Exercise Safely during Pregnancy

Workouts during pregnancy will keep you and your baby healthy, help you sleep better and prepare your body for labour. If you’re a beginner to exercising, start with 15 minutes workout sessions two or three times a week. Gradually increase the length and frequency of your sessions to 30 minutes sessions daily. You will feel healthier and more prepared for giving birth. To make sure that you exercise as safely as possible, consult the checklist below and follow our guidelines.

Safe pregnancy exercise checklist:

□  Always check with your doctor before beginning your exercise plan. Certain medical conditions rule out some types of physical activity.

□  If you used to work out intensely before pregnancy, train at equal or lower intensity while pregnant.

□  Tell your training instructor you’re pregnant, so that he can offer advice on which exercises are safe for you.

□  Keep a correct posture while you’re exercising, in order to protect your back.

□  Wear a supportive bra and comfortable clothes and appropiate footwear during your workout.

□  Make sure to drink at least 2 litres of water or fluids every day.

□  Choose exercises that are comfortable for you. If you don’t feel comfortable anymore during an exercise, you should stop.

□  Avoid exercising on your back during the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

□  Do not end jogging or aerobic exercises abruptly. If you have unusual symptoms and need to stop, try to walk around slowly for a couple of minutes.

□  Aim for workouts of moderate intensity. You should not feel exhausted or too tired at the end of a training session.

Stop exercising if you have unusual symptoms

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) has provided a list of unusual symptoms that you should consider as warning signs when you exercise. If you have any of these symptoms while exercising, stop your workout immediately and call your doctor or midwife to consult you.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Chest pains or palpitations
  • Backaches
  • Pain in your abdomen or pubic area
  • Pain in the pelvic girdle
  • Painful uterine contractions
  • Feeling fewer movement from the baby
  • Leakage of amniotic fluids
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Feeling of weakness in muscles
  • Pain in your legs or swelling of legs

For more information provided by the RCOG on suitable exercises for pregnant women and safety precautions for exercising during pregnancy, check out their guide on Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy.

 

Top gift ideas for pregnant women

Buying a present for your pregnant friend can be tricky. Pregnant women do have extra needs, yet they are also more sensitive to the messages that some gifts could send, so don’t make it about her body size or morning sickness. We’ve selected a few cool ideas.

Comforting gifts

A body care basket

Massage oils, bath oils, bath salts, moisturizers and body lotions should all be welcome. Go with products based on almond oils or other ingredients that help prevent the appearance of stretch marks. Pick natural products over luxurious ones. The basket should look like a safe and comforting treat.

A chocolate and fruit basket

Fruits have vitamins, so they’re good for the baby and for the mum. Try to find out her favourite fruits and nuts and include them all in pretty packaging. Just remember to add the delicious treat that will truly spoil her (hint: chocolate).

A day to the Spa centre

Who wouldn’t love a spoil like that? Many pregnant women have back aches and symptoms of tiredness, so a gift voucher to her favourite Spa would be appreciated and enjoyed. This gift will relax her as well as offer relief.

Cute

Plush toys with pregnant themes

If she’s into the cute stuffed toys, find out her favourite types and buy one that has a cute and relevant message. Such popular toys usually have a reference to the baby on board in their message. Try to find a unique one or personalize it if possible. Plush toys are after all pretty common for a gift and you don’t want it to say “I didn’t have time to look for a present, so I just grabbed this from a shop on my way here”.

Picture frames for the baby

Fresh parents generally make a lot of photos when their babies are born, and some of these photos will be framed to fill the house with precious memories of these magic moments. Buy a cute frame for the baby photo or for the ultrasound photos. The fridge is also a popular spot to place baby scan photos, so a cute magnet could also be appreciated.

A baby book

Baby albums have become very popular nowadays, so check first whether your pregnant friend has one already or not. These can be used as early as your friend gets photos and reports from the first ultrasound scan. If the gender is unknown yet, pick an album with a neutral colour. Go for the ones that can be customized easily and that have designated pages to record events and milestones in the first years of life.

Useful

Maternity clothes

Switching the wardrobe can be tough for many pregnant women. Make sure you pick nice and comfy clothes that suit her style and expand to future sizes.

Premium scan gift vouchers

Our 4D Premium Package is the most popular scan given as a gift. It’s a thoughtful gift to surprise your friend with and the extras of this package have given many expecting mums precious memories to keep for a lifetime.

Car stickers

If your pregnant friend drives a car, here’s an inexpensive and very useful gift: a car sticker for the driver side window asking drivers that park nearby to leave room for the pregnant driver to open the door.  Every pregnant driver needs one. It’s impossible to get out of the car when you’re 6 months pregnant and someone parked too close to you.

The Anomaly Pregnancy Scan and the Most Common Abnormalities It Detects

The anomaly scan is a detailed ultrasound scan, used for determining physical abnormalities of the foetus early on. The best month for an anomaly scan starts with the 20th week of pregnancy. Most women take the scan between this time and the 24th week. What is the anomaly scan used for and why is it recommended to have it? Find out below.

What is the use of an anomaly scan?

With the help of the anomaly scan, the doctor can take a close look at your baby and your uterus to check that everything is developing normally. Usually a scan lasts around 30 minutes, during which major physical abnormalities are checked by looking at certain factors. Your doctor will look at the ultrasound from various areas and angles and assess your baby’s heartbeat, the position of the placenta and the amount of amniotic fluid around your baby. Measurements to check the baby’s growth and development will be carefully taken in detail, and the baby’s organs will be examined as detailed as the visibility on the scan allows.

Common abnormalities that are checked for during the anomaly scan

Your doctor will also look for signs of some particular disorders when looking at the anomaly scan. Some of these conditions are:

  • Heart conditions, for which your baby’s heart is examined during the scan
  • Spine abnormalities: the doctor will check if the spine and skull are developing normally
  • Certain genetic disorders
  • Chromosomal abnormalities: the doctor will check if the number of chromosomes is normal and for related conditions such as the Down syndrome.

Remember, it’s not always possible to check everything in full details, as there are a lot of factors that can impede having a clear view in certain areas. If, due to these factors, the doctor decides that measurements will not be accurate, either a new appointment will be scheduled or an internal transvaginal probe will be used.

Why is it recommended to have the anomaly scan?

Even though the scan is accurate on the measurements that can be taken, not all abnormalities can be identified during this scan. The scan does, however, greatly reduce the risk of having a miscarriage or severe birth defects due to lack of knowledge about certain abnormalities early on during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor and keep yourself informed about the uses and limitations of the anomaly scan to fully understand how you and your baby will benefit from this scan appointment.

Exercise during Pregnancy

Exercising for half an hour each day brings plenty of benefits during pregnancy. Combined with a healthy diet, a few light to moderate exercises on a regular basis will improve your muscle tone and give you strength and energy. You will be more prepared for the moment of labour and it will be easier to get back in shape after childbirth. Another plus is that your mood will generally be better and your sleep quality will improve. Below are a few of the most popular exercising activities and their benefits for pregnant women.

Pilates

Pilates exercises are great for strengthening your abdominal, back and kegel muscles. Check with your doctor for advice on physical activity before starting a Pilates class. You should generally avoid positions that require you to lay on your back, especially after the 10th week of pregnancy. Ask your instructor for recommended positions depending on your pregnancy stage. Most exercises can be easily adapted to your needs and limits, so if you’re well informed you can safely benefit from Pilates exercises.

Prenatal Yoga

There are different types of Yoga, so make sure you choose exercises that are safe for pregnant women, or look for a Prenatal Yoga class. Yoga training will improve your muscle tone, help with back pain relief and keep you flexible. Prenatal Yoga exercises are designed specifically for pregnant women, so they are absolutely safe for you to try.

Jogging

Stretching exercises are great for maintaining the muscle tone and for flexibility, but they need to be complemented with cardio exercises. Jogging will give you a great heart workout and it’s time-efficient. The secret to keep up is routine. Go out for a short, 10 to 15 minutes run every day at the same time, it will get easier and easier to stick to this schedule. Don’t push yourself over the limits, intense workouts are generally not recommended during pregnancy. If you haven’t jogged before, start with a lighter form of exercise, such as walking.

Walking

Walking is one of the safest exercising options during pregnancy. If your doctor advised you to limit physical activities, go out for a walk whenever possible. The best part about walking is that you can combine it with fun activities – such as going for a stroll in the park – and with useful activities – like going to the supermarket. Walking quickly counts as cardio training and will improve your circulation.

Swimming

Swimming is a great exercise during pregnancy, safe and with great benefits at the same time. Most pregnant women enjoy the feeling that their body is lighter in the water. Swimming helps relief back aches and gives your heart and lungs sufficient workout. Join an aquanatal class for water-based exercises designed especially for pregnant women.

Preparing for pregnancy

There are a few things you should do and know about your body and lifestyle before trying to conceive. If you’ve decided to have a baby, having the time to plan and prepare for pregnancy is an opportunity and you should make the most of it. Get a healthy start into pregnancy and plan ahead as early as 1 year to safely prepare your body for the big journey.

Get a full health check-up

Get a complete health check-up before planning to get pregnant. How else will you know if your body is ready for pregnancy? Discuss your medical history with your doctor and your prescription medication, so you’ll be fully informed of all the risks for your pregnancy and your baby. Check if you have immunity to rubella and chickenpox or if you need vaccines. Go to the dentist as early as 6 months before getting pregnant to check if there’s anything to fix so you don’t have to worry about tooth aches while you’re pregnant. Schedule a Pap test right before trying to get pregnant, to know you’re good to go.

It’s also important to know your blood type and that of the father, as they might be incompatible. In this way you can prevent HR disease, which is caused by blood incompatibility and can be treated during pregnancy.

Take folic acid

Taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid as early as 2 months before pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and to improve fertility. Talk to your doctor about the amount of folic acid supplements you need and other prenatal vitamins.

Control your weight

Studies show that women who are significantly overweight or underweight have higher risks of developing complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Plan a balanced diet as early as possible for getting to your ideal weight in a healthy and natural way. Make sure to choose a healthy diet. Severe diets and starving will have negative effects on your chances of conception instead of preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy. You’ll be much more successful if you combine your diet with an exercise routine, to get in shape faster and have more energy.

Eat healthily

Ideally you should get your vitamins and minerals from food and not from supplements. Aim for fixed and healthy meals that include plenty of nuts, fruits and vegetables, as well as red meat and poultry. Oily fish is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, but it is not advised to consume more than 2 fish meals per week. Avoid fish that contains high levels of mercury, such as: shark, marlin, swordfish and tuna.

Stop smoking

Smoking tobacco releases harmful substances that can be stored in your body for longer periods of time so you should stop smoking early before getting pregnant. If your partner smokes too, now is the ideal time for both to stop. Also avoid second hand smoke before and during pregnancy, as it can be harmful for your baby.

Stop using contraception

It is usually advised to get off the pill a few months before trying to conceive. Sometimes, ovulation can be irregular after stopping contraception pills. Depending on the method you use, it may take longer than a month for your hormonal cycle to return to normal. Visit your OB and discuss this in advance.

Travelling by Car while Pregnant

Going on long trips by car can be tiring when you’re pregnant, but if you take good care of yourself and plan enough breaks, you should be fine. Always choose to be the passenger and not the driver, if possible. It’s also less stressful if you’re bringing someone along to help you out and keep you company. Here are the musts for a safe and comfortable travel.

Drink plenty of fluids

Always make sure to stay hydrated when travelling, especially if you’re going to countries with a hot climate. Try to drink around one 8-ounce cup of water or fluids every hour and avoid caffeine. If you feel thirsty or if you feel your mouth dry, that’s a sign of dehydration and you should drink more. Carry bottled water with you at all times while travelling and make sure you don’t run out. If you prefer juice, try to limit the amount of sugar intake.

Make breaks every 60-90 minutes

Avoid leg swelling and aching by taking breaks every hour, hour and a half. Use the break to walk around, do some light stretching exercises, use the restroom and have some snacks.

It doesn’t need to be a strict schedule. You should generally just listen to your body: have a break whenever you feel like stretching or going to the restroom, but try not to sit in the car for more than 2 hours straight. You can also do some bits of stretching while seating: stretch your legs forward if there’s room, stretch your calves, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes.

Dress comfortably

Dress as comfortably as possible, with loose fitting or stretchy and breathable clothes. Jumpsuits and the like are not ideal for the often bathroom breaks, so opt for cotton dresses or separates with elastic waist pants. Maternity support pantyhose can help relieve swelling and aching and are also recommended for avoiding varicose veins.

Wear comfy sneakers or supportive footwear with contoured insoles and elastic or adjustable straps. It’s a good idea to switch to slippers while sitting in the car.

Wear a seat belt

Wearing a three-point seat belt is perfectly safe for pregnant women. In fact, not wearing your seat belt during pregnancy is very risky, unsafe and frowned upon. Three-point seat belts are safer than lap belts, so if you have the option, choose the three-point. You can adjust your seat belts for maximum comfort, but keep it in the correct position: set the lap strap as low as possible towards the pelvis and never place it on your belly. It’s not recommended to drive while pregnant, yet if you must, adjust your seat so that your belly does not touch the steering wheel but you can still reach the pedals.

When does your baby’s life actually begin?

The life of your baby is teemed with “very first moments” which are equally important for both of you. We’ll try to capture here the most important ones, although each and every moment has its own particular importance and impact on both the mother and the child. So, whether you are a first-time parent or you’ve already had this wonderful experience, you’ll definitely enjoy our brief account.

Your baby’s first heartbeats are an essential moment in its life, and, at the same time, have both medical and emotional significance for the mum-to-be.

Basically, a baby’s heart begins to beat as early as 18th days after conception, but its heartbeats will already be visible on ultrasound by the time you are five or six weeks pregnant. Keep in mind that a baby’s heartbeat is very rapid, much faster than in adults. In fact, your baby’s heart beats at about 100 to 120 beats per minute, speeding up to about 160 to 180 beats per minute at 10 weeks! To see and hear your baby’s first heartbeats, all you have to do is to book an appointment for a baby scan by calling our clinic. The moment will be definitely unforgettable!

Your baby’s brain is formed at about six weeks after the conception, when the brainwaves can be detected (the first electrical brain activities have been recorded on EEG, not until the end of week 5 and into week 6, usually around forty to forty-three days). Some studies have shown that, starting from the ninth week of pregnancy babies experience rapid eye movements (REM), which are characteristic of active dream states.

During the sixth week of pregnancy, your baby moves for the first time. Although babies moves up to 50 times per hour (they kick, stretch, sometimes they even seem to swim and jump), the movements are not so intense and can often go unnoticed by the mother. However, these wonderful moments can be captured by an early baby scan.

The rapid growth of organs leads to a complete development of the baby’s lungs around the fourteenth week of pregnancy, although the baby will not breathe until its birth. The respiratory system is one of the most important systems of the human body so this point in time can also be considered one of the most significant first moments.

Babies and Pets

Both babies and pets are innocent, cheerful and cute creatures. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they get along so well. The joy of playing together can be easily seen on their faces.

But sometimes we hear that some pet owners give their pets up or put them up for adoption when expecting a baby, believing that pets can harm children. Fortunately, there is no danger to the baby if there’s a pet in the house. Studies show that babies who in their first year of life have lived in houses with a dog or a cat got sick less often than those who had no pets around.

Scientists believe that this happens because pets bring from the outside only small microbes that help the immune system form faster and better. It is well known the fact that it is unhealthy for children to live in a very sterile environment, with no dirt whatsoever, because the outside world, the one in which they will grow and live, is not the cleanest. So pets help your baby’s body adjust to the real world.

Pets are also very tolerant of children. You can find tons of pictures of babies sleeping or playing together with pets. Even though it is possible that pets may be little blue at first, after bringing the baby home, because they are no longer the centre of attention, if the pet owner manages to integrate the pet in the baby’s life, everything will go nicely, and the two may even become very good friends.

However, extremes are never good. This means that no matter how tolerant the pet is, you should never let it alone with the baby, unattended, especially when it comes to dogs which, for example, are less tolerant than cats. Therefore it’s a good idea to have a fence separating the house, so that everyone has its own play area; also, as much as possible, train the dog for the baby’s arrival before the baby is actually brought home by teaching him to be calm and obedient. A good idea for keeping a dog calm is to give it food regularly.

For cats, even if they are more tolerant, it is best to keep them as little or even not at all in the baby’s room and prevent them from reaching objects that must be sanitised at all times, because there are cases where more possessive or jealous cats urinate on these items.

Before the baby comes home, you can bring one of its objects so your pet can get accustomed to its smell. The two can live together very well, so remember that you don’t have to put your pet up for adoption when the baby arrives. Moreover, due to these types of relationships, high sensitivity and a lifetime friendship between the two can be born.

Preparing your home for new baby

Guided by her deeply-rooted maternal instinct, every mum-to-be or first-time mum will feel the need to make the best preparations for the arrival of the newest member of the family. Every mum’s dream is to arrange a loving, caring and comforting environment for her baby. So is your dream too!

What kind of colours should I pick? What is the best nursery furniture? How many clothes and what sizes should I buy? Should I buy this toy? Is this crib too small? How should I decorate this room? So many questions, so many ideas … As you see, preparing for a new arrival can be overwhelming – especially for the first-time parents! Therefore, it is advisable to start preparing before you come home with your newborn baby. Don’t start everything by yourself! Ask your partner, your friends and family to help you! You’ll be surprised to find out that they’ll be pleased to assist you in your preparations!

The first thing you should do is to paint the baby’s room, not only to avoid the risks of infections or diseases caused by potential pathogen agents, dampness or mould but also to create a fresh, comforting and fun environment. Using only eco-friendly paints in your baby’s nursery is a must!

Start with the basics like a crib, rocking chair, changing table, diaper pail, diaper shelves, pram and dresser where you can deposit the baby’s clothes. Don’t forget about a good baby care book, diapers and breast and bottle feeding essentials, such as feeding equipments (bottles, sterilizers, and formula), breast pump, breast pads and a special feeding pillow.

As for the decorations and toys, let your imagination go wild! Keep in mind that babies love warm, bright colours (however, when choosing a colour, consider the baby’s gender). We advise you to read our articles for more ideas and information on this theme. You can buy stuffed toys, a CD player and CD-s with soothing classical music and lullabies to help your baby fall asleep, and fun music you can both sing along to during playtime.

This is it! Few steps to follow and your baby has his/her nursery ready, waiting for him/her to come and fill it up with joy, love and smiles.

How to announce your pregnancy

 

The day when you find out you’re pregnant is probably one of the happiest moment in your life, especially if you have been expecting this to happen for some time. Now your life will definitely change. But is it just yours? No, also the lives of those around you, especially your loved ones are to be changed. A baby should bring joy and happiness to all.

The first person you should announce is your partner, because he is the closest person to you and this wonderful news is to definitely affect his entire life. It is possible that, if you have tried for some time to conceive, he will rather be very happy than surprised. Nevertheless, if the pregnancy has not been planned, be confident, make sure you give him the news naturally, and, at the same time, tell him that this change can be good for both of you, because your family will increase and the little baby yet to come will bring you closer.

I have heard so many ingenious ways and ideas on how to tell him the great news but at this very moment, the only examples that come into my mind are the funny ways of printing the message “You will be a daddy!” on his favourite T-shirt th or on his coffee mug he uses for his morning coffee. Also, can you customize a photo of this message and save it on the computer’s desktop or you can print it and put it next to the alarm clock, to be the first thing he sees when he wakes up. Whatever you do, make sure you will be present, because you do not want to lose his ecstatic reaction when he finds out.

The very next persons you should inform are your parents, because they are to become the grandparents of the baby that is now growing healthy in your womb. To give them the news properly, it would be good to think about some things first. Your age is, for example, one important factor you should consider when telling them the great news. If you are already an adult and they somehow expect this to happen naturally, telling that they are to be grandparents shouldn’t be problem. Be inventive and make them their own customized message! However, if you’re younger and they do not expect it, then it’s better to be more careful and try to explain this is what you want and that you are ready to become a mother.

If you want to share this wonderful news with your friends and relatives, you can simply do it by posting a funny message on a social networking site or you can invite them all to a family meeting. An interesting idea which however requires our help is to have a ultrasound scan done before sharing the news, to multiply the image and send it together with an emotional message introducing the new member of your family. Therefore, you are more than welcome in our London clinic to have your first baby scan done and share this fantastic news with us!

What do you think about these ideas ? How do you plan to tell the world your wonderful news? We are waiting for your suggestions.