Thursday, December 28, 2006

Punyajanam / namakaranam - naming the baby

Punyajanam (Punya means purifying and janam means birth) is a function held on the 11th day after a baby is born. It is a commonly followed ritual in Tamilians. O the day of the punyajanam, a sastrigal (pandit) is called who performs a small puja and the sprays omathanner(ajwain water) throughout the house as though to cleanse it. No homam (havan) is performed as smoke is not good for the newborn. It is mainly the after who sits through the 30 minute odd pooja reciting shlokas. After the pooja, the mother and the newborn are called. The official and other names that they have decided for the kid is said 3 times in the new born's year and it is also written 3 times in Sanskrit (Devanagiri script) over rice chaff. If the mother is good health wise, then she can wear a 9 yard sari, else it is not a must these days.This is followed by showering of gifts o the newborn and the maternal uncle repeating the process of writing the name under a cradle in which the newborn s put.

Our son's punyajanam was performed today and he was named "Pranav". The other names were Nishit and Anubhav.

Updated on 30 june 2007
Related article : Found another good article on Namkaran Tradition in India

A day after the delivery, after the new mother has recuperated from the anxiety and pain of delivery, there is a sense of relief ad the event she looks forward to most is going back home with the newborn. After all who likes the environs of a hospital. The same was the case with me. It is generally a relief if delivery is normal instead of Cesarean.

The normal practice in India is to discharge the mother and newborn on the third day from the day of delivery, if both of them are doing good. If the mother is weak or if the newborns contracted some infection or jaundice then discharge can get delayed. I the case of Cesarean, both are discharged usually on the 9th or 10th day after the stitches heal. I both cases, there has to be a bowel movement for the mother before she ca get discharged. If it doesn't happen naturally then a tablet is given.

These are under normal circumstances. If there is a complication or emergency it might vary o a case to case basis. Like I got discharged only on the 8th day despite having normal delivery as Pranav was in ICU. Even if the mother is normal they will not discharge her as both the kid and mother will be observed for regular feeding and such for at least 24 hours. A lot of this is also a psychic game and how you conduct yourself. If you complain of too much pain or do not walk or behave normal, the hospital tends to delay your discharge is what I have seen. Good hospitals do not mint moey but there are a lot of them out there who are commercial and one additional day means more income. My only advice is do not panic. If you feel comfortable ad think everything is normal after the stipulated duration, talk to your doctor about your discharge. Cases where there is no inclination or initiative by patients, they tend to lax too.

Monday, December 25, 2006

We're home

There's nothing more thrilling than homecoming after childbirth - coming back to the comforts of your own home takes away all the pains of delivery and exhaustion from the mind and body.

Everyone in the family was excited when I gave birth to LG through a normal delivery instead of Cesarean section just as I wanted. But our stay at the hospital stretched with no end in sight because of LG's medical condition. What was annoying is that no one gave the same story and told what was exactly going on. With the Doctors taking turns in going on vacation and being incommunicado just worsened matters and the nurses acted like they ran the show. The drama is all over now.

We're back home. Lil' General and I left the hospital this afternoon ten minutes past noon and were home in a few minutes to be welcomed the traditional way with a aarthi. We are excited and LG is all confused looking at his new surroundings as if he cares :) But it's nice to be home!

Friday, December 22, 2006

You're back!

There has been a steady flow of guests - relatives, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Those not familiar with our story yet look at the empty cradle and ask, "Where is the baby?" I feel like saying, "He is attending to Nature's call". But this is not the time to joke. So, i patiently narrate the entire episode. They ask if we have decided a name for you yet. i say, "Name can wait. Let the baby come home first."

No one around here tells us when you will come to me. The Seniol and your uncle have been whiling away time at the other hospital where you are kept by playing UNO cards. They have been asked to standby 24 hours at the Child Jesus Hospital just in case they might need something - medicines etc. No such emergency has ever come in the past 48 hours. We assume they are feeding you well; they caught a glimpse of you this morning.

All I do here is wait for you to arrive. I am fit to go home but you are not. So I wait and wait. It's pretty boring and I am not in the mood to watch any TV. The nurses are no good company either. Every time I see them all I get is instruction to do this and that; to walk, to exercise; to bathe at 7 a.m.; to plait by hair and look presentable at 9 a.m. for the Doctor. what the heck! I think. I just went through a delivery and I am allowed to not look OK for a day, am I not?

I am waiting for that phone call from The Seniol after the Paed has seen you; waiting to hear that you can come back to us so that we don't have to manage the logistics of two hospitals.

The phone rings. Yay! You are allowed to be discharged. Your calcium deficiency condition has been taken care of. You have shown signs of improvement. But they will have to keep you under observation for 2 more days. So, here we are confined to the hospital environs of 2 more days - until the 25th. And then, we go home! Welcome back, for now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's a boy

Our kid - Lil' General was born today at 8:13 p.m. It's a boy - 3.2 Kg in weight and a normal delivery.

My first question to the doctor on knowing that I was expecting was "Doc, when is the expected date of delivery?" EDD as is known is calculated from the first day of your LMP (Last menstrual period). it works out to roughly 39 weeks + 9 days. Ofcourse, give and take a few days based on what your sonography reveals. The way my gynaecs calculate how old the foetus is has always made me think that docs are not good at math. While she maintained for the first 4 months that my EDD was 24th Dec, it suddenly changed to 27th Dec mid way. This article in Hindu titled Post-term pregnancy — a dilemma revealed their easy mathematical aptitude :)

The due date
The average length of pregnancy is 280 days, or 40 weeks from the first day of a woman's last menstrual period. It can be hard to predict the exact date of delivery. Only 5 per cent of babies are born on their due dates. Calculating the due date helps the obstetrician know which month of pregnancy you are in and to monitor the progress of the baby, particularly its growth.

Women with irregular periods may require an ultrasound in early pregnancy to establish the actual due date.

Even women with very regular periods may be asked to have an ultrasound scan in early pregnancy to confirm the age of a fetus and thereby, the due date.

The due date should be confirmed as early in pregnancy as possible. Later, it becomes harder to set the due date accurately.

Calculating the due date

The due date is based on the assumption that the conception occurred exactly 2 weeks after the first day of the last period. The method used by all obstetricians around the world, is to add 7 days and subtract 3 months from the date of the first day of the last menstrual period. For example, if the last menstrual period began on June 1, 2006, the due date is calculated as follows: June 1 + 7 days = June 8. June 8 minus 3 months = January 8. Therefore the estimated due date would be January 8, 2007.

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My fingers have been quite busy the past few weeks. Quite agile and I wish I had 10 more of them during the nights. The itching and scratching was so worse that I couldn't manage with 2 hands and was worried I would have rashes all over, which I did eventually, as souvenirs of my first pregnancy.

I was forewarned by a friend that the area around the tummy gets a little itchy as the skin stretches itself. But within days the itchiness spread to arms, legs and thighs. Forgot to mention this to the doctor, so I did a little research myself and was alarmed to find that this could lead to a serious ocndition in some cases causing babies to be still born. Apparently, this is caused by lack of secretion of bile juice from the liver. I mentioned this to the doc today and she confirmed the same and prescribed me a tablet and that seems to help a little bit. But what helped the most since last week were these:

  1. Shed all tight clothes. Wear only loose cotton clothes.

  2. Avoid soap altogether. Soap increases the itchy feeling around the rashes.

  3. Apply oil with a dash of turmeric everyday while talking bath and remove the oil using payatham maavu (powdered moong ki dal).

  4. Drink barley water

  5. apply mosituriser

  6. Stay away from dust. what caused the maximum irritation in my case was the dust in upholsetry and furniture. Strange as it may sound but the skin is very sensitive now.

Medication for Sctracthy/Itchy skin

Here's a tablet prescribed by my Gynaecologist that helped a great deal:

The tablet is called Udiliv to be had once every night. This is to help in the secretion of bile juice (if thats the reason for your itchy skin). Consult your doctor before consuming this tablet.

Here are a few links that might help:
Itchy skin
skin changes during pregnancy
Why have my stretch marks started to itch?

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If you are practical and wise, then it is a good idea to set up the nursery atleast 8 weeks before your EDD (Expected Date of Delivery). If you are over at your mom's or MIL's place, then you may have a lot of help to do it. But if you are on your own, then it is not such a bad idea to get started even before. The second trimester was a breeze compared to the first and what I am going through right now. All I am worried about right now is when it is going to happen and if I am going to throw up tonight - can't think any better than that. Forget getting stuff done. so I am glad that mom thought it through and has everything figured out and ready.

Here's a list of things that my nursery has for the baby:

Updated after LG's birth
Clothing :

  1. It is neither too hot nor too cold here.So based on the climate you might want to shop for your newborn. Assuming that the baby will feel any colder than you do is a misconception I am told. Right now, we have about 15 sets of button up sleeveless cotton shirts. These are cheap and available for Rs. 15 a piece. Very convenient for the baby - easy to slip in and change.

  2. Washable nappies - the triangular ones don't work well. Get the trapezoidal ones. This is what you will need the most. babies urinate anywhere between 20-30 times a day the first few weeks.

  3. White cotton clothes - again about 30-40 of them made from used dhotis or new cotton cloth.

  4. Rubber sheet - atleast 2 of them.

  5. Receiving blanket - 4 to 5 of these. you may not need a hooded blanket and you can use the same while carrying the baby outside.

  6. Socks, mittens were a big waste. Babies just don't like to wear any of these.

  7. Baby pillows. This is not so much for the head, but to give a cushioning effect recreating the atmosphere of the womb. babies sleep better in a cosy environment.

  8. Disposable nappies for your visits to the Paed.

  9. A baby basket to store baby's clothes. A hamper to store other essentials and baby's medicines

  10. Bedsheets - you would need to change atleast one everyday. If you have old bed sheets at home, then do not throw them away. You will need them all until your baby is 7 months old.


  1. Baby towel

  2. Baby tub - either the circular one or the one where babies Can be strapped. the ones where babies can be strapped works well for mothers who bathe the baby themselves.

  3. Johnson's baby soap and baby shampoo

  4. Johnson's baby oil and baby hair oil

  5. Vaseline or diaper rash cream

  6. Dettol to clean the baby's clothes

  7. A laundry basket to store soiled nappies and clothes.

You don't need any other lotion or powder. Babies smell good already :)

If you plan to co-sleep with the baby, you don't need a crib. I co-sleep with LG and it has worked great for both of us.

When I was 34 weeks pregnant, we had everything ready in preparation for the D-Day. Its a good idea to have your bags packed by the time you are 36 weeks after that. It can happen anytime and staying prepared to leave for the hospital anytime of the day/night avoids last minute anxiety and frustration of having missed out something important and rushing back and forth between hospital and home.

Here is a detailed checklist from my bags:

For the mother-to-be while in labour (before the baby is born):

  1. Bathroom Slippers

  2. Night gowns (2)

  3. Hot water to drink

  4. Horlicks/juice

  5. Flask with hot water

  6. Cell phone :)

  7. Some magazine to browse if pain doesn't set in

  8. Hand wash, soap etc

  9. Comb

  10. Toothbrush, toothpaste

For your parents or anyone who is going to stay with you at the hospital:

  1. Waiting time from the moment you are wheeled into the operating room until discharge ca take long. Some times as long as 7 to 8 hours. This can be a very anxious time for parents/husband. So its a good idea to keep some magazines handy though there is a very less likelihood of they flipping through the pages.

  2. Snacks/juice/water

  3. Mobile charger

  4. Bathroom slippers

  5. Bedsheets for the night (2) if you don't like hospital provided ones

  6. Toiletries

  7. Change of clothes, atleast 1 pair

  8. Digital Camera /camcorder

For after the birth:

  1. Sanitary napkins meant for maternity

  2. Nursing bras

  3. Night gowns (2)

  4. Nursing pads or small white cloth for overflowing milk

  5. Comb, toothpaste, toothbrush, hand wash, soap

  6. Garbage bags

For the baby

  1. A small bathtub

  2. Johnson's baby kit - baby hair oil, baby oil, baby soap, baby powder

  3. Pampers' newborn Diaper for the baby when you have to leave from the hospital

  4. Nappies - atleast 15 of them

  5. White cloth to put underneath the baby

  6. Rubber sheet for the baby

  7. Cotton wrap for the baby - 6

  8. Socks if it is cold else don't waste your money on this. Kids hate socks.

  9. White cotton cloth to wipe baby's face

  10. Wipes to clean the baby after stools/urine

  11. Receiving sheet for the baby

  12. Baby blanket/fleece blanket (2) if it is cold.

  13. Old cotton dresses of the baby to wear

  14. One nice dress to get the baby back home

The period since late April until now has by far remained the toughest time of my life. You would have heard stories of how women glow and shine and get pampered through their pregnancy. All of that is true, if not fully atleast partly. What also goes with it are those damn "mood swings".

I have a feeling that I have put a little of people at discomfort because of this pregnancy - at home and at work. There have been time in the first trimester when I would hardly wait for a colleague to finish his/her sentence before I got restless and excused myself out of the room for no good reason. The same day there have been happy times as well. My mood has seen troughs and crests within hours. I don't know if I should blame the hormones or my was worse the first trimester and it slowly got better and am doing a lot better now because I get ample rest and am in the comfort zone of mom.

Here are some tips that helped me. I acknowledge it will take a lot of effort from your side and advice, that too unsolicited, is the last thing you want to hear at this stage. But if at all you are in the frame of mind to take it and try it and if it works, then great!

  1. No isolation: Always be in the company of others. Being alone can be very depressing now. I avoided people in my frist trimester for whatever reasons and got myself into a shell , not talking to anyone, getting irritated at people who tried to be nice and friendly because I wasn't feeling good. In the end I realised it did not do me any good, so I started reaching out to a select few I felt comfortable with and it helped.

  2. Share the feeling that you are pregnant with your friends. Keeping it under the wraps for too long will make you uncomfortable and believe me the gossip mongers will work overtime to wonder whats wrong and start speculating.

  3. This is what worked for me - listening to shlokas or some soothing music every morning. It would be a great help if your husband can play it on every morning.

  4. Next important thing is diet. No positive attitude can make you feel better if you are suffering from a heartburn after giving into that craving :) So watch what you eat even if you can't resist it. You don't want to feel bad later.

  5. A little retail therapy and time out with your partner like evening walks or just sitting on the terrace will do you a lot of good.

  6. If its a first pregnancy, then its a lot of firsts for both of you. The more involved the husband is, the more pleasant the pregnancy will be for the wife. You can do fun things like shopping for the kid, feel the experience of the baby kicking together..

  7. Don't do anything that makes you sad like a sad movie or song or getting yourself worked up into an emotional conversation that will eventually make you cry.

  8. Use your commute time to work to calm yourself.

Food, what to have and what not to, is very tricky in the first trimester for you don't know what suits and what doesn't. Its a trial and error exercise. It took me 2 cups of tea and a bowl of cornflakes to eliminate milk from my diet while curd was ok. Sure, milk is very essential and a must-have because it is rich in Calcium. But I figured it was better to avoid than have it and throw up everything else I ate afterward.

Finding a healthy substitute for cornflakes as breakfast was difficult. Used to having a bowl of cereals for over 4 years, it was tough to get used to something else. But then hunger teaches you, doesn't it :) My diet constituted of the following during the first trimester:

7:00 a.m. - A bowl of sprouts (green urad dal and kala chana)
7:30 a.m. - Horlicks
8:00 a.m. - 2 bananas
9:30 a.m. - 3 Idlis
11:30 a.m. - Lunch - a big plate of vegetable/fruit salad with no dressing. Just salt/sugar sprinkled with lemon. Or rice.
3:00 p.m. - Fruits - apples, cheekus, pomegranates, mangoes whatever the season was
5:30 p.m. - Biscuits
7:00 p.m. - Fruits or some light snack
8:30 p.m. - dinner - dosa /idli or something other than rice/rotis. The smell of rotis was nauseating.

As a substitute for milk, I tried condensed milk which suited me. it is worth the initial effort to make a diet chart of what you like / don't. It is best to avoid fried foods and milk based sweets.

The ideal sleeping posture during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy is left lateral position. This increases the blood circulation for the foetus. Lying on back is quite harmful during the later stages I'm told as it exerts pressure and makes breathing for the mother difficult. This was one difficult habit to overcome and unconsciously every night I would roll on my back. Try keeping pillows on both sides as a fortress to support your back and the earlier you get used to sleeping on the sides the better it will be.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New posts

A lot of posts in chronological order that were in the draft stage are getting published now. The posts that I completed today are ...

Week 12: Weight Loss
Natural Remedies to control Nausea : Process of Elimination
Low Haemoglobin count?
ow or High BP?

There are a number of posts still awaiting completion. I will list them on completion as I go along.

Worried over swollen feet and wondering what to do? Here are a few things that worked for me. All these weeks were fine until I noticed my feet swollen last week. It did not hurt but I'm told it is not a good sign.

  1. One of the first things to do is to reduce your salt intake as much as you can.

  2. Granny's tip: Boil Barley in water and drink a glass of barley water everyday. This worked like a charm for me. i have to warn you that it doesn't have any taste. So just close your eyes and gulp it down!

  3. Keep your feet raised. Excess weight of the body during the last few months sometimes is known to cause swollen feet.

  4. Check with your doctor if the BP is under control.

Surprised that the baby can respond to sounds as early as 30 weeks - well into the second trimester. Well, I was. Check out these links from the BabyCenter on baby's hearing and responses to sound as early as 24 weeks.

Since the begining of July, after repeated advise from mom, I had cultivated the habit of listening to Vishnu Sahasranamam and Bhaja Govindam every morning. I guess any music that is soothing to the ears like instrumental music or based in your choice is good. You feel good about starting your day with something nice to listen and so would the has been repeatedly stressed upon me to maintain a positive frame of mind. Check out this link too - Music During Pregnancy

Friday, November 24, 2006

How to avoid back pain?

If there's one thing that makes me want the baby to come out so badly, then it is the persistent back pain. Adequate 'calcium' intake and simple back exercises haven't helped either. i've stopped mentioning this to my doctor. She says, "It is a common complaint and part of the package". Here is an excerpt from The Hindu recently that me of help to you ---

Women in reasonable shape who get at least 45 minutes of exercise a week are less likely to develop back pain.
Back pain afflicts 50 per cent of pregnant women, and it is a wonder that more are not affected by it. Back pain can begin as early as the first trimester and last up to 6 months postpartum.

Not all back pain in pregnancy is because of pregnancy, and just because pain is so common does not mean it is unavoidable or untreatable.

Back pain during pregnancy follows one of three patterns — the pain occurs while bearing weight and while sitting for long hours (lumbar pain); sacroiliac pain occurs in the posterior pelvis and deep in the buttocks area (this pain is exacerbated by prolonged standing and it worsens while turning over in bed); nocturnal back pain is a low back cramp similar to the discomfort of pre-menstruation. It does not worsen with turning over in bed.

The treatment involves maintenance of proper posture and exercise. Joint manipulation of any kind is not advisable. Women in reasonable shape who get at least 45 minutes of exercise a week are less likely to develop back pain.

Pregnant women should avoid wearing high-heeled shoes. They should try to maintain a neutral spine posture at all times. When standing for long periods, placing one foot on a footstool decreases the strain on the lumbar spine and back muscles. Those who sit for prolonged periods will find elevating one foot on a low stool or footrest relaxes the back and reduces pain.

Back exercises: walking a few minutes a day is a gentle back-conditioning exercise. Pelvic tilts, leg lifts and arm-leg extension exercises help strengthen back muscles.

Pelvic tilts: Lie on your back with knees flexed and feet flat on the floor. Clench your abs and buttocks and push your pelvis and lower back into the floor for about 2 seconds. Release. Repeat 10 times. After the first trimester, it is not advisable to exercise while lying flat on your back. Do this exercise while lying on your side, with a wall substituting for the floor.

Leg lifts: lie on your side, tighten your thighs and abs and lift your leg off the floor. Hold the leg in the air for a few seconds. Repeat ten times.

Arm-leg extension: lie flat on your back, lift one arm and the opposite side's leg at the same time. Hold position for 5 seconds. Alternate sides and repeat ten times.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Indigestion? Try Gelusil or any antacid

Indigestion and heartburn is one of the most common complaints I have had during the course of the past 7 months. Since everyone advised against any medication without doctor's advise I refrained from using anything without consulting my gynaec.

Later on consultation with her, I figured it was safe to have Gelusil or Dygiene. I've had Eno a few times though it is best to keep it to a minimum as Eno produces gas. Sometimes a betel leaf stuffed with ajwain (omam) and a little salt also works wonders. Try and refrain from fried and spicy stuff for dinners. You might also want to stay away from any drink that induces acidity like lemon juice or tea in empty stomach. Nothing helps like a short walk after dinner. Most of my indigestion sessions are only after dinners. Though it is very tempting physically to just crash in the bed after a long day, stay awake for atleast an hour after dinner and before going to bed.

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The gaps between my visits to the doctor are reducing as the number of days left for the D-Day is drawing closer. So close to the finish line and yet so far..each day seems like a eon with this weight to lug around.

Instead of going at our usual 10:30 a.m. slot to the hospital, we went in at 1:00 p.m. It was crowded all the same but the wait wasn't as long as the earlier three hours. You know what...if you wish to become a successful enterpreneur in India, then you are guaranteed to be successful in 2 businesses - either open a maternity hospital or a road side chat shop. I've lost count of the number of nursing homes in my neighbourhood in Trichy. Every street has a minimum of 2 hospitals and trust me I'm not exaggerating and each one of these are overflowing with pregnant mothers. We will surpass China earlier than 2050 in population. I'm digressing...

The highlight about this routine visit was that the baby decided to draw attention by kicking around and trying to turn his/her head. I was in so much pain ..thank god we were at the hospital so there was no cause of concern.. that we met the doctor and she said everything was ok. The low Haemoglobin levels diagnosed during my last visit was ackonwledged as their error. Hb is quite normal and I'm all set now...


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Low or High BP?

Low BP in the first trimester and slightly above normal BP during the third trimester is not a cause of concern according to my gynaec. During the first trimester, I had a blood pressure of 110-70 consistently. With a previous history of very low BP and falling giddy at times I was worried. But she assured me it was normal. In the third trimester now, my BP is hovering around 130-80 which is fine too.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Craving of the month : Pumpkin pudding

My craving of the month is parangikai paal kootu (red pumpkin pudding). Believe it or not, I've had it for over 17 days in the last month. I know The needle in the weighing machine can't wait to turn and I know where all the additional kilos are coming from. Mom is INDULGING me by substituting milkmaid or Amul's Mithai Mate for milk. I would have to work twice as hard to lose all this fat :( But who cares. Lets cross the bridge after pregnancy.

Just for the record, this has been my real craving through the pregnancy term. Ofcourse, I have felt like eating this dish and that every now ad then but ever a strong ad continued liking for anything in particular as this. So this has emerged as the winner!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Week 34 : Sleepless Nights

Oh yes, I am in "Sleepless in Trichy". Sleep has been very disturbed for the past 5 months but never had it been so bad until this week. I haven't slept a wink in the nights for the past 4 days. It leaves me in a groggy and restless state forcing afternoon naps the following day. Wise moms and grannies who have treaded this path to motherhood have one advise "Sleep when you feel sleepy, no matter what time of the day is." You can catch me sleeping when I'm not blogging :)

Jokes apart, here are a few things that can help you sleep in the night :

  1. A glass of hot milk with a dash of anything you like such as turmeric, badam powder or honey. Refrain from caffeine - coffee or tea.

  2. Run hot water through your legs before going to bed.

  3. Wait atleast for an hour after dinner before going to bed. It helps going for a short stroll after dinner in the last trimester.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pre-pregnancy Counselling

Pre-pregnancy counselling appeared in today's Hindu that was quite informative. below is the entire text;

Here's a checklist for couples to make sure that they have a healthy pregnancy

Smita has been married for a year and a half. Having postponed a pregnancy because she and her husband are both busy software engineers, they have now scheduled an appointment with an obstetrician for pre-pregnancy counselling (also called preconceptional care.)

Basically, it is a checklist for couples to make sure that they have a healthy pregnancy. Becoming a parent is a major decision. It brings its own uncertainty and apprehensions. Smita and her husband have made the right choice in seeking pre-pregnancy counselling.

During a preconceptional visit, your obstetrician will try to identify things that may pose risks to you or the baby you are planning to have. Keeping fit, eating healthy and avoiding certain things that could be harmful to the baby are the first steps to a healthy pregnancy.

Previous problems

Some women have medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, epilepsy or cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) problems, which may increase risks for them or their foetus.

Diabetes: Women need to ensure tight control of their blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

Women, who are on tablets for diabetes, may need to be changed to insulin.

To avoid abnormalities in the baby, it is very important that blood sugars at the time of conception are under strict control.

High blood pressure: If a woman has high blood pressure, it is important to make sure that it is well under control before attempting pregnancy. Medications must be changed to those that are safe in pregnancy.

Asthma: A high level of control is essential during pregnancy. Check with your doctor on what medications are safe when you are trying for a pregnancy.

Inhalers, by and large, are safe because the medications do not get absorbed into the blood stream.

Epilepsy: It is safe for most epileptics on medications to try for a pregnancy. Most anti-epileptic drugs have the potential to cause foetal abnormalities although the risk is reduced if a single drug is used.

It is essential to discuss with your physician which drug is safer when you are trying for a pregnancy. It is important not to stop your medication.

Past pregnancies

Some problems with past pregnancies can occur again. If there has been more than one miscarriage, a previous baby with a birth defect, or a baby who died before birth or soon after birth, the obstetrician may suggest studies to find out the cause.

It is important to keep all records of previous pregnancies and show them to the obstetrician.

Family health history

Diabetes and high blood pressure are common conditions which may be present in the family.

Even if the mother-to-be does not have these conditions, it is important to know if there is a family history because these conditions may show up in pregnancy.

Some genetic conditions, such as mental retardation, may run in the family.

If there is a history of such a condition, then genetic counselling might be offered so that it can help the couple find out the chances of having a child with a birth defect.

Being overweight before pregnancy increases the risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure in pregnancy.

A healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise will ensure an optimal weight. Starting folic acid supplementation 1-3 months before a planned pregnancy is important for the development of the baby's brain and spinal cord. Calcium is important for baby and mother.

Milk and curds are a good natural source of calcium. Iron keeps the mother from developing anaemia during pregnancy.

It is a good idea to have a blood test to rule out anaemia. If the haemoglobin levels are low, then an iron supplement should be taken for 3 months or more to ensure that the iron stores in the body are replenished.

Preventing infections

Rubella or German measles is a viral infection which can cause severe abnormalities in the baby, especially if it occurs in the first three months of pregnancy.

A woman planning to get pregnant should either be tested to see if she already has immunity or should directly be vaccinated against Rubella. It is important to avoid pregnancy for three months after the vaccination.

Viral hepatitis: It is a good idea to be vaccinated against hepatitis B. If you already have Hepatitis B, inform your obstetrician so she can take the appropriate steps to ensure that your baby does not get affected.

Planning for insurance

Make sure that your insurance will cover pregnancy and its complications. It is a good idea to find out how much maternity leave is allowed by your employer. This will help plan for family support after the delivery.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Week 33 : Fever

A glass of cold water late in the night was all it took for my throat to act cranky the next morning. There is a change in the climate signalling the onset of monsoon soon. Thr throat got worse this morning that called for a meeting with the doctor late in the evening. Doc prescribed a generous course of antibiotics, tablets for the throat infection to subside and a syrup for the cough.

Not too satisfied with the treatment of my gynaec's assitant doctor who presecribed these medicines without examining me, I decided to resort to home remedies instead. I had refrained from taking antibiotics all these months.

A throat infection if not cured immediately generally takes its full course of running nose, fever and finally cough (in the same order). what has worked for me over the years is this :

1. Salt water gargling - 3-4 times a day during the throat infection phase. One dispirin tablet dissolved in hot water to be drunk before sleeping.

2. Hot milk with a dash of turmeric before sleeping.

3. A pinch of Thalesadi churnam mixed with honey - the churnam is available in all ayurvedic shops.

4. Hot water steaming with a few drops of Karvol or eculyptus oil during the running nose phase.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Baby Shower - Valakappu : Tamil ritual

Valakappu and Seemantham are rituals followed by Tamil brahmins during pregnancy. Follow this post titled Baby Shower: Valakappu on my other blog on what is done.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Week 32 : New Gynaecologist

Today we arrived at my parent's place as this is where we intend to have the delivery. So one of the first things on my list was to consult with my new doctor. My new gynaecologist has her own hospital that is about 5 minutes walk from where I live. Being in the same neighbourhood as that of the hospital has its own advantages towards the end - the third trimester when it is difficult to predict anything.

I was quite apprehensive about meeting this doctor despite hearing from a lot of folks that is very reputed out here. The rapport I shared with my doctor at Pune was amazing - our temperaments matched - cool headed, casual without being panicky about every thing. To expect the same out of this doctor would have been unreasonable. But I'm glad it all turned out fine. I was satisfied so was my family. The infrasturcture at the hospital also was quite satisfactory - cleanliness figuring the top on our list.

When you change your gynaecologist midterm, it is important to do the groundwork and enquire from a few people who know the Doctor or have been treated atleast once from her to get a first hand opinion. It is quite common in India for pregnant girls to deliver their first child in their parent's hometown while the first part of the pregnancy - usually the first and second trimester is spent with the husband or the town they live. With increasing number of working women, this trend is fast changing with the girl's folks traveling to where the mother-to-be resides for the delivery.

The only supplements presecribed by any doctor during the course of pregnancy are Folic Acid, Calcium and Iron tablets.

The day you get to know you are pregnant and visit a doctor, the first thing he/she will prescribe is a Folic acid tablet such as Folivite. Folic Acid ( a B Vitamin) helps in the formation of a child's brain and is to be had during the first trimester as this is when the child's brain develops.

Iron and calcium supplements are started during the second trimester and is to be continued until the end of the pregnancy. The calcium needs of a pregnant woman is nearly double as that of a normal woman. I was prescribed 2 tables of 250 mg Calcium Sandoz each day and a tablet of autrin (iron) everyday.

There have been days when I have skipped Calcium Sandoz and the results have been imminent. Back pain usually occurs when the intake of calcium is low. Having said that, it is not good to rely just on these supplements for adequate Calcium and Iron requirements by the body. These are only prescribed since it is not possible to get the entire amount through food intake. Diets rich in Calcium such as milk, curd, buttermilk, dark leafy vegetables should be consumed.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Week 22 : Martial art kicks

The mild butterfly movements have given way to martial art kicks now. The kicks come at the oddest of times that sometimes makes me giggle but I have to control myself for I am either in a meeting or talking to someone or fast asleep in the night. Mostly I experience the kicks after food - lunch and dinner and the kicks are more pronounced in the nights than day times. It probably happens all the time but being busy all through the day I fail to pay attention. On weekends and holidays this week, I observed carefully and the movements and the kicks have been so much so that I wonder if the baby is playing football inside. Sometimes the kicks come with a huge force that gets uncomfortable.
It almost always happens on the same side of the stomach that makes me think the baby's head is on the left and the feet on the right.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Craving of the month : Pizza

I've been longing to have Pizza for months now.I'm so delighted to have a veggie delight today at Pizza Hut with peppers, jalapenos, black olives to my heart's content. I had one for lunch and got a take-away for dinner. Now that's called craving.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The 4 p.m. snack

I'd really feel exhausted and hungry by 3 p.m. at work. Since I had preponed my lunch sessions to 12:00 from the usual 1:00 p.m. after I got pregnant to avoid the huge gap between breakfast and lunch, I would get hungry by early evening. Not sure what to pack for the evening snack, I started experimenting with fruits, cookies, biscuits etc. Cookies and biscuits gave me heartburn and fruits worked for good.

You might want to try that as well. If it was apple, I would take uncut apple. Some of the fruits that are good during pregnancy and will also make you feel good are :

  1. Pomegranate

  2. Apple

  3. Cheeku>

There were days when I have packed a small box of dry fruits also for a change like black currants, badams, figs and dates. Cashews are heavy and I have generally avoided them. This snack again would last only for 2 hours. By the time I got on to my bus to head back home at 6 p.m., hunger pangs would start. Apple was meant exclusively for the bus as it is easy to eat without making a fuss. It has worked great for 4 months now.

The bump is quite visible now which means out go the fitting clothes and in comes the maternity ones. It is going to be a couple of weeks more when I will have to stop wearing those last few trousers and jeans that fit me now.

We shopped for maternity clothes at Fabindia this weekend and I was disappointed to know that they don't have a range of maternity wear. So had to settle in for plus size clothes..the problem with these being that it fits the bump comfortably but hangs so loosely over my shoulders that makes it look like clothes on a hangar. But comfort comes first for me now than looks and these are comfortable cotton wear, so no complaints.

I prefer dark loose cotton clothing that is comfortable to climb and get down from the bus steps and in general to move around at work.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Week 20: Breathlessness

I have been experiencing acute breathlessness this week. Brief periods when I am unable to breathe freely and feel very suffocated. So I consulted my Doctor and she says, "Well, if you can't breathe..then take long deep breaths, that should help." What has actually helped though is Pranayama in the mornings. I do breathing exercises the first thing every morning and through out the day wheenever I can. I used to climb a flight of 40 stairs 2-3 times a day at work. I have stopped doing that and am using the elevator now, this has also helped immensely.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Week 19: Butterfly movements

As I sat at my desk today crunching numbers in a spreadsheet to come up with resource utilization for the quarter, I felt a slight tap on the surface of my tummy. It happened in 10 min gaps about two or three times. I didn't give it too much of thought and felt it was just my imagination until I felt it again. Mild movements that seemed more like the wings of a butterfly fluttering. Here it was the firt movements of the baby that I had felt and it felt GOOD.

The movements of a baby can be felt as early as 17 weeks however they do not become pronounced until 23-24 weeks.

Since week 17, I have been suffering from heartburn and indigestion after lunch and dinner. At about midnight every night, I wake up because there is a burning sensation that starts at the throat and goes all the way to the stomach. And strangely, the condition worsens if I have a glass of water. This irritating feeling disturbs my sleep. I tried antacids like Gelusil, Eno but nothing helped.

For the past 2-3 days, I have been having cold milk/curd/yoghurt with a little sugar in the night before going to bed. This has worked wonders. I sleep without getting disturbed at a stretch.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Travel by auto during pregnancy...

With The Seniol away to Bangalore today for a College reunion, I am going to spend the weekend with mom. I'm way past the first trimester but have avoided traveling by auto so far. Today, being a Friday and nothing much to do at work, I decided to get back home early rather than the usual 7:00 p.m. The problem with where I work like IT parks is there is no proper public conveyance other than the company transportation which only operates at fixed times and routes. So, if one has to go to the city midday than it is an adventure if you don't have your own car.
So, anyway, I set off from office at 4:00 p.m. hoping to get the public bus by 4:15 p.m. As it turned out, the bus didn't turn up today and there were atleast a dozen more people waiting for the bus. Slowly, people started dispersing losing hope to find some other means such as taking the shared auto or tum tum as it is known here. I didn't want to risk the auto so i waited another 15 minutes until I lost patience and was tired by the standing.
Finally, mulling over walking back to office versus taking the tum-tum half way, I chose the later all the way worried about the consequences. What the heck, I thought! More than half of our pregnant women in this country can't even afford this and they go on to have safe deliveries.
It was funny how I sat in the tum-tum through the roller coaster ride to avoid the bumps causing fellow passengers to stare at me as if I was from another planet who has never been on a shared auto (which is true BTW). So, here I was with my bum lifted all the way whenever there was a hole in the road. My tummy doesn't show yet for one to figure out that I am pregnant. The 10 Km ride was horrible - I bet the some of the rural roads are better..and this one leads to the IT corridor of Pune.
Well, an hour later I reached home and mom was shocked to see me at that hour and the means of transport I had taken to be there. I am just hoping, all goes well.

Nausea or Morning Sickness as is commonly known is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. It all started one evening when we were visiting a friend's place and I felt so tired that I couldn't explain and excused myself back home. The evening tea churned itself before finding its way to the wash basin. When the same episode repeated next morning, I knew what was happening...

I'm so glad that the first trimester is officially over and the signs of irritability are waning..I'm told some people experience morning Sickness throughout the term of their pregnancy accompanied by tiredness and lethargy and inability to get up from bed every morning. Morning sickness occurs due to hormonal changes, changes in blood pressure etc..I've been lucky so far as not to experience severe Morning Sickness.

It was tough to determine what caused my mood swings initially so I followed the process of elimination. What suits one person and does not suit one varies from one woman to another. Sense of smell and taste is very high now. Some of the things that caused me irritiation were:

  1. Milk

  2. The smell of making chappathi

  3. Grinding masala and deep fryng

Natural Remedies to control Nausea:

  1. Having identified what causes nausea by the process of elimination over a few weeks, I satyed away from them until I was totally sure the phase is over. When dinner was made, i would take a stroll in the terrace to be away from the masala frying and making of rotis. If you have to cook your dinner, then I suggest cook something that suits you for the others as well. Your health is of prime importance now.

  2. Pomogranate is know to have medicinal qualities in controlling nausea. So have it any form you like - as seeds, as juice or mixed with honey.

  3. Deep breathing. For 12 weeks now, I have been practising deep breathing as and when I can. Inhale and exhale deeply concentrating on the breathing with eyes closed.

  4. Consume iron rich foods. I started having salads instead of cooked food for lunch everyday. That did wonders.

  5. Try herbal tea or crackers.

Haemoglobin levels are tested for every trimester during the pregnancy. While the normal range for men is between 13-18, for women it should be anywhere between 11-16 (unit of mesurement is GM %).

If you are low on blood count, here are a few tips to increase the same through your diet:

  1. Beetroot, carrot salad

  2. Pomogranates

  3. Food that is rich in Iron such as spinach leaves, dates, raisins. Follow this iron rich diet with some citrus rich food that makes absorbing iron easier.

  4. Lots of dark green leafy vegetables

  5. Refrain from coffee and tea as this makes it difficult for the body to absorb iron

  6. Finally an iron supplement prescribed by the doctor

Monday, July 03, 2006

Week 15 : Blood test

I went in for my first blood test today. Blood test usually done at the end of teh first trimester is done for the following per my doctor:

  1. HIV

  2. Haemoglobin

  3. Blood group and Rh factor

  4. Iron Levels

  5. Hepatitis B

  6. Random Blood Sugar and Urine Sugar

  7. Routine Urine Test

For the blood sugar test, one need not fast.

With one trimester already underway, I haven't yet bought any books on pregnancy. Though the advises have been pouring in. Of these, what I found the most useful was the weekly newsletter from Baby Center. Suggest you subscribe to this. One more book recommendation has been that of "What to expect when you're expecting".

Above all is the practical daily advice from mom and grannies. Nothing can beat that, whajja say?

There is no straight answer to this million dollar question that most married couples face today. If both the husband and wife are working and are ambitious about their careers, then starting a family goes down in the priority list. The increasing number of couples in their 30s without kids has led to the media coining phrases such as DINK - Double Income No Kids and DINS - Double Income No Sex.

Career ambitions and commitments, however, do not stop parents and relatives from putting pressure on a couple to start a family. If one has been married for 2 years, the couple is bombarded initially with a subtle "When are you going to give me the good news?" that transforms into a more direct "When am I going to become a grand parent?". With no signs of progress on that front, parents and relatives get anxious wondering if there's something wrong. Slowly, the setting is made for a more direct approach that involves "talking" directly, counseling and describing the pros and cons (which is almost none always) of starting a family early.

Ultimately, the decision of when to start a family lies with the stakeholders - the to-be-parents in this case. Here are a few factors to consider and analyze before delaying it any further:

  1. Biological : Perhaps the most important factor to consider is the biological clock ticking inside. While you might finally be satisfied with your high flying career at the age of 37, there might be little time left to start 'trying'. Research has shown that while male continue to produce sperms even as they age, the quality of the sperm produced gradually decreases as they age. In the case of women, their ovulation cycle take a hit and the probability of reproducing decreases to less than 25%between the ages of 35-40. Ideal age for conceiving is stated to be between early 20s and mid 30s.

  2. Financial : The second most important factor is if you are financially in a comfortable position to raise a kid. Starting a family does not end with giving birth to one. Expenses grow exponentially until a kid reaches the age of 20 assuming he/she is self-sustaining by then. If the husband and wife are working and one of them has decided to quit the job, there will be a sudden loss of one income. Can the monthly expenditure be covered with one person's salary or have you saved enough to sustain the household comfortably for a few months or years? This requires adequate planning so that you can start investing today. Even if you have not begun investing and the kid is on its way, it is the right time to be mentally prepared and start putting a plan in place rather than getting bogged down by the numerous expenses that will start appearing in your monthly bills - starting from the birth of a kid to medical expenses to schooling, scholarship/guitar/soccer classes etc. And don't forget kids' clothing is no cheap.

  3. Physical : As we age, our patience and the physical stamina to carry the foetus for 9 months and raise a kid after birth is decreasing. A mother aged 24 will definitely be more active, energetic and enthusiastic about the whole process than one who has conceived at 36. After child birth, it calls for numerous nights without sleep for months on end. So it is important to strike a balance of conceiving at the right age.

  4. Mental : One of the factors that most couples discount is the mental factor. Are you too young and immature to start a family? Or are you too old and mature to enjoy the simple pleasures of life? Age has nothing to do with maturity. Do you have it in you to run the show on your own and raise the kid without getting paranoid when he/she falls sick etc..Are you mentally compatible with each other as a husband and wife to shoulder this additional responsibility? - the arrival of a kid changes the lifestyle atleast for 2-3 years - with a lot of sacrifices in the begriming such as restrictions on eating out, the loss of freedom of packing your bags on a Saturday morning for a long weekend drive.

  5. Support system : If both of you are financially obliged to continue with your jobs, then do you have a good support system that can take care off the kid - it could be either of your parents or a good da care center for kids. It is good to give this aspect due thought and plan ahead.

With careful planning, you can have the good life and enjoy without sacrificing much.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Week 12 : Weight Loss

I'm close to the end of the first trimester - another week to go. A regular checkup revealed a slight loss in weight. Having gained 3 Kgs in the past 3 months, I seem to have lost 1 Kg. Doctor said there was nothing to worry and it was natural to lose a little weight in the first trimester. This is attributed to limited food intake and vomiting. At the same time she stressed that I continue eating healthy food and totally avoid any food from outside.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Week 11 : Fever

All I needed now was a sore throat that would lead to fever and cough subsequently. I called in sick at work today. Giving into my craving for kala jamun and ice cream late one night 2-3 days back was a bad idea. The sore throat since yesterday has worsened and I'm down with fever now. Self medication is a bad idea during pregnancy, so I refrained from having crocin. The visit to the doctor this morning has helped. Phenergan (a tonic) she prescribed has put me to sleep through the day and I feel much better now.

Every Sunday for the past month, I've bee making chocolate Coffee Cake. The recipe was given to me by a colleague. It took 3 trials to get a eatable cake but perseverance paid and this time it turned out good. From dough to half baked cake to a eatable one, it has seen it all. I'm satisfied this time. Every time, I make one, I have been having it all. So you can imagine what it has done to my weight!

These are some of the precautions that I was advised to take by the Doctor and older memmbers in the family:

  1. Do not lift weights. Almost everyday through teh first trimester I heard this advise from one and all. Lifting weights is known to cause bleeding or miscarriage. Women in India have a habit of lifting a bucket of water or a cooker full of rice and vegetables. It is good if these are avoided. Plan your day such that some member in the family can help you with your daily chores if you don't have a domestic maid.

  2. I had this bad habit of gobbling tablets - self medication for everything without the advise of the doctor - be it fever, headache, dysentery or whatsoever. Getting rid of this habit was the most toughest one. DO NOT consume any tablets even as minor as paracetamol without the advise of your doctor. Anything that you eat has an effect on the foetus.

  3. I was prone to indigestion and heartburn right from the begining. Hence, the doctor advised me to avoid eating out as much as I can. Ofcourse there were times when I gave into my temptation such as today ..the reaction was immediate. I ended up puking within 15 mins of consuming Gulab Jamun and Samosa. Fried foods from the outside are best avoided as are green salads. You can never be sure if they are washed and cooked well.

  4. Do not stay hungry. My doctor said it is usual to lose weight in the first trimester and need not be a matter of concern. All she advised was to eat whatever I liked even after vomitting and not to stay hungry.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Week 6: Travel Restrictions

I was all slated to travel to Calcutta on official work for a work. I had to call in at work and cancel the trip on the Doctor's advise. It is generally advisable not to travel in the first trimester. The reason I'm told is travel - whatever be the means - by road or air causes exertion. The chances of a miscarriage are the highest in the first trimester due to which travel is not advised. Moreover, the first trimester also brings with it nausea, mood swings, depression etc which varies from woman to woman and can be best coped with at home.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pregnancy Test - one line or 2 lines?

A lot of pregnancy tests are available in the market these days which are simple and can be done at home before meeting a doctor. Doctors generally recommend a urine test to confirm pregnancy but that can be the second step in your confirmation process. If you have missed your period by a week or 10 days that usually happens like clockwork every month, then it is time to do a pregnancy test. For couples who have been 'trying' earnestly, nothing brings more happiness than seeing 2 faint lines which indicates it is positive and you are pregnant.

One line indicates the test is negative. Physicians generally recommend that the test be done the first thing in thee morning before eating anything. However, there might be variants to this, I'm not sure. The lines are very faint until 45 days. The number of weeks of your pregnancy is calculated from the first day of your last period. For instance, if your last period fell on Jan 2nd, and today is Feb 20th, then you are 7 weeks pregnant.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Week 5 : Tiredness

I had no hints whatsoever that I was pregnant. On a vacation to Bahrain, we walked over 2 miles and I got so exhuasted that I did not budge out of home the next few days. I was exceptionally quiet, perhaps the first signs of mood swings had started to appear by then...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why I started writing this blog....

Pregnancy is perhaps the most difficult time any woman can be subjected to in a lifetime. When I got pregnant with our first child (although planned) this April, there were more questions than I had answers to as a working woman. It is a unique experience in itself that brings with it all emotions - anxiety, happiness, pain, excitement- all bundled in one in a span of 9 months. Pregnancy is just one part of the story - there are a lot of factors that the to-be-parents have to take care of especially if both of them are working as we did - hence the name “career mom” for this blog. I also present here some tips on what worked for me during this period and what did not. I also talk about my career, on how i gave up my full time job to take on the role of a stay-at-home mom, the reactions from people as i made this decision etc etc.

Disclaimer: The thoughts in this blog are personal and is not influenced by anyone. The pregnancy tips that I present here are what worked for me. I’m not a doctor or a qualified medical practitioner. Before following any of these, please consult your doctor.