Call the midwife

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It is an indisputable fact that pregnancy jumbles one’s emotions. Mixed in with the excitement and joy is an equal amount of worry: Is the baby healthy? Is my bump too big or too small? How will I cope with labour and delivery?

And that’s just the beginning. These common concerns can be dealt with during routine medical check-ups, but the hormonal surge can spark some more unusual worries. And even though you promised your partner that you would not go to Google for pregnancy advice, you just can’t help enjoying the anonymity of a cheeky forum post.

To keep you from jumping to the horrible conclusions an online search will surely lead you towards, we’ve asked local experts to give you the accurate – and anonymous – information you crave.

Q I have noticed some spotting. My doctor has checked me over and prescribed a week of bed rest, but I’m still worried. Just how common is spotting?

A Karin Siegler from Wellness and Birth (www.wellnessandbirth.com) says: “Around one in four women have spotting during pregnancy. There might be spotting after sex, which can happen up to 48 hours after intercourse and is caused by irritation of the blood vessels. If you have a vaginal examination from your doctor this may also cause spotting. If it is very light spotting, just rest. If it does not go away within 24 hours, see your doctor.”

Hulda Thorey from Annerley, The Midwives’ Clinic (www.annerley.com.hk), says: “It is very common to have some spotting, especially early in the pregnancy. If [it happens] later than 20 weeks [into your pregnancy], see your doctor – it might be a haematoma or placenta problem, which needs to be watched. There are many reasons [spotting might occur] but it is always better to check.”

Q Will I get to the hospital on time? What if there is traffic? I want to be at home for as long as possible so I can be with my husband – I don’t want to be on the ward by myself. But if I leave it too late, I might give birth in the taxi! What if I can’t get a taxi?

A Nikki Taylor of The Family Zone (http://thefamilyzone.hk) says: “I think it is every first-time mum’s fear that she will be caught unawares and end up delivering her baby at home or in a taxi. However, the reality is that the vast majority of mums make it to the hospital in time!

“I always advise first-time mums to start making their way to the hospital when their contractions are every five minutes apart. Although, if you are booked into a hospital far from your home and it is peak-hour traffic, go earlier. If [you are] delivering at a private hospital, you can always ring and talk to the midwives at the maternity ward. As midwives, we can get a lot of information about whether you should come to the hospital or stay at home just from how you talk to us on the phone.

“In the rare event that things start happening very fast whilst you are still at home, call an ambulance (dial 999). It is unlikely they will take you to the hospital of your choice, but they will take you to the nearest hospital where you and your baby will be delivered safely. At the end of the day, the most important thing is the safety of mum and baby; even if you are at the hospital early, it is the safest place for you to be.”

Karin from Wellness and Birth says:  “From my experience, couples are so worried about being late, that they are normally too early. It is difficult to know the difference between a pre-labour contraction and labour contraction. A good indicator of real contractions is when they become regular, over a two-hour period, and each contraction lasts for one minute. At this stage, go to the hospital. Also, you could have a bath: the water will relax the body and, if they are pre-labour contractions, they will stop. Real labour contractions will become stronger, so you know to go to the hospital. Some couples choose to have a private midwife at home who will monitor mum and baby and [help them] make the decision about the right time to go to the hospital.”

Before I realised I was pregnant, I drank, ate shellfish, rode a jet ski and generally did all the things that pregnant women are advised not to do! What harm will this have done to my baby?

Karin from Wellness and Birth says: “In the first few days of pregnancy, the fertilised egg is not attached to the uterus and it survives on its own energy supply, so it is quite safe. Later, when it attaches to your blood circulatory system, alcohol and smoking are not advised. Be honest with your doctor, and if you are told everything is normal, be happy and enjoy your pregnancy!”

Hulda from Annerley says: “Don’t worry. If there has been no bleeding or infection, you and baby are safe, and you should let it [your worries] go. The exact amount of alcohol that a woman can drink during pregnancy has not been fully researched. The baby is amazingly well-protected inside you. But [now that you know you are pregnant] any kind of intoxication is something that should be avoided.”

Q During my first trimester, I have had no morning sickness and no aches or pains. Everything seems to be just the same as before. I don’t feel pregnant. Would I know if I miscarried?

A Hulda from Annerley says: “Another pregnancy test or a consultation with a doctor or midwife will give you the answer. But some women never really feel pregnant until there is a bump and baby kicks.”

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Karin from Wellness and Birth says:
“Well-being fluctuates during pregnancy as hormone levels change. If you had a good first trimester, be happy! Most women have pain or bleeding when they miscarry, but some have a ‘silent miscarriage’ and only discover something is wrong when they have an ultrasound.”

Q I am four months pregnant and I feel so anxious about everything: my health, the baby’s development, my partner’s role as father and providing for the baby in the years to come. I know deep down it will all be OK, but I can’t shake this general anxiety. Is this normal?

A Hulda from Annerley says: “Many women carry these feelings during pregnancy and beyond. Don’t allow anxiety and stress to become the norm. Identify why you are feeling anxious, sit down and talk with someone you trust, discuss parenting with your partner and be open and honest. Hopefully this will calm the nerves and bring you together.”

Nikki of Family Zone says: “Feeling anxious in early pregnancy is common and most likely due to the changes your body is going through. Discussing your fears about your health with your doctor or midwife is a good way to help alleviate your anxieties. They will inform you of what is normal and what is not.

“Attend all prenatal checks and tests, as these ensure mum and baby’s health. Joining a prenatal group may be helpful, as mothers realise they are not alone in experiencing all the different symptoms of pregnancy. Don’t use Google for diagnosing any untoward symptoms! It is always best to consult your doctor or midwife. Have a frank and open discussion with your partner about how you will both approach parenthood and constructive parenting styles.”

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