DO’S AND DON’TS, MYTHS AND WARNING SIGNS
In this pregnancy class, Sonali Shivlani will help clear all those niggling doubts that you may have related to your pregnancy, bust some common myths and discuss warning signs which you must report to your doctor
Sonali Shivlani busts those old wives’ tales
THERE is never a dull moment in a prenatal class because expectant mums have so many questions to ask, so many doubts and so many myths to clear. From sleeping positions to travel, from counting fetal kicks to breast changes, from intercourse to mood swings, the questions are endless.
I’d like to begin today’s lesson with one piece of advice I received when I was first expecting: “You are not sick, you are pregnant. Pregnancy is normal so just behave normal.” It’s like this—imagine you’re holding your day-old baby in your arms. What would you be able to do while you held her, is exactly what you can do during your pregnancy. Apply this advice to your pregnancy, and you’ll find that more than half your questions have been answered. Nevertheless, it’s always important to have things in black and white, so let’s talk about some do’s and don’ts that are important during pregnancy:
DO EAT HEALTHY: You have to remember that what you eat goes to your baby. A healthy diet ensures your baby grows strong, as well as helps to ensure you’re in the pink of health during your pregnancy. DO EXERCISE: Being fit is extremely
important as it will reduce pregnancy discomforts, prepare your body for labour and also ensure a quicker postpartum recovery. However, do consult your doctor before starting an exercise programme. DO YOUR PRENATAL CHECK-UPS: These are your regular doctor visits along with all your tests and scans. Make sure you don’t miss any of these as regular check-ups and tests can catch any developmental concerns or healthrelated concerns. DO RELAX: Stress affects not only you, but your baby as well. Stress hormones in the mother’s bloodstream flow directly to the baby and research has shown that this can cause a rise in the stress hormones in the baby as well. DON’T EAT SOFT CHEESES: Brie, Camembert, Feta, Goat cheese etc. contain Listeria, a strain of bacteria that can lead to fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhoea. Cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella and cottage cheese are just fine. DON’T DRINK AERATED DRINKS: Diet sodas, colas and other fizzy drinks contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame that are harmful to your baby. DON’T CONSUME EXCESSIVE CAFFEINE: Limit yourself to just one cup per day and switch to decaf if possible. DON’T DRINK HERBAL TEAS: Teas like peppermint and red raspberry leaf are known to cause preterm contractions, so it’s best avoided when you’re expecting. DON’T EAT TOO MUCH SEA FOOD: Fish is definitely a great way to eat healthy, provided you monitor your intake. Just two to three servings per week will ensure that your level of mercury intake is minimal. DON’T SMOKE OR DRINK ALCOHOL: Smoking and drinking can cause preterm labour and low birth weight as well as birth defects in your unborn child. DON’T OVERHEAT: While it’s important to relax, try to avoid a sauna or hot tub as the heat can lead to dehydration, dizziness, and low blood pressure. DON’T CLEAN UP LITTER: While it’s perfectly safe to interact with your family pet, when it comes to cleaning up after them, let someone else take care of that little chore during your pregnancy.
BUSTING THOSE MYTHS
Always a favourite among the expectant mums that come to me old wives’ tales and myths that are rampant around pregnancy are always fun to tackle. Let’s take the question of the baby’s sex. Almost everyone can predict the baby’s sex while looking at your belly. If it’s protruding, you’re having a boy. If it’s rounder and wider, it’s a sign you’re having a girl. The fact remains, the way you’re carrying has nothing to do with the sex. It’s really the way the baby is laying in the abdomen. Moreover, all pregnant women will experience a widening of the pelvis to accommodate the growing baby. The dark line running down your belly called the Linea
The foods you consume will not influence the colour your baby’s skin will be. Eating foods like dates and brinjal is not going to make your baby dark skinned. Neither will drinking plenty of milk or eating rasgullas make your baby fair
Niagra is actually hormonal and not a gender predictor.
Now, we’ll discuss myths about your diet and how they affect your baby. Take for example the fact that people say drinking coconut water will make your baby’s head large like a coconut. That’s most certainly hogwash! Another silly custom is avoiding dark-coloured foods. The foods you consume will not influence the colour your baby’s skin will be. Eating foods like dates and brinjal is not going to make your baby dark skinned. Neither will drinking plenty of milk or eating rasgullas make your baby fair. Finally, the most popular one is the ‘Eating for Two’ phenomenon. Everyone feels that pregnancy gives you the license to eat double of everything. You do need to keep in mind that the foetus is really tiny and you don’t need to eat everything that is put in front of you.
The forces of nature do not influence your pregnancy in any way. An eclipse is not really going to have any effect on your pregnancy. It’s just a natural phenomenon and happens all over the world. Moreover, the simple act of raising your arms above your head will not entangle the umbilical cord. These are just beliefs that belong in the past.
However, one must always be cautious, and if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, treat them as a warning sign and notify doctor immediately: Bleeding or leaking fluid from the vagina. Abdominal cramps which come and go at regular intervals. Headaches or dizzy spells. Fever over 100°F. Excessive vomiting. Decrease in the baby’s movements. Swelling of the face, fingers and feet.
Some pointers for a healthy and happy pregnancy: SWEET SLEEP: The only position which is completely contraindicated during pregnancy, once you enter the second trimester is sleeping on your abdomen. However, sleeping on the left side after the fourth month reduces the pressure on the uterus and the intestines, speeding up the nutrients and oxygen flow to the baby. Sleeping on your back can put pressure on the vena cava or the vein that supplies blood to the uterus. This results in restricted oxygen flow to the baby. However, if you do find yourself on your back or on the right side, don’t panic. Your baby can easily adapt and if the baby is uncomfortable, he will kick around and wake you up, automatically making you switch sleeping positions.
JUST FOR KICKS: Your baby’s movements can be felt anytime between week 18 to week 24 for a first time mom. These early movements feel like flutters or gas bubbles. As the pregnancy progresses, the movements become stronger and more noticeable. But you have to remember not to compare your baby’s movements to another baby’s because every baby is different. Keep a little diary and track your baby’s movements. In a period of activity, you should be able to count ten kicks within an hour. If there is a change in the pattern of movements, you must report it to the doctor, and head for a quick check-up, just to be safe.