Exposing the truths of pregnancy, Doctor and Daughter duo Roger Marwood and Rebecca Maberly set the ever-changing record straight…
✽ Carry on as normal
Pregnancy is not a disease or a disability and, unless there are particular issues with your pregnancy, you should be able to carry on living a normal life. You can continue to eat most foods, go to work, socialise and remain physically active if it feels comfortable. Current advice says that you do not need to consume any extra calories during your pregnancy. If you are hungry, then of course eat more, but equally, if you are not hungry, do not be concerned as your baby can take all it needs from your body.
If you want to eat a little treat once in a while, then go for it, but make sure you are eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables too.
✽ Stay active
If you remain active throughout your pregnancy your body will thank you for it after the baby is born. As with many aspects of pregnancy, let your body be your guide. A decade ago women were discouraged from exercising during pregnancy, but more recently there has been a complete reversal and women are encouraged to keep active.
Exercise can help reduce backaches and constipation, improve mood, energy and sleep and help women endure and recover better from labour. It can also help with fluid retention, swelling and help control weight gain during pregnancy.
Swimming and walking are gentle on the muscles and joints. If you’re already a keen runner or yoga practitioner then you should be able to continue, but you may need to modify your routine.
✽ Your pelvic floor exercises
Pregnancy damages and weakens your pelvic floor muscles, which support important organs like your bladder, uterus and lower bowel. If you do not maintain the strength of this muscle then they may drop or prolapse from their normal position. This can result in stress incontinence, where you wet yourself when you sneeze or cough, or in worst cases a prolapse where these organs can drop down through your vagina.
Doing regular pelvic floor exercises will strengthen these muscles and will not only help you with a vaginal birth, but also help you to recover more quickly from rips, tears and haemorrhoids.
For Doctor and Daughter’s top pelvic floor exercises see baby-magazine.co.uk.
✽ Educate yourself
Educate yourself and your partner about your impending birth. It is a great idea to be aware of what will happen to your body when you go into labour and how your body is equipped to give birth to a baby. Knowing about your pain relief options, different birthing positions and breathing techniques can also give you confidence as your due date approaches. Attending antenatal classes in your local area is the best way to learn all you need to know, and making new friends who will have babies of the same age.
Doctor and Daughter are now offering antenatal classes in the Balham/Clapham area, class sizes are limited, so get in touch soon by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07957 596931.
✽ Eat runny eggs (amongst other things)
There are certain foods that pregnant women are advised to avoid. These include:
• Runny eggs
• Unpasteurised cheese
• Undercooked meat
• Raw shellfish (certain types of fish should also be limited)
• Unwashed salad
If you’ve already eaten any of these, and have not been unwell, then try not to worry as it’s unlikely you’ve put yourself at risk.
There are also many food items which pregnant women seem to avoid unnecessarily, probably due to old wives’ tales, including smoked salmon, prawns, cream cheese, cottage cheese, halloumi, feta and peanuts. As long as you are not allergic to these foods and you are confident that they have been prepared well, then they should be fine to eat while pregnant.
For a more detailed list of foods to avoid see Doctor and Daughter’s suggestions on baby-magazine.co.uk.
✽ Worry too much
It’s easy to say, but try not to worry too much about your pregnancy and the birth. As long as you keep healthy and take your doctor or midwife’s advice then you will be doing the best for yourself and your baby.
As far as labour and the birth goes, no one can predict how this will pan out so try not to fixate on a particular birth plan. Try to remain open minded about your birth and trust in your midwife or doctor.
✽ Google things
It can be very disconcerting to google any pregnancy related symptoms you may be having. Advice on the internet is not always helpful or safe. If you’re looking for reputable pregnancy advice, make sure you consult a well-advised website (ours has been written by a doctor), or speak to GP or midwife.
✽ Stroke sheep
It may sound like an obscure one, and although the risks are very small, pregnant women are advised to avoid coming into contact with sheep. They can carry diseases such as toxoplasmosis, chlamydiosis and listeriosis which can potentially cause miscarriages in humans.
Toxoplasmosis can also be caught from eating food contaminated with cat faeces, so the risks can increase when handling cat litter, gardening and eating unwashed vegetables. It is a good idea to be aware of this small but real risk in certain situations. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling a cat and wear gloves when gardening. Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly and heat your food through properly when cooking.
✽ Be afraid to ask for help
If you are worried or feel you need support during or after pregnancy, please do not be afraid to ask for help. For example, if you’re worried you have not felt your baby move, or experience bleeding, do not hesitate to call your midwife or doctor. You should receive support and reassurance and no one will make you feel foolish for seeking help even if it’s a false alarm. If you are feeling depressed or unable to cope during or after pregnancy, speak to your GP or health visitor.
For more visit: doctoranddaughter.co.uk