It is really encouraging that I now see lots of patients in the pre-conception stage. We have a long chat about trying to conceive, healthy lifestyles, and how they feel about becoming parents overall. I think it’s a great opportunity to build a relationship with …
Tag: pregnancy and fertility
I kept as active as I could during pregnancy, trying for 2.5 hrs a week of aerobic exercise – up til the last few heavy weeks anyway! I ran, swam, and walked a lot. Here’s how exercise helped, or didn’t help, during my pregnancy, the …
I’m a huge fan of physical activity overall, and I didn’t want to stop being active during pregnancy. Fortunately, we know now that exercise during pregnancy is safe and carries many benefits for mother and baby. Research suggests that exercise during pregnancy can:
- reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus by 50%
- reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia
- ensure weight gain is healthy and not excessive
- improve maternal well-being
- reduce physical complaints such as back pain and insomnia
- reduce the risk of premature birth
- reduce the risk of operational delivery
- shorten labours, including the pushing stage
- decrease the need for pain relief during labour
- decrease risk of maternal cardiovascular disease in the long term
- decrease post-partum Body Mass Index.
It seems that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets you breathing faster, helps to build a healthier and more efficient placenta.
Babies born to mothers who exercised during pregnancy are also thought to settle more easily and be more intelligent at 5 years.
Personally, I couldn’t have got through my pregnancy without exercise. I made exercise a priority because (1) I wanted to maintain my fitness so I could get back into running post-partum; (2) I wanted to gain weight in a healthy weight and not “balloon out”; (3) I wanted a healthier baby. Exercise improved my mood and self-esteem, often increased my energy levels, allowed me to connect with nature, improved back pain, helped my sleep, helped me keep weight gain slow and steady as is recommended, and generally made me feel and look fabulous during pregnancy. I think it’s vital that you have a set of personal reasons as to why you want to continue on with physical activity during pregnancy, or perhaps start doing some if you are currently inactive. Do consult with your health provider as soon as you know you are pregnant, and read on about safety of exercise during pregnancy.
This is a fantastic book that doesn’t dumb down the importance of being active during pregnancy, and goes into great detail about the safety and appropriateness of many different sports and activities. It explains the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, precautions, and has recommendations as …
One of my biggest fears was developing “cankles” in pregnancy. You know, when you don’t know where the calf ends and the ankle begins? I felt there was enough to deal with having a giant bump, bigger boobs and thighs and bum that are definitely more generous than before. I didn’t need my body image completely shattered by developing cankles as well!
Well, I was lulled into a false sense of security because for the first 36 weeks of pregnancy I was cankle-free. My feet remained slim, my ankles svelte, and my ego huge. Then suddenly, for no reason (apart from my ballooning uterus obstructing blood flow back to the heart, I suspect) I suddenly turned into the Elephant Woman. I had joined the 75% of women who develop the dreaded cankle during pregnancy.
Walking, swimming and drinking lots of water have been recommended as good cankle prevention exercises, and they probably helped me up to that point. Beyond 36 weeks, what worked best was compression. I threw my dignity away and wore support stockings – the kind you get from the pharmacy to prevent clots in the leg during air travel. They looked awful but felt good and kept my feet to a manageable size. Putting my runners on and going for a long walk also helped – probably because there was lots of compression happening inside my now snug sneakers. I was already spending lots of time with my feet up and this didn’t make much difference, although spending time with my legs dependent (or below my knees ie sitting or standing for too long) did make the cankles worse.
If you do develop swelling, and this is sudden, or is generalised (eg in the face and hands as well as the legs), or if you feel unwell and “off” with the swelling, get yourself checked out straight away, as it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia – a medical condition during pregnancy that can be very dangerous for both mother and baby. Otherwise, good luck and here’s to your ankles looking lovely during pregnancy ☺
Let’s face it, pregnancy often feels like an endless list of restrictions, and nine months is a long time. There’s alcohol and smoking and caffeine; modifying your workout routine; “listening to your body”; and all sorts of old wives tales about not having sex, or …
More like my Whole Pregnancy Bible! I came across this book before I fell pregnant, and it has seen me through the preconception period and entire pregnancy. If patients come in to see me and are thinking of conceiving or are pregnant, I always refer …
When I fell pregnant I was prepared for so-called “morning sickness”, but nobody warned me about the fatigue. And what fatigue it was! It came on at about six weeks and finally lifted just before thirteen weeks. I felt as though I had the “flu” for all this time, and developed a newfound empathy for patients who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I felt unwell and sedated for most of the first trimester.
Like everything else, “hormones” are blamed, namely progesterone, which does make a woman more placid and drowsy than usual. Apparently the body takes three months to adjust to higher levels of hormones, which is why doctors often tell women that their Pill side effects may disappear after three months of use.
Blood sugar levels also tend to fall during the first trimester, which I believe exacerbates the fatigue (and led to me never leaving the house without a peanut butter sandwich in my handbag for those two-hourly hypoglycemic attacks). Something else is happening that your body hasn’t done for a long time – it’s building a whole new organ “from scratch”. The placenta, which is the connection between you and your baby, starts to form in the first days after conception, and is completed pretty much by the thirteenth week.
There were days I could barely drag myself out of bed, even after marathon 10-12 hour sleeps (I often passed out on the couch by about 8:30pm – my poor husband had little of a social life in those weeks!) The fatigue was overwhelming, worse as the day wore on, and over the weekend I seemed to spend all of my time sleeping – and yet woke up feeling no better. I remember crying one morning during the tenth week as I woke up to my fourth day of terrible fatigue. My obstetrician called it “my version of morning sickness” – not that I was spared the nausea, mind you, just that the fatigue was much more prominent than the nausea.
As I bumbled along in first trimester, I learned a few things that helped (sometimes):
- I needed to eat every 2 or 3 hours, without fail. Low-GI carbohydrates (I went through loaves of wholegrain bread and craved pasta) plus protein helped the most.
- The support from V was immensely helpful. He told me to take it easy, never complained when I fell asleep during dinner, put up with my lacklustre cooking efforts (if I made the effort that night), and twice I woke up after having put laundry in the washing machine and falling asleep, to see him put the laundry out in the middle of the night. Your partner needs to honour the immense work your body is doing on your baby’s behalf.
- Gentle exercise helped – a lot. Swimming was wonderful as I felt buoyant and wasn’t worried about passing out. Always have a snack before and after exercising.
- Overdoing the exercise and exertion resulted in days of awful fatigue. I went surfing on a cold day at 7 weeks and the experience was just too intense. The following week was one of the worst weeks.
- Take your antenatal vitamins religiously.
- Take it easy and remember “this too shall pass”. For the vast majority of women, they feel “normal” again by 14-16 weeks. I remember gradually feeling like myself again during the thirteenth week, and voila! One morning I woke up and said to V, “I’m Back!”
Your body is doing a huge job – creating a new organ AND a new human being. Your baby is fully formed by 12 weeks – with ears and nose and fingers and toes and everything in its place. Your body did this from a microscopic sperm and egg. Respect the enormity of what it sets out to achieve in those first three months and good luck!