unless advised otherwise for medical reasons such as bleeding or preterm labour.

How painful is labour really?
Normal labour does not have to be painful. It is very powerful but for most women pain is what they believe and expect – and so it will be. Labour that is difficult or not progressing normally can be painful but manageable. The degree of discomfort or pain in many situations is influenced by the mind.

How long does labour last?
This is dependent on whether it is a first birth or not, the position of the baby and whether it is spontaneous labour or not. The mindset of the labouring woman and hormonal influence also influences the length of labour.

What does a cervical plug look like?
Its a clear or slightly milky, soft jelly with pink to red streak of blood in it (although blood is not always present).

And finally, what advice do you love to share?
We are all different, be open minded, trust your body and be strong. “Labour” as the word suggests can be hard work but it’s the best day’s work you’ll ever do! As a new mum, it’s a steep learning curve, don’t expect too much of yourself, be kind to yourself.

June was initially a Registered Nurse and then became a midwife in 1976. She moved to Jersey from Durham in 1979 and has worked as a midwife since then in both hospital and community while raising her two sons, now 33yrs and 30yrs. June delivered the first planned home birth in Jersey in 1985 and the first water birth in 1990. She introduced HypnoBirthing to Jersey in 2003 and worked to encourage other midwives to embrace and teach HypnoBirthing.
June retired from the Maternity Unit in 2018 but is still a practising midwife and teaches HypnoBirthing to small groups from her home in St Brelade.

We always advise that you contact your midwife or GP for advice that takes into account your own personal situation.

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