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Pregnancy: Ecstacy or Agony?

Pregnancy is the time of joy and hope for every mother to be. It is the fulfillment of a cherished dream. It is also the time of fear, uncertainties and depression for some women. But how many of us realize that all these emotions that a mother goes through set their imprints on the baby. How can we give a head start to our babies while they are still in our wombs? Apart from passing on our genes is there any other way we can influence our babies while they are growing in our womb? In this article I will try to answer some of these questions and also discuss some of the common problems and suggest remedies.

First Trimester
However eagerly we have looked forward to our pregnancy many a time the first three months are turbulent. As our bodies learn to cope with the new life growing inside us we also have to learn to deal with the emotional aspects and physical discomforts of early pregnancy.

What is morning sickness?
Due to the large amount of pregnancy hormones which are initially secreted by the ovary and then by the placenta, we feel the nausea and vomit several times a day.

Remedy-This problem is encountered between the 6-12 week of pregnancy. To overcome this problem the expectant mother should have many small meals or snacks several times a day rather than three large meals. Even the fluid should be restricted to 30ml at a time.
Potassium rich fluids like tender coconut water go a long way in correcting the electrolyte imbalance caused by repeated vomiting.

A dry cracker chewed first thing in the morning while still in bed helps several women to combat morning sickness

What is heartburn?
Heartburn is caused by the gastric acid passing into the lower esophagus. As the lining the esophagus is not used to the acid it produces the burning sensation.

Remedy-30ml of cold milk or soda neutralizes the acid and gives immediate relief. Medications like malox serve the same purpose.

This is due to Progesterone. (A hormone that is secreted in large quantities in pregnancy), which relaxes the smooth muscles. The peristaltic movements of the intestines become slow leading to constipation.

Remedy-Eating food containing more roughage like bran for breakfast, 3-4 dry figs soaked in a glass of water and taken at bedtime are very beneficial. Several glasses of warm water also produce relief.

This is produced due to the relaxation of the ligaments supporting the back. Remedy-A relaxing massage at the end of the day from the loving hands of the spouse followed by 15 minutes in a warm bath with scented oils gives great relief.

Varicose veins becomes prominent in women normally predisposed to have them. Remedy- Elastic stockings during the day, periodic rest and elevation of feet. Avoid crossing legs so as not to compress any veins.

It is important for these women to start ambulating as soon as possible after a delivery or caesarian section to prevent the complication of Deep Vein Thrombosis.

These are formed due to the increased pressure on the haemorrhoidal veins by the growing uterus.

Remedy-Avoid constipation. Soothing ointments if necessary. Ice packs in severe cases.

The cause is unknown.Remedy-Treatment is symptomatic. Occasional Panadol does not harm the baby.

Nutrition in pregnancy
Every pregnant lady should have a well balanced diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetable and protein. The diet should be rich in calcium and low in fat.

Exercise in pregnancy
Walking is the ideal exercise in pregnancy. Swimming, yoga and meditation help a great deal to relax the mind and body. As the pregnancy advances it is advisable to have short breaks for rest once or twice a day. All healthy pregnant women should exercise at least half an hour per day four days in a week.

Medication in pregnancy
All pregnant ladies should be started on folic acid as soon as they are diagnosed (ideally this should be started 3 months prior to conception.) From the 16th week iron should be supplemented. Some high-risk pregnancies will be advised to take low dose aspirin. Any other medication should be taken according to the doctor's advice.

How to enhance your baby's intelligence?
After a lot of research it has been concluded that babies whose parents start talking to them from the time of conception turn out to be more intelligent.

Secondly babies whose mothers listen to classical music throughout their pregnancies are found to have very deep grooves in their brains denoting intelligence.

Thirdly the mother's feelings and emotions transmit to the baby. So a calm and happy disposition has tremendous effect on producing a calm and happy baby.

How to take care of your breasts?
All expectant mothers over the age of twenty should do breast self examination on a fixed day of every month as a routine screening for breast cancer.

From the 7th month nipple care should be started. Massaging the nipples with olive oil toughens the nipples and prepares them for nursing.

How much weight should you gain in a pregnancy?
Ideally an expectant mother should gain Between 10-12 Kg. during her entire pregnancy. Normally most women lose weight up 14 weeks of pregnancy. Then they make up the lost weight in the next 4-6 weeks. Then start gaining their allotted 10kgs.

Is there anything you can do to cope with the stress of labor?
Yes, you should learn the breathing exercises. At Prime Medical Center we conduct workshops where breathing exercises and several other exercises are taught. Learning the techniques of breathing and learning when to push and when to pant goes a long way in having a smooth delivery.

What pain relief is available during labor?
Most hospitals offer the following

This is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide available in the form of a gas mask. Most multigravid patients are happy to manage their labor by inhaling this mixture.

This is given in the form of an injection. It dulls the pain of contractions and also acts as a sedative. Unfortunately this injection makes the baby drowsy too. An effective antidote is available and is given to the baby as soon as it is born.

Epidural anaesthesia
This effectively blocks all pain sensations below the waist and helps the mother to enjoy pain free labor. It has beneficial effect on the baby by increasing placental perfusion. The only negative effect is the high rate of instrumental delivery due to the mother's inability to push effectively in the second stage.

Natural childbirth
This is the ideal way to give birth if possible. In order to do so the woman should have the right temperament and a very supportive obstetrician. She should also have the option of opting for any kind of pain relief if she so desires.

Is delivery frightening?
Delivery is not frightening if you know your doctor well and have a good rapport with her. She will remind you of all the drills you have practiced. Nobody can say labor is painless unless you opt for epidural anaesthesia, but you will be mentally and physically ready if your obstetrician has prepared you well, and her reassuring presence is available at the time of delivery. I can assure you that it will be the most rewarding experience of your life.

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  Pregnancy: Ecstacy or Agony?
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Read the complete story by Dorothy Fernandes.

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