At the last lap of my third trimester, I finally can pen down the lessons learnt throughout this long 9-month-journey. Although my pregnancy is more of the less adventurous and less complicated one (so far), there is still enough sufferings and events that cannot be easily forgotten. Also, with the experience of my miscarriage last year, I have gained quite a bit of knowledge being a preggie.
Ok, here we go.
1) Don’t listen to old wives tales
Well, unless you think that life being a preggie isn’t tough enough, then don’t give a damn about old wives tales. You have your trusted gynae to take care of you, making sure you and your baby are healthy, so advices from non-professionals can be ignored.
Being an Asian, especially Chinese, we have tons of old wives tales. Some are so ridiculous that they could make you roll your eyeballs out. And most of them will make the preggie guilty, miserable, or even fall into depression.
For example, I had a miscarriage at week 9. My baby lost its heartbeat and it is most likely development defect. Statistically, about 20% of pregnancies will result in miscarriage. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a natural process. But because of old wives tales, it actually made me sad for a while. The elderly came to me and told me that I shouldn’t announce that I am pregnant before I reach second trimester. My baby died because I started announcing before that. Another said that because we changed our bed frame so it affected the baby. I don’t care if they meant well or what, but their non-scientific input could have put me into depression. If I weren’t mentally strong enough or if I didn’t study science, I could have just believed all these craps and blame myself for losing the baby.
A lot of old wives tales involve food. Don’t eat this, don’t eat that. If you eat this during pregnancy, your baby will have a lot of phlegm, your baby will become stupid, your baby will have allergies, your baby’s skin will be black, your baby will be born “dirty”, your baby will have epilepsy, and so on. For goodness sake. Other than food that will trigger uterus contractions, have higher risk of infections/food poisoning, contains alcohol and food high in Mercury, which your gynae will advise you, you are pretty safe to eat as per normal. Your baby’s appearance and health will pretty much depend on genes and how well he/she is taken care of after birth.
For food intake, moderation and healthier option are the keys. If you have gestational diabetes, then follow the dietician’s recommendation. Don’t end up losing important nutrients just because of old wives tales.
2) Choose a gynae whom you can trust
If you have doubts about your gynae, then change one. Don’t put yourself in agony. If you can’t even trust the advises from your gynae, how could you put you and your baby’s lives in his/her hands during delivery?
I have read a lot of posts from preggies on FB. Many of them doubted the instructions given by their gynae and so they went to seek advices from other preggies on FB. My question to these preggies is “What makes you think that other preggies are more knowledgeable than your licensed gynae?”
I know that some preggies have birth plans and they would like to stick to it as much as possible. However, everyone’s health is different. This is why you need your gynae to advise you if your birth plan is suitable for you. It’s ok to have c-sect if you and your baby’s health is deteriorating. Don’t feel bad for not being able to deliver naturally. It’s ok to be induced if it is deemed more beneficial. It’s ok to take epidural if you have low tolerance for pain. It’s not worth ending up in emergency c-sect because you refuse epidural and the pain and long labor made you too weak to deliver naturally. No one is going to give you an award for refusing epidural, refusing assisted delivery, refusing episiotomy, or delivering naturally. Every delivery method has its risks. What’s most important is that both you and your baby are safe and sound.
In case you fall ill during pregnancy, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. It can be a GP or your gynae. They are the professionals who know how to treat you and keep both you and your baby healthy. Avoid going on social media and ask other mummies if you should take certain medications, or if you should avoid antibiotics prescribed by the doctor. If you are worried, just seek a second opinion from another doctor. No one can provide a diagnosis through the Internet. Remember, your baby depends on you for survival, so you need to recover quickly and be healthy for him/her.
3) Stay happy
It is very important to stay happy throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy. The hormones has done enough “damages” to your emotions so don’t add on to it.
Have happy thoughts when unexpected things happen. It’s not the end of the world. Even if the pregnancy didn’t work out, take some time to grief, and once you are ready, get positive and try again. Life still has to go on. For my miscarriage, I was upset. The first thing that came to my mind is “why do I have to be the 20% in statistics”. I grief over it for a few days and accepted the fact, arranged for day surgery to remove the dead fetus, and move on. That baby chose to be with me for 9 weeks and we had 9 weeks of happiness. Its life ends there and I have to continue with mine. The memory will always be with me and it makes me a stronger person for my current baby.
It’s normal to worry about the growing baby. I worry about mine all the time too. So I made short term goals. Like surviving through each week in first trimester, then enjoy the most out of the second trimester, and weekly milestone for the third trimester. Every week, I will do a mini celebration for my baby has grown 1 week less premature. After every regular check up at the gynae’s clinic, I will celebrate that the baby is growing well and I have not gotten gestational diabetes, or my placenta has moved up the uterus, or my blood pressure is still within the healthy range. These little things make me happy.
4) Lower expectations
Lowering expectations may help you to achieve point no. 3 (stay happy).
I used to expect a lot from the Husband. I wanted to be treated like a queen just because I am pregnant. But when my expectations aren’t met, I get emotional (thanks to the hormones). But slowly I got it figured out. Just remember, your Husband is as nervous as you are. He cannot see what’s happening inside your tummy, he cannot fully understand how the hormones are affecting you, he doesn’t know the pains you are going through, and yet he has to try his best to be strong for you and the growing baby, both physically and emotionally. Sometimes he may forget to do something, sometimes he misses it, but I believe they are not intentional. So if you feel unhappy about something, communicate with him. It’s the best way to help both of you to prepare for the baby’s arrival.
Similarly, lower your expectations for other people, especially the general public. For example, most of us take public transport in Singapore, be it for work or leisure. Although there are reserved seats on the bus and train, they are not guaranteed seats. As much as we wish for a gracious society, we cannot expect everyone to automatically give up his/her seat. Here are a few reasons:
– if the train is crowded, he/she may not have noticed you. Just because you have a bump, it doesn’t mean everyone will notice you. There are a lot of bigger sized people around too.
– it’s not easy to distinguish a preggies at early stage. It would be deemed offensive if he/she gives up the seat to a woman who is just fat instead of pregnant.
– he/she might also not be feel well and needed the seat.
– he/she didn’t board the bus or train just to keep a lookout for preggies, elderlies and people with disabilities. It’s not their fault for not noticing you.
– anyone on board the bus or train could give up his/her seat for you. It’s doesn’t have to the reserved seat.
So, if you need a seat, just ask anyone politely. Surely there will be a kind soul who will help. There is no need to be upset. Don’t just stand in front of a person and expect him/her to know what you want. No one is a mind reader.
Just make sure that we educate our children to give up seat to people in need, so that we can work towards a more gracious society.
Alternatively, avoid taking the sardine-packed bus or trains during peak hours if possible. If your boss allows, go to work earlier/later and leave the office earlier/later to avoid the crowd. Or if financial allows, take a cab instead. You and your baby’s safety is more important than money because money can be earned again.
Avoid getting upset over little things like that. Stay happy~ A happy mum = a happy baby!
5) Read up
Read books about pregnancy. Do some research. It will help you along your pregnancy.
For me, I find the following 2 books very useful and informative.
They provide information on what to expect at each trimester and also narrow down to the weekly body changes and baby developments. There are also information on recommended food for pregnant women and what to avoid during pregnancy.
I treat these books as the bible for pregnancy and when I have questions, I would clarify with my gynae. It also helps me to be prepared for pregnancy symptoms like spotting, mild cramps, water retention, heart burns, food aversion etc. This knowledge prevents me from freaking out when I experience new changes to my body.
If you dislike books, another option is to download apps for pregnancy.
These apps provide information about you and your baby on daily basis. I find these apps very useful especially in the first trimester. It guides me along and tells me how my baby is growing each week. Because during the first trimester, ultrasound scans could only show a little beanie in the picture, so these apps give me more insight to the baby’s development.
As for online articles, especially those shared in FB, please do critical reading. Because hundreds and thousands of articles are being shared online, you need to filter the information and check for its credibility. There are plenty of articles that share fake pictures, unreliable information, biased opinions and non-scientifically proven theories. So you need to think carefully if the article is reliable. Of course, when in doubt, clarify with a professional, or your gynae. Especially herbal products and health supplements, it’s important to check with a doctor to see if they are suitable for you. Everyone’s body and health is different, so what’s suitable for one preggie, may not be suitable for another.
Well, these are some of the lessons I have learnt and I bet there will be more to come. Hope that all preggies will have an enjoyable 9 months and a healthy baby~