Congratulations on your pregnancy! Whether it’s your first pregnancy or not, you must be feeling happy, excited and even anxious and nervous, especially if you’re a first time mum.
Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, and no two experiences are the same. You must have many questions, from what to eat to lifestyle changes. In the complete guide to pregnancy below, we try to cover a list of questions as much as possible.
How soon should I visit a gynaecologist?
It is recommended that you make an appointment with a gynae as soon as you discover that you are pregnant. The gynae and hospital of choice is completely up to you.
At your first visit, your gynaecologist will take an ultrasound scan. The ultrasound scan will either be done by the abdominal route or vaginal route. This is to determine the pregnancy development’s location. A normal pregnancy should be growing within your womb (intra-uterine pregnancy); a pregnancy developing outside your womb (ectopic pregnancy) can potentially be dangerous and life threatening.
During your gynaecologist visit, your gynae can also help you determine the estimated due date of your pregnancy.
What symptoms can I expect during the early stages of my pregnancy?
During the early stages of your pregnancy, you may experience these symptoms:
- Feeling of indigestion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lower abdominal cramps
- Vaginal spotting
As these symptoms are non-specific, you should raise these symptoms to your gynae to ensure your pregnancy is healthy.
Am I going to get bad morning sickness?
Morning sickness affects about 75% of pregnant women during the early stages of their pregnancy. Despite the name, morning sickness can affect pregnant women at any time of the day! The intensity of morning sickness also varies from women to women. Morning sickness typically begins at about 6 weeks into your pregnancy, and will intensify over the next 4 to 5 weeks.
Usually, morning sickness will end around 14 weeks in, although some women may experience it up till 18 weeks in.
Morning sickness will not affect your baby. It might, however, affect your appetite. Adequate nutrition is paramount during pregnancy and it is important not to starve yourself and your baby. If need be, you may take prenatal vitamins for the essential nutrients needed to support you during your pregnancy.
Can I still exercise during pregnancy?
Yes! Healthy pregnant women need at least 2.5 hours of exercise a week. In fact, regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of pregnancy complications and ease back pain. Moderate-intensity activities are largely fine for pregnant women. Moderate-intensity activities include activities that are active enough to make you break a sweat and increase your heart rate. Such activities include walking, swimming, yoga, pilates and strength training.
But always get the approval of your provider before starting any exercise.
What can I eat during pregnancy?
You are what you eat — during this period, your baby’s main source of nourishment is also what you feed yourself. It is advised that pregnant women consume a wide source of healthy food and beverages with a variety of nutrients to nourish the baby.
Some key nutrients that are exceptionally important during pregnancy for the baby’s growth and development include:
- Folic acid – Folic acid is crucial in preventing birth defects in your baby’s nervous system. Pregnant women are recommended to consume about 600mg of folic acid daily. As it can be hard to hit this amount solely from food, prenatal vitamins are an alternative source.
- Iron – Iron helps pregnant women produce more blood, which supplies the baby with oxygen. Pregnant women are recommended to consume about 27mg of iron daily. Iron is also better absorbed when taken with vitamin C.
- Calcium – At least 1300mg of calcium is needed daily. This mineral is important in building your baby’s teeth and bones. If the amount is not met, calcium will be drawn your own bones to fuel your baby.
- Protein – Protein intake should be higher than usual during pregnancy as protein helps in the development of important organs, including the brain and heart.
During pregnancy, alcohol, raw or partially cooked meat and unpasteurised food should be avoided completely during pregnancy. Caffeine, fish and empty calorie foods should be consumed sparingly.
Is a vaginal birth or C-section better?
The preferred birth method is highly up to the pregnant woman, and of course her health condition. For instance, a C-section may be recommended if the mother has diabetes or high blood pressure or if the baby is not in a head-down position during delivery. There is no one ‘preferred’ or ‘better’ method. What matters most is having a safe pregnancy and delivery.
Of course, a natural delivery and C-section each has its own advantages. A vaginal birth has a shorter recovery time and skin to skin contact with the baby can start sooner. A C-section is a lot faster and the surgery won’t hurt due to the painkillers.
Do you have a question for me?
Barakat, R., & Perales, M. (2016). Resistance Exercise in Pregnancy and Outcome. Clinical obstetrics and gynecology, 59(3), 591–599. https://doi.org/10.1097/GRF.0000000000000213
Sharma, S., & Dhakal, I. (2018). Cesarean vs Vaginal Delivery : An Institutional Experience. JNMA; journal of the Nepal Medical Association, 56(209), 535–539.