women

1. Understand and Control the Exhaustion

This week, you can

• Understand the exhaustion that may consume you these days
• Make your first doctor’s appointment if you haven’t yet done so
• Calculate how many weeks pregnant you are
• Add meditation to your daily routine

IF YOU ARE FEELING under the weather, it may help you to understand what’s going on in your body and how best to deal with these changes. These feelings have a purpose, and, thank goodness, they don’t last forever. In fact it won’t be long before they are replaced with energy. Who said Mother Nature doesn’t have a sense of humor?
During the first few months of your pregnancy, your body pours an incredible amount of energy into creating the placenta. This organ literally acts as a lifeline between your body and your developing baby, sharing your nutrients and oxygen with her and removing her waste products.
Until then, you may be amazed at how urgently the need to nap can strike at any time. Don’t be surprised if you have to pull your car over on the way home from work because you can’t keep your eyes open for one more minute. Or if you find yourself drooling on your sofa cushions when just a moment ago you were watching your favorite TV program.

The good news is that just a twenty- or thirty-minute nap can prove wonderfully refreshing. Also, many women find that their “nap attacks” strike around the same time each day, which may allow you to do some planning (shut your office door and draw the blinds, or set older children up with some crayons and paper so you can conk out in peace).

If you were expecting a touch of morning sickness, you may be surprised and disappointed to find that actually, pregnancy nausea can strike at any time of the day or night! Some women experience intense nausea; others feel a low level of queasiness all day long. An abundance of pregnancy-related hormones are to blame. The good news is that those hormones will also help you have a healthy pregnancy.

Be kind to yourself. Now is not the time to burn the midnight oil or take on extra responsibilities at work if you can avoid it. Planning for a short nap every day and making sure you get at least eight hours of sleep at night can help stave off sleepiness. Some women also find that exercise helps keep energy levels up. Eating small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels steady can keep nausea at bay. But the only real cure is time. Early in the second trimester, when hormone levels even out and the placenta is complete, most women start feeling much better.

2. IS THERE A DOCTOR (OR MIDWIFE) IN THE HOUSE?

Have you been seeing an OB-GYN or nurse midwife for your routine care? Do you feel completely comfortable with this care provider? If so, she’s the first appointment you need to make if you haven’t done so already. Call the office and tell them how many weeks pregnant you are (see box). They will schedule your first appointment according to the office protocol. If you’re healthy and not having a high-risk pregnancy, you’ll probably see your doctor or midwife every four weeks starting in the first trimester through the end of the second trimester. Then you’ll have appointments every two weeks until week thirty-six and every week up until you give birth.

If you are new to your city or don’t want your current care provider to deliver your baby, start asking friends who are already mothers for referrals and what their experiences were like. Or if you live near a large hospital and it is one with a neonatal unit in the event of an emergency, call and ask them if they have a referral service.

3. HOW PREGNANT ARE YOU?

A pregnancy is dated back to the first day of the last menstrual period. Let’s say a woman starts her period on December 1, but doesn’t actually conceive until December 15. She is already considered, technically, two weeks pregnant by that point! By the time you’ve missed your period, your care provider consider you a month pregnant, and you may not figure it out until you’re five to six weeks along or more. Some care providers will see pregnant women as soon as they get a positive test; others like to wait until eight to twelve weeks to schedule the first appointment.

It’s not too early to start thinking about what you hope for in the place you give birth. Some women are reassured by the presence of a high-level neonatal unit in large teaching hospitals. Others prefer the more laid-back atmosphere of a smaller hospital or birth center. Also keep in mind that all hospitals have different policies when it comes to things like eating and drinking during labor, being allowed to move around rather than staying in bed, and laboring or giving birth in water, which may also impact your decision.

If your doctor is part of a large practice, you’ll want to ask to meet everyone on staff at some point. Often OB-GYNs rotate who’s on call and attending births, so there’s a very good chance that the doctor you’ve been building a rapport with will not be the one who is present when your baby is born. When you call to make your first appointment, ask how the practice handles on-call rotations and who will be your doctor’s backup in case she is on call but can’t make it to your birth.
Pregnancy is a long partnership with your medical provider. Don’t hesitate to ask for a meeting with your top candidates. And remember, you can always change your mind and switch later if it becomes apparent that your care provider or chosen place for the birth aren’t a good fit.

4. MEDITATION

Add five minutes of meditation to your day. This is a wonderful antidote to the stressful times ahead. Meditation stops the incessant brain chatter that exhausts us during the best of times. You’ll find yourself wondering about all sorts of things now, from “what will labor be like” to “will I be a good mom?” Meditation will quiet your mind and enable you to think clearly and make wise decisions. It has countless other benefits, including an increased ability to focus, improved memory, enhanced creativity, deeper sleep, and a lower level of stress hormones in the body.

Why are these important to you? As pregnancy floods your body with hormones, your ability to stay focused and remember things may well be compromised. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase mommy brain, and it doesn’t wait for Baby’s arrival to kick in. Finally, all moms will tell you about sleep loss, especially after Baby is born. By that time you’ll be meditating easily and perhaps even longer than the five minutes I’m suggesting. Not good at taking catnaps? When you’re sleep-deprived, a quick meditation may be just the thing to help you feel refreshed.

The simplest technique:
1. Sit in a straight-back chair with your feet on the floor. Place your hands on your thighs with your palms facing up. Don’t let them touch.
2. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Feel it as it enters then exits your nostrils. Breathe normally. Don’t do anything fancy!
3. Try to do this for five minutes. Think of nothing else. Simply focus on your breath. When thoughts intrude, gently dismiss them. And don’t be surprised if you fall asleep.

All of these things are normal in the beginning.

Over time it will get easier. If you are too nauseous to sit up straight, you can find a more comfortable position until you are feeling better. Just remember that the classic meditation position as described here is the one you eventually want to embrace. This will be one of the first practices you share as a family. Baby, after all, is benefiting as well!
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