How to get rid of muscle cramps during your pregnancy?

 

Muscle cramps occurring during the first months of pregnancy are perfectly normal and are not usually accompanied by any other discomforts.

As the baby develops, your belly grows and implicitly your muscle and ligaments stretch and prepare to support your swift developing baby.

You may experience cramps and spasm mostly on your right side because, as your baby grows, your uterus tends to tilt to the right. Therefore, don’t worry! Keep in mind that carrying a baby puts a lot of pressure on your entire body, and it’s hardly surprising if you’re experiencing these uncomfortable cramps!  There are several ways to get rid of these annoying spasms and cramps.

If you’re feeling that the pain is about to come, just sit comfortable on a chair and raise your legs (this may be actually very helpful) or lie on the bed on the opposite side. Relax, take a warm shower and place a hot water bottle or something warm next to the painful spot. You can also ask your partner or a friend to give you a light massage.

Eventually, these pains may be tolerated well if you clearly understand the reason they occur. Briefly, as your baby grows, it needs more room to move. However, if the pains persist, we advise you to make an appointment to our clinic to see if your pregnancy is evolving properly.

Usually, the more severe pains have other causes and are typically accompanies by a series of other symptoms, such as fever, shivers, nausea or general weakness.

Babies and colours

 

Do babies like colours? What colour should I paint my baby’s nursery? Here is a brief description of the psychological effects the colours may have upon you and your baby:

 

Blue – the colour of the sky and ocean, blue calms the mind and body, lowering blood pressure, heart rate and respiration and decreasing feelings of anxiety and aggression. Children with sleeping disorders may benefit from spending time in a blue environment. Therefore, this colour is perfect for the nursery, especially if used in light shades.

Yellow – Bright and cheerful yellow is another colour preferred by many parents when painting the nursery, especially due to its “zooming” and brightening effects on the room. Soft, subtle yellow shades promote concentration while brighter shades can stimulate memory and increases metabolism. However, too much yellow can evoke feelings of anger and frustration resulting in fussy, over-stimulated babies.

Green – is a secondary colour deriving from the mixture of yellow and blue. It symbolizes nature and thus it promotes a serene and calming environment, especially in softer shades. Green is also a comforting colour, able to calm down a fussy baby and, at the same time, it is also a refreshing colour, able to inject energy into the nursery room.

Orange – Friendly, warm and welcoming, orange borrows many of its parent’s positive attributes.Orangehas a distinctly social nature, inspiring interpersonal communication and putting people at ease. Even if your baby cannot speak yet, be sure that he/she feels your love, energy and enthusiasm expressed by means of this comforting colour.

Pink – It’s no coincidence that little girls love pink. It is the universal colour of femininity and implicitly, fertility. Pink is very calming as well – particularly with children who are prone to throwing fits or tantrums.  Pink walls or solid pink crib bedding can be extremely distracting, especially in bright colours. However, soft pinks or pink accents can be soothing and serene.

Therefore, colours can influence our mood and behaviour, stimulate the brain and body and even affect our health. It’s thus important to make sure that your baby’s environment is fit for his/her needs and is able to foster your child’s physical, mental, and emotional development by allowing him/her to take in information — a little bit at first, and eventually much more — about the world around him.

What to expect when you’re expecting twins

At a global level, statistics say that twin or multiple pregnancies currently account for 3% of live births. So, if you’re wondering about your chances of having more than one baby at a time, the answer is simple: basically, your chance is about 3% or 1 in 33. Going further, the chance of having ‘natural’ fraternal twins is only about 1.7% or 1 in 60. The chance of having identical twins has remained steady, and is about 0.4% or 1 in 250. The chances of having twins with the use of fertility treatments can be as high as 20 to 25%.

As you’ve probably know, when we’re talking about a twin pregnancy, we may be talking about fraternal twins (also known as dizygotic or non-identical twins) and which are more common, accounting for two-thirds of all twins, and identical twins (monozygotic twins), which occur randomly and account for only one-third of all twins.

Fraternal (dizygotic or non-identical) twins usually occur when two separate eggs are fertilised by two separate sperms, resulting thus two separate embryos, each having its own individual characteristics as well as its own placenta and sac. This means that the non-identical twins are no more alike than any other two siblings, with different genetic heritage. The babies may be of the same sex or different sexes; half of all fraternal twins are boy-girl pair and the other half are same sex pair. Fraternal twins are more common for older mothers, with rates doubling over the age of 35. Fraternal twins occur in about 1 in 50 pregnancies.

Identical twins are sharing everything. They are the result of a single fertilized egg splitting into two separate embryos. The two embryos can share a single placenta and can be in the same or different sac. Since identical twins come from the same fertilized egg, they have the exact same DNA and consequently, the same sex, eye colour, hair colour and blood type. Furthermore, even if at birth, the babies have different heights and weights, as time passes by, their constitution will somehow become as similar as possible. Nevertheless, the environment that the twins are exposed to (in or out of the womb) determines fine physical characteristics. Therefore, identical twins usually have different fingerprints and as they get older, more differences generally develop.

However, statistics say that identical twins occur in about 1 in 250 pregnancies and this appears to be a random event rather than a hereditary trait, and is uniformly distributed in all populations around the world.

30 years ago, the mums-to-be usually found out that that they had been carrying more than one baby when they were ready to deliver. Now, things have changed: the first baby scan can tell you whether you’re expecting more than one baby. Therefore, if you haven’t had your first baby scan done, you are welcome to come to our London clinic where our highly qualified sonographer can confirm or infirm a single or multiple pregnancy.

There are also certain “signs” that may indicate a multiple pregnancy. So, you are more likely to become pregnant with twins naturally, when you are in your 30s and 40s since the chances of having twins increase with age. Also the likelihood of twins increases if: you took fertility medication or underwent other fertility treatments, or if you had a multiple pregnancy in the past because studies say that for the mothers who have already had one set of fraternal twins, their chances of conceiving another set are five times greater than the average woman, or if there is a family history of twins, or if you’re African-American woman because studies have shown that African-American women are more likely to have twins than any other race.

Women with twins may notice their pregnancy signs sooner or these signs may be more intense. This is because they have higher levels of both the human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) and the alpha-fetoprotein (protein released by the fetal liver and found in the mother’s blood) in their system. Other hormones increase during pregnancy as well, mainly progesterone and some oestrogen, which contribute to many of the early physical signs of pregnancy. The discovery you are expecting twins is often made quite early in pregnancy after you have a routine ultrasound scan. Two gestational sacs or foetuses are seen rather than one.
A twin pregnancy is sometimes suspected if the womb feels larger than expected to the doctor or midwife who examines you. Later in pregnancy, the two separate babies may be felt abdominally during an examination, and again this will be confirmed by ultrasound scan.

However, the safest confirmation occurs when your GP tells you that he/she’s hearing two heartbeats and, around the sixth week of pregnancy, the sonographer may see two little gestational sacs. Therefore, you are more than welcome to come to our clinic in the heart of London to find out together whether you’re expecting more than one baby and to prepare for and enjoy this wonderful journey.

The first medical examination and the first baby scan

Medical exams, prenatal care as well as the office visits to the healthcare provider are very important because they help to permanently monitor your pregnancy, they are designed to keep you posted on the development phases of your baby and help you, as a mother, to make sure that everything is alright. Contact or visit us anytime at our clinic inLondonto schedule your prenatal appointment.

The prenatal check-up is usually scheduled after finding out that you’re pregnant and, considering its multiple benefits, it’s better to schedule your prenatal check-up as soon as possible.

During your first prenatal check-up, your GP may tell you the estimated due date, may exclude the probability of an ectopic pregnancy, can verify whether you’re carrying more than one baby and can accurately determine the embryo’s gestational age.

Before heading to the medical office, make sure you bring your complete medical history information. This may be records from your previous pregnancies, surgeries or anything you think your doctor or midwife might want. If this is not your first prenatal visit then be sure to let your practitioner know if anything has changed in your medical history since your last appointment. It is essential to present all medical records as well as any other medical-related information (such as medications or vitamins you’re currently taking or you have recently taken) to exclude any possibilities that might affect your pregnancy.

The baby scan is a very important non-invasive procedure (as we highlighted in our previous articles) that allows you to first meet your baby – you may see how it looks like and how it moves, stretches and even smiles at you. This is a unique, bonding experience you will forever cherish in your heart. Therefore, you’re always welcome to come to our baby scan clinic to enjoy these magic moments in a professional, friendly environment.

 

 

How should I prepare for my gender scan?

By the 16th week of pregnancy, you may probably want to know the gender of your future child. The best choice is to have a gender scan. This ultrasound scan is able not only to give you a 95% accurate answer to your question but also to render essential information on the health and proper development of your baby.

We want to be your reliable companion in this wonderful and exciting journey and therefore we thought that several recommendations might be useful for your preparation for having a gender scan.

Drinking water is an essential requirement during your pregnancy. Therefore, we advise you to drink as much liquids as possible, every day starting the week before your gender ultrasound as well as about 20 minutes prior to the scan. The amount of water you have drunk increases both the quantity of the amniotic fluid, leading to an enhanced quality of the images displayed on the screen, and the proper operation of the ultrasound waves.

At the same time, we recommend you to have a sweet juice or chocolate or cake before taking the ultrasound. The sugar will make the baby move and the gender identification will be easier.

Relax yourself! Take into account that you might not find out your baby’s gender at the first baby scan appointment. So, again, relax! At the end of the appointment, whether you know or not the sex of your baby, you should be happy because you’ve just had the first encounter with your tiny beautiful child!

Gender scan is one of the first types of baby scans you can take at this point. It is also a memorable way to share a bonding experience with a new life growing inside you.

Boy or girl?

Having a child is a miracle of nature, and the news that you are expecting has probably made you feel the luckiest woman on earth. At this stage, you are basically bursting with joy, but later on you will be definitely overwhelmed with myriads of thoughts and questions focusing on your pregnancy and your future baby. One of these very first questions keeps coming back to you: Will I have a boy or a girl?
Until the first use of ultrasound in obstetrics, in the early 1960s, pregnant women called on different myths, beliefs and hypotheses to find out the gender of their future babies.

1.Cardiac Rhythm
One such belief involved the baby’s heart rhythm: so, if the baby’s heart beats faster than 140 beats per minute, it’s a girl and if the baby’s heartbeat is less than 140 beats per minute, it’s a boy.
Although there have been made several attempts to make a connection between the hearth rhythm and the gender of the future baby, only one scientific study managed to support this theory. This study has been conducted in 1993 at the University of Kentucky and has led to the following conclusions: the baby’s heart rhythm can accurately predict the gender for 91% of the male fetuses and 74% of the female fetuses.
At the same time, two other scientific studies invalidate this connection: one study has been conducted in the ‘80s by a sonographer who measured over 10.000 heartbeats; the other study has been completed recently, being published in 2006 in the first journal designed to focus on the baby as a patient “Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy”.

2.Morning Sickness
What pregnant woman hasn’t heard the line: “if you have morning sickness all day, it’s definitely a girl”. This myth has been actually studied by the Swedish scientists and the conclusions have not been however relevant. It has been found that 56% of women with a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum gave birth to girls. Therefore, if you’re experiencing severe morning sickness, you may think that there are at least 50% chances to have a girl.

3.Your baby’s activity
Another theory states that an intense activity of your baby could indicate that it may be a boy. However, this is not a valid theory because if the mother is more active, her baby might be active too.

4.The Chinese Gender Chart
In the 13th century, a scientist released a theory according to which the gender of the child may be predicted by making a connection between the mother’s Chinese lunar age at the time of getting pregnant and the Chinese lunar month in which the woman has conceived. Although the Chinese Gender Chart has a good reputation in China, as a reliable gender predictor, the tests conducted on other continents showed no relevant and accurate results.

Although there are plenty of theories, myths and beliefs on finding the baby’s gender, we will stop here.
As a matter of fact, we cannot state for sure whether any of the aforementioned methods is accurate or not, but we definitely know that ultrasonography is absolutely trustworthy. Therefore, we are waiting for you to come to our clinic in central London to put an end to this mystery and to be able to buy the appropriate clothes for your baby!

We recommend…music

Studies have shown that music has plenty of benefits: it heals, stimulates, relaxes and develops the mathematical thinking and perspicacity especially in children with ages between 1 to 10 years. However, its effects also extend upon babies.
The latest study developed and published by the Descartes University has proven that the babies can relax or even cheer up when listening to a known song. Fifty pregnant women were included in the study led by Psychobiologist Carolyn Granier-Deferre of the Paris Descartes University, and were asked to listen to a descending piano melody twice a day for a period of three weeks before birth. After one month from the birth, the same babies were tested for responses to the same melody. The scientists noted that the babies’ heart rates slowed down considerably and their muscles relaxed.
Another effect of music on babies is the Mozart effect. The French physicist, Alfred Tomatis, proved that the prenatal exposure to Mozart music increases concentration, creativity and memory of the future child.
Classical and instrumental music may bring more benefits than modern music, according to experts.
We highly recommend:
The piano concerto no. 5 in E-flat major, by Beethoven;
“Ode to Joy” by Beethoven;
“Brandenburg Concerti” by Bach;
“Pilgrim’s Chorus” by Wagner;
“Bolero” by Ravel;
Sonata for flute and harp, by Chopin;
“Clair de Lune” by Debussy;
Nocturnes, by Chopin;
“The Sleeping Beauty” Overture, by Tchaikovsky;
“Ave Maria” by Schubert;
“The Swan Lake” Overture by Tchaikovsky;
 “Don Juan” by Mozart;
“The Pastoral” by Beethoven;
“Aida” by Verdi.

The history of baby ultrasound scanning

Ultrasounds date back to the 1800s when physicists worked on finalising the fundamentals of sound vibrations.
Subsequent to numerous years of researches and permanent improvements, the underwater SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging), the RADAR and the ultrasonic Metal Flaw Detector have been designed. These devices are actually the precursors of the medical ultrasound equipments we use today and which are based on the same operating concepts, except that their design and range of use are more elaborate and more sophisticated.
There is however a question: What is ultrasound? Well, we may define the ultrasounds as the sound waves with a very high frequency, above the audible frequency range and which cannot be perceived by the human ear. In fact, these are the counterparts of UVs in the visual field.
If you wonder if ultrasounds can be perceived by your future baby’s ear, the answer would be that this is highly unlikely. Though it is made through the ear, the perception of these waves will be filtered also by the foetus’ brain, whose development does not end during pregnancy, but continues after birth. Therefore, the chances that the baby can perceive ultrasounds are almost nonexistent.
Ultrasounds have been used in medicine since the 1940s, initially for therapeutic purposes and later on for diagnostic purposes.
In obstetrics, their use began to show effective results in the 1960s. Professor Ian Donald, who led a well-known medical centre in Glasgow, pioneered the early developments in obstetric ultrasounds. In July 1955, he borrowed an industrial machine with which he started experimenting on his patients’ abdominal tumours. He discovered that different tissues reacted differently to ultrasounds, providing different “answers”. So Ian Donald concluded that the development of a future baby can be monitored by means of ultrasounds and that this would be simply an innovative method. The new technology has been accepted quite easily and has been used in clinical obstetrics since the early 1960s. The first accurate detection of foetal cardiac action, using ultrasounds, has been reported and documented in 1972. In the late 1970s, ultrasound use became an almost essential part of the care rendered to pregnant women and their foetuses, because various measurements and early diagnoses of foetal abnormalities have been launched during this period. The long series of developments in this field continued during the next decade, from 1980 to 1990.
Here are several of the most important developments in this area:
– the gel that is applied to the pregnant woman’s belly and allows better conveyance of the ultrasonic signal;
– the transvaginal or transrectal scanner;
– the first real-time mechanical vaginal scanner;
– the real-time colour imaging that allows tracking the blood flow;
– a modern ultrasound scanner that looks like a portable console with four wheels, with a monitor and several types of scanners;
– a major improvement in the quality of images offered;
– the 3D ultrasound machine.
With the amazing progress of science in the last 10 years, devices have been improved, and the quantity and quality of the information provided is highly superior. Today we are also able to provide 4D baby scans, which enable the real-time viewing of the baby and its movements, offering thus an extraordinary experience to parents-to-be.

Music therapy for dynamic and perceptive babies

Music is one of our best friends, we always know it will be there whenever we’re feeling blue and need a shoulder to cry on or we are bursting with joy.  As Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Each of us has found at least one song which completely identifies us and which conveys in words or notes our deepest feeling and emotions: (“Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.” ― Leonard Bernstein).

Therefore, we strongly recommend the music therapy during your pregnancy. It has been proven that the mothers-to-be who listen to music are less likely to feel the less pleasant moments of pregnancy. Music therapy is also a helpful factor when giving birth and having a more perceptive baby.

Music therapy is a branch of psychotherapy which uses music as a means of communication. Music has been used even since ancient times for curing different diseases and, to that effect, the history acknowledges that Plato was one of the first promoters who discovered and promoted the music therapy. Starting with the 19th century, the music therapy has been used for treating different mental and emotional disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, pregnancy discomfort, etc.

Music therapy may take two forms: an active form, which involves playing a music instrument, and a passive one, which involves listening to music.  Studies have reported that the persons who listen to Mozart, Bach, Beethoven or Chopin are far less stressed, depressed, nervous or anxious.

Music can also help you through the bio-resonance induced by the vibrations of sounds produced by the classic and instrumental music. It can rebalance your energy fields, it can wipe away your stress and tiredness and can significantly change the capacity of your baby to assimilate food through the umbilical cord

In our next articles, you’ll find out several tips for efficient music listening sessions and best playlist suggestions for your pregnancy term.

The Beginning

Once the pregnancy test turns positive, you feel that you’re being overwhelmed by strange emotions, electrifying thoughts and hundreds of questions, as if all these are announcing a new exciting period in your life.
Today we have chosen one of the millions of questions that are puzzling you:

How does everything start?

It takes over 10 hours for the sperm to make the entire journey through the fallopian tubes to the ovum which waits to be impregnated. The meeting of these two cells is actually the beginning, the moment when the magic starts.
The impregnation process involves the blending of the sperm’s and ovum’s nuclei. During the first two pregnancy weeks, the impregnated ovum or the zygote divides into more cells, and, at this point, the future baby is just a cluster of cells which shall soon turn into a blastocyst. The outer part of the blastocyst shall become the placenta while the inner part shall evolve into an embryo.
If the ovary releases more ova and if all ova are impregnated, then more zygotes shall be formed. Every zygote has two pairs of 23 chromosomes (one set of 23 chromosomes are inherited from the mother and the other set is inherited from the father). These chromosomes determine the baby’s sex, skin color, hair color, eyes color, height, etc. The zygotes with an ordinary number of chromosomes represent the state of euploidy. However, there are some cases when the number of chromosomes exceeds 46, and, in our next articles we shall approach this aspect.
In order to follow the evolution of your baby, please read the column “Week by week”.