Easing pregnancy discomfort and preparing for the big day
Is it just us, or is everyone getting pregnant these days? From Beyoncé to your best friend, talk of babies is everywhere – even more so in Dubai following the opening of a local Bourn Hall Clinic, the founder of which invented IVF in the UK in 1978. If you’re a mum- (or dad-) to-be, you’ve doubtless got 101 questions to ask about prenatal life. We caught up with a couple of experts in the field to get a few quick tips.
Dr Elsa Loseva is the consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Al Rawdah German Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, while Nichola Stoddart is an independent British midwife based in Dubai. What measures should women take to cope with the heat and humidity here during pregnancy? NS: When you’re pregnant, you’re more prone to getting sunburnt. The hottest times are between 10am and 5pm, so try to stay indoors between those times. Make sure you’re somewhere that’s air-conditioned, because when you’re pregnant you’re naturally hotter anyway. If you’re planning to go outside, go in the early morning or evening, and wear sunscreen at least one factor higher than normal – if I was pregnant, I would wear factor 50. If you’re using a fan, don’t aim it directly at you –that will cool down your core body temperature, which isn’t good for the baby. Instead, use the fan to circulate the air around you. Air conditioning is fine, but you need to keep it at a fairly warm temperature: between about 22°C and 25°C. You don’t want it to get too cold, because if you then go out into the heat, you’ll feel faint.
Is there anything you should eat more or less of? NS: Drink lots of water and make sure it’s from the right sources, and make sure everything, such as salad, is properly washed. Try not to buy ice lollies or ice creams from street vendors, as they might be made with unclean water – being pregnant, you’re prone to catching things. Make your own by popping fruit or fruit juice into the freezer.
Can you recommend any exercises to ease aches and prepare for labour? EL: Strengthening these areas can assist with childbirth, enabling you to build up muscles and ensuring a quicker recovery. Lie flat on your back and imagine you are drawing up the pelvic area with a piece of string. Hold this position for about 10 seconds, then slowly control the descent as you release the pelvic muscles and relax back to the floor. This exercise can also be done in quick succession, contracting and releasing the pelvic muscles 10 times. See main photo above.
For greater flexibility, hip openers are suggested in the second trimester. Sit in a butterfly position with the soles of your feet together and your knees open wide. Use your elbows to open the hips further and hold for at least 30 to 60 seconds every day. [See photo above right.]
Do you have any tips on easing constipation during pregnancy? EL: 1 Eat high-fibre foods such as wholegrain cereals and bread, brown rice, beans and fresh fruits and vegetables every day. Adding a couple of tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran (available at many health food stores) to your diet can also help.
2 Drink plenty of water – at least six to eight glasses a day. A glass of fruit juice, particularly prune juice, can also be helpful.
3 If your prenatal multivitamin contains a large dose of iron (and you are not anaemic), ask your healthcare provider about switching to a supplement with less iron.
How about the swelling? What causes it and how can I relieve it? EL: Swelling in the feet, ankles and even in the fingers and hands is quite common in pregnancy. This is because the body is producing up to 50 per cent more blood during pregnancy and therefore there is increased pressure on the veins. As the uterus grows, it adds more pressure on the veins. This pressure slows the return of blood and forces fluid from the veins into the tissues of the body and in turn causes swelling. Swelling that does not resolve with rest, or is in the face and is combined with headaches, seeing spots or visual disturbances along with pain in the abdomen, should be reported to your doctor straight away.
Normal swelling during pregnancy can generally be relieved by resting and elevating the hands or feet, keeping cool and avoiding prolonged periods of standing or sitting. Al Rawdha German Medical Centre, Al Karamah, Abu Dhabi (02 652 0200).
Dr Elsa’s tips for suppressing nausea
1 Ginger Sip a little ginger tea or ginger ale (warm and flat).
2 Apple cider vinegar This relieves nausea caused by too much stomach acid. Try taking two teaspoons in warm water.
3 Zinc A deficiency of this mineral can cause nausea. Try compensating with a daily dose of 20 milligrams.
4 Fluids Drink small amounts during the day.
5 Acupressure There is a specific location on the wrist where pressure can help reduce nausea. Your physician should be able to show you where this is.
6 Crackers These absorb any excess stomach acid that can cause nausea.
7 Eat well Avoid fatty and spicy foods. Complex carbohydrates can help to suppress nausea, so ensure you’re getting enough wholegrain bread, cereals, bananas and honey.