What should expecting mums do to prepare for labour?
The most important thing expecting mums should focus on is awareness. Numerous publications are available which offer detailed information on pregnancy that would help them be aware. Good news is that recently the internet has become popular and is commonly used by many. The internet offers vast information, so mums-to-be can both read books and browse some websites to get informed about pregnancy and labour. Other things they should take into account include a balanced diet, good dental care, an active life (i.e. walking, etc.) and regular doctor visits.
2) How should the mother take care of herself so that she can have a hassle-free pregnancy?
Pregnant women should watch their body weight and make sure that they put on 1.5 kg a month on average. Excessive weight gain not only adversely affects the labour, but it may also result in post-partum overweight. The mother should also surround herself with a blissful, serene and a happy atmosphere, it is crucial both for the baby’s development and psychology – as it will help her have a comfortable pregnancy and prepare for the labour calmly. It is vital that expecting dads support expecting mums, so they play a significant role in preparing for smooth delivery. The mother should never delay her regular doctor visits, paying particular attention to good dental care. Please remember that poor dental care and any tooth decay may lead to preterm birth. A common mistake in Turkey is expecting mums’ lack of dentist visits. They avoid any necessary fillings or tooth extractions. It is perfectly normal and healthy to visit dentists and go under dental treatment during pregnancy. A dentist should see the decays -if any- and administer the right treatment. Another common tendency we see is that expecting mums minimise their movements and exercises. This sedentary lifestyle may again lead to weight gain. On the contrary, they can put on their sneakers and go on with their daily activities and exercises -provided that they do not push their limits too much.
3) What is a healthy diet for expecting mums? Can excessive weight gain possibly affect the moment of birth?
Excessive weight gains not only limits expecting mum’s movements, but it also makes normal delivery harder. That’s why a balanced diet is essential. Need for protein and some minerals (i.e. iron) increase with pregnancy, whereas excessive eating (thus excessive calorie intake) is not needed. A mistake in Turkey is expecting pregnant women to intake above-average calories and insisting that ‘you should eat for two’. On the contrary need for protein can be met by meat, milk, eggs. But high carbohydrate content including pasta, cakes and pastries are unhealthy for pregnant women. The expecting mums should learn how to eat and maintain a balanced diet both during and after pregnancy.
4) How can women with no experience in infant care learn these?
As we have mentioned above, publications and internet are available with detailed information on infant care. In Turkey, mothers commonly learn infant care from their mothers and elders -which is a correct practice. However, some old, wrong habits (i.e. rigid swaddling) are also transferred to younger generations for years. Therefore, new mothers should both learn from older generations and the scientific and right ways of infant care through scientific publications and the internet.
5) What are the benefits of doing an exercise while getting ready for the delivery?
Delivery is a physical activity, and it is performed with working out the muscles. Because of that, doing physical exercises routinely and working the muscles will make things a lot easier in normal delivery for a woman getting herself ready for the delivery. We encourage expecting mums to perform delivery exercises, do walks without pushing themselves too hard and engage in physical activities. We often observe women leaving their jobs or choose to retreat to their homes, which causes them to gain weight; and hence making things even more difficult in the delivery process for them. The ideal thing is to work out the muscles and lead an active life, for sure, without pushing it too hard. The most critical point is the fact that the woman should not wear herself out while doing physical activity by forcing her limits and letting herself gasp for breath.
6) Some expecting women prefer going to training centres for expecting mums; how are these centres good for them?
Centres that help expecting women get ready for the delivery to have become widespread in recent years. We believe that such centres are different in many ways. The expecting women get training on the types of delivery and how it happens, and they are also instructed to work their muscles with physical exercises and learn to push during the latest stages of the delivery. It looks like such centres are more common in Istanbul, per se as much as we can see. An expecting mum will benefit from visiting these centres in a regular fashion. In this way, she will get prepared for the delivery both mentally and physically. Another benefit of these centres is that the dads also get involved in the activity of delivery and process of pregnancy. This will allow them to get ready for the delivery making sure they are there for their partners, not emotionally detached from them. And that will be a major factor which amplifies the harmony among mum, dad and the child both during and after the birth.
7) What are the things one can learn about expecting mum’s preparation for the moment of labour and infant care?
Publications that have become widely available in recent years and the internet sources make the preparation of expecting women to infant care at the very moment of delivery ever more likely. An additional recommendation from us to the expecting mums is to write down any question that comes to their minds on a piece of paper at home in the course of pregnancy monitoring and take that piece of paper with them when visiting the doctor. Our observations suggest that many pregnant women cannot recall and forget the questions that they were going to ask us when they show up for the check at our premises. The best way to prevent this from happening is to write down all the questions at home and then interpret them once again when seeing the doctor. Another source of information for the mums is their mothers and elderly. Such kind of information comes out to be true in most of the times. However, some of them are found out to be containing false elements as they lack a scientific basis and are part of traditions and customs (such as the wrong practice of covering a kid with fever). Because of this, before taking something for granted a scientific verification must be obtained and expecting mums should refer to either internet or a physician so that she can learn if the procedure that is followed is correct. How much the expecting mum can ready herself for the delivery and infant care, that much she will find herself at ease thereafter. Likewise, antenatal classes are also practical tools in getting the expecting mother ready.
Prof. Dr M.K, M.D. / IVF Turkey Medical Team
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist