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Speed Bumps For A Second Pregnancy

Getting pregnant a second time might feel like it should be easier, but it’s actually pretty common to struggle with it. Here’s the lowdown on this issue.

You’ve settled into a new family routine with baby number one in your life, and now you and your husband are thinking of adding to your brood to complete the family. It seems like an experience less daunting than it was the first time, because hey, you’ve got proof of your fertility right there in front of you. It’s just a matter of time, right?

For some families, this might be the case. Other couples try for a second baby for months or even years to no avail. If you find yourself falling into the latter category, you’re not alone in contending with that stubborn negative line on the pregnancy test kit.

 

Struggles In Conceiving Again

The term secondary infertility is used by doctors to describe the difficulty in conceiving a second time around. While previous studies have estimated that about one in seven couples are affected, doctors note that it is becoming more common, perhaps due in part to the fact that couples are having their first child when they’re older.

It’s a well-known fact that age impacts fertility negatively, and it isn’t any different when it comes to secondary infertility. In fact, a couple’s age is one of the main reasons for secondary infertility, with underlying medical issues being the other key reason. “Women are born with a fixed number of eggs. With increasing age, there is a fall in ovarian reserve – this is the number of functioning follicles or eggs left in the ovaries,” explains Dr Kelly Loi, an obstetrician & gynaecologist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

But don’t think that it’s solely mum’s fault. Dr Loi continues, “In men, quantity and quality of sperm may deteriorate with time, making it difficult for them to reach and fertilise an egg. This can occur as a result of poor diet or lifestyle habits such as diabetes and raised blood pressure.”

Besides the age factor, health problems can also lead to secondary infertility. It’s possible that you had an underlying health problem that did not affect your first pregnancy. Your first pregnancy might also have affected your subsequent attempts to get pregnant. A Caesarean may have caused uterine adhesions, while a womb infection or retained placenta could have caused scarring, which makes it harder to conceive.

Besides these reasons, it’s also worth considering if your lifestyle has radically changed since your first pregnancy. Weight gain can affect your ovulation, as can stress from your first pregnancy and having to look after kid number one. It could also come down to the plain simple reason that you’re having sex less — it’s never easy when you have a small one hovering around.

 

Managing Secondary Infertility

Before enlisting the help of the doctor, there are some ways to try and improve your chances of conceiving. First and foremost, you should be giving your body time to recover from your first pregnancy. Dr Christopher Chong, a urogynecologist and obstetrician & gynaecologist practicing at Gleneagles Hospital says, “My advice is for women to let their body rest for at least a year before trying to get pregnant again.” In fact, experts in the US recommend waiting for 18 months before trying for a second baby. This is not just for fertility, but also for the foetus’s health. A gap of less than 18 months between pregnancies is linked to an increased risk of premature babies, as well as babies who are born with low birth weight or being too small for their gestational age.

Once the 18-month window has passed, try to take some time to lay out a conception plan. There’s only a small window in which you have a chance of getting pregnant each cycle, so tracking your ovulation cycles and planning around those will help to increase the chances of successful conception.

To complement your planning, you should look at your lifestyle as a couple. Too little sleep, unhealthy weight gain, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, and eating unhealthily are all things that can affect your fertility. Improving your diet and working proper sleep and exercise into your routine are all ways that you can increase your chances of conceiving.

During this period, it is important to deal with your emotions, as well as your partner’s. Being faced with secondary infertility can be stressful for both of you, so don’t avoid talking about the issue and your feelings. Don’t make yourself believe you have to feel guilty about your emotions just because you have one child, while others are still trying to get pregnant for the first time. Your feelings are valid and taking care of your mental state is just as important in your journey with secondary infertility.

Most experts recommend seeing a doctor if you’ve been trying to conceive for a year and are under the age of 35. For women who are over 35, you should consult a doctor after you’ve been trying for six months. These are not arbitrary numbers, and there is no harm in raising your concerns with a doctor earlier if you’re concerned. They might be able to give you tips on your conception plan or recommend if fertility tests should be conducted.

 

Preparing To Get Pregnant Again

Before you start trying for another baby, it’s important to know if your body is ready for a second pregnancy. Research suggests the risk of babies being born early or with low birth weight was lower in babies conceived between 18 and 23 months after the birth of the first child. Most experts recommend waiting for a year at the minimum, and even two if you had a complicated birth.

Here are some other tips to prepare your body for a second pregnancy.

 

Let your hormones get back in order

Pregnancy hormones like oestrogen and progesterone will take some time to stabilise after birth. These hormones control ovulation, and the time they take to settle differs from person to person. Breastfeeding also affects these hormones, and it’s recommended that you wait two to three menstrual cycles after you’ve stopped breastfeeding before you try again. If you stopped breastfeeding exclusively early on, the recommended one-year gap still stands.

 

Eat healthily and get enough exercise

When you’re pregnant, your body prioritises giving the foetus the nutrients it needs to develop. The best way to restock your body’s store of these nutrients is to eat healthily. On top of eating well, exercising regularly once your doctor has given you the green light is important. Don’t just watch the numbers on the scale though. Make sure your body fat is at a healthy level; the most common way of measuring this is through your Body Mass Index (BMI).

 

Mind your health

Health conditions can result in complications in your pregnancy. If you have any pre-existing conditions, you’ll want to speak with your doctor who can advise you on ways to resolve or get your condition under control. As a bonus, giving your mental state time to recover from the fatigue of looking after a young child is a great idea as well. Being in a good place mentally will put you in a better position to deal with a second pregnancy and more late-night feeds.

Planning A Nursery

Get down to business with these nursery-planning tips and you won’t have to worry about missing out any crucial elements once your tiny tot arrives.

 

Getting a nursery ready for your newborn isn’t just about locking down a cute theme and choosing furniture to match. While it’s common to get all caught up in the aesthetics, you need to dedicate just as much time to ensuring that the nursery is a safe space for your baby.With these tips, you can rest assured that your baby will be both comfortable and secure in her new environment.

 

Start Early

Even if you aren’t ready to start painting, the nursery should have all of its major furniture by the sixth month or so. You should aim to finish all painting and wallpapering at least eight weeks before the expected birth of your baby, and leave the windows open for aeration until the actual arrival. Always allow sufficient time for new products, furniture, and fixings to air out before introducing them to your little one. Plan ahead so you don’t miss out on any essential items.

 

Settle For Simple

Ultimately, there should only be two things in your baby’s crib: a firm, tight-fitting mattress and a crib sheet or a waterproof mattress protector. Everything else is a suffocation hazard for kids under one-year-old.Nicole Ng, 37, mother-of-two, says, “Only the bare minimum is needed. I remember only having a crib and a mobile. We didn’t need a baby monitor because the crib was in the same room as the one we were sleeping in.”

You should also opt for lightweight artwork and décor, especially if they are placed near the crib, as bulky objects could seriously injure your baby if they fell accidentally. Avoid decorations with long strings, ribbons, or anything else that could pose a strangulation hazard. The crib mobile can also become a threat; take it down after the first six months, or before your baby is able to pull herself up and stand on her own.

 

Safety First

The distance between the slats of the crib must be no more than sixcentimetres to protect infants from falling out and toddlers from trapping their heads between them.Look out for any loose or broken parts of the crib (especially if it is a hand-me-down) and regularly check screws and bolts to ensure that the crib is safe.

You’ll want to be mindful of the type of crib you choose as it can be dangerous for a child learning how to stand on his own.“We had a crib whose height could be adjusted. So, we always kept a watchful eye on our children,” Nicole says.“When we noticed them grabbing onto the crib’s rails to pull themselves up, we immediately lowered the crib’s height so that they wouldn’t climb out of the crib.”

Arrange the nursery so that the crib is away from the windows. If you have cords on your windows, tie them high up and out of your child’s reach. Furthermore, if you have tall or heavy pieces of furniture, prevent them from tipping over by using braces or anchors to secure them to the wall.You may also want to install a ceiling fan to prevent your baby from overheating, which is a known risk factor of sudden infant death syndrome.

 

Sanitation and Hygiene

Keep nursery germs in check and prevent contamination of surfaces by storing sanitation supplies at an arm’s reach. Use the cupboard closest to the changing table to store antibacterial wipes and paper towels. A good diaper disposal system in a nursery is a must-have. Diaper pails are specifically designed to eliminate unpleasant odours and are a convenient way to dispose of diapers.

In addition, make sure you sanitise floor surfaces regularly, especially if your child spends much of their time on them.You’ll also want to change your baby’s bedding at least once a week. Chances are, you’re already changing the sheets more often than you’d like. But still, minor diaper leaks can cause bacteria to grow in your baby’s crib. Since babies explore the world with their mouths, it is important to sanitise their toys regularly.

 

Leave Room To Grow

When choosing furniture for storage, think long term. Keep up with your baby’s changing wardrobe, by organising clothes by size and putting away anything that no longer fits. You can choose to donate them or keep them for a family member’s baby. You may also want to plan for the nursery to be converted into a toddler’s room and make proper arrangements for the space to grow with your child.

 

Must-haves In Every Nursery

The basics you need to complete your nursery before the arrival of your little one.

 

Crib

Choose cribs with fixed side rails, instead of adjustable ones. Also, be sure that the crib mattress fits snugly in the crib to keep your baby from slipping in between the mattress and the crib’s sides. Don’t rely on manufacturers’ labels – test it out yourself. Ensure the mattress holds firm and springs back into place quickly.

 

Crib mobile

The crib mobile helps with the relaxation and development of your baby. She will find mobiles that sway and jiggle much more stimulating than one that remains stationary. Black and white tend to be the most stimulating colours for newborns, but older babies benefit from blue, yellow, red, and green. Try to find one which contains most of these colours.

 

Waterproof diaper changing pad or changing table

Look for one that’s sturdy and equipped with a safety belt to keep your little one safe. And since you’ll be changing over 3,000 diapers in the first year alone, it’s best to make sure your baby’s changing area is well stocked with all the diaper-changing necessities beforehand. Remember to store them out of your baby’s reach.

 

Baby monitor

For many parents, baby monitors offer reassurance and peace of mind. If your baby sleeps in the same room as you for the first few months, you probably won’t need a monitor for a while, if ever. But if you’re a deep sleeper and they’re sleeping in another room, baby monitors can alert you when your baby wakes up, if he is crying, or if there is a prolonged gap in breathing patterns.

 

A comfortable chair

One of the most important furniture in your nursery is a comfortable chair. Whether it rocks, glides or remains stationary, you’ll need one for the countless hours you’ll be spending with your child in your arms. The back and forth motion of a rocking chair is soothing for your baby when you’re feeding her or putting her to sleep.

 

 

What Is Natural Family Planning And How Can It Benefit Me?

No drugs, no chemicals, no devices. NFP is not only an all-natural form of birth control, it tells you when the best time to get pregnant is.

 

Natural Family Planning (NFP), also known as the “rhythm method” or “safe period”, is the oldest method of birth control. It involves abstaining from intercourse during a woman’s fertile period each month, usually beginning around the third day after menstruation ends and lasting for about 12 consecutive days.

 

Understanding the woman’s ovulation cycle is useful and crucial in NFP and there are several ways to determine whether a woman is ovulating – calculating her cycle, body temperature, and vaginal secretions. Using these elements as a guide, a couple can prevent pregnancy. Similarly, when the couple decides it’s time to have another child, it provides them with the information about when the best time to get pregnant is.

 

The average menstrual cycle is between 28 to 32 days. The first day of your menstrual flow is the beginning of your cycle. From days 11 to 21, your egg is ready to be released from the ovary, and this is commonly known as ovulation. The egg travels through the fallopian tube towards the uterus and is only available to be fertilised for 12 to 24 hours during this window. If a sperm enters the egg, the fertilized egg will attach to the lining of the uterus and begin to grow. By the 28th day, if the egg is not fertilised, the lining of the uterus will shed, and this is what we commonly know as menstruation.

 

If you decide to use the family planning method of birth control, you can seek training by a qualified counsellor or a medical professional. The Natural Family Planning Service Singapore promotes and encourages Natural Family Planning as a way of life. You can visit their website (www.naturalfamilyplanning.sg)to get a list of NFP centres and the slots that are available for meetings with trained instructors.

 

Secondly, it is useful to note that periodic abstinence can only work when it is followed diligently. As NFP is about fertility awareness, it requires the couple to possess the knowledge of the body’s signs of fertility and infertility. In order to become more confident about recognizing the signs of impending ovulation, the couple has to be consistent in monitoring the patterns of the body and the practice of NFP.

 

Understanding NFP

NFP is 100% natural. There are no drugs, chemicals or devices involved, which is attractive for couples that do not want to interfere with reproduction in an artificial way. It is common to hear of couples who’ve used NFP speak of an increased awe and respect for the female sexuality and fertility, and a greater sense of empowerment through self-knowledge.

 

Corey Ang, 43 and his wife, Juliana Lee, 42, shares, “The practice of NFP appealed to us as it was totally natural. No drugs, no procedures, no cost, and no side effects. It respects the body’s natural rhythms and helps us to work alongside nature. Of course, that means that if we are not planning for a child, we would have to practise abstinence during the fertile periods. However, contrary to what some may feel, it draws us closer and makes for more fulfilling experiences during the times when we can be intimate.”

 

Despite itsadvantages, some couples may shy away from NFP as it requires abstinence, which means a couple cannot have intercourse during a certain period every month. Some couples may find that this lessens the spontaneity of sex. NFP is also generally not as effective as other birth control methods.

 

Nonetheless, NFP is easy to practice without compromising on your physical and sexualhealth. Corey and Juliana explains, “The method is easy to use and once you get the hang of it, it becomes quite second nature. And if you are diligent in the practice of NFP, you will realise that it does not require you to abstain for long periods of time. Many couples who do not practise NFP feel that it would mean giving up intimacy when the woman in most ‘in the mood’ and therefore, would adversely affect the couple’s sexual relationship. However, studies have shown time and again that couples who practise NFP enjoy a better sex life and have more sex than couples who do not.”

 

 

Powered-up Pregnancy

You don’t have to take a dip in radioactive waste to get superpowers – just make a baby!

Okay, so you may not be able to move around with swan-like grace or bend down to pick up a pen, but you may discover yourself developing a few enhanced abilities courtesy of your baby bump.Just ask Kelly Clarkson. Back in 2015, the original American Idol told USA TODAYthat she was able to sing better when she was expecting her first child, River Rose Blackstock. “I was just more passionate,” shared the singer. “The vocals were more intense, and I loved recording.” While there’s no scientific explanation why, Kelly personally believes her vocal abilities improved because she was more in tuned with her feelings and emotions while pregnant.

She isn’t the only mama to feel imbued with extraordinary pregnancy powers. During those nine months, a woman’s body experiences a myriad of changes.Aside from the obvious physical transformation, a 2016 study published by Nature Neurosciencerevealed that pregnancy causes a significant overhaul to the brain that lasts for two years after birth. After performing detailed anatomical brain scans on a group of women, the research revealed that their brains adapted to motherhood by increasing social awareness to make mothers more sensitive to the needs of their babies.If growing a small human inside you can trigger a redesign of the brain itself, what else can manifest because of pregnancy? Like how a person in a life-and-death situation can summon extreme strength, do we trigger a hidden reserve of superpowers the moment new life starts to flicker within us?

 

Sensory Overdrive

One of the hallmarks of pregnancy is the wacky rollercoaster of hormonal changes. The rise and fall of various hormones doesn’t just affect your mood, it also alters your senses. Food cravings or aversions,as well as nausea, are familiar ways super senses affect you during pregnancy and is caused by a keener sense of smell and turbo-charged taste buds.

Through a casual survey, we found that super smell was the most common sensory abnormality mamas experienced, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. At 20 weeks, first-time mum Constance Lim swears her newly acquired super sniffer can detect rain way before storm clouds start to gather. According to a joint studyby San Diego State University and Umeå University, it would seem that most pregnant women share these sensory changes. Their research found that 76 percent of expectant mothers reported having abnormal smell or taste perception, and in some cases experienced both.

Science is undecided on whether heightened pregnancy senses serve any benefit to mothers and their unborn children. Some researchers believe that sensitivity to odours and tastes helps expectant mums to identify any chemicals that may be harmful to the foetus. This explains why some pregnant women gag at the smell or taste of stuff like coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol. In fact, there was astudyout of Stanford University that suggested that there is evidence that women who experience nausea were less likely to miscarry.

Your nose and tongue aren’t the only ones that get an upgrade during pregnancy. Many pregnant women have reported having bat-like hearing, which is believed to be another side effect of hormonal changes. This can cause you to hear little annoying details you usually miss, like the background static on the radio or the amplified sounds of someone breathing. Though it isn’t clear why, scientists at the Max Planck Institute discoveredthat expectant mamas were more sensitiveto music, so much so that it affected their blood pressure more significantly compared to non-pregnant women. The results have led them to theorise that growing foetuses are conditioned to music perception while still in the womb through the intense physiological music responses of theirs mothers. The research backs up this theory by noting that music can cause change in heartbeat and movement patterns of the foetus during the third trimester. Guess you’re never too young to be a music lover.

 

Weirdly Wonderful

Pregnant women may have to battle morning sickness, back pains, and the constant need to pee – but it is wiser not to underestimate them. The last thing you want to do is get caught lying to a mummy-to-be. Women are naturally intuitive creatures and having a bun in the oven can amplify their emotional sensitivity, transforming them into human lie-detectors. A studypublished back in 2009, suggested that the raging hormones that cause mood swings also make them hyper-vigilant to facial expressions during late pregnancy, giving them emotion-reading powers to rival the Mentalist. This enhanced emotional sensitivity may be an evolutionary adaption, the research adds, meant to prepare women for the demands of nurturing and protecting a little one.

A striking number of mamas claims that pregnancy turns their brain to mush and cause them to make poor decisions and become absent-minded.Just a myth or something more? A recentstudyfrom Deakin University found that expectant mothers didn’t do as well as non-pregnant women on tasks measuring attention, decision-making, planning, and memory. However, you may need to take these results with a pinch of salt. Some studies have refuted the idea of pregnancy brain and suggested that the influx of hormones can improve brain communication. New mama Karina Ng for one, shares that she felt more focused and became more productive during those nine months. Other than making a small human being inside her, Karina picked up piano again, learned how to swim, and managed to summon the discipline to cook more regularly.

And then there are the powers that science cannot explain. Mother-of-three Alice Lee claims that her pregnancy opened her up to supernatural experiences, including one foreboding dream in which her husband’s old friend visited her in her sleep and hinted at a favour to retrieve something of his. The oddest part, she says, was that she barely knew him well.

Of course, it is possible not to experience any of these “superpowers”. After all, no two pregnancies are alike. Mama Shirley Teo tells us the only thing she remembers is constantly feeling exhausted. “I napped so much,” she says. “You’ll be surprised how going to the bathroom every few minutes can really tire you out.”

Stephanie Ang, mother-of-two, shares Shirley’s sentiments, but isn’t too bothered about missing out. “I already feel super knowing I’m creating life inside me,” she says.“Especially when I can feel my baby moving inside me, that never fails to amaze.”

 

The Strange and Unexpected Facts of Expectancy

  1. The uterus expands more than 500 times its normal size.
  2. At the end of your pregnancy, the placenta produces more oestrogen a day than you usually do in three years.
  3. Pregnant and new mums can lactate automatically at the sound of a crying baby that’s not even their own.
  4. During pregnancy, 90 percent of women will experience a change in their skintone.
  5. Feet aren’t the only ones that grow when you’re expecting, the size of a mother’s heart increasesas more blood is needed to sustain the pregnancy.

 

Beyond Bone And Horn

When pregnancy derails your health goals, Traditional Chinese Medicine may be the answer to getting you back on track.

If you still think that we are living in an age where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an archaic medical approach struggling to gain a foothold in our modern society, think again.Medical practices based on Chinese traditions and pharmacopeia, some dating back two millennia, has seen it gain popularity among younger couples. While it used to be labelled as a treatment method for our grandparents—and walking into a medical hall surrounded by severed deer antlers and a plethora of bizarre dried herbs can be admittedly off-putting—there is more to TCM than meets the eye. And this practice is even tipping the scales in the childbirth department, once the trusted domain of Western medicine.

“TCM and Western medicine are two very different approaches to medicine, making it difficult to compare the two,” explains senior physician Zhong Xi Ming of Eu Yan Sang Premier TCM Centre @ Paragon.“Western medicine focuses on therapeutics, while TCM also emphasises on the prevention of illnesses. Confinement practice is a good example of illness prevention as it aims to improve and aid the mother’s recovery to minimise the occurrence of post-pregnancy conditions in the future.”

 

Getting To The Point

Whichever school of thought you subscribe to, proper postpartum care is indisputably a crucial step for mums who have just delivered, since it also sets the stage for future health and well-being. From the TCM perspective, childbirth is more than just a naturally occurring event; it is a “gateway” which opens the door to a wholesome and sui generis state of health and wellness. As much as your body is weakened after giving birth, TCM sees it as an opportunity to not just restore it to normalcy, but to go further by strengthening it.

“TCM believes that the objective of post-natal care is to strengthen and restore balance in the body, so mums are able to resume daily activities and bond with their child,” says Mr Zhong.

During and immediately after pregnancy, a mother’s body is put through major stress and demands, resulting in tremendous hormonal, physiological, circulatory, respiratory, and metabolic changes that leave the body “open” to postpartum imbalances. The labour process involves major blood loss, and in TCM theory, blood is inextricably linked to qi, or vital life energy. Qi and blood deficiency is a key postpartum imbalance and dysfunctional flows may result in various sicknesses later on, along with poor breast milk production. Blood stagnation caused by pathogenic cold can bring about abdominal pain, retention of lochia (uterus discharge), incontinence, and severe depression for the recuperating mum.

Wondering why you visit the bathroom a lot more or break out in night sweats after giving birth? It could point to a deficiency in Yin, which is responsible for managing our bodily fluids and ability to relax. Furthermore, weakness in body constituents from giving birth, if without proper control on food intake and rest, may also invite viral attacks that lead to various kinds of postnatal sicknesses.

 

All Hands, Pins, And Cups On Deck

To help mothers return back to post-pregnancyhealth, Mr Zhong says that unlike Western treatment methods, which tend to employ a one-size-fits-all formula, TCM advocates an individualised approach and syndrome differentiation to postnatal care. You may realise that unlike Western doctors, who arrive at a diagnosis based on what you tell them, TCM practitioners are constantly observing you – your gait, pulse points, and even the colour of your fingernails tell a more holistic story.

Having a range of postnatal therapy techniques therefore allows mothers to choose a tailored programme that addresses their individual needs and afflictions. Tuina as a postnatal massage has been rising in stock due to its multiple beauty and health benefits. During labour, muscles and blood vessels within the mother’s body expands considerably, causing uncomfortable “knots” due to the build-up of lactic acid. A combination of expert hands and a herbal body wrap can promote the healthy flow of qi and blood, relieve muscle tension, and soothe your mind.

Tuina is suitable for women who experienced a smooth delivery and are generally in good health after childbirth,” recommends Mr Zhong. “[It] can relieve discomforts due to water retention, engorged breasts, constipation, and help mothers relax and improve their mood.”

Tuina can be used in tandem with acupuncture. After childbirth, the natural balance of Yin and Yang is disrupted. Acupuncture helps to nourish qi and blood to reestablish thisequilibrium. “Many symptoms experienced by postpartum mothers such as fatigue, lower back pain, poor appetite, and insufficient production of breast milk can be relieved with acupuncture and tuina,” says Mr Zhong.“However, except in the treatment of insufficient breast milk production, mothers are recommended to undergo acupuncture only after they have stopped breastfeeding.”

 

Sinseh Says
We ask senior physician Mr Zhong to unravel fact from fiction about TCM postnatal care.

  1. Putting It To Bed

A popular misconception that has been passed down for generations is that a postnatal mother should observe bed rest during the first month of postpartum recovery and avoid any form of physical activity. “This is only partially true,” says Mr Zhong.“While getting adequate rest is important during confinement, light exercise is allowed as long as the mother feels fit enough to manage. It can also help prevent the formation of blood clots.”

  1. Brushing Fallacies Away

In adherence to the practice of avoiding water during confinement, mothers may sometimes include teeth-brushing as well. Truth is, brushing your teeth is fine as dental care should still be maintained to prevent oral health problems. “New mothers can use warm water when brushing their teeth as the mother’s body is especially vulnerable to exogenous cold,” Mr Zhong advises.

  1. Chew The Fat

We all know post-preggo mums should load up on nutritious food, which in Chinese culture means red fatty meat and chicken (think confinement mainstay Chinese rice wine chicken). The TCM way, however, does not recommend fatty meat as it disrupts the digestive system. “This is especially true for postpartum mothers in their first week of confinement,” says Mr Zhong, who recommends lean meat rich in protein.

  1. Keep The Fruit Basket

A key pillar of TCM is the belief that foods have different energies, and the confusion over the categorisation may make some mums avoid fruits and vegetables all together. TCM recommends that only certain fruits and vegetables be avoided, particularly those that are too heaty like mangoes and lychees or cooling in nature like watermelons, and fruits like durians which are overly rich in sugars.“Eating moderate amounts of fruits and vegetables adds dietary fibre to the diet, preventing postpartum constipation,” explains Mr Zhong.

 

 

The Preemie Primer

Being early is not always desirable, especially when it comes to childbearing. We give you the facts on this elusive yet acute issue.

 

Madam Helena Foo was 28 weeks pregnant with her second child when her water broke and she was rushed to the National University Hospital. It was also around this time that the expectant mother found out that she was down with fever. She was hospitalised for three days before doctors strongly recommended an immediate delivery to protect the foetus from the increasing risk of neonatal infection.

Baby Shane was born and came in at just under three pounds (approx. 1.3kg). “We were told that babies born under the “very premature” category have a greater than 95 percent chance of making it,” recounted Helena. Still, the baby was in dire condition and was fighting for his survival. “He could barely open his eyes and couldn’t breathe on his own,” she says. Helena did not get to hold her newborn until two weeks later, during which he was monitored in an open incubator and inserted with breathing tubes and an IV through the navel. Thankfully, both mother and child made it through the ordeal, with Shane growing up as a healthy child.

 

Fastest Foetus First

Stories like Helena’s are one of many cases of premature or preterm labour, which is a more prevalent issue than we think. Notable people like Sir Isaac Newton, Mark Twain, and Sir Winston Churchill were all buns that escaped the oven ahead of time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm every year, with this figure steadily increasing.

A birth is termed premature when it occurs more than three weeks before the baby is due, which is around the 37th week of a woman’s pregnancy.Preterm birth is classified into extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks), very preterm (28 to under 32 weeks), and moderate preterm (32 to under 37 weeks), with most premature births occurring in the moderate phase.

The final few weeks in utero are the most crucial for the growing foetus, since this is the time when there is significant development in the baby’s brain, lungs and liver. When a baby is born too soon before the full 40 weeks – also known as a preemie – it has less time to develop in the womb, thus becomingmore susceptible to brain bleeds, heart defects and breathing problems, among other health problems.

 

Warning: Eager Embryos

Astudy last year showed that about 12 percent of women have a chance of preterm labour during pregnancy, and that most of them can be avoided by understanding the specific red flags if and when they show up.

Keep track of the flow and type of your vaginal discharge right up to 37 weeks into your pregnancy. These secretions are perfectly normal during pregnancy, but if you notice an increase in discharge or if it becomes watery, pink, or viscous, this may be a harbinger of preterm labour.

Another symptom may be extra pressure in your pelvic area or vagina. This may be caused by your baby pushing downwards towards the exit, resulting in the feeling of your baby “falling out”. Backpains predominantly in the lower back, menstrual-like cramping, and sporadic early contractions every 10 minutes are other warning signs you should pay heed to.

These signs may appear to be no different from the usual symptoms experienced during normal pregnancy, so it is always better to err on the side of caution and sound out your doctor immediately. A dose of women’s intuition can also come in handy at this point.

 

Preemie Perils

Preterm birth can pose a risk to preemies, especially if it happens in the earlier stages. The later the birth, the less vulnerable they are to both short- and long-term complications. As in the case of Shane, preemies may encounter breathing difficulties in the first weeks due to an immature respiratory system or a lack of surfactant in the lungs, which enables the lungs to expand.

Heart problems are common short-term issues, the most frequent being low blood pressure and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which is a persistent opening between two major blood vessels from the heart. This defect usually closes on its own, but can cause heart failure when left untreated. Preemies are also highly susceptible to infections like sepsis, pneumonia, and urinary tract infection due to their underdeveloped immune system.

In the long run, prematurely born infants may face more serious health problems. A study of 241 children born between 22 and 25 weeks by researcher Dr. Neil Marlow, a neonatologist at the University of Nottingham, found that 46 percent had severe or moderate disabilities such as cerebral palsy, vision or hearing loss, and learning problems.“Parents need to go into this situation with their eyes wide open and with an open dialogue with their doctors as to what they should do,” Marlow advises.

 

Closing The Barn Door Before The Horse Is Out

Despite the great strides made in modern medicine and treatment, most of these efforts have been geared towards treating preemies, with a dearth of progress and research on prevention.”We don’t understand the mechanism of preterm birth enough to come up with safe, effective ways to prevent it,” says Ronald Gibbs, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. “Strategies so far have focused on trying to stop preterm labour, but that’s like closing the barn door after the horse is out.”

What parents can do is to stay on top of things by equipping themselves with knowledge on the factors that may increase the probability of premature birth.

Poor nutrition and not gaining enough weight during pregnancy can contribute to conceiving a preemie. The best way to minimise the chances of an unscheduled delivery is to seek early prenatal care the moment you are pregnant. Your doctor can begin monitoring your progress and giving you the best medical and nutritional advice, while screening you for possible infections that are detriment to a healthy pregnancy.

 

Your birthing history may also count against you. Some pregnant mums are more likely to go into labour earlier than others, especially if they have experienced a previous premature birth before. Those who have gone through high-risk pregnancies involving twins are more at risk, along with parents who have undergone procedures like abortion and multiple miscarriages.

Clearing The Dark Cloud Of Postnatal Depression

Prevalent and overlooked, we shine the spotlight on this pressing issue and the silent battles waged by brave mothers.

 

Having a child is often said to be one of the happiest chapters in a woman’s life. However, to

some, the maternal bond may not come as naturally due to the influence of Postnatal Depression(PND), which is a mood disorder that affects mothers after childbirth.

 

Living together with her parents, Mrs Daniel* reckoned she could well manage her baby with

their presence and experience. In order to fulfil her new role as a mother, she took on every taskthat was baby-related. Daily chores like changing nappies, sterilising milk bottles and makingmilk became a normal routine which she enjoyed.

 

However, things took a change after a month. “From a loving and caring mother, I no longerwanted to have my baby,” she said.“The new role was just too much for me and besides, it hindered myfreedom.” Mrs Daniel started losing appetite and sleep, and even turned a deaf ear when herbaby cried. The lovey-dovey motherly feeling just slipped away. That was when she knew thatshe was suffering from PND.

 

Causes For Alarm

Mrs Daniel is but one of the many women dealing with PND, which affects about 10 to 15% of postnatal women. The causes are often multifactorial, with oneof the main factorsbeingthe change in postpartum hormone levels. The dramatic drop in hormones like estrogen and progesterone immediately after childbirth can bring about feelings of sluggishness and depression.

 

Other non-physical factors can also take you down the depression slide, including the changein lifestyle from being a couple to a parent, complications during childbirth, lack of socialsupport, marital discord, lack of sleep, and many others.

 

Blues Clues

PND is frequently confused with baby blues or postnatal blues. However, there are many

differences between the two. Baby blues occur in 50 to 70% of mothers. It can make a motherfeel anxious, unable to sleep or have poor sleep, and teary for very little reason. The symptomsusually lasts for up to 10-14 days.

 

If the condition persists past 14 days, then it could possibly bePND, which unlike baby blues, is usually more severe and cannot be remedied with a short-term fix. If left untreated, PND can even disrupt your daily routine and your ability to take care of your baby.

 

Spot the Signs

So how do mothers ascertain if what they are feeling is PND? The most obvious sign is the suffocating feeling of being overwhelmed. Mothers might also feel low in moodthroughout the day, have very low energy levels, display anxiety symptoms, and find it hard toenjoy anything. They could also develop a sense of guilt for not coping very well, which results inself-blaming. In some cases, they might display problems with memory and concentration.

 

Take the example of Nathan and Suzie*, who are happily married with two healthy children. Their blissful chapterdid not start out smoothly as Suzie had PND after the birth of their first child. “There was oncewhen she woke up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and couldn’t find herway back into the room,” said Nathan as he recalled one incident during Suzie’s PND episode.

 

Concerned, Nathan left their room to look for her and found her pacing around in circles in theliving room. “She was very anxious about not being able to look after her baby, and she

couldn’t find her way back into the room,” he said. “Looking back, my wife knew she wasn’t hernormal self. However, she didn’t realise she was going through depression; she onlyknewshe had all these fear and anxiety gripping her.”

 

Both Mrs Daniel and Suzie managed to seek treatment at hospitals, and have since recoveredfrom the condition.

 

The Postnatal Struggle

Regardless of whether a woman has PND or not, all mothers face similar challenges during thepostnatal period. Even celebrity moms like Chrissy Teigen are stepping forward to speak publicly about their experiences with postnatal depression. The model and TV presenter confessed that she “couldn’t control it”, and that merely being open about the subject helps. “I’m speaking up now because I want people to know it can happen to anybody and I don’t want people who have it to feel embarrassed or to feel alone.”

 

Influencer mummies, Jayme Shing and Aarika Lee shared about the challengesthey faced after childbirth.One of the common challenges that mothers face after childbirth is breastfeeding, which doesnot come instinctively and is a learnt behaviour.According to mummy blogger Jayme, she struggled during the first few months afterchildbirth due to breastfeeding issues. “I wanted to totally breastfeed my baby but I didn’t havethat kind of supply to match up yet. Nowadays, everyone is so open about breastfeeding. Theywant to breastfeed their babies exclusively and not give supplements or formula milk to theirbabies, and that adds on to the pressure.”

 

Good coaching and support are needed to breastfeed successfully. While there may be a lot ofpressure on women to breastfeed, mothers also need to manage their expectations that

breastfeeding is not easy. It is also very taxing on the mother who needs to breastfeed round theclock, approximately every two to three hours for the next few weeks to months.

 

Aarika Lee, the Head of Marketing and Copywriting of Elementary Co., a branding and

marketing consultancy, shared about the struggle to let go of whatever she had planned. “Babiesare very unpredictable. I realised that I couldn’t do everything on my own and learned that Icould lean on the people around me who loved and cared for my baby as much as I did. I hadthe tendency of trying to be ‘Superwoman’; rather than acceptinghelp, I always tried to doeverything by myself before I seek help.My mum raised me on her own after my dad passed away, so my impression of a mother wassomeone who could do everything. As a child, I guess I didn’t know what help she got along theway, so to me it was like magic. She could do everything and I aspired so much to be like her. Ithought I could do it all, but the truth is everyone needs to have a huge support system in orderto be a good, rested and patient mum who can provide.”

 

Grabbing Depression By The Horns

Partner support was perceived by PND patients to be among the top contributing factors in theirrecovery. Coping with mood disorders alone is extremely difficult and having an understandingpartner who provides emotional comfort and physical involvement would help the mothertremendously.

 

For spouses of women with PND, emotional support involves encouraging their wives and assuring themthat they aredoing well, whiletheir physical workload can be lightened by helping to look after the baby to allow them to goout and engage in some activities which they might have given up because of motherhood. Evenfor mothers who are not depressed, support will help to buffer against the likely stress in thepostnatal period.

 

Another thing that the husband and the extended family can help with is to give the mother asmuch rest as possible by helping her out with childcare duties such as feeding the child or

changing the diapers so that the mother can take a break.

 

Treat It Right

Different treatment methods are employed depending on the severity of the PND. For the

majority of women who have mild to moderate depression, basic education about protecting sleep,getting some time for exercise, and couple time are important. Mothers may be very sleepdeprived, and although they may tide through the first month fairly well looking after the babyfull time and getting woken up many times a night, it will eventually take a toll on them.

 

If awoman had depression in the past or has very poor social support, treatment via counselling orpsychotherapy will be recommended. For moderate to severe depression, educational lifestyleadvice works less well and thus antidepressants are prescribed to manage the condition.

 

Learning to let go

Aarika mentioned how young parents like to read up a lot because information can be found

everywhere. However, she strongly believes in the advice shared by her mother, “You can readall these resources, but the most important thing is to read your child. What works for othersmight not work for you, and what works on one child might not necessarily work on the nexteven if both of them are yours!”

 

“Learning to let go is very important. Learning to let go of the baby to the care of somebody

else that you trust, and learning to let go of yourself as well – in terms of the mistakes that wemade when caring for the baby because sometimes we get into a guilt trap. We should alsolearn to ask for help too. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean thatyou’re weak and you’re not a good mother,” said Jaymeas she shared about what she learntwhile parenting her two children.

 

Postpartum depression is an equal opportunity disease and can happen to anyone. Recognising the signs early on and getting the support you need is paramount. But the most crucial step to take is to emerge from the pervasive stigma the condition brings, speak up, and adopt a help-seeking approach. After all, grey skies can only make way for sunshine.

 

 

Joyful Beginnings is a health communications campaign by four final-year students from theWee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University.This campaign aims to raise awareness about Postnatal Depression amongst young parents inSingapore, and the importance of support mothers should receive to achieve mental wellness.

 *Names have been changed to protect their privacy

 To learn more about how to maintain your mental well-being during the postnatal period, view the Postnatal Mental Wellness booklet, aninitiative produced in collaboration with KK Women’s and Children’s Hospitaland National University Hospital –http://bit.ly/2nJ7ecF

Maybe Baby… AgainMaybe Baby… Again

Planning for numero due? It’s time to practice some self-discipline again by revisiting the right choice of food and lifestyle options.

 

Now that your precious little one is quickly gaining independence and showing signs of wanting a playmate-cum-accomplice, it is time to relook at pregnancy 101 and put baby-making plans in full swing. However, with a ticking biological clock and a hectic working mum schedule, seeing a positive sign on the pee stick may not happen as quickly as you had hoped. Whatever the case, if you’re hoping to conceive again soon, here are some tips to prepare you for another bun in the oven:

 

As soon as your firstborn childstopped breastfeeding, you were clinking wine glasses and indulging in overdue champagne brunches with girlfriends. After all, motherhood hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park and you’ve been faithfully steering clear of boozeduring the gestational months. But now that it’s time to plan for another baby, you need to stow away those wine glasses again – not just from you but from your husband as well.

 

Dr Paul Tseng, Fertility Specialist at Virtus Fertility Centre, elaborates, “Studies have shown that binge or excessive consumption of alcohol by both the male and female partners can affect fertility. For a better chance of conceiving and preserving fertility, it is recommended to omit alcohol consumption from lifestyle habits. Studies have indicated that even drinking alcohol in moderation can reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving.”

 

Coffee looks like the culpable scapegoat where caffeinated beverages are concerned. But many tend to forget that caffeine is also found in tea, chocolates, cola, and energy drinks. In general, Dr Tseng comments, caffeine should be taken in moderation. If you’re planning to conceive, it is recommended that you consume no more than 300 mg daily. That works out to be about two cups of coffee a day. “While the connection between caffeine intake and fertility is still unclear, multiple studies have suggested that caffeine consumption increases the length of time it takes to conceive.”

 

If you’re a working mother with an active toothy toddler, it can be difficult to keep stress at bay. After all, there is always an endless stream of deadlines at work;you’ve hardly put back the hours from your maternity leave (cue colleagues with judgemental eyes); and all the while, you’re worrying about when your child is going to fall ill andlead to you taking another day off work. Heck, just thinking about it and the prospects of juggling work and motherhood is stressful enough to mess up your ovulation.For men too, stress can result in lower sperm count.

 

There are many ways to keep stress levels low. Start by being aware of your own breathing. Take slow deep breaths and shut out all the distractions for a few minutes each day.Or make time for a bubble bath, a massage, an hour-long meditation, or simply dance in the shower. You know what pushes your own relaxation buttons best.

 

Whether it’s a hot and heavy aerobics workout or a tranquilizing yoga session, you just need to break a sweat and get that heart pumping with happy hormones. You must remember how hard your body worked during that first pregnancy, walking around with a growing weight cemented around your tummy. Exercise helps to strengthen core muscles, build endurance and lower your risk of diseases – all of which are essential for pregnancy. Exercise also helps to keep your weight in check. A fluctuating waistline can affect your chances of pregnancy due to unstable estrogen levels and egg release.

 

Dr Tseng emphasizes that consumption of wholesome foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help to boost fertility. “Broccoli, spinach, asparagus as well as romaine lettuce are some of the greens that contain a high amount of folate, a type of Vitamin B which could help to improve ovulation and lower the risk of neural tube birth defects.”

 

“Salmon fish,” he adds,“is another essential food for women trying to conceive as it is high in selenium, a mineral which produces antioxidants to protect the egg from free radicals as well as prevent chromosome breakage, one of the reasons behind miscarriages and birth defects.”

 

In essence, a healthy reproductive system stems from a healthy and balanced lifestyle. As a general rule of thumb, giving up smoking, cutting back on alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight with the help of moderate exercise, as well as having a balanced diet are the main factors to boost your fertility. These tips are as important to women as they are to men, and when both parties put in some effort to stay healthy, you should be starting that diaper-changing and milk-warming routine again in no time.

 

“Are prenatal vitamins necessary if I’m trying to conceive?”

 

Dr Tseng says that health supplements act as a safety net to support a healthy conception, but are usually not necessary if one maintains a balanced and healthy diet. However, if you wish to consume supplements as part of your daily diet, be sure to include these crucial ones:

 

The fourth trimester is the first obstacle to your maiden motherhood voyage, and we have the tips and tricks to help you ace it

It’s a term that is increasingly becoming more pertinent in today’s pregnancies. Many mums are adept at keeping track of the milestones of their first three trimesters, but when it comes to the Fourth Trimester, most are clueless, with some even unaware of this period. Defined by paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp as the first three months when your newborn is adjusting to life outside of the womb, these precious months play an important role in creating a rich pregnancy experience between you and your baby. It’s a tumultuous time for both Baby and the hair-tugging, tired adults tending to them, and for some mamas caught flat-footed by it, it can be a dark tunnel of tears and fears.

The thing is, it isn’t easy being in your little one’s shoes either. Imagine rocking along in your fluid, warm paradise for nine months before abruptly being ushered out into a bright, noisy world. It is enough to unnerve even some adults (think someone yanking open the curtains to your room in the morning). No pressure, but during this period of adjustment, your baby’s vulnerability means that she is counting on you and your partner for the right care and attention. Likewise, this is also the time when oxytocin, or the “love” hormone, and dopamine (the “feel-good” hormone) you derived from skin-to-skin cuddling and feeding starts to fade, instead replaced by feelings of helplessness and fatigue known as baby blues.

 

Of Leaky Boobs AndBattle Scars

Besides hormonal changes, your body also goes through a dreaded physical transformation. For a start, stretch marks may now appear on your previously smooth and blemish-free pre-baby skin, which occurs when skin is stretched faster than it can grow naturally, according to Dr Douglas McGeorge, co-founder of Science of Skin. “Whether you get stretch marks or not depends on the elasticity of your skin,” he says.Finding more hairballs around the house and in the shower plughole? That’s because of the plummeting levels of oestrogen, which was responsible for withholding hair fall and blessing you with a full, voluminous crowning glory during pregnancy.

First time mums may also be surprised when they find wet patches on their tops. Leaking is a sign that your body is producing milk for your hungry baby, and other than a little embarrassment, is completely normal during your fourth trimester. You’ll begin by feeling a tingling sensation around your nipples like pins and needles. Fret not, wearing breast pads in your maternity bra can help absorb any colostrum that leaks. Breast milk is not the only unwelcomed fluid leak you can expect; some new mums also experience light vaginal bleeding akin to a period. Known as lochia, the process lasts between two to six weeks after childbirth and starts with bright red discharge, which eventually fades to dark brown before it ends.

All these physical changes are nothing compared to the emotional rollercoaster you find yourself on during the first few weeks. A new sense of identity and responsibility, coupled with a lack of sleep, can severely sap you of your energy, andin the long run, forming a proper relationship with your newborn.

 

Recover To Discover

In order to bounce back as soon as possible on the path of motherhood and ace the Fourth Trimester, you’ll need to first love yourself and respect your body’s boundaries. Your postpartum body will need all the rest it can seize, so follow this general rule of thumb: first week in bed, second week around the bed, third week around the house. Don’t feel bad about doing nothing; after all, you’ve more than earned it. Get a doula or nanny to do the heavy lifting and help you heal, and take advantage of the time to establish a good nursing routine with your little one.

Besides listening to your body, spoil yourself a little and dress up. If you look good, you’re likely to feel good too. Get a new robe or super comfy silk pyjamas that allows you to relax while looking the part of a mama boss at the same time. Button down maternity tops are also great for nursing.

The key is to allow yourself the space and time to fall in love with your baby during the fourth trimester. You’re on a steep learning curve, and sometimes, it starts with being the best mum you can be, rather than a perfect one.

 

Trimester Triumph

If the reality of the Fourth Trimester has been a slap in the face for you, we hear you. Turns out, it isn’t just snuggling up to a fresh smelling newborn or plastering your Facebook page with adorable little angels that make everyone melt. Your baby’s struggles aren’t making your life any easier, and any help you can get your hands on is appreciated. Try these Fourth Trimester hacks to make things easier for both you and Baby, and before you know it, you’ll come out of the other side and be amazed that, lo and behold, you’ve survived!

 

Touch Base

Baby, meet Mum. Mum, meet Baby. Your newborn is as new to you as you are to her, so the sooner you bridge the gap, the better it is. Know that your baby is born with innate instincts to reach out to you for care and love, so pick up these cues early to ensure her transition to this world can be as smooth as possible by responding to her needs.

 

Right Tools For Bright Parents

By now, you would have already amassed a stockpile of baby gear, either from rash purchases or hand-me-downs. Getting the right gear throughout your baby’s development is important to reducing your stress and workload, so be sure to update your baby’s depository as she grows.

 

Grub Fuel

Taking care of yourself is essential for having the energy and motivation to barrel through each day. Get cooking with some easy and healthy family recipes to pamper yourself a little and recharge for the road ahead.

 

Share The Load

It’s true – it does take a village to raise a child, so get the people that matter involved. A little extra help goes a long way with those Fourth Trimester tears. This period of time presents dads with the opportunity to support their partners, since it also offers early bonding and less developmental issues by the time your child is three years old.

 

 

 

Exercise For Pregnancy and New Moms

Keeping fit both during and after pregnancy for optimum health for you and baby.

Everyone knows that exercise while pregnant is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy along with eating right and taking general good care of your body. It can be daunting to find the perfect exercise regimen that is not just effective but safe too and can incorporate the baby after they’re born. So what are some easy and effective exercises that you can do to get back in shape after pregnancy or to help maintain your fitness while pregnant? Here are some of the top suggestions from fitness and medical professionals with images too to help you nail these workouts.

*Always remember to check with your own medical professional before embarking on any fitness routine while pregnant.*

Before We Start….

Before we get to it though, there are a few things to note about baby safety when performing the following exercises with your baby. Most of these exercises won’t lend themselves to you being able to support your child’s head, so it’s important for him or her to be able to support their heads themselves which usually occurs from around 4-5 months, however some of them you can do with laying the baby on the floor in front of you. Get your doctor’s approval to begin exercising – usually around six weeks after birth or longer if you had a cesarean section. So without further adieu, here are some of the best mother-baby exercises.

Plank

Planks are great for your obliques, abdominals and arm muscles and they engage just about every part of your body as you hold yourself up. Start by getting on your hands hands and knees and then move to elbows and toes with your bottom tucked in as much as you can to be as flat as you can get, like a plank of wood. Don’t arch your back or let your stomach drop while in the position. You will feel it burn all through your core, which is how you know the plank is working its magic. Try to hold for a count of between 5-10. You may wish to increase the time you hold the plank for as time goes on and you build your endurance.

Photo borrowed from workoutlabs.com

 

 

Squats

Squats are one of the easiest exercises to fit into your day and they can be done almost anywhere, anytime. For example, some mothers will incorporate squats into their day as they cook dinner or wash the dishes, making them versatile and effective ways to get exercise.

Stand with your feet hip distance apart, toes pointing out about 45 degrees. Bend your knees and lower your torso keeping your belly button pulled in with your back straight. Return your body to its starting position to begin again. Repeat in sets of ten to fifteen squats. Works the buttocks, thighs, hamstrings and calves as well as improves balance.

Squat done with weight. Can be done with or without weights. Photo borrowed from workoutlabs.com

 

 

Baby Curl Ups

This is a great exercise to be done with the baby on the floor. Laying on your back with your knees bent up to support the baby from behind with your feet flat, hold the baby under its arms securely while you lift your shoulder blades off the floor and ‘curl up’. This can be kind of like a form of ‘peek-a-boo’ and is likely to be a productive and fun time with the baby and sure to get a couple laughs from them too!

Curl up. Photo borrowed from workoutlabs.com

Reverse Baby Curl

Similar to the curl up with baby, the reverse baby curl will have you flat on your back with your legs raised and bent 90 degrees with baby resting on your shins. Pull your knees and the baby toward your chest. You can even make this into a game and give them kisses every time they come closer, resulting in great bonding and fun for you both while you get some exercise too!

Reverse Curl Up without baby. Photo borrowed from workoutlabs.com

 

Baby Dancing

It does what it says on the tin and is literally dancing with your baby. You can do one of three things when it comes to dancing with your baby – put them in a carrier attached to your body which helps to support them while you move. You can also hold them or put them in a bouncer, swing or chair nearby to allow you more freedom of movement. You can shake, shimmy and generally dance your way across the floor while making wild moves for the entertainment of the baby. Be sure to hold eye contact with them for added bonding.

Overhead Press

Sitting on the floor or in a chair, with light weights or with your baby, hold the weights/baby in your hands with your elbows bent. Reach up and stretch without locking your elbows and then return to the starting position. Repeat for 5-10 reps then stop and rest and play with the baby before doing another set. This can be done during pregnancy or afterward as well. You may also be able to combine this with a squat for added benefit to the hamstrings and buttocks.

Overhead press with weights. Picture borrowed from workoutlabs.com

Baby Bench Press

This is the same kind of idea as the baby overhead press except with this one you will be laying flat on the floor on your back. Taking your weights or the baby in your hands, stretch your arms from a bent position up and out without locking your elbows. Return to the starting position and repeat for 5-10 reps, resting in between before doing another set.

 

Bench press with bar weight. Borrowed from workoutlabs.com

 

Walking Lunges

A typical lunge starts from standing and takes one leg forward, bending at the knee and stretching the legs as far as comfortable. Walking lunges takes this one step further and instead of returning to a standing position, you walk while lunging, essentially lunging with each further step you take. Add holding the baby for an added kick to this exercise to really hit all those trouble areas in your obliques, hamstrings, calves and buttocks.

Walking lunge with weights. Substitute weights for baby. Borrowed from workoutlabs.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hip Bridges

Hip Bridges are a great way to target abdominals as well as back muscles and buttocks. Laying on the floor with your feet flat and knees bent, press into the floor with your heels and raise your buttocks and lower back off the floor, leaving your shoulder blades down. You can place the baby on your stomach for added weight to help maximise the exercise.

Hip Bridge without baby. Borrowed from workoutlabs.com

 

So whether you’re expecting or you have already given birth to your bundle of joy, there are lots of ways for both expectant and new moms to get in shape and keep in shape regardless of schedule and time in their day. Incorporate a couple of these great suggestions today and see how much better you feel once you begin to take steps to get back to your pre-baby weight. Not only will exercise help you get fitter faster but it can also help balance your hormones as well as help your body generate chemicals in the brain that can help with things like postpartum depression and other potential pregnancy and birth issues including diabetes.