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The Role Of A Doula In Pregnancy and Childbirth

A doula is your emotional, physical and educational support in pregnancy who is professionally trained to assist you in labour and childbirth in order to ensure that delivery is a beautiful experience for you, whether the birth is natural or not.

It was traditional to be surrounded by women during childbirth who were also known as midwives; doulas are improvised versions of midwives who allow women to feel empowered during the birthing process by equipping them with information that matters.

The Benefits Of Having A Doula

Apart from having them during delivery, a lot of women prefer getting in touch with a doula quite some time ahead of their due date because they feel the need to confide, enquire, be assured and confront on an emotional level that they can’t do with doctors. The non-medical support that doulas provide is highly sought after by women. Listed below are the benefits of having a doula in pregnancy:

  1. Helps the mother in creating a birth plan1 that would include her specific needs and desires, during and after birth.
  2. Helps the mother to have a safe and positive experience during birth, while being well-informed of the choices she makes in the process.
  3. Encourages early skin-to-skin2 and breastfeeding.
  4. Women are less likely to need pain medication because of the natural pain management techniques that a doula can help to learn.
  5. Doulas encourage the father to be an active participant in labour and birth.
  6. Doulas do not choose the type of birth but assist in it, regardless of the type. There is no external pressure to resort to anything specific.
  7. In unplanned and emergency caesareans, a doula provides emotional encouragement to the woman who might feel deprived.

How To Choose The Right Doula? 

Doulas can be interviewed to help make the right choice. They will generally not charge you for that so you can always have a list of questions to ask and assure yourself that you are placing the pregnancy in safe hands. The questions that you could ask a potential doula are:

  • What is the kind of professional training she has received?
  • What are her charges like?
  • What kind of services does she offer in pregnancy and childbirth?
  • Will she assist a Caesarean delivery?
  • Will she be available on and around your due date?
  • Does she believe in a natural, un-medicated home birth?
  • Would she help in making a birth plan?
  • Will she be available before birth for one-to-one sessions?

Based on the answer to these questions, you can choose your doula. Always remember to choose someone you feel comfortable with because the primary motive of hiring a doula is to provide you comfort.

You could choose to consult your friends and family members to find out if they have had doulas and could refer you to one who is familiar. Always keep your priorities on the table and let a doula help you achieve them while birthing. Women need emotional support more than anything else during pregnancy and a doula helps immensely with that.

Reference:

  1. https://www.google.co.in/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=fLjeVrj5Cc_08wfn3aKIBg&gws_rd=ssl#safe=off&q=birth+plan+wiki
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_care

Should You Strength Train In Pregnancy?

If you have been into regular exercising, aerobics and strength training, being pregnant should not be the end of your practice sessions. Debunking pregnancy myths, one of the latest finds of pregnancy research has been acknowledging the benefit of strength training while expecting. Strength training in pregnancy is often doubted without proper evidence and if you have a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, there is no reason to stop training. It not only strengthens your body from within but also enhances your endurance that will come in handy while pushing out that baby. The trick is to increase the repetitions instead of increasing weights because that helps you to stay safer with all the body weight you are already carrying around.

How Does Strength Training Help?

  • Builds muscle strength and tone to reduce cramping, swelling and all sorts of pulls and sprains common in pregnancy.
  • Keeps you flexible and active in pregnancy
  • Increases your endurance that helps in labour and childbirth
  • Keeps your pelvic floor strong1 and intact so as to prevent incontinence during and after delivery.
  • Helps you lose the weight gained in pregnancy sooner so getting back to your pre-pregnancy form is easier.

What To Avoid While Strength Training?

  1. Try and avoid fast-paced movements. Slow and controlled moves would avoid injuries.
  2. Walking lunges are not recommended during pregnancy because they tend to be injurious to the pelvis.
  3. Never add weights unless your trainer and you yourself feel absolutely comfortable. Instead, try more repetitions.
  4. Skip any exercise that requires you to lie down because that puts unnecessary weight on the growing belly, your baby and your back.
  5. Your centre of gravity shifts in pregnancy so always try to sit down while lifting weights. This avoids accidental falls.
  6. Anything heavier than 10 pounds should not be lifted.

When Should You Avoid Strength Training Altogether?

  • If your doctor has advised bed rest, there is no reason to take chances.
  • If you have a low-lying placenta, you should not risk it at all.
  • If you have had unexplained vaginal bleeding, please stay away from weights.
  • If your pressure fluctuates, you could have a tendency to fall down. Avoid weights as far as possible.

How To Start And What To Remember?

If you have never done strength training before, now is generally not the good time to start new things but if you are keen on it, try taking it slow. Set your own standards and work accordingly.

Let your trainer know that you are pregnant and allow him to determine the repetitions and weights you need.

Light stretching and warm up walks are essential to avoid sudden cramps.

Always keep yourself well-hydrated before, during and after the session.

Work out at a moderate pace and try not overdoing it. While it is safe to strength train in pregnancy, it is also advised to keep a tab on how your body is taking it. Listen to the cues of your body and if at any point, your body needs to slow down, respond to it and give yourself adequate rest.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kegel_exercise

Pregnancy And The Surprising Beauty Benefits It Brings Along

If you thought pregnancy was all about aching backs and swollen feet, think again! There are beauty benefits of pregnancy that are as natural as things can be. You might have heard a couple of compliments on your way back and wondered where they came from. Thank your pregnancy hormones! Apart from the usual glow and rosiness that people associate pregnancy with, there are a number of beauty benefits that pregnancy comes along with. Here are a few:

1. Voluminous Hair

You might have noticed that your hairbrush looks cleaner these days and you have a proud, thick mane to sport. This might come as a surprise since you have hardly had the time to indulge in beauty treatments. This is one of the surprises of pregnancy. The heightened estrogen levels in pregnancy stimulate your hair follicles that result in thicker, shinier and beautiful looking hair. Grow your hair and enjoy the compliments that come along.

2. That Glow

People keep asking you if there is good news you would want to share with them but how on earth do they know? Well, your rosy glow gives them evidence enough to know that you are pregnant. Pregnancy glow is for real and not just a figure of speech. Your blood production and circulation is heightened, there is more blood flow to your face and your skin naturally glows, that would otherwise need skin brighteners and highlighters.

3. Curvier Body

If you have been skinny all your life, it’s time to enjoy and flaunt your newly acquired curves. Pregnancy hormones often lead to bigger cup sizes and curvier bottoms and you might as well love your new body. Instead of hiding your curves under hideous maternity gowns, flaunt them in tees and tops that accentuate them and make you look prettier.

4. Say Not To Brittle Nails

You have never been able to file your nails without breaking them midway because your nails have been brittle all your life. Thanks to pregnancy hormones, you now have stronger and prettier nails that you could style and shape as per your will. If you have been waiting for ages to try that new nail art you have seen on Facebook, it’s time to hit the store and buy it. Your nails will be perfectly ready to get painted and designed without chipping or breaking.

5. That Pout!

What all women do to get a pretty pout and flaunt fuller lips? What if you had to do nothing but get pregnant? Yes, pregnancy is known to make your lips go fuller because of the number of hormones at work. All you have got to do it buy a flattering lip colour and gloss to enhance that pout and look gorgeous in all the pregnant selfies you take.

These signs and symptoms are not universal but happen to most women. If you haven’t experienced these, it is absolutely normal and there are women who have a tough time dealing with skin problems in pregnancy. Even if that glow does not come to you, you will always look beautiful, no matter what.

Including The Daddy-To-Be In The Pregnancy

A pregnancy is not only significant for the mother but also a matter of unmatched joy for the daddy-to-be. Keeping him away and cocooned, while saying that dads cannot be as adept at parenting is not only inappropriate but also quite silly to do. A father can be as effective in helping out during pregnancy as the mother. How would you include the man in your life to assist you in the pregnancy and to gear up for the new arrival? Here are a few tips:

1. Talk A Lot About The Pregnancy

Include your partner in the pregnancy by talking a lot about it to him whenever you get some time together. Convey how your body is changing and how you have been feeling about it. If you have fears in your mind about him not feeling comfortable with your changing body, talk about it too. Your fears might prove to be unnecessary and even he would have a scope to convey what he feels and how he wants to do things to help you.

2. Ask For Help

Instead of being a control freak all the time, try and unwind by distributing and sharing the workload. If there are shopping trips to be made, you can take along your husband to do the heavy work while you relax in the shop and help him out with the decisions. This will come in handy when your baby arrives and you will be too busy to go out. Your husband would know exactly what to do.

3. Include Him In Prenatal Visits

Both husband and wife should be ideally present at every prenatal visit if possible. Including him in your doctor visits will help him understand the pregnancy better and assist you in having a safe and healthy pregnancy. You could also take him to birthing classes or prenatal exercise classes to help him learn the massaging techniques that are extremely effective in both labour and birth. He can also be an active participant in the classes to help you ease in.

4. Start Working On Your Health Together

A baby is not just your responsibility and you are not the only person who is entitled to staying fit. Include your husband in your exercise regime so that he starts gearing up health wise for the new addition to your family. Take him along on your walks so that both of you are always equally motivated on the path to good health. Set up meal plans together that are well-balanced so that both of you can manage to have healthy lifestyles that is essential in order to be better parents.

5. Include Him In Labour And Childbirth

Your doula as well you yourself can encourage your husband to be an active participant in labour. He can help you feel comfortable and positive by learning massaging techniques and using them to relieve you. He can also choose to clamp the cord1 himself after birth if the hospital authorities favour the practice and can deliver the placenta too if he wants to. This will immediately help him to bond with the baby after birth.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbilical_cord

How Will You Plan A Healthy Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is unpredictable but you can always ensure that you are doing your part right by following what your health practitioner suggests and taking all the necessary measures. If you plan out your food, exercise, work and chores well in advance, there is every possibility that you will have a healthy pregnancy along. So how will you plan for one? Here a few tips you could follow:

  • Listen To Your Doctor

After getting your blood work done and getting your urine sample results, your doctor will be able to identify what you will need in this pregnancy. Listen to what the doctor has to say and closely follow his/her suggestions. If you have existing health conditions, you could start taking early measures to keep them managed so that there is no complication in pregnancy. He/she will also advise you a diet and a lifestyle as per your pregnancy needs.

  • Quit Smoking And Drinking

If you are planning for a baby, start with getting rid of your addictions. It takes time to settle down once you have quit so start early. If you need professional help, please resort to it so that you don’t fall a victim to the addictions again. Smoking and drinking could cause irreparable damage to the fetus and quitting these is of utmost priority.

  • Working Out

Pregnancy hormones are responsible for the list of pains that seem to cripple us in pregnancy but if fitness is one of your life goals, your pregnancy would be rather smooth and easier. Whether you choose to walk, run, strength train, or do yoga, always remember to keep yourself moving and motivated.

  • Eat Healthy

Your diet is an essential factor that affects your pregnancy in several ways. In consultation with your doctor, have a diet that is rich in protein, iron and vitamins to help provide your body with enough nutrition to support the pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, eating healthy should start now! Always remember to include leafy greens with citrus fruits to help your body absorb the iron more efficiently and lay down the iron stores that both you and your baby will need very soon.

  • Folic Acid

One cannot stress on the importance of folic acid enough. It prevents neural tube defects in the fetus like spina bifida etc and should be started as early as when you begin to plan for the pregnancy. You can take fortified cereals or folic acid supplements as suggested by your doctor.

  • Healthy Weight

If you are obese to start with, try reducing your weight to the ideal standards as naturally as possible before you conceive. Our body weight has a direct co-relation with our menstrual cycles1 and excessive body weight may affect ovulation and delay conception. Even during pregnancy, you should always aim for a healthy weight gain. If you are underweight, try putting on weight by eating healthy fats and also enhance endurance by working out. Keep your weight monitored, before and after conception to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cycle

How To Stay Fit In Pregnancy

Staying fit in pregnancy should be one of your priorities because it helps you in avoiding excessive weight gain, disorders like Gestational Diabetes, Pre-eclampsia, varicose veins and chances of a caesarean section. While you do need to gain weight to support the pregnancy, there is no need to lose your muscle tone. Staying flexible and toned can also help to avoid the aches and pains that commonly accompany a pregnancy. Moreover, when the little bundle of joy arrives, you will have a tough time bouncing him/her up and down to ease colic pains, if you are not fit enough.

Here are a few ways in which you can keep yourself fit during pregnancy:

1. Swimming

Swimming is the most relaxing form of exercise in which almost all your muscles are being worked out. Swimming in pregnancy is considered quite safe and comfortable because even while carrying so much of weight, your body feels practically weightless in water. Walking might not feel comfortable all through but swimming will. Make sure you have a heavy breakfast before diving in so that you don’t feel hungry in the midst of those amazing laps.

2. Walking

Brisk walking is one form of exercise that you can do even on the last day of your pregnancy and continue to do while you are in labour to facilitate and speed up the process. Walking keeps you from developing those nagging backaches that will come to haunt you if you are sitting down or lying down for longer stretches of time. What you need is a good pair of walking shoes, comfortable clothes and a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated while sweating it out.

3. Eating Right

You do not need to eat for two people or for three and more if you are having multiples. You will need the right balance of protein, vitamins, minerals, iron, calcium and fluids to feel fit and energetic in pregnancy. Avoiding empty calories and stocking up on nutrient-dense food will avoid the sluggishness and lethargy. Adding green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits will add all the nutrition naturally that you have been looking for in fortified food.

4. Keep The Weight Monitored

Remember to check your weight on a digital scale every month if you have a normal pregnancy and every 2 weeks if your pregnancy is high-risk and if you were obese to start with. Your prenatal appointments will have you covered on this but if they are spaced out more than 3 weeks, you can do it at home. Accordingly, plan your diet and try to keep your weight gain to the point that your doctor has advised.

5. Think Positive And Stay Motivated

Whether you choose to do Pilates1, indoor cycling, strength training, yoga, aerobics, swimming or pelvic floor exercises, the first thing to start with is to think positive. That makes a big difference. Keep yourself motivated by watching online videos about pregnancy fitness and look at yourself with appreciation each morning. Your body is the strongest it can ever be at this point and you should feel proud of it and yourself!

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilates

How To Deal With A High-Risk Pregnancy?

It’s not a pleasant experience to be stuck with four needles in a day and asked to lie down for 270 days of your life because your pregnancy has been labelled as high-risk by the doctors. You feel cheated and guilty and are often found asking yourself if this is all your fault but most certainly, it isn’t. High-risk pregnancies do not become so because the mother did not do as advised but because there are a number of scientific reasons that are beyond the reach of human beings. There are ways to deal with a high-risk pregnancy that can help you stay positive throughout. Listed below are some of them:

  1. Instead of being a passive observant of what the doctors and the midwives do to you, start reading and asking more questions regarding the pregnancy so that you can always make the decisions for yourself. Take complete advantage if you have been asked to take bed rest for a long time. Read authentic papers, talk to experienced mums online, ask questions to your gynaecologist and be an active participant in the pregnancy. This does wonders to waiving off that apprehension from building up.
  2. Your risk factors could be anything ranging from preterm labour, premature birth1, placenta previa, Gestational Diabetes, pre-eclampsia, IVF conception, carrying multiples etc. Knowing your risks and the potential consequences help in a better understanding of your pregnancy.
  3. Finding the right OBGYN is quintessential to dealing with a high-risk pregnancy. The right doctor will guide you well, while being practical and precise and will also be available to answer your doubts regarding this pregnancy. If your doctor does not respond to you most of the time, change your doctor right away.
  4. Keep yourself closely monitored. Know the symptoms that are more of red flags for you. as soon as you feel that something is not right, get in touch with your doctor and seek help immediately.
  5. Following the doctor’s advice is very important. If you have been particularly asked to lie down on your back, please try and follow the exact instruction to avoid mishaps later. Eat as per your doctor’s suggestions and avoid junk and caffeinated drinks as much as you can.

Accept The Change:

The risk factors should not be limited to being identified but should also be accepted as part of life till you deliver. Accepting this temporary change is important. Lower your expectations out of yourself and concentrate on your body and baby. Seek for help to get work at home done. There are online support systems that have women signed up with high-risk pregnancies. You can speak to them for added support and find several success stories to help keep you motivated.

Finally, give in to your emotions once in a while. You might not enjoy the pregnancy but try to as much as you can because in situations like these, positivity really helps. You might not necessarily have a high-risk birth but coming to terms with your risks can help prepare you for whatever lies in store.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preterm_birth

How To Cope With A Teenage Pregnancy

It is not easy being a teenager and realising that you are pregnant. As angry as you might feel towards your daughter for not preserving family values as you may call it, she might also be experiencing anxiety, guilt, apprehension of what lies ahead. Instead of driving the guilt deeper and conveying how ashamed you are of her, try letting her know that you are always there for her. Like every other pregnancy, this needs care and parents should make the best efforts to help the teenager face and accept the situation as it is. More than exposure to vulgarity and such, one of the biggest reasons of rising teenage pregnancies is the absence of proper sex education1 in schools and families. Ignorance invites curiosity and that in turn leads children to be tempted to try new things. Try being a better parent to start with and let your child know the reasons and consequences of sex.

If your daughter comes into your room to tell you that she thinks she is pregnant, consider the following points to cope with a teenage pregnancy:

  • Speak To Her

After the pregnancy has been confirmed by home tests and urine test, speak to her about the options that she has. You might be outraged by the fact that she does not want to abort the baby and intends to continue with the pregnancy but you will need to understand her emotional connection. You can tell her how she can keep the baby with her if she wants to, give it up for adoption if she feels she is not ready and also terminate the pregnancy if she feels unsure about the future of the baby with her. Whatever her choice might be, keep assuring her that her parents are always with her.

  • Prenatal Counselling

If your teenager is ridden with guilt, anxious because her partner is not ready to commit himself to the relationship, shows any sign of depression or has suicidal tendencies, you must consult a counsellor immediately. He/she will speak to your daughter, offer her options, let her choose; reassure how she is not alone in this and how she probably deserves better. Counselling will also help her to see her future beyond birth and infancy. She will be referred to places where teenage mothers are encouraged to complete their education and make their livelihood. They will also offer parenting classes if the need arises and help your daughter prepare mentally, physically and financially for parenthood.

  • Prenatal Care

Teenagers are hardly aware of the basics of pregnancy, leave alone prenatal. If your daughter chooses to keep the baby, you will need to encourage her to take care of herself and the baby. Encouraging her to stay active, eat well, gain adequate weight, stay off drinking and smoking, adopt a healthier lifestyle, is important to a healthy pregnancy. Teenage pregnancies have higher chances of developing Gestational Hypertension and Gestational Diabetes. Guide her in managing ways to keep the symptoms under control.

Love and support from parents will help overcome the hurdles of a teenage pregnancy, and regardless of your daughter’s choice, always assure her of your continued support.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_education

Flattering Looks In The Third Trimester: Learn New Ways!

While looking at yourself in the mirror at around 30 weeks, you might wonder if you are pregnant everywhere, because right from your nose to your cheekbones, everything might look swollen, puffy and weird. It is not too flattering to notice how your nose has practically disappeared under that protrusion you call nostrils now. So what do you do? How do you feel pretty, let alone looking so? Here are a few ways in which your third trimester could be as flattering for you as your second trimester had been:

1. Resort To Make-Up

Even if you have been a plain Jane all your life, you would not want to say no the miracles of make-up that could literally transform how you look in the third trimester. With swollen nostrils, puffy face and tired eyes, you can never rest well and wait for 2 more months for the delivery to be over. Go out and get some make-up essentials. Contouring and highlighting in the proper way can make a big difference to softened angles and help them look sharper. You will finally see your nose and a tiny bit of your cheekbones. Wearing a bright, matte shade of lipstick would also add to the prettiness and take away that dull and tired look from your face.

2. Wear Black With Glitter

If you have recently resorted to greys and blacks because you would look huge otherwise and you are bored with your wardrobe, try some bling with your regular colours. If your monochromes1 are making you look monotonous, break the colour monotony by wearing a golden glittery belt right under your breastbone from where the bump starts. You could also carry a blingy scarf and wear it in different styles to revamp your look.

3. Prenatal Scrubs And Facials

They are not only relaxing but also great for your skin. A good scrub and a facial from a professional salon that specialises in prenatal beauty regimes, can give your skin that much-needed glow. Your rough and uneven skin that has suffered at the hands of acne breakouts and allergies will look smoother and feel softer to touch after a facial and massage. Remember to inform the masseur if you have any allergy or if your skin is sensitive so that she can use hypoallergenic products for you.

4. Bigger, Bolder Jewellery

If you have ever felt that your belly is everywhere and there is no balance in your body, it’s time to opt for bigger, bolder and chunkier pieces of jewellery. Try a statement necklace that looks chunky and covers a good part of your neck. This will help to balance the look of your body.

5. Wear Long Dresses

Instead of restricting yourself to boring panelled denims and trousers, slip into something that is airy and light while making you look like a thousand bucks! Long maxi dresses are very forgiving as far as your ankles and feet are concerned. They are comfortable to wear, feel pretty and hide the problems areas while accentuating your baby bump.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monochrome

Expecting Twins? Know How To Prepare Yourself Well In Advance!

From the moment you come to know that you are having a twin pregnancy, there is a lot of anticipation and anxiety that starts building up. You start thinking to yourself if you will be able to cater to the needs of two babies at the same time. It is indeed quite a task to start preparing for the different things for twins but if you are aware of the basic necessities, the preparations need not be mind-boggling. Here is a list to help you preserve your sanity!

  • Start With Yourself

There are around 6 more months to prepare for the necessities. What you need right now is to look after yourself because a twin pregnancy needs special care, irrespective of whether it is a high-risk pregnancy or not. In between shopping trips, setting up the nursery, getting the wardrobe ready, remember to take short breaks in between. Try and nap in the afternoon and keep your feet elevated whenever you rest so that you can avoid swollen and painful feet. Having enough protein is important to help your twins have a healthy weight gain. You will also need to have a well—balanced diet in order to support yourself in this pregnancy.

  • Tandem Baby Wearing

If you have heard about baby wearing1 and its benefits, you will know that it practically saves you from losing your sanity in the initial months when the babies are too young to stay away from their primary caregivers. Tandem wearing will need one tandem carrier or two carriers that can be adjusted to wear two babies at the same time. You will need a lot of practice to get it right so start early. Watch tutorials online to learn the ways of tandem wearing and attend baby wearing classes if they happen in your city. Testing different carriers can help you choose the right one so that you don’t huff and puff while carrying two babies. Remember to buy ergonomic carriers that might pinch your pocket a little initially but will prove to be the best baby related investment you have ever made.

  • Listing And Stocking

It is a general tendency for twins to arrive earlier than expected so always have a list ready and stock up things by 30 weeks or so. Make a list of the essentials; the number of diapers, the clothes, crib necessities, car seat, formula, tandem strollers etc. Buy diapers in bulk so that the initial days can be taken care of. If you do not plan to baby wear, a tandem stroller will be your go-to for anything and everything. Read buying guides online and choose one that fits into your requirements and your budget. If you are having winter babies, remember to stock up on sweaters, layering clothes and winter sleepers. The biggest advantage while shopping for twins is the discount that you get, especially if you are buying in bulk.

  • Prenatal Classes

Your prenatal classes will prepare you for birthing twins and to care for them thereafter. At these classes, you can also connect with other mums of twins through the people attending and you will end up feeling more confident about this pregnancy so sign up for these classes well in advance.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babywearing