meet mother, midwife, reflexologist and hypnobirthing coach, kate
if it seems like she does it all, that’s because she kind of does. Learn all about this mother of two and superbly talented pregnancy and birthing expert as she tells all
10 important things to know when you are pregnant:
Signs that confirm you are pregnant can vary from woman to woman, with some experiencing many symptoms, and some not having any. Signs of body changes may be subtle, such as sore, tender breasts or increased tiredness. For some women it can cause nausea or sickness, and for other woman their experience may be marked by constipation or changes in dietary habits. It's common for a woman to suddenly dislike one of her favorite foods or to have an appetite for something they wouldn't normally eat.
In the UK, most women don't need to see a doctor when they are pregnant and can self-refer to midwifery care. But it may prove preferable to see your general practitioner and for them to refer you for midwifery care. Once maternity services have your referral, you will be invited to book an appointment with a midwife to discuss your history. It’s at this point you will determine whether you can continue to have midwifery led care or if you will also need to see a doctor during your pregnancy.
A healthy, balanced diet is incredibly important for pregnancy. However, the old myth of eating for two shouldn't be followed, as it's also very important to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. Plenty of fruit and vegetable for a strong fiber intake and plenty of water are crucial. Also, ensure that you’re getting enough complex carbohydrates and good quality proteins.
It's best to avoid sugary foods if possible. Avoid undercooked meat and seafood, and avoid liver as it has high levels of Vitamin A which is not good for growing fetuses.
Unpasteurized cheeses and pâtés are also to be avoided due to the risk of listeria food poisoning. The good news is that eggs are now safe even if they aren't hard boiled.
The advice on alcohol is very clear: it should not be consumed during pregnancy.
Fish, which could have high levels of mercury such as fresh tuna, swordfish and shark, should be eaten at a minimum if at all.
It's really beneficial to be physically active in pregnancy as it helps maintain a healthy weight and provides many physical and mental health benefits.
But we wouldn't advise starting anything new that your body isn't used to. If you've been running 10k every week or going to the gym regularly for the last 5 years, then you don't need to stop. But do modify your exercise, inform the instructor, and above all else, listen to your body.
If you haven't been exercising intensely, pregnancy isn't the time to start! Walking, swimming and pregnancy yoga are some great ways to stay active in pregnancy and there are even some pregnancy-specific fitness classes you can attend.
Place of birth is another very important decision that women make. At your booking in appointment the midwife will discuss your options with you, which include:
- Home birth: where a midwife comes to your home to care for you.
- Standalone birth center: a birth center not attached to a hospital, run by midwives with a home from home environment.
- Alongside midwifery unit: a birth center like the standalone center but that is contained within or attached to a hospital.
- Obstetric unit: a delivery suite/labor ward where you will still be cared for my midwives but where there are also obstetrics doctors involved in your care. (These are usually for ‘higher risk’ pregnancies.)
Your choice can change throughout your pregnancy and may even change during your labor. For example, if you need to be transferred to an obstetric unit from a birth center for a complication that arises.
It's worth knowing that research from the birth place study 2011 showed us that the safest place for first-time mothers with low risk pregnancies to give birth was at an alongside Midwifery led unit and for second or subsequent low risk pregnancies was at home.
It's definitely worth getting organized early, which means shopping for baby before their arrival should be top priority. Although only 5% of babies arrive on their due date and many will arrive after, you never know if your baby might make an earlier appearance! Start to shop for your baby as soon as you feel ready and willing. Take advantage of sales and special offers and definitely shop around! Items such a car seats and cot mattresses should always be bought new.
Learning and understanding childcare and parenting is a huge part of becoming a parent. It's always worthwhile investing in good, quality antenatal education. Your local maternity unit will offer antenatal and infant feeding classes. And, because they’re free, it's always worthwhile even if you have paid for independent classes. At the very least it's a great opportunity to view the unit where you will give birth. The information in your local hospital’s classes will also be specific to that unit and delivered by midwives that work there. That being said, the only true way to learn to be a parent is to do it! Make sure you have lots of support in place to help you as you transition into your new family life.
Flying while pregnant is usually safe in a straightforward pregnancy. But it’s important to know that most airlines won't let you fly beyond 37 weeks (32 with twins). Before you plan a trip, it's best to check with them. From 28 weeks, most airlines will require a letter from your GP or midwife to say you are in a good condition to fly.
Be aware that, in early pregnancy, any travelling may exacerbate any nausea or sickness you have already. It's important to be aware of the risk of blood clots, especially if you are flying a long haul, so wear compression stockings, do calf exercises, go for regular walks around the plane and drink plenty of water.
Having a positive attitude towards your pregnancy has so many benefits for you and your baby. It can be a challenge when dealing with morning sickness, hormones and body changes, but any stage of pregnancy is a wonderful opportunity to start to bond with your baby before they arrive! Pregnancy yoga, positive affirmations, mindfulness, meditation and hypnobirthing are some of the ways to help you form a positive mindset and bond. Talking to your bump and embracing the changes in your body is a lovely way to start.
It's lovely to be surrounded by friends and family for their invaluable support during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. As well meaning as they are, it’s possible that they will overwhelm you at times. It's important to start to think about who you want to see and hear from towards the end of pregnancy (when everyone is calling to ask if the baby has arrived yet), and at the birth. Most importantly, it's a good idea to think about visitors for when you go home with your baby. It's so important to protect your space with your new baby so make sure visitors understand that they shouldn't stay too long (unless you want them to). Perhaps they could bring food and offer to help! Listen to your mind and body, and if you don't feel up to visitors, then say so!