In Pregnancy Awareness Week, Lindsay Ord asks four Durban midwives what they would like expectant mothers to know
Sister Wendy Mackinnon, unit manager of the maternity unit at Life Westville Hospital
* Drink a minimum of two litres of water or fluids a day, especially in summer to prevent urinary tract infections.
* To ease nausea, start the day with a rusk or slice of toast before getting out of bed. Nausea is often caused by hunger and eating helps alleviate this. During the day, eat small frequent meals.
* Use Dr Google with care. Read up on conditions or procedures on a few websites, not just one, and ask your health-care provider to clarify what you don’t understand. Often our experience helps to reassure you more than websites.
* Don’t believe every horror story you hear. Some people love telling others about the “bad” experience they had, but for every one bad experience there are 100 good ones.
* Eating ice and sitting on a cold floor will not give your newborn a cold. Often, a newborn sneezes in the first few days not because she is sick but because she has small nasal passages and sneezing helps to keep them clear.
* Modern women rush around more often than their mothers did, but when you get home, elevate the legs to relieve swollen feet. Swelling is normal in pregnancy and it should go down overnight with rest.
* Aches, pains and backache can be due to ligaments stretching and the uterus expanding.
* Read up and ask questions about epidurals and spinals so that you know what to expect. Again, ask your health-care provider questions and not just friends and family.
* Breast-feeding is best. After delivery you don’t have large amounts of breast milk, you have a substance called colostrum which is essential to the newborn as it contains protein and a laxative to help the baby pass meconium (first stool). There is about 5ml of this substance per feed on the first few days, which is adequate for your baby.
* A newborn not feeding well in the first 24 to 48 hours is normal. Babies are born with a special type of fat that provides them with their requirements during this time. Put baby to the breast to stimulate milk production, which usually comes in on the third day after delivery.
Sister Linda Glasson, Stork’s Nest co-ordinator at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital
* Enjoy your pregnancy, and the attention it brings.
* Attend antenatal classes. You will be better equipped and more empowered for your birthing experience.
* Eat twice as well, not twice as much. Good nutrition is vitally important and take pregnancy vitamins.
* Stand tall and maintain good posture. Pregnancy hormones relax your muscles and cause many aches and pains, especially lower backache. Bend your knees when you lift something.
* You will receive a lot of conflicting advice from friends and family. Listen and then confirm with your health professional.
* Travel safely. Wear the lap part of the seatbelt below your “bump” and the diagonal strap should cross between your breasts above the “bump”. Don’t undertake long journeys on your own and make sure you have your cellphone in case you break down or need to stop.
* Involve your partner right from the beginning. If he feels included, he will be happier, and much more inclined to help you through the tough times.
* Ensure you and your partner have the necessary phone numbers saved in case of an emergency – doctor, ambulance and the maternity ward where you will be delivering your baby.
* Book your hospital bed early.
Lindsay Watkeys, sister at the Well Baby clinic at Life The Crompton Hospital, Pinetown
* Try not to make any big changes in your life near to the time of birth, like moving house. Having a baby is a huge change, do not make it bigger and more stressful.
* Enjoy the quiet moments. Take time to lie in the bath and watch the baby move and wonder at the amazing little person you are creating.
* Enjoy family and friends. Make time for the people closest to you. Once baby arrives there is less time to be sociable.
* Get enough sleep. You will be uncomfortable, especially at night, but do your best to get adequate rest.
l Get educated. Attend antenatal classes and read.
l Eat well and healthily and get into the habit of eating regularly for successful breast-feeding.
* Do not have a fixed idea of what your birth will be like. It is often not what you expect and it is better to go with the flow and accept what happens.
Cheryl Rowe, a private midwife in KwaZulu-Natal
* Prepare to breast-feed as it has many advantages to mother and baby, reducing the risk of breast cancer and diabetes type 2, reducing the risk of nappy rash, thrush and cot death.
* It is not true that if you have had a C-section that you can’t have a baby naturally, provided your baby is healthy, head down and labour starts and progresses naturally.
* Delay cord cutting to help baby to transcend from womb to world gently, to slowly inflate its lungs while still being oxygenated by the mother.