“Knowing what to expect during pregnancy enables you to make the best possible health decisions for you and your baby,” says Dr Serilla Moodley, a practicing Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at Netcare Linkwood Hospital. “You are also likely to feel more comfortable and therefore happier during the process.”
According to Dr Moodley most women share similar concerns when it comes to pregnancy. “The Ten Steps to a Healthy Pregnancy address the most common questions that I have encountered, and have put many an anxious mom-to-be at ease,” she says.
Ten Steps to a Healthy Pregnancy
1. Pregnancy is physiological not pathological
In other words, pregnancy is a natural occurrence in women, and just because you are pregnant does not mean that you are going to have complications. Your body will inevitably start to feel different as massive changes are occurring, but for the most part all of this is normal.
2. Call your doctor early
Be vigilant and trust your instincts. The first time you notice a problem, particularly if it is bleeding or severe pain, seek help early. Rather err on the side of caution and contact your doctor or go to the hospital. Do not wait until the early hours of the morning before suddenly accepting that something is wrong.
3. This too shall pass
Nausea in the first 12 weeks is normal. Some vomiting can also occur. Only if it is excessive is it unhealthy. If you find that you cannot stand the sight of fruit then don’t eat any, have fruit juice instead if you feel like it. But don’t panic that something is seriously wrong – in all likelihood it isn’t. Remember, this too shall pass.
4. Aches and pains are temporary
The hot water bottle is your friend. Back pain is common and the pains get worse as the pregnancy progresses, because of softening of the tissues, joints and ligaments. A hot water bottle does wonders; otherwise, a warm-blooded husband can be just as effective.
5. Water, water everywhere, no more drops to drink, please
It may become tiresome but it is important to keep well hydrated and to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Not only is this nutritionally good, it also helps prevent bladder infections. Just prepare yourself to be running to the loo often, especially in the third trimester when the baby’s presenting part tries to engage and pushes on the bladder.
6. Everything in moderation
“Eating for two” is not advised. Your appetite will increase but that does not mean that everything in sight should be devoured. You should follow a balanced diet. Your doctor will advise the appropriate weight gain for you. Exercise is allowed in moderation, although weight-bearing exercises should be avoided.
7. Babies have their own timetables
The due date is always just an estimate and not set in stone. It is calculated using the mum’s menstrual cycle or based on an early ultrasound. The date can change depending on the course of the pregnancy.
8. Have no fear, Pretty Baby lives here
Physical impairments and still births are less common than healthy births. However, here are the five danger signs to watch out for: headaches, no fetal movements or decreased movements, pain, bleeding, or liquor (rupture of membranes).
9. It’s OK to lose control over some things
Prepare yourself because things are never going to be the same again. Your body is going to change physically, your emotions are going to be challenged more than ever before and your finances will most probably be focused towards the new arrival. Remember ‘forewarned is forearmed’.
10. Eat, drink and be merry
Unfortunately this is the time of your life when you have to give up those vices, even if it’s only temporary - no smoking or drinking. Follow a healthy balanced diet and remember to avoid soft cheeses, raw meats and raw fish and caffeine.
“By sticking to the Ten Steps and staying informed you will give yourself the room to enjoy this wonderful experience. This is one of the most important journeys you will ever embark on - enjoy the ride,” concludes Dr Moodley.
(Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare, July 2010)