Packing the essentials for your hospital bag

You should plan the list for your hospital bag as soon as you decide whether you will give birth at the hospital or at a birth clinic. The bag should be all set up and ready to grab two or three weeks before your due date at the latest. Your midwife or your antenatal class instructor will help you with the details, maternity notes and all the important to-do lists for the big moment.

It is recommended to pack two small bags, in order to have the items for labour separated from the items prepared for after birth.

Make sure to include the following essentials in your labour bag:

  • your maternity notes
  • a list of all the important phone numbers (have them in your phone as well)
  • about 3 changes of loose clothes to wear during labour; pick the most comfortable and breathable clothes
  • a dressing gown and slippers
  • socks or leg warmers
  • a birth ball, in case you’ve planned to use one (check with the hospital or your birth clinic to see if they already have one)
  • a toiletry bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towel, hairbrush, hairbands and clips (if you have long hair) and a lip balm
  • a sponge or a water spray for your partner to cool you down during the heat waves of labour
  • sanitary pads
  • healthy snacks, drinks and a straw
  • your tablet, iPod, magazines or a book to help you pass the time or relax
  • phone and charger
  • props or pillows to make yourself more comfortable at the hospital (they might not have enough extra pillows)

Have a separate bag for items needed after your baby is born. If you will have a straightforward birth, you and your baby will probably arrive at home a few hours after birth. If you will give birth by C-section, you may stay between 3 and 5 days in the postnatal ward, in which case you may need to pack a few extra essentials.

Here are the basic items for your after-birth bag:

  • comfortable clothes to wear after you have given birth and for going home
  • a baby blanket to wrap your new-born baby in
  • baby clothes, hat and nappies
  • if you’re giving birth in the winter, pack a jacket or a snowsuit for the baby
  • an infant car seat
  • two or three nursing bras
  • breast pads
  • maternity pads
  • front-opening shirts will come in handy for breastfeeding
  • travel-size toiletries
  • towels
  • eye mask and earplugs for restful sleep and naps

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.

The 5th Week of Pregnancy

Until now, we have talked about the importance of the first trimester of pregnancy and particularly, about the need of your unborn baby to stay in a warm, healthy and serene place, considering the fact that the baby’s vital organs are developing now. Therefore you, as a mum-to-be, have to make sure that your unborn child has everything it needs for a proper development. Technically, you have to follow now several basic rules: start eating a healthy well-balanced diet, live a healthier life, be more responsible and avoid stress. The risk of genetic abnormalities is increased during the first trimester of pregnancy, so pay attention to your lifestyle!

Your baby undergoes a rapid development during the 4th and 5th week of pregnancy: if, at the beginning of the 4th week of pregnancy, it was no bigger than a poppy seed, by the end of the 5th week, it easily reached the size of an orange seed (5 or 6mm). After conveniently settling in its new home, the embryo starts developing a rudimentary placenta while the yolk sac is being gradually replaced by the umbilical cord; both the placenta and the umbilical cord are in charge of delivering nourishment and oxygen to the baby.

Your tiny baby has already formed its head and small buds are signalling the “location” of the future limbs. The heart starts beating for the first time and the neural tube, which forms into the brain and spinal cord eventually, begins to form. This is also the time when the baby’s gender starts developing. However, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of your unborn baby’s gender by the end of the 16th week of pregnancy. Nevertheless, some ultrasounds will be able to pick out the baby’s major developments, such as the ears, mouth and nose. Therefore, you are more than welcome to make an appointment to our London clinic to actually see these changes and to have your pregnancy properly and constantly monitored by our highly qualified physicians.

Except for the early pregnancy signs you’ve experienced by now, your body is not showing yet any major changes so most people won’t be able to tell, by looking at you, that you’re 5 weeks pregnant. However, you should consider starting an exercise routine now. Exercises will help you develop good muscle tone, strength and endurance and why not, manage the extra weight you’ll put on. Choose a safe, moderately vigorous activity you like: yoga, walking and swimming are fine when you’re pregnant.

Also, if this is your first pregnancy, you should pay attention to the hormonal changes you’re undergoing, since they may lead to depression. Do not panic! This may not necessarily happen to you but it’s good to know and the sooner you’ll determine the root cause of depression, the better you’ll fight against it!

You may also notice significant changes in your breasts: they may be tender to touch, sore and even swollen. Spotting, especially at night, is also a sign of pregnancy, indicating that the embryo has successfully reached and implanted into the uterus. However, all mums talk about this period as the most beautiful period of pregnancy because now you’re actually feeling that you’re expecting.

Most parents-to-be chose to withhold this wonderful news until after the third month because the risk of miscarriage is pretty high during this period. Remember: this is your private news for as long as you choose! However, if you’ve decided to share this great news with your friends and family, choose an original manner to do so! We’ll come back later on with several ingenious ways to let the world know that a tiny you it’s on its way!!

 

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 fourth week of pregnancy

The fourth week of pregnancy or the second week after the conception

 

By now you’ve probably learnt that you’re pregnant. Your body have sent you sufficient signals, the pregnancy test has confirmed your hunches and you’ve most likely found a doctor to attend and manage your pregnancy. However, if finding an obstetrician seems quite a problem, we’re welcome pay us a visit to our clinic in the heart of London to have your first prenatal checkup done.

Also, if you haven’t started yet, it’s time to take the prenatal vitamins because the following five weeks are also critical for the development of your future child. Your body is working hard to take care of the new human being developing inside you and therefore, it’s important to drink enough fluids (at least 2l/day); choose water or nutritious drinks, such as skim milk, low-fat milk, 100% fruit juices instead of sodas and coffee.

As you’ve probably found out, during the early stages of pregnancy, and especially during the fourth week, the hCG levels rise drastically. This change of your hormonal balance may cause headaches, faintness, dizziness, flatulence and nausea, especially in the morning, so be prepared and hang in there! Breath mints are sometimes helpful after these unpleasant episodes.

We’re pretty sure that you’ve already started to browse the internet for finding answers to all your questions and it’s almost certainly that you’ve often heard new terms such as the gestational age and fetal age. But…what exactly do these new terms mean?

Gestational age (also known as the LMP – last menstrual period) refers to the length of time since the first day of your last period. So, when the doctor says your gestational age is four weeks, it just means that it’s been four weeks since your last period started.

Fetal age refers to the age of your developing baby, counting from the estimated date of conception. The fetal age is usually two weeks less than the gestational age. Therefore, a four weeks pregnancy means a fetal age of the unborn baby of only two weeks.

Let’s go deeper and find out what’s happening inside you. Don’t be afraid of this technical data! No bigger than a poppy seed, the fertilized egg that will develop into your baby has ended its miraculous journey from your fallopian tube to the uterus. Once conveniently settled in its new home for the following nine months, it undergoes its first major division – the splitting into two groups of cells. The inner group of cells, reaching by now 1-2cm in length and known at this stage as the embryo, will become your baby. The outer group starts forming the placenta, your baby’s lifeline until delivery.  Until the tenth week of pregnancy, the multilayered embryo will grow into specialized parts of your baby’s body: the inner layer will develop into your baby’s digestive system, liver and lungs; the middle layer, will soon be your baby’s heart, sex organs, bones, kidneys and muscles and the outer layer, will eventually form your baby’s nervous system, hair, skin and eyes. Even though, the organs are not completely functional until birth.

In the first trimester and particularly during this period, your future baby is highly vulnerable since it undergoes the critical development stage. Consequently, it is essential to begin your “eating-well and healthy” campaign and to consider a few lifestyle changes. Making positive choices to give up some much loved vices will assist your body to nurture your new baby, as well as minimise the chances of them developing birth defects and/or being unwell after the birth. Bear in mind that smoking, alcohol consumption and medications, either on prescription or over-the-counter, are not recommended! Therefore, the future mum must switch over to healthier lifestyle with good dietary intake, regular exercise and adequate rest along with peaceful sleep.

Right now, the placenta is still forming and therefore it cannot completely discharge all its functions. However, it has already developed two layers and its main role is to provide the nutritive and the respiratory support for your future baby, by means of the umbilical cord, and to protect the baby against numerous harmful factors. The amniotic sac (which fosters the embryo) has formed as have the amniotic fluid and the yolk sac (or the yolk duct). The yolk sac produces the red blood cell and also helps to provide the nutrients to the baby until the placenta will have fully developed and took over this function.

 

As a future mum, you’ll pay a special attention to your pregnancy. We all know that the happiness of a mum is enormous! Well, it’s time to actually feel it and the changes have begun are natural.

Bear in mind that every pregnancy has its own particularities, so don’t worry if some of the moments we presented in this blog are not actually applying to you! Our information is strictly informative and tries to give you a general picture on the development of your future baby.

 

 

The second week

During the second week of pregnancy, you should realise that something is different about you. Don’t panic! This is one of the effects of pregnancy: high hormone levels. If you feel tired, distraught and experience frequent mood changes, we recommend you to take a pregnancy test or to see a physician. The first hormone your body begins to produce in substantial amounts is called HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin).

Although your future baby has no body parts formed or even shaped yet, it starts undergoing a miraculous development process. During the second week of pregnancy, the blastocyst which is actually a development stage that precedes the embryo, has already taken shape. Now the blastocyst starts to separate into the amniotic cavity and the embryo or the future baby. The amniotic cavity ensures the baby’s protection and feeding until the placenta is formed. Although the placenta begins to develop during the second pregnancy week, its development will usually end during the 8th week. The umbilical cord starts to partially exert its functions.

Starting with the 6th week of pregnancy, you may to ask about the types of baby scan that you can do to check on your future baby’ health state. Our clinic in central London offers all kinds of baby scans; all you have to do is contact us by phone or e-mail to make a timely appointment.
There are some women who simply feel or observe their body better, realizing thus that they are pregnant. If you do not feel all the signs during the first two weeks, don’t worry because you will definitely feel them during the coming weeks. It is important that you do not to neglect yourself because you are now responsible for another being. Rest, exercise and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are elements that must be present in your daily life because they are essential vectors for the harmonious development of your child and for your health condition and comfort.

Your body is now preparing for the 9 months of pregnancy during which it will have to provide everything needed for the embryo to develop. It is also better to avoid meat more difficult to digest such as game, lamb, fat pork or canned meat. Fish is highly recommended for pregnant women because of its high iodine content. It is also better to avoid excess coffee as it is harmful to the nervous system. Alcoholic drinks are extremely noxious for tissues and therefore, their consumption should be immediately stopped due to their toxic action on the pregnancy. Also, we recommend you give up smoking. It may be difficult, but you certainly want a healthy baby.

As soon as you think you are pregnant, contact your physician to discuss everything that can or may affect your health, and implicitly your baby’s health.

Easy pregnancy and we will get back to you with more details about the development of the pregnancy in the 3rd week!