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Some ‘silly’ questions about pregnancy

HEALTH DIALOGUE
I RECENTLY spent some time talking with a first-time pregnant woman. She had many questions and kept apologising for asking too many questions.
I had to take the time to comfort her and let her know the questions she was asking were not silly, seeing as it was her first pregnancy and she had every right to know what was happening with her and her baby.
She was kind enough to give me permission to print the questions she thought were “silly” to help all those other women who might be out there pregnant and thinking the questions they have about pregnancy are silly and not deserving an attention or an answer.
Q: How do you know when my baby will be born?
990Health: In conventional medicine, pregnancy is calculated from the beginning of the last menstrual period and lasts 40 weeks. In a “normal” uncomplicated pregnancy, a child may be born anywhere between 38 and 41 weeks.
Q: When will I start to feel the baby moving?
990Health: Most first-time mothers begin to feel their baby’s movements anywhere between 18 weeks and 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Q: Why do I feel like crying all the time?
990Health: Pregnancy is a time of great joy and fluctuating hormones. These hormones, which help keep the pregnancy going well, also play havoc on the mother’s body and mind, affecting sense of smell, mood, toilet habits, sleep and even hair growth.
Q: Why did they give me Fansidar?
990Health:  In Zambia the preventative antimalarial tablets are given to all pregnant women. This is used together with insecticide-treated mosquito nets to prevent women who are pregnant contracting malaria as this can be fatal to both mother and unborn baby.
Q: Is there a special diet for pregnant women?
990Health:  When a woman is pregnant, her daily food requirements increase. In “normal” pregnancies, simply adding healthy snacks in-between meals is enough to cover the increased requirements. In Zambia, all pregnant women are provided with folic acid during their pregnancy, and in the case of those with mild anaemia or at risk of developing anaemia, they may be given iron supplements during the second half of their pregnancy.
Q: Every time I see a metal spoon I want to bite it, is that normal?
990Health: Most people have heard of pregnant women craving strange food. Some pregnant women develop a condition called pica, in which they crave things that have no nutritional value to the body. While pica in itself is not dangerous, there are some women who crave objects that may pause a threat to their bodies and/or unborn child if ingested. It is important to let your healthcare provider know if you think you may be having unusual cravings.
Q: I eat and eat, but I am not gaining weight, is my baby eating?
990Health: While there are some women who feel they are not putting on enough weight during pregnancy, if the baby is growing at a steady rate, the expectant mother is encouraged to continue eating regular meals and snacks. It is a danger sign if the pregnant woman begins to lose weight.
Q: Will parasites like worms affect my baby, is deworming safe in pregnancy?
990Health: Intestinal parasites do not affect babies in the womb directly and generally they may only adversely affect the health of the expectant mother if there is a large number of worms present. Deworming medication should not be given during the first 4 months of pregnancy.
Q: Why are my breasts hurting?
990Health: One of the many changes happening in the body of a pregnant woman is the breasts preparing to feed the child once born. Changes in the breasts begin to take place almost immediately the pregnancy is established, causing breast to become fuller, tender and in some cases there may even be leakage of first milk, known as colostrum.
Q: After eating I get very painful stomach pains and then I have gas, why does this happen?
990Health: During pregnancy, one of the hormones produced is to help keep the muscles of the uterus and other parts of the body relaxed. This leads to a slowing down in movements of the intestines, leading to bloated feeling, gas distention of the abdomen and passing of retained gas.
Q: Will labour be painful?
990Health: Yes. Labour is a process that involves several different parts of the body working together. Labour pains are produced in the effort to push the baby out into the world. Speak with your health provider about the different options open to you for pain relief.
Q: What if I need a Caesarean?
990Health: In most cases when a woman has had a normal pregnancy, she is expected to have a normal vaginal delivery. In a few cases, it is necessary to deliver the baby through caesarean section (through the mother’s abdomen) this usually happens when either the baby’s life, the mother’s life or both are at risk. In the case that an emergency caesarean is called for, it is important to speak to your health provider to explain exactly why they want to perform the operation.
Q: Will I have enough milk for my baby?
990Health: Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is recommended for all babies. Your body should produce the correct amount of milk for your baby. When you breastfeed your baby on demand, your body is able to adjust milk production to the rate at which the baby consumes milk.
Q: Do I have to take my baby for under five every month?
990Health: Yes, it is extremely important to take your child for under five child monitoring every month in order to ensure that the child is gaining weight properly as well as to receive general nutritional and health education for your child.
I encouraged the young mother-to-be to have an open discussion with her health care provider so that she can receive as much information as possible before delivering her baby in a health facility.
For more information and/or queries email 990health@champ.org.zm

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