Pregnancy Basics: Which Advice?1:08:00 AM
It can seem like pregnancy is an avalanche of information (not to mention misinformation). One minute you’re happily relaying the good news to family and friends, and the next you’re on the receiving end of a barrage of tips and tricks and do’s and don’ts.
The frequency of these seems to multiply as your pregnancy progresses, as well, to the point that by the time the “big day” comes, you’re as fed up with the baby in your body as the wise words of those close to you (and those not so close strangers, none too hesitant to offer their own advice either).
Yet, even birth itself doesn’t signify relief, for once that little boy or girl is in the world that information overload becomes a veritable minefield of right and wrong. To this end, here’s a short aid to sorting the wheat from the chaff for advice.
First Trimester – Forbidden Foodstuffs and Nausea
Unfortunately, as many women will tell you, the first trimester – when your baby is developing the most – is often overshadowed by the morning sickness that accompanies a new pregnancy (due to all those hormones and an enhanced sense of smell). Not everyone is afflicted by the extreme hyperemesis gravidarum, which has seen the Duchess of Cambridge struck down in each of her pregnancies, but the nausea is very real. Some women are lucky enough to only experience that, but most will at some point be revisited by their breakfast.
Happily, the wisdom eagerly imparted by the older generation (ginger tea, ginger biscuits; ginger, ginger, ginger) works. Take the advice and buy some of those ginger chew candies to have at hand when the queasiness threatens to overtake you. The morning sickness phase should fade by 12 weeks and beyond (i.e. the end of the first trimester).
Eating healthily during pregnancy is obviously very important for nourishing both yourself and baby. However, though nausea might have left you with little appetite, when your hunger does return, that old adage about “eating for two” will only result in undesirable weight gain (which will seem impossible to shift after birth and only lead to unhappiness). There is no benefit in overloading your plate or thinking overindulging acceptable. Indeed, quite the reverse, pregnancy is when you should restrict some types of food you include in your diet.
Though concepts of “safe foods” vary from country to country, in America it is wise to follow doctor-provided guidelines on what should and should not be eaten when growing a human being in your body. As a general rule, avoid rare or raw meats, uncooked seafood or raw shellfish, deli meats and patés, mercury-heavy fish (such as swordfish and shark) and smoked fish (such as smoked salmon and kippers), raw or undercooked eggs, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, and caffeine and alcohol. Make sure, also, that you thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables. It might seem severe and restrictive, but pregnancy only lasts nine months – there’ll be plenty of time for the above once a parent.
Second Trimester – The Healthy Glow
This is when your bump is really starting to show, and by the end of this stage, you feel the quickening (or movements) as your baby is growing rapidly. Indeed, thanks to modern medical advances, by the end of the second trimester (24 weeks), if your baby had to be delivered with the assistance of today’s technology, it would likely survive. That’s definitely a thought which helps many women sleep at night. A thought which perhaps keeps you awake is when to tell your boss (especially if you show later).
This stage is also when you feel best as an expectant mother. Your emotions are less “all over the place,” and you’ve most probably finally accepted the fact that you’re going to be a parent. Well, your wardrobe is certainly the first port of call for that acceptance; definitely, your lingerie draw. Heed advice warning against bras with an underwire, as your breasts are preparing themselves to produce milk (hence the swelling and the soreness). Also, note that an underwire presses on blood flow and potentially inhibits this process. Although there is a school of thought that denies this logic, better to be safe than sorry when it comes to one's boobs.
For other apparel, now is the time you’ll need to shop in the maternity wear section of the department store (or accept second-hand offers from family or friends: as they’ll claim, you’re certainly not aiming to fit these clothes long after birth).
Third Trimester – The Countdown
From week 25 up until week 40, as much as you may want to lie down on the sofa and wallow in the fact of your swollen feet and ankles, the constant nasal congestion, and a body that feels as if it should burst, it goes without saying that this is also the time when the house needs preparing for baby’s arrival. Some will have made primary preparations in the second semester, but others don’t care to tempt providence before that 24-week point.
As your own parents will tell you, don’t forget the hospital bag, either. For both house and hospital, you need to think of baby’s needs, in addition to mom’s: clothes (including hat and mittens), diapers (disposable at this point, even if you’re planning to use cloth once home), and formula if not breastfeeding (as to which type of formula, further advice can be found at Formuland).
In addition to such practicalities, however, heed the advice that suggests self-care and rest for you before the birth (rubbing almond oil or other vitamin E-rich cream or oil onto your belly to prevent stretch marks; giving in to the need to lie down and nap a little to store up energy). It’s not scaremongering when the advice givers say baby’s arrival will change your life: take a pause now, and appreciate the quiet and the relative calm. Then, accept your new life (in all respects) with open arms and an open heart.