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The first thing that I did when I found out about our pregnancy was to Google the Do’s & Don’ts during a pregnancy. Here’s a list that I’ve complied to share with all you mums-to-be. I’ve also included the list given to me by my gynaecologist.

Do’s

  1. Find a good gynaecologist that you are comfortable with. I find that it’s very important to be comfortable and happy with your interactions with your gynaecologist as you will be chatting with him/her for the next 9 months. I never had a regular gynaecologist, so I had to scour the internet, Geoexpat and Asiaexpat forums to read reviews for a good female gynaecologist in Hong Kong. After doing much research, I decided to try out Dr Grace Cheung from Central Health located in HK Central area. After our first visit with her, we were both highly satisfied with her as she is very meticulous, friendly, doesn’t rush through consultations (apparently a lot of gynaecologists in HK are impatient and rush through the consultations with a time cap of 10 minutes per person). The midwives in the clinic are all very friendly, truly concerned for your well-being, and happy. Perfect environment for a hormonal mommy-to-be. A happy mommy makes a happy baby right?
  2. Start on folic acid, maternity supplements and omega 3 supplements, if you haven’t already started. I wasn’t on any supplements before getting pregnant, so I had to immediately get some. Folic acid supplements are important for the first 13 weeks of the baby’s development. Omega 3 supplements should be taken until 34 weeks of pregnancy and continued after delivery during breastfeeding.
  3. Continue your regular exercise. Exercising throughout your pregnancy is important . Do seek your doctor’s approval first though to ensure both mother and baby is healthy enough to keep up with the exercise regime. However, do not start on anything vigorous if you haven’t been active before the pregnancy. For myself, I maintained my regular 5-8km runs at a much slower pace.
  4. Wash all salads, vegetables and fruit thoroughly. Ensure that anything fresh you eat is washed with fruit and vegetable wash to remove all fertilisers, possible bacteria contaminations and soil.
  5. Only eat homemade salads and fresh fruit. 
  6. Eat more high calcium foods like yoghurt, milk, pasteurised cheese. Your baby will require a lot of calcium to build its bones, and if your calcium intake is not sufficient, your baby will start drawing calcium from your own bones which will affect you later in life.
  7. Ensure that reheated food is piping hot to kill off any bacteria.
  8. Regrigerate and use pre-cooked, perishable foods ASAP.
  9. Wash all surfaces and utensils which has touched raw food thoroughly.
  10. Only eat fully cooked eggs. No more runny, half-boiled eggs. Avoid homemade mayonnaise, foods that contains raw eggs like Tiramisu, mousse, ramen egg and non-baked cheesecakes. This is to avoid contracting Salmonella (read more about this below)
  11. Limit your caffeine intake to ONE cup of coffee/tea per day. Herbal teas are ok to drink but ensure that they are not Made in China as those may contain biologically active compounds.
  12. Stay positive and happy. Take things easy and reduce environmental stress.

From my doctor:

  1. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet.
  2. Remember to inform your doctors and dentist that you are pregnant. This information is needed for them to prescribe medications and decide if you’re fit for an x-ray or medical procedures.

Don’ts

  1. Stop drinking alcohol. I’ve been quite a party pooper since the pregnancy and can’t enjoy an alcoholic drink with friends. The sacrifices we have to make as a mother.
  2. Stop smoking and the use of recreational drugs. I’ve personally have been avoiding standing beside smokers as well because I feel that inhaling second hand smoke is even worse. Smoking during pregnancy has been proven to increase the risk of premature birth, lower birth weight and sudden infant deaths.
  3. Do not change kitty litter. Get someone to do it for you or if you really have to, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after. Kitty litter is known to contain toxoplasmosis bacteria(read more about this below) which once contracted will show no symptoms.
  4. Stop using products that contain salicylic acid and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS). Check if your shampoos, skincare and soaps contain them and change them. Stop going for any chemical skin peels as well.
  5. Do not use Botox. If you have been a constant user of Botox, stop it when you are pregnant.
  6. Stop eating raw or undercooked food like sashimi , Carpaccio and half-cooked steaks. This is to avoid any food poisoning from listeria and salmonella bacteria (details below) which can cause severe dehydration to the mum and baby.
  7. Do not increase your exercise regime. Being pregnant is not the time to take on a new intense workout. If you have been running, dancing, highly active before pregnancy, you can keep it up. However, if you have been inactive, recommended exercises for pregnant mums are yoga and pilates.
  8. Avoid raising your body temperature and overheating. Saunas, hot tub jacuzzis and steam baths are not recommended and the increased body heat will cut off blood circulation to the foetus. Affecting your baby’s development.
  9. Don’t move heavy furniture and do any heavy lifting. 
  10. Avoid eating fish that are high in mercury. Fish meat like shark, tuna, swordfish are known to contain high levels of mercury. Check out the safe list of fish to eat here.
  11. Stop eating unpasteurised cheeses. Avoid soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, Blue Cheese, Buffalo Mozzarella, feta, goat cheese. There’s a chance that these cheese contains listeria which can cause miscarriages.
  12. Avoid eating unsealed food from salad bars, buffets and fast food outlets.
  13. Do not eat expired food.

From my doctor:

  1. Do not take Ibuprofen or over the counter drugs. There are many cold and flu remedies that shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy which includes Nurofen and Advil. Paracetamol is ok, however it is best to consult a doctor whenever you are sick and not self medicate.
  2. Do not consume large amounts of sot and flaxseed. These products contain phytoestrogens which have estrogenic properties. It is only safe to consume less than 30g per day.
  3. Do not eat excessive liver products. These foods present a risk of Vitamin A toxicity. Cod liver oil or supplements containing Vitamin A should be avoided unless approved by your doctor. Liver can be eaten but not more than once a week.
  4. Do not increase your exercise regime. 
  5. Do not let your body overheat – avoid jacuzzis, saunas, and steam rooms.
  6. Avoid contact with Lamb & Sheep. They can be the source of an organism  called Chlamydia psittaci which is known to cause miscarriage in ewes. They are also know to carry Toxoplasma. If you experience flu symptoms after contact with sheep, immediately consult your doctor.

Listeria

This type of bacteria can cause serious food poisoning if contracted during pregnancy. It generally has no symptoms but can cause fever, headache, backspin and sore throats. It can be passed through the placenta and possibly lead to miscarriage, premature or still birth. It is important for pregnant women to avoid foods that may contain listeria like unpasteurised milk, soft cheeses, smoked fish products, refrigerated pates and foods from deli counters like sliced meats, hams, and poultry products.

Salmonella

Salmonella bacteria causes one of the most common types of food poisoning. It can be very nasty with severe vomiting, diarrhoea, high fever and headaches. The greatest risk to the mum and baby is severe dehydration and many sufferers need hospital admission for treatment.

Toxoplasmosis

Cat faeces and soil may contain the organism which causes this. A woman who is newly infected with Toxoplasma during pregnancy can pass the infection to her unborn child. There may be no symptoms, but can have severe consequences for the unborn child.

I know there’s a lot of sacrifices and changes in lifestyle that all mums-to-be have to go through for the next 9 months, but it is all worth it when you give birth to a healthy, happy baby to hold in your arms. For me, I’ve been craving for an occasional glass of wine with a slab of rare steak, but it is a big NO-NO now until the baby is born. You are not alone! I hope this list helps those new-found mummies out there and congratulations on your pregnancy!

XOXO

Jessica

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Hello peeps!

Since I’ve made my baby announcement, I can finally start blogging about my first trimester experiences while the memories are still fresh.

11 August 2017, Friday – The Discovery

We first discovered about this little development in my womb on 11 August 2017, Friday. I remember testing myself at home because my period was a little late and we were going to meet friends for dinner and drinks that weekend. So, I got myself tested to just in case I’m pregnant and I should immediately stop my alcohol intake. To my surprise, the test came out positive! I didn’t really think it would turn positive as I didn’t experience any obvious symptoms other than my usual PMS ones like swollen boobs, water retention and a thicker belly from the thickening of the uterus wall before every period. I was 5 weeks pregnant. This is me at 5 weeks: 

5 weeks pregnant

I immediately sent a text to my hubby who was extremely busy at work (he was in printers for an IPO submission that very day), and I got an immediately response from him! Usually when he is in printers, he doesn’t reply my texts till much later when he takes a breather. Guess he was so happy and excited about the unexpected news that he had to reply. That very day marks a big change in our lives – we are going to be parents! And yes, from that day onwards I am going to be a real party pooper and can’t drink with friends… hahaha!

Our first meeting with Baby…

After I found out about our pregnancy, I immediately went to read up about pregnancy Do’s & Don’ts (read more about this my next post). We also quickly made our appointment with a gynaecologist to confirm the pregnancy. Though pee sticks are 99% accurate, we had to be 100% certain and also to ensure the baby and I are both healthy. Our first appointment was on 23 August, but our baby was so shy that it coincided with Typhoon Hato and we had to reschedule our meeting. We finally get to see our baby on the ultrasound screen for the very first time on 31 August!

8 week ultrasound photo

Seeing our little one for the very first time felt surreal… at 8 weeks he/she is the size of a kidney bean as you can see in the ultrasound image. Confirming the pregnancy! Up until the scan it still felt like the pregnancy wasn’t real as I didn’t have morning sickness which was a main telltale sign of pregnancy. I guess I’m one of those lucky few! Yay!

Bumpies

Like every first time mums, experiencing pregnancy for the first time is really exciting and I really wanted to document every moment of it. Hence, I took weekly bumpie pics to see the slow changes in my body as the weeks go by:

My Personal Symptoms

The main big difference to me was my boobs are perpetually sore and my sense of smell became extra sensitive (I already had a keen sense of smell, but now, the faintest smell from far away affects me). It was so sensitive that I couldn’t cook at home anymore, as the smell from oils, garlic, spices, seafood etc just made me sick.

As the weeks passed, I noticed changes in my appetite too. It was insatiable but yet I felt full from bloatedness all the time. So it was very confusing. There was a constant struggle of wanting to eat but not being able to swallow anything in. I’ve also lost my usual cravings for snacks and sweets which was a first for me, my favourite foods like salted egg yolk crispy fish skin, chocolates, tom yam seaweed, all suddenly didn’t appeal to me anymore. It’s not like the sight of these foods made me nauseous, it just that I stopped wanting to eat them. I can eat maybe a piece or two and I’m done. Previously, I could easily chow down a whole packet on my own.

Fatigue did set in too. However, my solution to it was to go for a nice slow run. As after every run, I felt great and energised and back to my normal self again. Guess all the serotonin and endorphins that kicks in helps a lot. Of course, I did get my doctor’s approval to continue my regular runs as long as I felt great after each run and not like its torture. I know in most Asian cultures that running and exercising during your pregnancy especially the first trimester is a BIG NO-NO! I did receive a lot of comments from others that I should stop running, but I know my body the best. If I felt any pains, bleeding, discomfort during my runs I would have obviously stopped and discontinue the exercise. On the contrary, exercise did make my first trimester a lot more enjoyable.

My body also didn’t agree with the pregnancy supplements brand Materna – this made me real gassy and stomach constantly felt acidic like I was having gastric all the time. I informed my doctor about this and she changed my prescription to another supplement brand Elevit. After switching brands, I felt a whole lot better. The suitability of supplements depends from person to person as the hormones are going crazy inside making changes to your body to grow this baby.

Looking back, I had a rather smooth sailing first trimester as compared to what others experience. I really have to thank my lucky stars for that and my mother’s good genes as she didn’t experience morning sickness for all 3 kids!

Signing off for now. My next write-up will be on Pregnancy Do’s & Don’ts. Watch out for it!

XOXO

Jessica

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