The journey of motherhood, important things to keep in mind
Childbirth is the joy of many mothers. But you can never be too prepared for it.
It's not uncommon for people to read every book on pregnancy when they are pregnant. You may even find yourself frantically surfing the internet, researching to find some pieces of information to help you go past the initial jarring feeling associated with motherhood and pregnancy.
Reading about pregnancy and childbirth might not give you 100% of the information you need, but it would help. In most cases, until you experience it, you might not really understand what pregnancy and childbirth feel like.
You have probably heard many times about the joy of motherhood, which is great and worth dreaming of, but there is also the other side of it—the unpleasant side of motherhood—that you have to prepare for.
Important things to know about motherhood
Below are some things worth keeping in mind as you get ready for motherhood.
1.You will get weird symptoms
The journey of motherhood starts with pregnancy, and with pregnancy comes weird feelings and symptoms. You have to be prepared for them.
When that feeling of nausea, food aversions, weird cravings, fatigue, frequent urination, and sore breasts hits you, do not feel like the whole universe is against you. The symptoms are pretty much normal—in most cases.
Even after childbirth, some days will feel strange. You might get postpartum syndrome, but not all mothers do. In all, you will find yourself looking at your baby in amazement and wondering how you pushed the bundle of joy out of your body.
2.You will need help
You will need help during pregnancy and after childbirth. There are loads of things you cannot do alone. During the pregnancy period, you will need help carrying things and doing chores around the house.
And after pregnancy, you will need help with carrying your baby and nursing them. You might not be able to do the parenting alone. You will need help tutoring the child and grooming them into a fine sweet girl or boy.
So, if it ever gets overwhelming, do not hesitate to ask for help. Seek help from your family and friends, and of course, the presence of your spouse would help.
3.Motherhood can make you neglect your partner
Here is where mothers need to tread with caution. When preparing for motherhood, it is easy to get so caught up in the whole activity that you totally neglect your spouse.
Some allow their baby time to take up their whole time, leaving little or nothing for their spouse. This can tear the home apart without you both realizing it.
Not all spouses are understanding, but even if you have one who is considerate and understanding, keep them company during this phase. Make time for them and ensure they are actively involved in the baby's life, right from when the baby kicks in your tummy.
4.You will stress about everything
Pregnant women or new mothers literally fuss over things and stress about almost everything. This is because they find it all overwhelming.
Life is already hard with you taking care of just yourself and your partner; you can now imagine adding a tiny little human to this list.
So you find yourself worrying about what to eat, what to wear for your comfort and that of the baby, baby clothing and other accessories to buy, breastfeeding the baby, and putting the baby to sleep, among other things.
However, practicing how to get things done efficiently even before motherhood sets in can help you. You will need to be good at doing many things quickly.
5.You will need enough rest
The need for rest cannot be overemphasized. Before you go into motherhood, you must know that you will face many responsibilities. However, rest is inevitable.
When you are tired, take a break and rest. You might want to take turns with your spouse to do some chores or call in someone to help you. Remember, too much stress can cause harm to you and the baby.
The first signs of pregnancy
The early symptoms of pregnancy range from a missed menstrual period to nausea and fatigue and differs from one person to another. The only proof of pregnancy is a positive pregnancy test. However, some early signs might suggest you are pregnant.
First signs or symptoms of pregnancy include:
- Missed menstrual period
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Tender swollen breasts
- Increased or frequent urination
- Light spotting
- Food aversions
A pregnant person might not experience all the symptoms listed above and might experience some unique symptoms not listed. However, the lists are common signs and symptoms of pregnancy that most people experience during their first trimester.
It is also important to note that many of the signs and symptoms are not unique to pregnancy. Some of them could be a sign of sickness or the onset of your menstrual period.
However, taking a home pregnancy test or seeing your health care provider will help you confirm whether you should start treating sickness or start getting ready for antenatal care.
Things to do during pregnancy
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Pregnancy is a delicate phase. It doesn't matter whether you are in your first trimester, second trimester or third trimester; you should be deliberate about taking care of yourself and your baby.
Pregnant women are always advised to rest, take vitamins, eat healthy foods, etc. Below is a comprehensive list of things to do during pregnancy for the safety of your unborn child.
- Get lots of sleep.
- Sleep on your side in the third trimester.
- Take multivitamins like folic acid, iron, and calcium.
- Incorporate a fitness routine into your weekly activities.
- Practice yoga.
- Eat healthy foods, especially seafood.
- It is okay to have sex; use positions that are comfortable for you.
- Monitor your baby's movement.
- Take care of your physical and mental health.
- Consider taking vaccinations like the flu shot and the whooping cough vaccine.
- Watch for any abnormal symptoms like painful urination, bleeding, and smelly vagina.
- Have/write a birth plan which can include your preferred birth position, who you want to be present during birth, and what you would want doctors to do if complications arise, among others.
- Educate yourself by attending antenatal or childbirth classes and asking your healthcare provider questions.
- Keep track of your weight so you don't gain too much.
- Shop for maternity outfits.
- Drink more water and eat fruits.
Things to avoid during pregnancy
On the other hand, there are certain things to avoid during pregnancy. Pregnant people are always advised to avoid drinking or smoking. Below is a comprehensive list of things to avoid during pregnancy for the safety of your unborn child.
- Avoid smoking
- Do not expose yourself to second-hand smoke
- Do not drink alcohol
- Do not drink caffeine
- Avoid heavy exercise, keep fit through light exercises
- Avoid over-stressing yourself
- Do not eat contaminated meals
- Do not take medications that are prohibited for pregnant women. Read instructions before eating anything.
- Do not wear high-heeled shoes
- Do not stand or sit for too long
- Do not sleep on your back during the third trimester
Healthcare during pregnancy
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Healthcare during pregnancy is important as it ensures that both expecting moms and their babies are healthy. Antenatal care and routine check-ups enable doctors to detect problems earlier during pregnancy.
It would be best to start prenatal care as early as possible, even within the first two weeks of pregnancy. The prenatal healthcare team should consist of:
- A family practitioner
- A certified nurse or midwife
Devise a pregnancy healthcare plan that should include:
- Go for routine check-ups: Schedule routine check-ups with your healthcare provider at least every four weeks until your 28th week and, after that, every two weeks until delivery. If there is any issue with the pregnancy, your doctor will detect it during the check-ups.
- Run prenatal tests: It is still up to your healthcare provider to put you up for prenatal tests. Such tests can help detect problems like chromosomal abnormalities or congenital disabilities. Prenatal tests can be diagnostic or screening tests and might include ultrasounds, blood tests, CVS, and amniocentesis.
- Take prescribed medications and multivitamins: Prenatal vitamins or supplements like folic acid, iron, and calcium are usually prescribed for pregnant women. Take them as prescribed by your doctor.
- Take recommended vaccines: Some vaccines have been recommended for pregnant women. Examples are the flu shot recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Tdap vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.
- Practice food safety: During pregnancy, you must avoid foodborne illnesses like toxoplasmosis and listeriosis. Such illnesses can cause miscarriage, congenital disabilities and are life-threatening. Avoid raw or undercooked meats or eggs and unpasteurized milk.
- Watch your weight: While it is not advisable to go dieting and doing vigorous exercise while pregnant, you should watch your weight. The best time to avoid gaining much weight is during the first few months. Eat healthy foods and get regular low-impact exercise.
Signs of labor
The early signs of labor can be vague. Even mothers with previous pregnancy and childbirth experience may not know when a pregnancy's delivery time is near.
The trickle of fluid might be due to urine leaking because the baby is resting on your bladder and not because your water broke. Below are some signs of oncoming labor.
- A slight weight loss
- An increase in vaginal discharge (typically pinkish or brownish)
- A dull pain in the lower back that comes and goes
- The sensation of your baby dropping lower into your pelvic cavity (engagement)
- Cramping or building pressure around your rectum or pelvic area
- Loose and frequent bowel movements
- More frequent Braxton Hicks contractions
- Restlessness and increased energy
- Rupture of the amniotic fluid sac (water breaking)
- Discharge of the mucus plug in the cervix (the bloody show)
- You experience extreme back pain
How to improve health after childbirth
Whether you had vaginal surgery or underwent a cesarean section, you will feel tired, sore, and bruised after delivery. Recovery might take a while, but that is okay. Take the needed time off work and talk to your healthcare provider if the need arises.
Post-partum recovery takes time. Some women, after delivery, do not feel like their usual selves until after some months, while others recover fast, within 6-8 weeks of delivery.
After labor, you might experience any of the following:
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal soreness
- Vaginal bleeding and discharge
- Contractions and cramps
- Blue feeling and hormonal fluctuations
- Weight loss
- Water retention
- Trouble urinating
- Breast swelling and soreness
- Skin changes, e.g. formation of stretch marks on the breasts and belly
- Hair thinning
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There are certain things to do to speed up recovery after childbirth. To ease perineal pain, for instance, one can have warm sit baths for about 20 minutes. Icing the perineum can also help it heal. Acetaminophen can help ease aches and pains.
Below are things to do to improve postpartum health:
- Eat well to keep your energy up
- Eat foods that contain lots of fiber, e.g. fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals
- Drink lots of water
- Get enough rest
- If you had a C-section, take care of the scar
- Do kegel exercises to get back the vagina in shape
- Always wear a comfortable bra and if breasts are achy, use a cold or warm compress
- Don't try to do it all; allow family and friends to help
- Don'ts start serious exercise too soon; allow your body to heal
- Don't skip doctor appointments
- Pay attention to your body in case something doesn't seem right
- Know when to see a doctor
When to see a doctor
Pay attention to your body, especially after the first six weeks of childbirth. Successful delivery does not mean you are totally out of danger of health complications.
While nobody wishes for things to go wrong, it is often better to err on the side of caution. Thus, see a doctor anytime you feel something is wrong with you or with the baby.
Below are some symptoms that should warrant calling a doctor after childbirth:
- Heavy bleeding that increases every day or that soaks more than one pad within an hour
- Chills and high fever
- Severe headache and changes in vision
- Passing large clots
- Vaginal discharge with a strong odor
- Prolonged difficulty with urination
- Heart palpitations or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain that worsens over time
- Increased swelling
- Swelling or formation of pus on the incision from C-section or episiotomy