Pregnancy is an interesting phase of a woman’s life. There are major changes happening in your body, but all the focus is on the new little being growing inside.
All the preparation is about making baby’s environment as comfortable and nourishing as possible. Whether it’s about what food you should and shouldn’t eat, or what colour the nursery should be and which pram is the best to buy.
But what about you – the mom-to-be? Your body is undergoing so many changes at this time. Apart from the obvious ones such as your ever-growing belly and breasts, your body is changing on every level. Your heart, lungs, blood, ligaments, hormone system and metabolism are all changing to support the growth of a new life inside. With these changes come some unwelcome guests...back pain, weight gain and exhaustion.
Worry not! These visitors can all be sent packing if you just exercise during your pregnancy. Exercise in pregnancy has been shown to help you control your weight gain; it lowers the incidence of pregnancy related back pain and improves your energy and mood. Weight training is also important in pregnancy, not only because you it makes your stronger, but also because it helps improve your bone density. During pregnancy, Calcium is drawn from your body to baby’s which makes your bones that bit more brittle. By doing weight-bearing exercises such as squats and lunges, you help maintain the necessary activity in your bones which in turn maintains your bone integrity.
Exercising in your pregnancy helps you prepare for the physical demands of labour. Your endurance is improved and results in an easier, shorter and less complicated labour. Your body is able to build it’s cardiovascular reserve – this means that your body is able to respond quicker and better to a situation where there is unexpected blood loss. Your recovery rate is also faster regardless of whether you delivered vaginally or by Caesarian section.
There are instances where exercise in pregnancy is not allowed such as severe anaemia, incompetent cervix and if you have a cervical stitch in place. However, if you are training with a program that screens you prior to joining, such as Preggi Bellies, then we are able to assess if you can train or not.
Support your body as it goes through this life changing event ( it’s the only body you have! ) and will help make you be a fit, strong mom in more ways than one!
By Dr Etti Barsky (MBBCh, MSC Sports Science), the training director of Preggi Bellies SA.
Contact Preggi Bellies by visiting www.preggibellies.co.za
Allergy prevention strategies
Allergies of all sorts (asthma, hayfever, eczema and more recently food allergy) have increased dramatically over the past few decades, and we find ourselves in the middle of an “allergy epidemic.” A child without any family history of allergies is now at approximately 15% risk of developing an allergic condition within the first few years; if one parent has an allergic condition, the child is at 40-50% risk of allergies, and if both parents are allergic, this increases to 60-80%. Having a sibling with allergies also carries an increased risk of allergic conditions developing.
There are many confusing messages on allergy prevention- the following are the ones with
Scientific backing that we currently recommend:
Eat healthily and don’t smoke
No need to cut out on any food groups for the sake of allergy prevention- it does not reduce allergy in the offspring
Try eat 2 or more portions of oily fish per week
If you are unable to eat that amount of fish, then consider taking omega 3 supplements
Consider taking probiotics in the last trimester if your child is at risk of allergies (ie if there is a family history of allergy in parents or siblings)
Feeding the newborn baby
Breast milk is best and has allergy prevention properties
The Department of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6months of age. Prolonged feeding over 6 months has no further allergy prevention properties (but of course has other benefits)
Continuing to breastfeed whilst the first solids are introduced has some benefit
In high risk babies consider giving a daily probiotic and prebiotic for the first 3-4 months (no absolute proof of this yet- but looks promising)
Solids should be introduced when the child shows signs of readiness.
There is no evidence that delaying solids prevents allergies- in fact it may increase allergies
After 6 months you do not need to hold back on anything – you can give dairy, peanut, egg, wheat.
Dr Claudia Gray, Paediatrician and Allergologist, Vincent Pallotti Hospital and Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Cape Town
Fathers have traditionally felt inadequate regarding their role during pregnancy and childbirth. This was seen as a strictly female affair, with the Dads staying as far away from the ante natal classes, the gynae check ups and the talk about epidurals, caesarean sections and labour pains etc as possible. Their role was seen as being the background support. The main breadwinners and welcome to arrive in the labour ward once the baby was all cleaned up and the Mom had a chance to check her makeup and all the normal signs of birth and delivery had been cleared away.
It has been a challenging transition for fathers. Many have shared with me that they feel confused about the role of the “new age Dad”. They definitely aim to be more hands-on than their fathers and grandfathers were, but are not sure how to acquire the necessary skills. They share that, when they do attempt to change a nappy or bath the baby, they feel terrified that they will harm this tiny little person – or that their partners find fault with the way they do this. One Dad shared with me that he really had tried to do his best, but that it was never good enough for the Mom, so he felt it best to leave this aspect of child raising to her. He went on to say that he would get more involved when the baby was a bit less fragile and he could do fun and active things with him.
This led me to think about what tips to give Dads during the months of pregnancy and build up to the birth.
1) Develop a positive mind set. This baby has 2 parents and both are vitally important to the healthy physical and emotional development of the baby. Make it clear from the outset that you intend to be involved and as hands – on as possible.
2) Show that you are genuinely interested. When your partner shows you pictures of the 3 week foetus which is your developing baby, make sure that you show real concern and excitement. Your reaction will go a long way to pave the way for your partner to see that you really are in this amazing process together. Many Moms have shared that, because their partners seemed so disinterested during the very early stages, they stopped sharing their excitement – rather saving this for the others in the ante natal class.
3) Show genuine empathy: Many a Dad has said that they are not good at the whole “feeling” thing. That they will do whatever they can to help, but that they are better at doing something tangible – like painting the baby’s room or making shelves and hanging pictures. These are vital tasks – which both parents enjoy doing together. However, do try to develop the skill of genuine empathy . Show her you are able to connect with her emotionally – even when it is very challenging to adjust to roller coaster mood swings at times. Encourage her and praise her. She will probably go through times of feeling unhappy with the changes in her body. Assure her that you still find her attractive. Stress the positives.
4) Share your feelings too. This is a two-way process. Dads feel confused and inept too. Do not bottle up negative feelings. Choose a time when you are both relaxed – and share your own misgivings and anxieties. This sharing will bring you closer. Bottling up resentment and other negative feelings will lead to disconnection in the relationship.
5) Discuss the plans for the birth. Dads today are involved in the visits to the doctor and share the excitement of the scans. They are part of the choosing of equipment and the planning of the nursery. They are welcome in the labour ward and play an active part in the actual delivery. Your support at this crucial time will mean an enormous amount to your partner. However, do not take it too personally when she becomes impatient and irate with you. Many Dads are unable to believe that their previously calm and collected partners resort to gutter language during the trauma of childbirth. She will become calm and sane soon enough!!
Dads, you are indispensable, both to your partners and your babies. Thank goodness those days of hands – off Dads are well and truly over!
By Anne Cawood
Anne Cawood is the author of Children need Boundaries, Toddlers need Boundaries, Children need Grandparents and Adjusting the Boundaries. For more information from Anne Cawood go to www.boundariesinc.co.za or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org