Answers for all mommies-to-be

2019-02-14 06:01

During national Pregnancy Awareness Week, 11-15 February, Jamey Gordon approached Dr Elzette Henn, health-care practitioner specialising as a gynaecologist and obstetrician in Stellenbosch, with questions many expectant mommies-to-be, or those planning a new addition to the family, may have.

When someone realises they may be pregnant what should they do?

They can perform a urine or blood test to confirm their pregnancy.

What can some of these clues be? And, what is the most bizarre that you have come across?

Miss a period, nausea and vomiting, craving for certain foods, a strange taste in one’s mouth.

A husband had morning sickness only two weeks after his wife’s last period, and he claimed she was pregnant because he had experienced the symptoms of pregnancy. She was pregnant!

Following confirmation of a pregnancy, when should the first appointment with a doctor or gynaecologist be scheduled, and what would it, in most instances, entail?

The first appointment should be at eight weeks to confirm an intrauterine normal pregnancy.

Afterwards, the important appointments will be at 12 weeks, to do the Down Syndrome screening, and 20 weeks, to test for developmental deficiencies.

What are some of the lifestyle changes an expectant mother would have to make?

The emphasis will be on a healthy lifestyle; no alcohol and smoking, no raw meat, exercise in moderation.

Be careful when taking medicine because not everything is safe during pregnancy.

Can you provide insight into the importance of vitamins during pregnancy?

There are a lot of opinions on vitamins. The most important will be folic acid until 12-16 weeks, and with that we add a good multivitamin with omega.

Are there certain vaccinations a pregnant woman should consider?

It is advised to take flu and whooping cough vaccinations. If you have a Rh-negative blood group you should also have an immunisation injection during the pregnancy.

Following your first appointment, how should scans be scheduled?

In a private practice one receives an ultrasound with every visit, but the important scans are at 12 and 20-22 weeks of pregnancy.

Any advice for mommies-to-be to consider when deciding on a birth plan?

There are wonderful birth plans available. We do all that they usually recommend. The important thing to consider is whether one is going to deliver normally or by Caesarean section.

If planning to deliver naturally, will the mommy take an epidural for pain relief?

The other decision will be whether she is going to bath her baby after the birth, or soon afterwards, and when she intends vaccinating the baby – not if, but when!

Any words of wisdom regarding breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding takes time to succeed. Don’t be anxious about it, just ask for help.

What would a healthy weight be during pregnancy, and for the fitness fanatic what exercise is regarded as safe?

The normal weight gain in pregnancy is 10-12 kg. The ideal is a normal average BMI (body mass index). If one is overweight, it would be good to consult a dietician.

How long can an expectant woman work?

She can work until she goes into labour but I usually recommend she stop at least two weeks before the baby’s due date, to prepare the home and herself for the newcomer.

What can be expected during labour and delivery?

Labour takes about 10 to 12 hours. It is a wonderful day in every parent’s life. Enjoy and make the most of it.

One cannot predict what’s going to happen, how one’s body and the baby are going to react.

One’s mind shouldn’t be set on a specific outcome because they may be disappointed.

What are some of the main reasons for a pregnant woman to have a C-section?

At present, the main reasons for a C-section are previous C-section and social ones.

Other reasons are a big baby, small mother, malposition of the baby, foetal compromise and medical reasons.

What should women bear in mind when considering a VBAC (vaginal birth after a Caesarean)?

One cannot guarantee a normal delivery. For any risk factor with a previous C-section the general recommendation is another C-section. The main risk is uterine rupture – life threatening for baby and mom (fortunately not common).

What pregnancy symptoms are normal, and what not?

So many “normal” symptoms are confused with medical conditions. The important things to look out for are vaginal bleeding and constant, severe pain and fever.


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