Peace of mind for mums-to-be

A midwife tells Lisa Salmon about some of the common concerns shared by people about to become parents, and gives advice on what to do.
Peace of mind for mums-to-be

A ROLLERCOASTER OF EMOTIONS: Pregnancy can be such a happy time, but every mum-to-be has anxieties as well

FINDING out you’re expecting a baby can be incredibly exciting — and extremely worrying.

Expectant mums and new parents are often plagued with uncertainties, from the obvious concerns about having a healthy baby, to worries about their own wellbeing and moods.

A study in the UK recently found that more than a third (35%) of new mums describe their journey into motherhood as ‘challenging’ — but the challenges definitely have their plus points, with 80% of expectant mums saying they’re looking forward to learning something new every day.

Midwife Vicki Scott says: “With so many choices to make, it’s no wonder new mums can find their new role challenging at times, and look for much-needed reassurance in their lifestyle decisions.

It’s easy to lose yourself as you immerse yourself in your new baby, but it’s a wonderful learning process and ultimately, hugely rewarding and fulfilling.”

And despite having to cope with a multitude of worries, more than half of expectant mums (54%) think they’ll feel more fulfilled when they’ve had their baby.

To help alleviate the most common concerns for new mums, Philips Avent, a company based in England manufacturing baby bottles, breast pumps, and other baby feeding and health accessories, has launched the Virtual Mummy Mentors programme.

The company, working with parenting influencers including Mother Freckle and Celery and Cupcakes, will share posts across their social channels and conduct live Q&A sessions as part of the initiative.

Sammi-Jo Freckle, aka Mother Freckle, says: “When I was a new mum and pregnant with my daughter, I worried about so many things. Just trying to figure out how I was going to take care of a tiny human felt overwhelming at times, but I realised it’s a learning process and still is. Every child and every experience is different.”

The top 7 worries for expectant and new mums

1. What to eat and drink when pregnant (81%)

There’s no specific diet you should follow when pregnant, but Scott says it’s worth looking at what you’re eating and drinking, and being mindful of how varied, nutritious and healthy your choices are, and if they could be improved.

“Pregnancy puts a lot of demands on your body, so to nourish it from within will help you support the healthy growth of your baby, and to feel great during your pregnancy,” she says.

There are foods you should avoid altogether or limit during pregnancy, and comprehensive information can be found on the NHS website.

Scott says mothers-to-be should choose a wide variety of foods so they’ll get a range of nutrients — good quality proteins every day, including fish, eggs, beans and pulses, starchy carbohydrates for energy, fruits and vegetables (important to help that sluggish pregnancy bowel to keep moving), and dairy products (reduced fat is a good choice).

“Remember, your baby’s getting a share of whatever you’re eating, and try to make healthier choices if needed — maybe swapping sugary snacks for something more filling and nutritious, and keep well-hydrated during the day — herbal or fruit teas and water are good choices,” adds Scott.

2. Baby development (62%)

Each baby’s development is unique, but there’s plenty of information available to guide parents on what’s normal, from various sources including the HSE.

3. Morning sickness (61%)

Despite the name, Scott says this type of pregnancy-induced nausea, and often vomiting, can last all day for many mums-to-be, and continue for well over half their pregnancy. It can, however, start to lift after the third month.

In severe cases, hyperemesis gravidarum, which affects around 1% of pregnant women, causes excessive nausea and vomiting, and may need hospital admission to prevent and treat dehydration.

“We’re all different, and women often find particular ways of managing their nausea —maybe avoiding certain foods or smells, avoiding spicy foods, eating little and often, and even eating something before getting out of bed in the morning — all can help,” says Scott.

Ginger has long been used to combat nausea, and there’s some evidence to support its effectiveness, says Scott, who suggests sipping ginger tea or sucking ginger sweets.

In addition, she says acupressure in the form of a special bracelet is worth trying. If nothing helps, visit your GP.

4. What medication to take (52%)

Scott says it’s generally best to avoid taking medication in pregnancy unless essential, and always on the advice of a health professional.

If you take regular medication for a pre-existing medical condition, part of your pregnancy planning should include a chat with your medical team to decide if it’s better to stay on your medications, or change them to another type more compatible with pregnancy.

“Assume a medicine isn’t safe to take until you’ve checked it out — many over-the-counter medications aren’t proven to be safe to take during pregnancy and could be harmful to your growing baby,” warns Scott.

5. Managing financially (46%)

It can be hard not to worry about money when there’s about to be another mouth to feed, but there’s plenty of advice available.

6. Moods during pregnancy (36%)

As such huge, physical changes are taking place in your body while your baby grows, it’s little surprise that pregnancy affects your emotional health and moods.

“The arrival of a new baby is a time of enormous change anyway, but when you’re not quite feeling yourself, you may struggle to deal with stresses and triggers as you normally might,” explains Scott.

The main culprits for mood swings and exaggerated emotions are hormones, but other causes are physical tiredness, disturbed sleep and changes in your relationship.

Scott advises mothers-to-be to take care of themselves by eating well, making sure they get enough rest, and telling loved ones how they’re feeling, so they can help if necessary.

“The upside of mood swings is that they have a positive side — there’ll be times of great happiness, positivity and excitement in the time to come too, as you adapt to this next exciting stage in your life,” promises Scott.

7. Relationship with partner (19%)

Again, this is unique to you, but you may find helpful advice on various websites. Your GP or midwife may provide you with contacts.

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