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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Pregnancy Third Trimester + Hospital Checklist

Sharing the story of my third trimester journey, this post was written around November 2018.
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I'm into my 9th month of pregnancy as I write this post. The third trimester for me began with a hiccup. My baby's scan revealed a nuchal cord twisted around twice. Although doctors say it is common but it does reduce my chances of a normal delivery. I have another scan to go before the doctor makes the final decision.

Third trimester
Wearing Vera Wang

The most crucial difference in the third trimester is the increased difficulty in sleeping. I have woken up after an hour of sleep and stayed awake for hours until sunrise. Doubts about how things would unfold, increased baby movements, and just the need to use the restroom were enough to keep me awake. And on top of that if there is any emotional stress in your life, say bye bye to sleep.

Turning over in bed became extremely difficult. The pelvic area hurts badly as the body prepares for the birth making things awful at times. Not having an understanding person to help you out in such a situation can be daunting. Make sure your partner is aware of this so that he can help you out. If you are alone and need to turn make sure you turn very slowly with proper support.  Don't get up straight, turn over to one side and then get up. Sit in the bed for a few seconds before getting up so that your blood circulation is normalized and you don't lose your balance. I read so many places that moving both legs joined together while turning helps, it did initially but with time even that became painful.

As I entered my third trimester I was asked to do  a simple excercise. It's called the chakki aasan or churning the mill pose. That is the only excercise I've really done through my pregnancy. There were no antenatal classes near my place so I can't really say if you must attend one. I feel they would help specially if the husband accompanies you so that you both get to understand the nitty gritties together. Talk to your doctor to get proper guidance before you undertake any form of excercise.

Third trimester also brought on lots of swelling. My hands and feet would swell up at night and hurt. It was difficult to hold my toothbrush without feeling some pain. This is the time when shoes became a problem. I couldn't buy new ones for work because the length of my feet hadn't changed and in India the concept of separate wide foot shoes simply isn't there. I actually borrowed my mom's shoes to wear throughout the last trimester.

You will also be asked to take the OGTT which is a Glucose test. You get your blood sugar measured on an empty stomach after which you need to drink 75gm of glucose dissolved in 250ml water. Two hours later another blood sugar reading is done. My test was done at Dr Lal Pathlab and the collection center messed up my data, the test report showed extremely high fasting sugar and just normal 2nd reading. I instantly stopped all sweets and sugar intake. When I visited my doctor she asked me to repeat the test after a week. This time I got it done at a different place and my reading was normal. High sugar in your blood can lead to birth problems with your child and hence this test is important.

Doctors will also monitor your BP to rule out pre-eclampsia. This is a condition where your BP can shoot high and can cause a lot of complications.
Breathing became difficult specially whenever the baby moved higher up towards my rib cage. My heart burn condition worsened as well. And till date I have this really bad heartburn that gets triggered by eating past my mealtime, eating spicy food, and eating very hot food.

Another thing which I faced was a high  emotional state. Normally when people say things you don't like, you can ignore them. But if you are having trouble on the emotional front every little thing just builds up. There have been nights I've cried wanting to hug someone badly and talk to someone who would understand what I was going through. I would talk myself out of these episodes by reminding myself that it was bad for my little one. Do whatever keeps you happy. The baby can and does sense your emotions. You will immediately notice a change in the way the baby moves.

Thankfully girl friends who have sailed in the same boat are saviors during these times. Talk to them, talk to your partner, just find someone to talk to. It's important to share your feelings so that you can feel lighter and happier.

I also took this opportunity to post positive assertions on my other blog channel where I write little quotes as "thought for the day" posts.

Third trimester baby shower
Baby Shower Cake

My birthday fell in the third trimester and my friends surprised me with a special baby shower cum birthday party. They got me a new dress, a tiara and a sash. The cake was super cute and we really enjoyed ourselves. I wish my mom and sister could be a part of this but unfortunately the circumstances were such that they could not be a part of it. It was a little break we took from office during lunch hours to celebrate. (Hubby got me a 3D pen which I'm really excited to use as soon as I get some time, I love DIY and it is perfect for that)

Another thing I did through pregnancy was write to my baby. Every week I wrote a diary, a few sentences mostly talking to my unborn child about what was going on outside. Someday I hope to share them with my child.

As I approach THE day I'm getting my hospital stuff ready. There is a good checklist available online. I'm sharing mine here for those of you who'd like to know.

1) 3 dresses if you are going to have a cesarean. Else lounge sets preferably with a button down shirt would be more comfortable. I've kept a feeding gown (team.mumsie), an off shoulder dress which is super easy to nurse in, and one pajama suit. 

2) Maternity pads (I've kept normal pads since maternity ones would be available at the hospital)
3) Underwear (basic ones, I've bought a size bigger as they feel more comfortable)

4) Nursing bras - I've got two nursing bras and two nursing tank tops

5) Toiletries- basic stuff, you can keep whatever you normally do when heading out overnight

6) Toilet roll - I'm sure my hospital won't have this but you don't need one if your hospital provides these

7) Shawl since the weather is getting slightly cold

8) Jacket
9) Towel


And for the baby
1. Clothes (4 sets, unfortunately I cannot use new clothes so I can't carry the cute onesies at this time)
2. Sweater sets (again because this is winter season)
3. Towel
4. Swaddle sheets or any cotton sheet you can hold the baby in
5. Diapers/nappies
6. Baby wipes
7. Booties, mittens, caps
8. Blanket
9. Baby sheets to keep under baby
10. Sheet protector


Apart from this don't forget to keep your medical documents and insurance papers with you.
*****

Update: I had a baby boy through cesarean at 39 weeks. I got to see him being taken out of my tummy and then gently hug him before he was taken away.

All of you in your third trimester, good luck for the final countdown. Excitement and a little worry go hand in hand at this point in time. Trust that God is looking after you. All the best and congratulations for your bundle of joy!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Pregnancy Second Trimester

Second trimester of pregnancy can be considered the honeymoon period of sorts. This is the time when you should start to gain back your appetite. You will be somewhat used  to the initial hormonal changes that were driving you nuts in the first trimester.

Second trimester is also the time when your next major ultrasound scan will be conducted.When I went in for my scan I was ecstatic and could barely control my tears as I saw my little one - head, body,  legs, arms and those cute tiny hands and feet. The feeling is out of this world.

Ethnic Wear During Pregnancy
Ethnic Wear During Pregnancy

The only downside for me were two cysts on my baby's head which suggested that I should get extra checks to determine likelihood of down syndrome and other such diseases. The doctor said my age also played a role here and hence the tests were important to get done. I kept my heart in the hands of God and let my fears vanish.

As time progressed I started experiencing baby movements, tiny little flutters which changed to noticeable kicks as time progressed. I was back in office and my spirits were in a much better shape.

One important thing I learnt was how important it was to keep a gap in between medicines specially calcium and iron otherwise they are not absorbed properly. Some doctors forget to mention this but it's better to have a minimum gap of 2 hours between these two medicines. Take calcium with milk while iron is best absorbed once you have had some citrus food or best on an empty stomach.

Second trimester is the time when your bump will start showing, you might need new clothes, I did. I decided to invest in 4 full length dresses/kurtis which I could grow in. They were all anarkali style where the middle stitching ends just beneath the breasts giving the garment enough room on the belly area. Those still fit me well into my third trimester.

If your bras have started feeling tight, measure yourself. In my case the cup size remained the same while the band size increased. This meant I really didn't need a new bra, I needed bra extenders. I got a set of 5 from amazon and it turned out to be a cost effective saviour.


A few things that you must be careful about:

1. No stretching of hands above your head level as it puts undue strain on your belly; no bending with legs straight, if you have to bend, squat a little and then pick up whatever you need to. I used to lift things with my foot to avoid bending completely. If in doubt consult your doctor.


2. Vaginal hygiene - ask your doctor for a good vaginal wash and cream to ensure no infection is there. A vaginal infection can spread into the womb making it dangerous for your little one.

3. Waxing: is completely fine as long as you are used to it. If you've never done it before now is not the time to experiment since the skin can be very sensitive.

4. Keep your makeup and skin care simple and chemical free as  much as possible. I  invested in a virgin  coconut oil bottle (bought from amazon) which served as a moisturiser and makeup remover. The only makeup I wore everyday to work was my Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation which is safe to use during pregnancy. Retin-A products and those with salicylic acid are to be avoided completely. Trust me at first it's difficult to let go of everything (you'll realize how many chemicals your skin ingests everyday!) But for that little life inside of you, you'll go all the way to avoid chemicals in your skin care.

5. Stick to flat shoes to prevent  any fall, don't buy new ones unless you really have to since your shoe size will change as you enter the third trimester.

6. As your belly grows it will be difficult to cut your own nails, go in for a pedicure or take someone's help. Unfortunately I had to do mine on my own and it became a challenge each time specially since toe nail growth increased considerably due to the hormones.

7. Listen to your body, stop and relax no matter what the situation. Depending on how the baby is positioned inside you, there will be times when each step would be difficult to take. Don't worry and don't try to match pace with others.


Second trimester seemed to fly by the fastest. 
This a good time to start reading the Garbha Sanskaar or listening to it's music. The child can start hearing your voice and these chants and rhythmic sounds will help develop the child's brain as well. This is what I read and was told by friends so I tried to do it as much as possible. It is important that not only you but your husband also reads this. It is said that the child will learn from it's father's voice too. A screaming foul mouthed parent will pass on the same traits to the child while a loving parent with a soft gentle voice will lead to a calm baby. You can make this part of your couple time or just have it play in the background while you go about your individual tasks.


Eat right, stay happy and connect with your baby, these should be your only focus activities at this time. Oh and yes, do make sure all your queries are answered by your doctor, each woman goes through something unique since we all have different bodies, no question is trivial!
Stay blessed!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Nursing Your Baby - Importance and Style Guide

Ever since I got pregnant I new I wanted to nurse my baby. As a first time mom I had no idea about special clothing for breastfeeding or about the agonies associated with it. 

First I'd like to focus on what you need to keep in mind if you plan to breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding is said to help the baby grow healthy and is surely advised to all new mothers.
If you have a normal delivery chances of your baby easily accepting your feed are higher than if you need a cesarean. There are many reasons for this. Keep in mind the following points and be prepared while you're pregnant not after you've delivered.

1. If you have to undergo cesarean you will be away from the baby for a longer period depending on the hospital you're in.

2. You will be given I.V. which delays breastmilk

3. Breasts need to be properly massaged to help the milk flow.

4. A lot of gynaecologists do not inspect the breasts for any issues while you are pregnant. Talk to yours before hand and make sure she is able to guide you well before time.

5. Make sure the hospital allows your baby to latch within 4 to 6 hours of delivery, even if it was a surgery. This is very very important and unfortunately ignored by a majority of hospitals. 

6. Even if you're baby doesn't latch at first keep trying. If your baby doesn't take the feed your body gets the signal that milk is not needed and it will slowly stop producing milk, it's a vicious cycle. This is where a breast pump comes in handy. Keep pumping to tell your body that you need the milk.

7. Stay happy and stress free - one very important point and yet the most difficult when you are trying to breastfeed but are not successful. I have cried every single day yet consoled myself by holding my baby knowing that eventually things will settle down.

8. Do not bottle feed unless it becomes an absolute must. Bottle nipples make it very hard to switch the baby to the breast (yes even the costly branded ones like Avent are pathetic)

9. Use a spoon or a paladai - see image below if you need to formula feed your baby.

Paladai - new born feeder
Paladai - Newborn Feeder

I hope I've covered a majority of the points above. In case you have your own experiences please do share in the comments. Also let me know if you have questions and I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge.
***

And now coming to nursing in style. 
The first time you nurse will be at the hospital so one piece of clothing that you need in your hospital bag is a nursing gown.

Standard nursing gowns are very  frankly not stylish or comfortable. When looking for options for myself I came across a brand on Instagram called Team Mumsie. They have these really cute nursing gowns which can be worn like a dress  and come with matching onesies and swaddle cloth  for your little one. They also have kaftans that  come in pretty prints.

Team.mumsie, nursing gown, dress

(Excuse my super exhausted pictures with unkept hair, I'm still a mess!)


I picked out a dark blue set for my hospital bag. The nursing dress looks really cute but look at that tiny onesie, isn't it adorable!!!! In a diagonal from the neck to the armpit area the gown has buttons which can be opened to nurse. When closed it is a pretty dress with a contrast belt.

Onesie, hospital nursing gown


I couldn't actually wear this at the hospital since I was in a lot of pain after my surgery but once I could get up on my own I put this to good use. I also teamed it up with my existing maternity leggings on days when it was cold and it still looked just as stylish. If you are looking for a nursing gown do visit the team.mumsie page and get yourself and your little one a cute option to stay stylish.
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Another option for nursing in public is a poncho. I chose one from Pluchi, another brand I stumbled across on Instagram. This poncho was on my baby wishlist because of two reasons. The poncho can be worn before nursing, as a cover-up, it can be worn later on as well like a regular poncho. But the reason I picked up a poncho from Pluchi was mainly because of the very cute matching blanket and toy sets that they offer.

Pluchi ponchu


I wore this poncho to work when the days started to get slightly cooler, I teamed it up with a fitted t-shirt (one that would look weird had I not worn this poncho) and my maternity jeans from H&M. The material is 100% cotton but the knit makes it super soft and warm. My baby loves being swaddled in the matching blanket and the toy is his very first teddy.

Pluchi kids blanket with toy


I will surely recommend you check out Pluchistore page for all the color options. These would be really nice as baby shower gifts as well.
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Other nursing options include a full zippered gown, tank tops which come with a detachable front, and nursing bras. You can check out some of these at H&M and Inner Sense on amazon. I also found off shoulder dresses helpful, the ones that have an elasticated neckline.
***

Say goodbye to hiding under shawls and boring gowns, stay happy as you nurse your little one in style. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Pregnancy First Trimester - Everything You Wanted To know

The first trimester of pregnancy is the most difficult and overwhelming.

The first time you find out that you are pregnant can be jittery, scary, full of excitement, happiness all rolled into one. If you've been trying to get pregnant for sometime, the first sign of pregnancy on that little pregnancy test strip would make you doubt yourself and head over to test again (and maybe again just to make sure!)
I tested 3 times just to be sure that I wasn't under an illusion of some sort. I was thrilled beyond explanation and the moment I shared this news with Mr Husband was something we'll remember forever.

How To Cope With First Trimester oF Pregnancy


Then came the first visit to the doctor, and since we'd read-up a lot about pregnancy, we got the hCG  blood test before we went to see the doctor. She did a basic checkup and told me my first scan would happen at week 6. She told me to relax and think positive (owing to my past history) and sent us home. I went to work while Mr H went home to give the news to his family.

When I came home in the evening I was tired and decided to rest. By night I found I was bleeding. It was a ghastly experience since I had seen this before and knew what it could mean. But I tried to remain calm through my tears, and went to the nearest hospital in emergency. The doctor there did an IVS* and told me it was too soon to tell what is going on, gave me a few injections to stop the bleeding and told me all I could do was pray and take the medicines. She told me to keep my thoughts positive. And so I tried my best.

A few days went by before I again saw blood. Mr H was at work at the time and I couldn't stop worrying. After about an hour in emergency I was told the baby was fine and again given a few injections to stop the bleeding. I was put on daily injections. Even though I heard the baby was fine I couldn't control my tears because I was tired, tired of worrying about what all could go wrong. Not this time I prayed.

Another week went by before I again ended up in emergency. With God's grace the baby was still doing fine, we could hear his heart beat which was reassuring. The cause of my bleeding was that the placenta had slightly detached from the uterus. My pregnancy was declared a high risk pregnancy and I was on complete bed rest for the entire first trimester.

I slowly got used to fearing more blood but being grateful when there was none. All the scans so far were IVS which for me were traumatic for they are invasive and extremely embarrassing.
It was the normal ultrasound with 3D imaging that I got done at 2 months time which brought back a sense of relief. This was the first time I was seeing my baby with a faint silhouette. The radiologist tried to move the baby around to get a good look and do all the measurements. I was finally getting a sense that all this was real. I was going to get through this. The baby was doing fine, the cause of my bleeding was clear and a low lying placenta was declared. This meant no exertion at all.

I was left to keep lying down in my room with  the TV, my laptop and phone as company. There were days when I felt lonely as sharing your innermost fear only makes people laugh at you or spite you in the name of being overly concerned. I couldn't swallow basic things like chapati, hated the smell of anything cooking, and could not bear the slightest amount of chili in my food.

But I made it through this immensely difficult time all thanks to the continuous support I got from my family. I started working from home and gradually became prepared to head back to office. At this time I had a fall. Due to dizziness after a bath, I fell badly on my back taking the shower curtain down with me. I hurt my shoulder and hip but what I was worried about was having hurt my baby. It was a very difficult day, but God was kind enough and my baby appeared fine in the ultrasound. I couldn't thank my stars enough. I knew now that God was going to make this miracle come true.

In a few days time I rejoined work which is my catharsis. Friends and co workers were extremely supportive and just being out there helped me recover mentally and physically. I was not exerting myself, had my work area set up to keep my feet up for the long hours and life slowly retuned to a more sane and happy state.

Now after this long story about my first trimester here are a few learnings I had which I hope can come in handy when you get pregnant.

1. Be prepared to visit the doctor and follow her instructions. Do not ignore any sign of danger. Any odd vaginal discharge mandates a visit to your gynaecologist. Remember early treatment can save your baby in case of an emergency situation. So don't ignore anything that doesn't feel right.

2. If nausea is a problem speak to your doctor. Mine gave me medicines that ensured I would not vomit. I was already losing a lot of weight.

3. Eat whatever you can keep inside, don't worry too much about nutrition at this point. Starving yourself is not the solution. Since I was not able to eat anything healthy like daal and chapati, I ate whole wheat bread with cheese or plain butter. Thankfully I was able to drink milk. Occasionally I would have a pizza, strange cravings come during this time and all I craved was the exotica pizza from Pizza Hut. Eating outside food is not advisable so keep it to the bare minimum. Avoid all processed foods as they contain preservatives. Coffee and alcohol are taboo and you will find a lot of information on the internet about what you should and should not eat.

4. Do not consume pineapples or papaya. These are the only things normally asked by doctors to avoid. I was asked to avoid all sour things as well as these two. This meant no nimbu paani or fresh juices as well. This made things more difficult for me but I survived.

5. Make sure your bathroom is non slippery. Invest in a good bath-mat as well as a non slip shower mat. You do not want to take any chances here. I ordered the mat seen below online and it was well worth the money.

Non slip shower mat
Non-slip Shower Mat

6. Your old clothes should fit you for the first month but you will notice your bras getting tighter as you enter the second month. If your cup size is the same don't buy a new bra just yet. Instead buy a few bra extenders. They are very cheap and help you save big bucks on those expensive bras.

Bra extenders
Bra Extenders

7. Try to keep your feet up as much as possible. Buy a foot stool for work and get yourself a few cushions to raise your feet while you are sitting in bed.

8. Stay positive! Easier said than done. Your husband and family might be pampering you from their side but you will be more sensitive to any remarks they make at this time. The hormones in your body are not just working on setting up your womb but are silently playing havoc on you emotionally. I had times when the slightest joke made by Mr H would bring me to tears and I would hate him for not understanding my plight. As they say, a man and a woman have a baby but it's the woman who is pregnant!!

Listen to soothing songs, read books, watch TV, spend time with friends; whatever keeps you happy.


9. Don't worry if you lose weight. When you get pregnant you prepare yourself for weight gain but if you have nausea and difficulty eating, you might end up losing a few kilos instead. This is all normal and nothing to worry about so long as your doctor knows.

10. The belly - don't expect to see a bump just yet. If you are skinny you might notice a small bump by the second month but mostly it is noticeable only to you. My bump started showing early because I was always bloated. But again it wasn't something others would notice.

11. Sign up to a few good online resources for pregnancy. I downloaded 2 apps on my phone which provide a plethora of information and help you connect with pregnant women from across the globe. These are BabyCenter and WhatToExpect

Remember each pregnancy is unique so listen to your body. Whenever in doubt and you feel something is not right, talk  to your doctor. A lot of people will have a lot of advice to give you. Take it with a pinch of salt, do your own research and discuss things with your doctor.
If you have any questions please do comment below and I'll try to answer them to the best of my knowledge.

Wishing all moms-to-be a pleasant first trimester!

*IVS - intra vaginal scan

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Instagram Giveaway

Hi friends!
This is a quick update to let you know that a giveaway is now live on our Instagram channel (@OurExternalWorld)

OEW 5K giveaway

Rules are mentioned in the post and are pretty simple. The more participants we have the more wellw have winners. So go ahead, participate and get your friends to participate too!

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