Tuesday, July 28, 2015

9 Tips for 9 Months

I have had seven pregnancies. I am the mother of seven children (I had some pregnancy losses). To say the least, I am considered an "unofficial expert" in pregnancy. Through the years, friends have come to me for advice on different situations in pregnancy. From symptoms to cravings to morning sickness to labor, I have learned how to deal with them all.

Below you will find nine tips on dealing with the ups and downs of pregnancy.

1. Every pregnancy is different. I have had seven pregnancies and I never had two pregnancies alike. So, please remember that what worked for me may not work for you. What works for you may not work for your best friend. There is no perfect and universal way for handling symptoms and problems during a pregnancy. There are only suggestions. This is the single most important tip for pregnancy.

2. Pick a doctor that you like and that respects your choices. Picking your doctor is the first and one of the most important decisions you will make. Pick a doctor that you are comfortable with and that will listen to you, respect the decisions you make concerning your pregnancy, and take the time to talk to you about your concerns and questions. Nothing is more frustrating than the doctor who rushes in and out and never legitimately addresses your questions.

3. Nausea and morning sickness. Nausea and morning sickness is a common problem in pregnancy. This can range from very mild to severe. It is estimated that around 75% of pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. While this ailment normally occurs during the first trimester, some women suffer through the second and third trimesters as well. I was lucky that in all my pregnancies, I never suffered from true morning sickness. I did have nausea during my sixth pregnancy. My doctor did suggest an anti-nausea medication only as a last resort. I tried other methods first. One of the first things I did was try the ginger suggestion. I began to use fresh ginger in my food. I also kept ginger snaps by my bed to eat as soon as I woke up. I hoped the ginger in them would help first thing. 

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{Photos from here and here}

We also increased my Vitamin B6 and B12 to help with my nausea. If you try all the alternatives and still need to take a medication, please research all you can about it. Be sure to learn all the risks and side effects of any medication prescribed to you. This has become a big concern since it has come out that the prescription medication Zofran is linked to side effects such as cleft palate and heart defects on babies.

4. Activity. Even though you are pregnant, you can still participate in physical activities. During my second pregnancy, I walked a lot. As in miles a day. I stayed fit and healthy during that pregnancy. During my sixth pregnancy (second set of twins), I was told by someone that being in the pool was not good for me during pregnancy. I asked my doctor and was told that being in the pool was fine and actually good for me. Talk to your doctor about activities. I know women who stay very physically active during pregnancy. 

5. Research. I know the last thing you want to do is research, but ultimately every decision you make affects you and your baby. It's always important to make informed decisions. This is another time when having a fantastic doctor is helpful.

6. Appointments. With a normal pregnancy, the minimum number of appointments is around 14. This number increases when you go in for emergency appointments (not feeling well, possible problems) or when you have a high - risk pregnancy. My second pregnancy was considered "normal" but of course, being a young first time mother I was going in for minor things because I had no idea what was going on (do you really want to know how many times I thought I was in labor?). My other pregnancies were all high-risk; therefore, I had more appointments than normal and even had some appointments with specialists. Of course, a smart phone or tablet is available now to help pass the time in waiting rooms. Other options include bringing a book or a notepad (make to do lists, make notes, etc). Having something to pass the time is nice if you have to take the 3-hour glucose test (stuck there for over 3 hours? Definitely need something to do). Also, for your actual check-up appointments be sure to bring a list of questions or concerns for your care provider. You wouldn't believe how many times I got home and remembered questions I had wanted to ask my doctor. Also, do not be scared to ask questions about any test or procedure performed on you. 

7. Unwanted Questions/Advice. No matter how many times you have been pregnant, there is always some unwanted questions or advice. I've learned that when the advice starts rolling in, it's best to just listen and then decide if you wish to follow it. If the advice is something I know I won't follow (goes against my personal beliefs), I just acknowledge it and then continue on. I use to argue with it, but as time went on I realized that acknowledging and moving on was a better option. While you will get advice that makes you want to shake your head, you can learn some valuable information and tips from many people. 

8. Hydration. For the record, dehydration can cause contractions. It is important to stay hydrated. Talk to your doctor about the amount of water you should be consuming. Personally, I was drinking about a gallon of water a day for most of my pregnancies. I had a 32 oz, plastic cup that made sure I filled up and drank at least 3 times a day. I also ended up getting dehydrated overnight while I was sleeping during one of my pregnancies. I would freeze a bottle of water during the day and then set it beside my bed when I went to sleep. It was usually thawed out by the time I woke up in the morning for me to drink first thing. 

9. Bedrest. When this term is said during pregnancy, there is fear and panic. I was on bedrest for 2 weeks in pregnancy 2, 20 weeks for pregnancy 4, and 8 weeks for pregnancy 5. I wasn't allowed to clean, be physically active, and in pregnancy #3, I wasn't allowed to even cook or stand longer than a quick shower. During these times, I read books, wrote in a journal (this was before blogging was a thing or even laptops), and watched a lot of TV (and I mean A LOT). During the 8 critical weeks I was on bedrest for Pregnancy #5, I fixed it to where my computer desk was right next to my sofa so I could be on it.

** This post is part of the 9 Tips for 9 Months project for the American Recall Center

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