Pregnancy brain is real. It’s not a myth – some of us moms at Nana Asia have experienced it. Whether you’re prepping your birth plan or wondering if you remembered to add fries to that late night pregnancy craving order, everyone knows moms-to-be have a lot on their mind. Between the lack of sleep, excitement of new responsibility and multi-tasking, “momnesia” is actually a thing!
We figured who better to ask for some sound advice for first-time moms than Roshni Mahtani, founder of theAsianparent, a parenting community platform that helps parents through their journey from conception through pregnancy and its transition to parenthood.
Nana Asia: What should pregnant moms expect in the first trimester and its remedies?
theAsianparent: You’ll probably be on a rollercoaster of emotions. A lot happens during the first trimester of your pregnancy, including morning sickness, or nausea. We suggest drinking either ginger or peppermint tea, eating ginger, peppermint aromatherapy, eating little and often, drinking lots of fluids, acupressure and eating sour foods, if you can believe it!
Many newly pregnant women feel exhausted and lethargic, so lots of rest and fluids is imperative. Be prepared for heartburn! Make sure to eat smaller, healthier meals more often and sleep with your head and shoulders propped up with a wedge pillow. The first trimester is also bound to bring backaches, so sleep on your side, stay active, go for massages and wear shoes that provide good arch support.
A lesser known symptom is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to fluid retention. If you encounter this, we suggest sticking to a balanced diet, icing your wrist, acupuncture, wrist exercises or a wrist brace.
Nana Asia: How do you suggest keeping pregnancy food cravings under control?
theAsianparent: Studies have resulted in two main schools of thought on why pregnancy food cravings occur: hormonal fluctuations and dietary deficiencies. It is also possible to have weird cravings for non-foods – known as pica – that is generally believed to be related to an iron deficiency.
It’s not just about eating enough, but more importantly having a balanced diet comprising the right portions of protein, carbohydrates and fats so that your baby will be getting the right nutrients and vitamins to grow healthily. Moms-to-be should consider taking 400mg of folic acid daily as well as Vitamin D.
Rather than fight against food cravings, you can still treat yourself with healthy alternatives. For example, choose low-fat yogurt over ice cream.
Nana Asia: What would you consider the most important scans, screenings and check-ups for first time moms?
theAsianparent: The Dating and Viability scan is the first scan you will need to take in your pregnancy to have an idea of what the baby looks like.
This is followed by the Nuchal Translucency scan, normally performed when the baby is between 77 to 97 days old to check if the baby has Downs Syndrome, physical irregularities or genetic issues.
When you are 18 to 20 weeks into your pregnancy, a Foetal Anomaly Scan should be done to check if your baby’s organs are developing properly and how to manage the situation if otherwise. This is when you can also learn about the gender of your child.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, when you’re between 32 to 36 weeks, a growth scan is normally done to check if the amniotic fluid levels are enough (sheds light on the health of the baby), as well as how the baby is positioned in the womb and where the placenta is (helps medical professionals decide the best possible way for you to give birth).
Nana Asia: Can you recommend some exercises for expectant moms who are on the more active side?
theAsianparent: Aside from simple exercises that you can do at home such as leg lifts and planks, there are some interesting exercises that expectant moms can try, namely prenatal yoga and barre, belly dancing, indoor cycling and high-intensity interval training workouts.
Nana Asia: Why is it important to have a birth plan and what’s the preferred method for Asian moms these days?
theAsianparent: A birth plan empowers you to know all of your options during labour and is a great means to communicate your wishes and preferences to those who will be taking care of you during and after labour.
One of the most important decisions to make is the method of birth. theAsianparent conducted a survey among its community and 79% of moms prefer natural delivery as opposed to a c-section. There are also alternative birthing methods such as water birth, alongside various labour pain management methods such as hypnotherapy, acupunctures and water injections.
While research has shown that c-section born babies do not have the probiotics or protective bacteria like naturally born babies and are more prone to infections and allergies, moms should ultimately choose what they are most comfortable with.
Nana Asia: What are some natural methods to speed up labour once contractions have begun especially for those without midwives?
theAsianparent: Be active and keep moving. You can drink raspberry leaf tea or eat spicy foods (as long as spicy food is part of your usual diet). Nipple stimulation for over 20 minutes can help release oxytocin, a labour-inducing hormone. While it may seem almost impossible to pull off a romp in the sack when you’re 40 weeks pregnant (and counting!), you may want to give sex a try. Either way, this no-cost attempt to induce labour naturally may relieve some tension and is a healthy way to strengthen your twosome right before you become a threesome.
Nana Asia: What happens when you’re overdue? And 3 things you wouldn’t say to an overdue mom?
theAsianparent: Expect to see more of your doctor as they use ultrasound to check on your baby’s health. There have been studies conducted that have found out that it may not be recommended for South Asian women to carry their baby through full term as it increases the risk of stillbirths.
Your doctor will recommend natural labour inducing methods, such as the common procedure of stripping the membranes. If natural methods don’t work, doctors will start prescribing medication as they rarely allow a mother to go past 42 weeks, which could endanger the baby’s health.
If you ever meet an overdue mom, avoid saying “You’re huge!”, “Have you tried ___?” and “You don’t want to get induced”.
Nana Asia: What are some of the most memorable pregnancy announcements you’ve come across?
theAsianparent: There are endless ideas on how to make a pregnancy announcement creative, but some that have stuck with me including one family that got techie and showed a baby “loading” with a sonogram. I also really liked the “cat’s out of the bag” theme holding the sonogram – got to love the pun! Another that sticks out to me was a DIY LEGO figure to make the announcement.