Expecting a Baby? Work your way to a Healthy, Happy Pregnancy & Birth 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 Parents-to-be to make a glorious entry into Parenthood. 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, cord indulging into skin to skin contact, carrying out Baby chores and enjoying parenthood together..
How Pregnancy changes the Expectant Mother!
Pregnancy is a phenomenon where the Mother’s body adapts to the demands of her growing baby. The size of the uterus enlarges and stretches the muscles around it to accommodate her baby. This reduces the tone and the strength of the abdominals, lower back and pelvic floor muscles to some extent. As pregnancy advances, 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 the following symptoms which the affects the mother to varied degree of extent:
• Morning sickness
• Swelling in the ankles
• Leg cramps
• Shortness of breath
• Upper and Lower Back Pain
• Diastasis Recti
Pregnancy and childbirth alter the dynamic structures of the body which leaves the body in a comparatively vulnerable state of pains, aches and injuries. Exercises play an important role to avoid and/or to reduce the impact of these associative symptoms. 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. Exercises should be started anytime from the 14th week of Pregnancy till the day the mother labours and gives birth. 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 and happy hormones. It is very important for the expectant Mother to be active throughout her Pregnancy to keep her as well as her 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 childbirth.
Benefits of exercises:
• Assist to accept and love your body image
• Avoid aches, pains and discomforts
• Improves / promotes sleep
• Relaxation exercises:
Tone the pelvic floor muscles
Reducing and/or preventing the onset of incontinence.
• Strengthening exercises:
Strengthen and tone the muscles of the lower limbs, upper limbs
Back and pelvic floor muscles o Improves posture o Prepares the body for birth
Build the strength to hold baby
• Stretching exercises and Yogasanas:
Expands the chest muscles through less breathlessness
Increases the mobility of pelvic joints
Improves posture o Prepares the muscles for labor
• Breathing exercises:
Increases the breathing capacity
Reduces breathlessness even while exertion
Specific breathing exercises assists in labor and childbirth
• Cardio exercise program:
Improves the heart and lung performance
Improves endurance and stamina
Assist to keep weight in check
• Breast Care Exercises:
To protrude the inverted nipples
• Reduce the chances of Pregnancy Complications:
Reduce the risk of Gestational Diabetes; Gestational diabetes increases the risk of caesarean section.
Maintain the blood pressure hence avoiding Pre-eclampsia, which again is a cause for caesarean section
• Reduces the chances of post delivery complications:
Prevents and restores the Diastasis recti
Prevents and restores Urinary Incontinence
Prevents and/or delays the upper body pain arises due to continuous nursing and attending to the baby
Prevents onset of boby pain
• Avoid excessive fat accumulation and hence keeping the weight gain in check.
• Most importantly, chances of Vaginal Delivery are particularly high
• Speeds the recovery in post-delivery phase
• Avoid/ reduces and makes you aware of postpartum blues, which is a major concern after the delivery as it may vary from mere Baby blues to something more advance stage like psychosis and suicidal
• Benefits for the baby:
They become active, calm and happy o When the mother’s exercises, the babies become very active during the exercise sessions, the movement count increases considerably
Boosts their growth and over all development
Pregnancy is the best time to start with exercises if you aren’t already. Besides during pregnancy, exercises ease the birthing 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 but the Baby is equally aided. It is easier to take care of the baby both in womb and post delivery when the mother is positive, happy, strong, healthy and fit.
Low Back Pain:
Low back pain and pelvic girdle pain are prevalent worldwide in pregnant women and post-delivery. 2nd pregnancy may magnify existing back problems, if not treated well after the 1st delivery. Increased body weight, sedentary lifestyle and the lack of proper exercise during pregnancy may increase the chances of low back pain during the postpartum period. Presence of pain can be multi-factorial in nature, due to continuous standing or sitting, duration of rest periods between work, varied extent of hormonal effects, adopting wrong work posture, nutrition and many more reasons. 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 unguided physical exercises
• Lifting heavy objects with wrong posture
• Repetitive continuous work
• Long working hours
• No/few rest intervals
• Jerky movements
Diet & Nutrition:
There are a few golden rules for diet to have a fit pregnancy and a healthy baby. Every bite counts. Research shows that women’s eating habits have an effect on the course of her pregnancy, her comfort, emotional state, labor, childbirth and postpartum recovery. The diet should include adequate calories to sustain the growing baby 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, morning sickness, leg cramps, anaemia, acidity, constipation and weakness. A complete balanced diet keeps both the Mother and the Baby healthy and assist the Mother to bounce back faster and easily after the delivery.
Labor & Childbirth:
At full term, the urge of the Baby to step out into the new world brings about the “labor”.
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 Breathing, changing positions, pelvic rocking.. The partner also plays an important role in aiding her with manoeuvres, like breathing with her, dancing, relieving the pelvic pain, giving hand - foot massage, encouragement and simply by just being for her.
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) topic that needs to be administered. Preparing a routine around the Baby’s schedule is the key to a comfortable postpartum period. Avoid late meals and nourish yourself with nutritious meals. Breastfeeding is demanding nutrition wise and the baby is dependent on the mother for the feed. Eat clean and stay very positive while feeding baby.
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 health.
Antenatal Care Classes:
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, gives knowledge of everything the expectant parent should know, discusses about the birthing mother rights, aim for a positive birth experience and a speedy recovery with the ease of regaining the healthy self in the postpartum phase, returning to the functional activities and improving the quality of life.
Come let’s get ready for the bundle of joy!
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