General Pregnancy

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A working woman's guide to pregnancy hormonal changes

The hormonal and physiological changes that come with pregnancy are unique. Pregnant women experience sudden and dramatic increases in estrogen and progesterone. They also experience changes in the amount and function of a number of other hormones. These changes don’t just affect mood. They can also: create the “glow” of pregnancy significantly aid in the development of the fetus alter the physical impact of exercise and physical activity on the body Estrogen and progesterone changes Estrogen and progesterone are the chief pregnancy hormones. A woman will produce more estrogen during one pregnancy than throughout her entire life when not pregnant. Pregnancy hormones and exercise injuries While these hormones are absolutely critical for a successful pregnancy, they also can make exercise more difficult. Because the ligaments are looser, pregnant women may be at greater risk for sprains and strains of the ankle or knee. Weight gain, fluid retention, and physical activity Weight gain in pregnant women increases the workload on the body from any physical activity. This additional weight and gravity slow down the circulation of blood and bodily fluids, particularly in the lower limbs.  Sensory changes Pregnancy can dramatically alter how a woman experiences the world through sight, taste, and smell. Breast and cervical changes Hormonal changes, which begin in the first trimester, will lead to many physiological changes throughout the body. These changes help prepare the mother’s body for pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Hair and nail changes Many women experience changes in hair and nail growth during pregnancy. Hormone changes can sometimes cause excessive hair shedding or hair loss. This is especially true in women with a family history of female alopecia. Stretch marks Stretch marks (striae gravidarum) are perhaps the most well-known skin change of pregnancy. They’re caused by a combination of physical stretching of the skin and the effects of hormone changes on the skin’s elasticity.  Blood pressure and exercise There are two types of circulatory changes that may have an impact on exercise during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can suddenly affect the tone in blood vessels. A sudden loss of tone may result in the feeling of dizziness and perhaps even a brief loss of consciousness. This is because the loss of pressure sends less blood to the brain and central nervous system. Dizziness and fainting Another form of dizziness can result from lying flat on the back. This dizziness is more common after 24 weeks. However, it can happen earlier during multi-fetal pregnancies or with conditions that increase amniotic fluid Respiratory and metabolic changes Pregnant women experience increases in the amount of oxygen they transport in their blood. This is because of increased demand for blood and the dilation of blood vessels. This growth forces increases in metabolic rates during pregnancy, requiring women to up energy intake and use caution during periods of physical exertion. Body temperature changes An increase in basal body temperature is one of the first hints of pregnancy. A slightly higher core temperature will be maintained through the duration of pregnancy. Women also have a greater need of water during pregnancy. They can be at higher risk of hyperthermia and dehydration without caution to exercise safely and remain hydrated. Dehydration Most women who exercise for 20 to 30 minutes or who exercise during hot and humid weather will sweat. In pregnant women, loss of bodily fluids from sweat can decrease the blood flow to the uterus, the muscles, and some organs. The developing fetus needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients carried through the blood, so injury may result from a lack of fluid.

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A Guide to Prenatal Exercises

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Do's and Dont's of Exercising During Pregnancy

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Your pregnancy diet guide (week 33-36)

The wait is about to get over and soon you will be holding your baby in your arms. That’s awesome! But since you are in your ninth month, still your baby is completely dependent on you for nourishment. Baby’s growth is almost through except for the brain and lungs which will keep developing post delivery also. Now your baby’s focus is on steady weight gain. Some vital nutrients that are required include: Protein: Responsible for body building and repairing, protein is an energy giving nutrient. It is a must to take enough protein currently since baby is gaining weight and development is still on. Make sure you take enough protein in each meal to ensure healthy growth of the baby. Ignorance here may mean a low birth weight baby. Protein rich sources are Beans, lean meat, whole pulses and legumes, milk and milk products, egg etc. Healthy fat: Since your focus right now is weight gain of your baby, energy dense foods are essential. Take enough fat in diet to help the baby accumulate fat in the body. But over eating of fat is also to be monitored. You may indulge in consumption of unhealthy fats like margarine, vanaspathi etc. which should be avoided since these fats are only calories which will only lead you to gain unnecessary weight. Instead, opt for healthy fats- a combination of ghee 1-2 tsp, mustard oil 2-3 tsp, olive or canola oil 1-2 tsp, vegetable oil 1 tsp can provide you with enough healthy fats essential for your baby’s brain development, and over all growth. You may even like to have healthy nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachios as source of healthy fatty acids. Complex carbohydrate: Complex carbohydrates are ones with fiber which is super important at this stage for proper digestion, consistent release of energy, relieving constipation, and healthy weight gain. With so many benefits, complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables with edible peel, whole cereals- dalia, brown bread, whole wheat noodles, bran rich roti, brown rice, bajra etc are your resorts to good health. On the contrary, simple carbohydrates like sugar, refined wheat flour may lead to increased release of glucose and may cause gestational diabetes, unhealthy weight gain and related problems in the baby. Folic acid: Still essential, this nutrient can be derived from dietary sources like green leafy vegetables, broccoli, kiwi, citrus fruits like orange, sunflower seeds etc. Iron: Iron is one essential nutrient at this stage since baby’s circulation is fully developed and additional blood volume needs to be compensated for. Iron supplements are continued by the doctor at this stage, but dietary iron is also essential. Sources include Beetroots, Dark green leafy vegetables, red meat etc. Make sure to have vegetarian sources of iron with vitamin C rich foods like lemon and orange for better absorption of iron in the body. Calcium: An important nutrient for the development of strong bones and teeth of the baby, calcium is also required by your body for avoiding osteoporosis at a later stage. Calcium can be received from milk and milk products, bony fish, meat, spinach, banana, ragi flour etc. Try to consume 3 glasses of milk during this time or and equivalent milk product. Some general dietary tips for 33-36 weeks: Drink a lot of water to prevent or relieve constipation Along with food, exercise is important too. A half an hour normal walk is important for easy labor and for keeping other health problems at bay Having 5-7 servings of lots of colorful fruits and vegetables will help you maintain a healthy weight, provide you with essential micro-nutrients, relieve constipation and give you satiety Fruits like papaya can also be freely consumed for ninth month to induce labor if the baby’s growth is normal Spicy food should be avoided since it may lead to acidity to which body is prone during this time Small frequent meals at a gap of 2-3 hours can help with healthy weight gain, and proper growth of the baby Some dietary restrictions during this time are: Sea food (due to high mercury content in it), unpasteurized milk and milk products like soft cheese, raw egg and undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, food from outside, excessive sugar and salt, saccharin, caffeine (not more than 2 cups coffee or tea in a day), tobacco and alcohol. These items if consumed, may cause harm you and your baby. Some may even lead to still birth, small for date baby, low birth weight baby, mentally and physically retarded baby and worst consequences. So best is to avoid these temptations! Some healthy snack ideas for your ninth month: Recipe 1: Avacado mint smoothie Ingredients: ½ avocado pulp 3-4 mint stems 1 tsp-soaked chia seeds 1/4th cup curd 1 tsp honey Method: Blend all the above listed ingredients to a smooth paste. You may add some crushed ice to it. Nutritional value: This recipe provides enough omega 3 fatty acid, fiber, calcium and protein to you. Recipe 2: Egg pizza Ingredients: 1 egg 1/4th cup Chopped vegetables like capsicum, sauted mushrooms, bell peppers, spring onion 40 g minced paneer Oregano, salt and pepper 1 tsp pomace olive oil Method: In a heated pan, heat olive oil. Once hot, break open the egg into the pan at a low flame. Sprinkle all the vegetables, paneer, and seasoning to it. Cover the egg with a lid and cook for-3 -4 minutes. You may remove the lid to check if the egg is completely cooked or not. Don’t flip the egg. Let it completely cook. Once the yolk is set, turn off the flame and serve it hot with 1 brown bread toast or with your favorite healthy beverage. Nutritional value: This recipe is rich in protein, calcium, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and folic acid. We know your baby is on the way to your arms. Make sure you hold a healthy baby in your strong arms! Eat healthy, be healthy.  

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How can you tell when your baby has dropped?

At first glance, the phrase “when your baby drops” is possibly alarming, especially to a woman expecting her first ever baby. Who’s going to drop your baby? How could that be a good thing? What can I do to stop this from happening? After all, once you reach the last month of pregnancy, people may ask you whether or not your baby has dropped. This article will answer all of the questions you have about your baby dropping, as well as how it affects your pregnancy and impending labor.   What does baby dropping exactly mean? No one is predicting that your baby will fall out of you, nor that they will be dropped on the floor after they’re born. When your baby drops it means their head has come down into your pelvis, still safely tucked behind your cervix and inside the protective amniotic sack. When will my baby drop? This typically happens around 2 to 4 weeks before your baby will be born, although since due dates are so arbitrary, this can really mean any time after 36 weeks of pregnancy. By this stage of pregnancy, your baby fills your uterus, and there isn’t much room for them to move around anymore. Your baby’s head moving into your pelvis is a good sign that your baby and your body are getting ready for labor, but don’t grab your hospital bag yet! Labor could still be weeks, even an entire month away from the time you feel your baby drops, so wait for more certain signs of labor before getting too excited. What does it feel like when baby drops? How can I tell? There are many symptoms that can accompany your baby dropping. It won’t be a sudden thing, most likely, but more gradual over the course of a few weeks or days as your baby slips further into your pelvis to get ready for labor. This process, also called “lightening”, aids in stretching your pelvic floor muscles so that when labor does begin your body is more prepared to guide your baby out with the gentle squeeze of your uterine muscle contractions.   Content source Featured image source

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Last -minute To-Dos before Delivery

hoNow that your baby is about to arrive any day, you need to make some last-minute arrangements so that you don't panic- Buy some nursing bras and nursing gowns The first thing that you’ll need after your baby is born include nursing bras and nursing gowns to aid you in breastfeeding your little one. Buy at least 2-3 comfortable nursing bras and some nursing gowns so that you are all set to nurse your baby. Pack your hospital bag Pack your hospital bag around the 32nd week of pregnancy. You would need baby clothes, toiletries, bottle, formula, diapers, diaper rash cream, maternity clothes, sanitary pads, comfortable cotton underwear, towel, toiletries, baby blanket and a baby towel during your stay in the hospital. Collect breastfeeding essentials While nursing, you might also experience some leaking so you need to have some breast pads handy. At times, your might be away or are unable to produce milk, so a breast pump would be handy in such a scenario. If your nipples hurt, you can soothe using a hot compress and by applying some ghee on them. Keep some homemade ghee in a small bottle near your bedside. Gather baby essentials Before you welcome your baby, buy some baby clothes along with mittens, socks and cap, according to the weather and buy some baby toiletries and other baby essentials such as diapers, nappies, and a car seat. Waterproof your bed Since babies have no control over their urine, expect a wet bed every once in a while. The best way to prevent your mattress from getting spoilt is by putting a plastic sheet on your mattress. Make space for baby stuff Now that you have a lot of baby stuff to keep, you will need to make space for your little one’s clothes and toiletries. Empty out at least 2 shelves so that you can arrange your baby’s essentials there. Baby proof your home Make your home safe for your baby. Remove all sharp objects and put all tiny objects away. Tiny objects can be taken in the mouth by babies and lead to choking. If your baby is going to sleep with you, ensure that your bed is safe, else install bed guards on all four sides. If your baby is going to sleep in a cot or a separate room, install appropriate baby monitors. Clean your house The immune system of babies is underdeveloped and so they are more prone to catch infections. Clean up all the clutter and dirt from your house to give your child a clean house and fresh air to breathe. Make sure all carpets, draperies and bed sheets are clean. This will minimise the risk of infections for your baby. Hire a house help Once your baby is born, you won’t be able to do anything more than looking after your baby and your health, so hire some help to assist with the household chores. Choose a hospital After the 32nd week, be prepared to rush to the hospital anytime, so you must choose a hospital beforehand and it would be better if it is near your house. Finalise a paediatrician Your baby’s well-being will be your top priority once your baby is born, so do some research and find out the best paediatrician near your house. Pre-wash your baby’s clothes Since baby skin is very delicate and can get rashes easily, pre-wash all your baby’s clothes to get rid of any allergens that might be present. Contact your insurance provider If you’re going to be claiming a maternity cover, contact your insurance provider and understand the entire procedure. Gather all the required documents and keep them with your hospital bag.  Sleep, relax and have fun While you await your baby’s arrival, you must know that your life is going to change completely once he/she is there. So, have fun, meet with friends, sleep as much as you can, read books, watch movies, spend time at the spa and indulge in some “me time” since you’re not going to get time for all these later! Develop a Birth Plan Discuss with your doctor about your prefered birth plan and the people you would need around you to support you. Talk to your doctor about pain management methods and any other concerns you might have about baby care after birth.  Inform your employer You need to inform your employer about your tentative delivery date and maternity leave and handover or delegate your work to others while you're going to be on leave.  Featured Image Source

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Effect of overusing a mobile in pregnancy

The usage of cell phones has increased more than a call in the past decade. As phones nowadays function as a mini-computer, music system, and a gaming system. A single portable gadget obviously increases its general usage as well as the radiation. Overusing a cell phone in pregnancy may affect you and your baby in the following ways: Long-term use of mobile during pregnancy may increase the risk of children manifesting behavioral problems like hyperactivity in their childhood. Pregnant women using mobile phones for long durations are more likely to bear kids with behavioral and emotional problems. Some studies propose that lengthy exposure to mobile radiation during pregnancy can alter the gene sequence in the mitochondria of the expectant mom which may travel to the baby, affecting his DNA and lead to the development of degenerative illnesses in the child. The higher rate of exposure to radiation during pregnancy can also change the brain activity of a pregnant woman causing fatigue, anxiety, reduced memory, and sleep disturbances. Constant and continued exposure to radio waves during pregnancy can even interfere with the cellular receptors of the human body and may initiate a force of uncontrolled consequences possibly increasing the risk of cancer. However, further research is needed on this. content source Featured Image Source

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Pelvic floor exercises and their benefits during and after pregnancy

Kegel exercise is a form of pelvic floor exercise that involves squeezing and relaxing muscles in the pelvic and genital areas. These muscles support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, small intestine, and rectum. Regular Kegel exercise during pregnancy and after you’ve given birth can help improve and maintain your bladder and bowel control by increasing the strength, endurance, and correct function of these important muscles. Kegels can be beneficial throughout life, and you might want to begin doing them during pregnancy or after your baby is born, when pelvic floor muscles often need to be strengthened. The good news is that you don’t need to join a gym to train these muscles. Kegels can be done discreetly as a part of your daily routine. Benefits of Kegel Exercises for Women The benefits of doing Kegel exercises — especially during pregnancy and after giving birth — include: Improved bladder control. Many women experience leaking urine during pregnancy or after having given birth. The risk increases with vaginal delivery, as well as with having had a greater number of children. Kegels can help prevent or treat conditions like urinary incontinence — when you feel the strong urge to pee and pass urine before you can get to the bathroom, or stress incontinence, which involves leaking a few drops of urine when you cough, laugh or sneeze. Strengthening pelvic organ support. Vaginal childbirth is one potential cause of pelvic organ prolapse (when the uterus, urethra, and/or bowel sag down into the vagina). This is because pregnancy and vaginal childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, so they don’t provide enough support for the pelvic organs. As part of a treatment plan, your doctor may recommend Kegels. Reduced risk of fecal incontinence. This is a condition that causes you to leak stool before you make it to the bathroom. Kegels can help strengthen the rectal muscles to help prevent this. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy also helps you develop the ability to relax and control these muscles in preparation for labor and birth. In the postpartum period, Kegels can help heal perineal tissues, which are stretched during vaginal birth. How to Do Kegel Exercises Kegel exercises are easy to do. It’s all about squeezing and relaxing the same muscles you would use to stop a stream of urine. Here’s how to do Kegels: Find the right muscles. To do this, you can insert a clean finger into your vagina and squeeze the muscles you would use to hold in gas. If you feel a tightening around your finger, you’re doing it right. You can also imagine you are trying to stop passing gas or trying to stop the flow of urine to locate the right muscles. If you’re still unsure, your healthcare provider can help you locate the right muscles. Get comfortable. At first, you may find it easiest to practice lying down. Later on, you’ll be able to do them lying down, standing, or even while sitting. Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles, relax, and repeat. Here are a few different Kegel exercise routines to try: Long hold. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles and hold for several seconds. Then relax for a few seconds and repeat. Initially, you may only be able to hold for one or two seconds, but over a few weeks, you’ll gradually be able to increase the hold time by a second or two until you can hold for 10 seconds. You can try to do this 10 times in a row, but if this is too hard, start by doing fewer repetitions. As you practice, you might feel the contraction letting go, and that’s OK. Just focus on retightening the muscles. Over time, you’ll notice the contraction itself becoming stronger, too. Contract and release. Quickly tighten and relax the pelvic floor muscles several times in a row. Hold for three, relax for three. Hold the squeeze for three seconds, relax for three seconds, and repeat. Increase the intensity as your muscles get stronger. It’s best to start small and gradually increase the number of repetitions, the duration of each squeeze, and the frequency of daily practice sessions as the muscles get stronger. Read more about when and how often to do Kegels in the next section. As with all types of exercise, you will need to stick with Kegels and do them correctly to see the best results. Typically, women report noticing better bladder and bowel control after about 6 to 12 weeks. For continued results, make Kegels a permanent part of your daily routine. content source

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When to do pelvic floor exercises?

When to Do Kegels and How Often If you are pregnant or have just had a baby, it’s best to ask your provider before starting. During pregnancy, you may want to start in the second trimester when many moms-to-be experience a much-needed energy boost. After your baby is born, you may be able to start doing Kegels within a few days of an uncomplicated vaginal birth — just make sure you feel ready. If you had complications during vaginal birth or had a c-section, wait until the doctor gives you the all clear. There is no set rule on how often to do Kegels. Some experts recommend doing Kegels at least twice a week, while others recommend doing them daily. There are many options in terms of how many Kegels to do and how often. For example, your healthcare provider may suggest doing 10 sets of Kegels three times per day; doing 50 squeezes throughout the day; or practicing twice a day before increasing to three times a day. With a little practice, you’ll be able to do them while you’re relaxing on the couch, waiting in line at the store, or even lying in bed. You can also contract your pelvic floor muscles before and during any situation where you might leak urine, such as when you sneeze or laugh. When you're having trouble If you're having trouble doing Kegel exercises, don't be embarrassed to ask for help. Your doctor or other health care provider can give you important feedback so that you learn to isolate and exercise the correct muscles. In some cases, vaginal weighted cones or biofeedback might help. To use a vaginal cone, you insert it into your vagina and use pelvic muscle contractions to hold it in place during your daily activities. During a biofeedback session, your doctor or other health care provider inserts a pressure sensor into your vagina or rectum. As you relax and contract your pelvic floor muscles, a monitor will measure and display your pelvic floor activity. When to expect results If you do Kegel exercises regularly, you can expect results — such as less frequent urine leakage — within about a few weeks to a few months. For continued benefits, make Kegel exercises a permanent part of your daily routine. content source

Suffering from weakened pelvic floor muscles? These exercises will help you

Pelvic floor exercises can significantly help in strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles come under huge strain in pregnancy and childbirth. As you age or soon after delivering the baby, you may notice that your pelvic floor muscles are no more that strong as they were earlier. Pelvic muscles play a crucial in supporting the bowel, bladder, and uterus. When they contract, the organs are lifted and the openings to the vagina, anus, and urethra are tightened. When the muscles are relaxed, urine and feces can be released from the body. Pelvic floor muscles also play an important role in sexual function. Strengthening these muscles can reduce pelvic pain during sex and increase the ability of achieving pleasurable sensations. During pregnancy, pelvic floor muscles support the baby and assist in the birthing process. What causes weakened pelvic floor muscles? Being pregnant and giving birth stretches the muscles of your pelvic floor. Weakened pelvic floor muscles can’t stop your bladder from leaking. This leaking happens mostly when you cough, sneeze, lift or exercise. You may also find that you can’t wait when you want to pass urine. Will they get stronger by themselves? No. You’ll need to help your pelvic floor muscles get strong again. If you don’t strengthen the muscles after each baby, you’re likely to wet yourself more often when you reach middle age. Pelvic floor muscles tend to weaken with age. Menopause can make incontinence worse. How can I prevent this happening to me? Always squeeze and hold your pelvic floor muscles before you sneeze, cough or lift. Don’t go to the toilet ‘just in case’ – this trains your bladder to want to empty more often. Empty your bladder completely when you go to the toilet. Avoid constipation by drinking plenty of fluids (preferably water) and fibre-rich foods. Don’t lift heavy loads too often. Don’t do bouncing exercises. When sitting on the toilet, lean forward. Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips (you could use a small stool or step to rest your feet on). Rest your elbows on your knees or thighs so that your back is straight. Gently bulge your abdomen. Relax your pelvic floor and avoid pushing. To keep these muscles working well, make pelvic floor exercises part of your routine for the rest of your life. You can start during pregnancy and continue after birth. Sit and lean slightly forward with a straight back. Squeeze and lift the muscles as if you are trying to stop a wee. Hold the squeeze as you count to 8; relax for 8 seconds. If you can’t hold for 8, just hold as long as you can. Repeat as many as you can, about 8 to 12 squeezes. Repeat the whole thing 3 times. Keep breathing while exercising. Try not to tighten your buttocks.   Content source Featured image source

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