By Mia Von Scha
Just a couple of useful things I’ve come across in my pregnancy that I wish I had known from the beginning, so I thought perhaps I could save someone else the legwork of having to find this all out along the way. And especially for those of you living in SA, as most of the books you’ll read and advice you’ll get will be either from the UK or the States and won’t necessarily apply.
WATER: This may sound obvious, but most people don’t do it… drink a LOT of water. It helps with tiredness, skin breakouts, excess weight gain, and most importantly, constipation. The two main reasons that pregnant chicks get hemorrhoids is excessive weight gain and constipation, both of which can be avoided by drinking enough water. 10 glasses a day, minimum. And no, that doesn’t include tea and coffee! Also, and I know this may sound illogical, but it relieves water retention… if you’re retaining water, you need to drink MORE not less water.
KEGELS: Ok, this one you’ll hear in every book, but do them… and don’t wait until you’re pregnant – start NOW! Kegels are exercises that strengthen the perineum muscle (between your vag and anus) and so prevent the likelihood of a tear or an episiotomy (in plain English, slicing that same sensitive area) during birth. They also prevent you from getting urinary or fecal incontinence (and these are much more common than you may think) from the weight and pressure of pregnancy on this muscle, as well as from pushing during labour. These muscles also get slack with age, causing geriatric incontinence, also avoidable with kegels – you don’t wanna end up in adult nappies, now do you?!? AND, they keep the vag nice and tight for an improved sex life!
EXERCISE: Very very NB! This is as much for your own sanity as for having a healthy pregnancy. The first few months can be extremely exhausting (they say that growing the placenta means that you’re using about as much energy doing nothing as if you were climbing a mountain), so if all you can exercise then is your thumb on the TV remote, then do. But, the sooner you can get into some kind of exercise, the better… believe it or not, it does actually help to relieve the exhaustion a bit. Personally, I recommend swimming and yoga as my top two preggy workouts. Swimming provides amazing relief from the pressure and weight of your belly, encourages the kid to lie in the correct birth position, doesn’t strain your joints (which are all fucked up due to the release of relaxin during pregnancy and therefore easily damaged), and cools you down (trust me, you’ll be hot!). Yoga keeps you supple and strong, improves your breathing, and adds meditation to keep you calm! Both are safe exercises to start during pregnancy, so even if you’ve been a complete slacker before (like me) you can still get into it.
* And now on to small miracles that come in bottles and don’t require any more effort from you than sending your partner to the shops to buy them (all can be bought at Discem, which I recommend as they’re about 25% cheaper than all other pharmacies)!
SCHLEHEN’S BLACKTHORN BERRY ELIXIR: A must have, especially for the first few and last months of the pregnancy, but why not just take it all the way through! Amazing for energy boosting. Take 3 teaspoons in a glass of water (yes, this does count as one of your 10) first thing in the morning. Tastes great and makes sure you’ll actually get out of bed at all!
MAG PHOS (TISSUE SALT): Tissue salts are cheap and highly effective against many pregnancy aches and pains. I’ve just mentioned the two that I found essential, but look them up on the net if you have other ailments you need to deal with. Mag Phos prevents the horrific cramps you get in your legs at night during pregnancy (usually from about month 4 or 5). Take one tablet three times a day, or more if you’re still suffering. It can also be used after the birth to give to the baby to relieve colic.
CALC FLUOR (TISSUE SALT): This one is specifically for stretching… it prevents stretch marks, and will also help your perineum to stretch during birth so you can once again avoid those nasty tears and cuts! Take one tab three times a day.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS: They’re called ESSENTIAL fatty acids for a reason. Take all the way through pregnancy, but especially in the last trimester as this is when the baby’s brain develops and they are essential for normal brain development. Make sure that whatever brand you’re taking includes DHA, the lack of which is implicated in Post Natal Depression. This is particularly important for vegetarians, as the only vegetable source is from some obscure algae and will need to be supplemented – Absolute Organics does a DHA supplement for vegans and vegetarians. Essential fatty acids are also known to treat general depression (so keep taking them after the birth too), and to improve your hair and skin.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS: Just a couple that I read and really enjoyed or found incredibly useful. You’ll probably be bombarded with so much info that its best to try to stick to one main source so as not to freak yourself out. I recommend the What To Expect, and then the rest just as light reading.
– What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Murkoff, Eisenberg & Hathaway– this is your pregnancy bible. It goes month by month on what you can expect in terms of symptoms, problems, what is going on in terms of fetal growth etc. Any question you can think of is answered somewhere in this book – brilliant reference material. A must have!
– Pregnancy Sucks: What To Do When Your Miracle Makes You Miserable by Joanne Kimes – for a very good laugh, cos thrust me, you’re going to need to laugh at yourself! Normalises how absolutely crap you feel, which can be lifesaving, especially when everyone you meet who has had kids more than a month ago will tell you how wonderful being pregnant is (they’re lying!). Also goes month by month through the horrors of pregnancy but in a much less scientific and more real, down to earth way.
– Waiting For Christopher by Sam Cowen – another good laugh, written by the Highveld FM DJ about her personal experience of pregnancy.
– Hey Baby! By Sarah Bullen –( Another SA author.) This one covers all the horrors you can expect post birth! Also very funny and down to earth. She covers things like getting back into your sex life (including blow by blow instructions on giving head and other such useful info!), dealing with the in-laws, post-op recovery etc etc.