My lovely readers!!!
Did I surprise you again?
Yes, I am taking (Mindful) Parenting a step further by delving deep into pregnancy care on The Maven Lifestyle this week.
All the feelings that a mother goes through passes on to the baby which is why mommys-to-be need to take really good care of themselves and always stay in a high state of vibration.
Am I going to be the one talking about pregnancy care?
Definitely not ’cause I have a true professional imparting her sage wisdom with us.
Dr. Barkha Nagpal is a physiotherapist with Master of Physiotherapy in Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences.
She’s a certified Childbirth Educator and a trained Doula.
If you’re wondering what being a ‘doula’ really means then let me explain to you in the easiest of words.
A doula is a birth companion, birth coach or a post-birth supporter who provides emotional support and physical help to a woman before, during and after child birth.
They have to undergo courses that last for over a year and undergo practical training in order to get certified.
Support from doulas is associated with reduced mortality rates, improved overall health of the mother and the baby, shorter labour time, reduced risk of a c-section delivery!
Moving on, here’s what Dr. Barkha shared with me-
Expecting a Baby?
Work your way to a Healthy, Happy Pregnancy & Deliver the Natural Way!
An expectant Mother endeavours limitlessly to make her Pregnancy as perfect as possible. When her efforts are guided by professionals, the results are wonderful.
Antenatal Care program assists the Mother-to-be to make a glorious entry into Motherhood. There are many queries in the minds of the expectant Parents regarding the events during the course of “their Pregnancy”. The term “their Pregnancy” because the father contributes equally by assisting her with exercises, breathing with her through the labor and as the Baby arrives, carrying out Baby chores and enjoying parenthood together..
How Pregnancy affects the Mother?!
Pregnancy is a phenomenon where the Mother’s body adapts to the demands of the growing foetus. The size of the uterus enlarges and stretches the muscles around it to accommodate the growing Baby. This reduces the tone and the strength of the abdominals, lower back and pelvic floor muscles. As the Pregnancy advances, the size and the weight of the Mother increase which exerts pressure on the lower limbs. The hormones also impact differently at different phases of Pregnancy. These altered dynamics leads to many symptoms, to list a few:
-Shortness of breath
-Swelling in the ankles
-Upper and Lower Back Pain
Pregnancy and childbirth alter the dynamic structures of the body which leaves the body in a weak state vulnerable to pains, aches and injuries.
Exercises play an important role to avoid and/or to reduce the impact of these problems. Duration, type, frequency of the exercises depends upon the individual Mother. No two pregnancies are similar.
Benefits of Exercises:
The benefits of exercises during Pregnancy are wide ranging. They help both the Mother and the Baby to be healthy and comfortable as exercises release endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relieving substances.
It is very important for the expectant Mother to be active throughout her Pregnancy to keep the Baby active. Maintaining good body posture and exercising avoids/resolves many Pregnancy-induced and postpartum (post-delivery phase) problems, both physical and mental. Exercise is the key to keep relatively all the problems at bay. It also helps to cope with the hectic schedule by practicing energy conservation techniques and time management during Pregnancy and after delivery.
Some of the benefits of exercise:
-Helps to love your body image
-Avoid aches, pains and discomforts
-Improves sleep pattern
*Tone the pelvic floor muscles
*Reducing and/or preventing the onset of incontinence.
*Prevents and restores the diastasis recti
*Strengthen and tone the muscles of the lower limbs, upper limbs
*Back and pelvic floor muscles
-Stretching exercises and Yogasanas:
*Prepare the muscles for delivery.
*Increases the mobility of pelvic joints
*Increases the breathing capacity
*Helps in coping with long, hard labor
*Keeps the Mother more aware which helps to work with her body during labor
-Cardio exercise program:
*Improves the heart and lung performance
*Improves endurance and stamina
-Breast Care Exercises
-Reduce the chances of Pregnancy Complications:
*Reduce the risk of Gestational Diabetes. Gestational diabetes also increases the risk of caesarean section.
*Maintain the blood pressure hence avoiding Pre-eclampsia, which again is a cause for caesarean section
-Avoid excessive fat accumulation and hence keeping the weight gain optimal
-Most importantly, chances of Vaginal Delivery are particularly high
-Help in speeding the recovery in post-delivery phase
-Help avoid postpartum blues, which is a major concern after the delivery as it may vary from mere Baby blues to something more advance like psychosis
Exercises ease the delivery process and moreover it makes the birth process less stressful and less traumatizing for the Baby. It is not just the Mother who benefits from the exercises; the Baby is also aided equally.
Low Back Pain:
Low back pain and pelvic girdle pain are prevalent worldwide in pregnant women and post-delivery. A 2nd pregnancy may magnify existing back problems, if not treated adequately after the 1st delivery. Increased body weight, sedentary lifestyle and the lack of proper exercise during pregnancy may increase the risk of low back pain during the postpartum period.
Among working women, low back pain is associated with a history of back pain, postures adopted at work, number of rest hours and higher birth weight of foetus. Presence of pain can be multi-factorial in nature. Expectant Mothers may present an altered walking pattern, pain in the back and thighs which impacts the sacroiliac joints and/or spinal joints.
A detailed evaluation is required to provide an individual with a tailor-made Antenatal Care Program.
The do’s and don’ts i.e. Ergonomics, need to be taken care during pregnancy. Main risk factors includes,
-Wearing high heels
-Maintaining one posture for long duration
-Strenuous physical activities
-Lifting heavy objects
-Long working hours
-No/few rest intervals
Diet & Nutrition:
There are a few golden rules for diet to have a fit pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery with a healthy child. Every bite counts. Research shows that women’s eating habits have an effect on the course of her pregnancy, her comfort, emotional state, labor, delivery and postpartum recovery.
The diet should include adequate calories to sustain the growing child i.e. 300 calories/day (do not eat for 2!). A complete diet plan should include high fibre food and sufficient fluid intake. This food pyramid depicts the daily food portion consumption.
Lack of proper nutrition can cause, to name a few, fatigue, morning sickness, leg, cramps, anaemia etc. A complete balanced diet keeps both the Mother and the Baby healthy, easing the process of delivery and helps the Mother to bounce back faster and easily after the delivery.
Labor & Delivery:
At full term, the urge of the Baby to step out into the new world brings about the “labor”. Lamaze breathing focuses on the importance of breathing and relaxation.
There are various methods of proper breathing through the labor. Once the Mother learns to listen and use her breath efficiently, she will notice how relaxed her body is and how well the labor flows.
There are various methods, by which the pain can be managed during labor, during and in between contractions. The Mother herself can help her by practising Lamaze Breathing, changing positions, pelvic rocking.. The partner also plays an important role in aiding her with manoeuvres, like breathing with her, giving hand – foot massage, encouragement and music therapy.
Once the Baby enters this world, the new born is completely dependent on the Mother. The diet of the Mother decides the nutrition, the health, and the weight of the new born. It is all about taking care of the Baby! Taking care of the umbilical cord, feeding schedule, sleep pattern, changing nappies keep both the Parents busy throughout the first few months of the babies’ lives.
Various changes occur in the Mother post-delivery and knowing these changes prepare her to cope with her new self and avoids hospital rounds for every time something unusual she finds in herself.
Breast feeding is the next most important (the 1st being delivery) issue that needs to be administered. Preparing a routine around the Baby’s schedule is the key to a comfortable postpartum period. The diet of the Mother changes drastically from the Pregnancy phase.
All the extra calories and weight need to be shed now. Postnatal exercises should be started after 2 to 6 weeks of deliver, depending on the type of delivery the Mother had. Exercises coupled with a good diet plan speeds up the process of getting back to the pre-Pregnancy shape.
The Antenatal Care program is a complete guidance tool which nurtures the flow of a Woman from Pregnancy to Motherhood. To summarize, these classes encompass care in prenatal phase, answer all the myths and queries, advise diet and nutritional measures, prepare and smoothen the labor period, aim for normal vaginal delivery and have a speedy recovery with the ease of returning back to the pre-Pregnancy shape in the postpartum phase. Also, after the delivery, it helps in returning to the functional activities and improving the quality of life.
Antenatal Classes includes everything that the Parents-to-be should know. These classes should be started anytime from the 14th week of Pregnancy. Sessions conducted are one-on-one, thus providing complete privacy and an individually tailored program.
The queries and doubts are well administered in these classes, thus preparing them for a smooth Pregnancy.
Come let’s get ready for the bundle of joy!
Dr.Barkha Nagpal (P.T.)
M.P.Th in Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences
Certified Childbirth Educator