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What to expect when you’re pregnant

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Every season you’ll find a new issue of Living Well magazine in your local Unichem that’s full of health and wellness inspiration for you and your family. For this story, Pamela McIntosh – a Living Well writer who was pregnant – spoke with Auckland midwife, Sue Lee, to find out how to have a happy, healthy pregnancy. Here’s what Pamela learned from their discussion. 

Insight #1 – motherhood begins at conception

Many of us perceive motherhood as beginning when your baby takes their first breath. However, motherhood really begins at conception because the choices you make are already impacting your baby’s wellbeing. Says Sue Lee, “You need to be in good condition, and you can do this by making good decisions about what you eat, remaining active, keeping yourself well hydrated and avoiding stressful situations. This will help you through pregnancy and also in preparing your body for labour and the post-birth recovery process.” 

Insight #2 – first trimester forgiveness

Once morning sickness kicked in from week five to 12, Pamela barely felt like leaving the house. For many women the objective of the first trimester is just to get through. Lee suggests listening to your body and not feeling guilty about taking it easy. Prioritise eating little snacks often. “Have dry crackers beside your bed and keep plain snacks like nuts or dry biscuits in your handbag to snack on throughout the day, which will help to keep blood-sugar levels stable. Stay hydrated (often lukewarm drinks are easier to digest than hot or cold). Taking ginger (in any form – tea, crystallised) will calm a queasy stomach. Acupuncture has seen stellar results in my clients,” says Lee.

Insight #3 – social support

During her first trimester Pamela was living in England. She relished returning home recently to her family and friends but knew she was lucky to be able to do that. Lee says, “We’ve evolved as people and many women are no longer living near their family. It’s important to set yourself up with a good community network such as midwifery support, antenatal groups, mum-and-baby walking groups in your area so that you can share your learnings with others, get out and about and avoid feeling lonely.”

Insight #4 – breast intentions

Pamela asked what to expect as her body went into preparation mode for being her baby’s vending machine. “Breasts can be really tender, especially in early pregnancy,” advises Lee. “The change in growth occurs then as well as after your baby is born, so it’s a good idea to get fitted with supportive bras.” Some women will experience colostrum leakage prior to birth. “It’s a good sign that your body is already functioning in preparation to nourish your baby.”

Insight #5 – sleep factor

In her first trimester, Pamela says she could have dozed off at any moment. Then in the third, the baby’s kicking and growing belly were sabotaging all good intentions of a solid night’s sleep. Lee suggests taking day naps. “The many hormonal and physical changes can cause disturbed sleep at night,” explains Lee. Try doing light exercise before bed, write down thoughts in a journal instead of letting them fester in your mind and experiment with pregnancy pillows. Lee advises, “Sometimes lack of sleep can be helped by looking at your mineral levels, so consider seeking further advice.”

Insight #6 – labour of love

Labour day – what will it be like? “It’s tough, but you will get through it,” says Lee. “It’s common to get to a stage where you may ‘hit the wall’ and feel like you can’t go on. It’s this time when you need your emotional strength. You will reach the ‘finish line’.”   

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If you’re thinking about starting your own family, or adding to the one you’ve got, come in and talk to your Unichem Pharmacist – we can suggest ovulation and testing kits, discuss the right supplements and be there to offer support through this exciting time.