FAQ : Pregnancy, Birth, Child-Care

When I found out I was pregnant, I started my search to find the best doctors in the area for me. I was very lucky to have found my amazing doctors, who I could openly talk to and ask questions. However, like so many of you, I had another full time doctor, that was available for all my questions. You guessed that right, it was the almighty ‘Google’. I researched quite a lot for all sorts of questions around pregnancy, child birth and postpartum. I would go through multiple blog posts and try to find an answer that fit my need the most. While it was great to see so many websites and blogs that contained volumes of answers, it was time consuming and frustrating (esp. during the early and later stages of pregnancy) to have to parse through all the information out there. I wanted a central place where women or men could go to have their common questions answered. So I thought why not do that for you guys and make your journey a bit easier. I have done the research so that hopefully you don’t have to do much.

Note : the following responses are based on my personal experiences only. You should consult your doctor for any medical advice. 
  1. Is is safe to workout when trying to conceive? Can I workout during pregnancy?
    • Yes, if you have been active all your life, then there’s no need to stop working out when trying to conceive or during pregnancy. You may not want to start something drastic like joining crossfit or running a marathon but staying active is recommended. You should also remember that, during pregnancy, there are a lot of hormonal changes. You may feel tired, nauseous and fatigued and as a result may not have the same amount of energy to exercise (at all). I want you to know, that it’s ok if you cannot workout. Don’t pressure yourself into being the ‘super fit’ pregnant woman/mom. If you can continue to exercise, great, if not, focus on what you eat. Walking daily (30-45 min) is one of the best exercises during pregnancy and postpartum. Listen to your body and do what feels right to you!
  2. Can I drink alcohol during pregnancy?
    • Simple answer, just don’t. My perspective is that if you’ve committed to bringing a happy, healthy baby into this world, do what you can to not introduce anything ‘risky’ to your pregnancy. You can never know a 100% the health of the baby but at least you can do your part to keeping the pregnancy healthy and safe. Different parts of the world has different believes when it comes to alcohol and there are ‘recommendations’ and ‘suggested limits’ but I’d rather just avoid the temptation all together.
  3. Can I drink coffee during pregnancy?
    • Similar to alcohol, if I can do without coffee that would probably be the best. I particularly don’t care much for coffee mostly because it gets me super hyper, jittery and I get palpitations so….safe to say I didn’t care much when I couldn’t drink coffee. Now, wine on the other hand…honestly, I missed it quite a bit but it wasn’t an essential for me 🙂
  4. Is it safe (ok) to have sex during pregnancy? Can you have sex during pregnancy
    • Yes! It is completely natural and safe to have sex during pregnancy. The baby in its mother’s womb is protected by the amniotic fluid and having sex will not impact the baby. The baby will not get poked (lol). However, if you have complications with the pregnancy then your doctor may advise against it. Have that conversation with your doctor. Especially, have this conversation with each other (spouse) to see what they are feeling about this particular matter. It is also normal to have as much of a sexual drive during and throughout the pregnancy and postpartum. Those hormones I tell you, so unpredictable but if the concern is safety, you’re in the safe zone! Just do what feels right and comfortable.
  5. Is eating Fenugreek during pregnancy bad?
    • There are a few misconceptions about eating Fenugreek during pregnancy. Yes, fenugreek is considered as a ‘uterine stimulant’ and it can/has been used to aid and induce labor during late stages of pregnancy. However, that is a medical dosage fenugreek and not what is used in general cooking for meals. In some cultures, Fenugreek is used in everyday cooking and I can see how that can arise some hesitation. Everything in moderation is ok but if you don’t feel comfortable consuming it, you can avoid it. Although, keep in mind that if you do go to Indian restaurants, you probably should check about Fenugreek usage in their food :). On the other hand, Fenugreek is considered very good for postpartum, especially to help with milk supply. You will notice that almost all of the lactation supplements contain fenugreek as the key ingredient.
  6. How do I start by baby registry? What do I need for a newborn?
    • Baby registry can be as easy as you want to make it or as complicated and time consuming if you wish to go that route. Each and every day there are new innovative products coming out in the market and it’s quite tempting to want to get your hands on them. However, sometimes simple is best, esp. during the newborn stage. All baby needs is to be fed, changed and put to sleep and a couple of onsies, diaper, wipes and burp towels :). For detailed baby registry visit Baby Shower Gift Registry.
  7. When can I start my baby on solid food? What kind of food do I start with?
    • Doctors recommend starting solid food after baby turns 6 months. If the baby is teething you can start giving teething wafers that readily available in the market. The melt as soon as you bite them so there’s no risk of chocking. However, always advised to be with your child when they are eating. In some cultures, babies get weaned into eating ‘solids’ between 4-6 months. Moong daal is what we started our LO on, it was the consistency of chicken stock. We then tried, pureed sweet potatoes, mashed avocado, rice and lentil puree, etc. for 2-3 months. It takes anywhere from 1-2 weeks for a flavor profile to be built so if you baby refuses a particular food on Day 1, don’t give up. We have not introduced spicy food to her but she has had food with spices i.e. everything we eat she now eats. That just makes everyone’s life easier. Some people try baby led weaning, if you have done your research and feel comfortable with it, def give it a try. It is so much easier than having to prep pureed food 🙂
  8. What are some good books to read for pregnancy?
    • The 2 books that we read were Cherish the First Six Weeks and Dude You’re Gonna be a DAD! I highly recommend Cherish the First Six Weeks because I didn’t read the other one 😉 My husband said he liked the second one. The first is a real good one if you know that you want to have a more structured and disciplined life (that’s the best way I could put it). I enjoy my sleep and sanity and while we didn’t necessarily practice the suggestions of this book within the first six weeks, we started after my daughter was 4 months old. It was a game changer! Since then she has been on a routine minus the growth spurt and sleep regression. More on these two topics on my next post.
  9. When should I start sleep training? What method should I use?
    • I don’t think there’s a right answer for this. In my experience, it all depends on when you think you are ready and your baby is ready. Definitely don’t recommend doing anything drastic until the baby is at least 4 months old. Sleep training is really difficult, emotionally on the parent. You end up feeling guilty and crying and giving up. But you just gotta push through it. I’ll repeat this again, I love my sanity and if getting enough sleep and being well rested will keep me sane then I will do anything for it. So, we tried sleep training when she was 6 months old then again after she was 10 months old because of sleep regression (which is ugh so tiring). We also did not necessarily follow any method. I’ll right more on sleep training in a longer post 🙂
  10. What are some good websites to reference for pregnancy, child birth, breastfeeding, parenting, etc.
    • I really liked KellyMom.com because it really covers everything under the sun. However, this should only be used as a reference and not as the Bible ;). Each child is different and everyone has a different journey so I would say you are the best judge for your needs as well as your child’s needs. Go with your instincts, you’ll learn to trust each other (your partner) more this way.
  11. When do babies have growth spurts?
    • Most commonly, growth spurts occur during the first 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months. Again, it depends on your child and note that they don’t last for 2 weeks or months. You will notice that your baby wants to either nurse more, is extra cranky or crying excessively, these are signs of growth spurt. This is the timing of growth spurt. Also note that during toddler years as your baby continues their brain and other developments they will have growth spurts mostly resulting in sleep regression.
  12. How long does growth spurt last?
    • Growth spurt can last anywhere from 2-3 days to a week. I have personally witnessed this with my daughter through each of her growth spurts. It is frustrating and testing times for sure. The good thing is that you know it is only temporary but until it lasts you will have to sleep a little less and plan your days accordingly 😉

Eating Healthy During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Eating Healthy to Nourish and Heal Your Body

Being healthy has always been an important aspect of my life. I’ve never really been unhealthy because I didn’t really LOVE eating junk food or fast food all that much. As everyone says, portion control is everything! However, things changed during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy, unfortunately, my morning sickness was so bad that I lost 11 lbs in the first trimester. After that, I just made sure to eat regularly, every 2 hours, and eat good. I gained about 30 lbs altogether (including the 11 lbs I had lost) during the course of my pregnancy. Once I delivered the baby, I may have lost about 10 lbs. I breastfed for about 8 months and trust me, when you are breastfeeding, you find yourself starving all the time.

Being from the South Asian part of the world, our culture really embraces taking care of the mother during postpartum and what better way to show it than through delicious meals, right? Thanks to my mother-in-law and my mom. I devoured rice, lentils, chicken, vegetables every day, morning and night, for about 5 months. I was hungry all the time and found myself carb loading. Don’t get me wrong, I love my carbs but I started getting them love handles and belly rolls which I have never had in my life! I panicked but then really started watching what I ate thereafter and started regular workouts to my schedule. It took me more than 6 months to get back into shape, meaning that I feel myself now and feel healthier. In the hindsight, I probably would have planned my meals to eat better. Meal planning isn’t quite the thing you want to do during pregnancy or postpartum, but hopefully the plan below will give you an idea on how to stay satiated and get your calories in!

NOTE: please don’t deprive yourself of any food at any point in your life. You don’t want to be binge eating those things during pregnancy to satisfy you ‘cravings’ :). Everything in moderation is ok. Also remember you are not really eating for 2, you’re just adding about 300-400 extra calories.

What to eat during pregnancy: Meal Plan

Breakfast (options) 7-8 AM

  • Milk (whole, almond) with protein powder or a dollop of ice cream
  • Homemade smoothie (without added sugar , try dates instead)
  • Oatmeal
  • Toast with Avocado or peanut butter or almond butter
  • Yogurt with homemade granola or oats

Snack 1 (options) 9-10 AM

  • I would recommend not doing spicy or oily snacks such as pakora, samosa or other packaged savory snacks. Save yourself from the heartburn!
  • Boiled Eggs – 2
  • Banana
  • A handful of raw nuts (walnut, pecans, almonds, dates)

Lunch (options) 11-12 PM

  • Peanut butter & Jelly
  • Chicken/Tofu Sandwich, wrap/kathi roll
  • Chicken salad (if you don’t feel comfortable eating raw food, substitute with cooked vegetables)
  • Fish (salmon) with vegetables or rice or salad
  • Rice/Whole Wheat Roti/Quinoa with chicken curry, chick pea curry or any other vegetables
  • Pasta with chicken, tofu or vegetables
  • Pan fried shrimp tacos or pastas
  • Quinoa Salad

Snack 2 (options) 1-2 PM

  • Cheese (pasteurized)
  • Greek Yogurt (whole milk) – refrain from any low fat low cal diet
  • Daal/Lentils/Soup
  • Avocado

Snack 3 (options) 3-4 PM

  • A handful of raw nuts (if not previously snacked on)
  • Fruits (apple, banana, grapefruit, blueberries, whatever you are feeling). Avoid papaya and pineapple as these are considered to be labor inducing fruits
  • Raw vegetables like cucumber, carrots, celery with hummus or other dip
  • Homemade poha

Dinner: 7 PM

  • Chicken and vegetables (such as kale, broccoli, green leafy vegetables)
  • Roti with Saag Paneer , Rajma, Edamame
  • Salmon with Rice/Quinoa or Sweet Potato
  • Hearty soup (daal/lentils or asparagus or butternut squash) with rice or roti

What to avoid during pregnancy?

Notes:

  1. Avoid citrus fruits in the morning as they tend to give you heartburn
  2. Avoid very spicy and oily food. Again, anything you can do to reduce heartburn.
  3. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. The recommended water intake is 12 glasses. However, if you are not a water drinker, don’t start chugging glasses to get the intake. Make your way slowly. I would carry a water bottle with me at all times.
  4. Avoid store bought juices since they are high in sugar and other additives.
  5. Limit coffee intake to 1 if you must and take it easy with those desserts/mithais 🙂

Our South Asian diet includes a lot of carbs which turns into sugar during digestion. South Asian women are considered to be at a high risk for developing gestational diabetes so you want to balance your diet from the get go. Be mindful of your choices and make a conscious decision of what you are putting in your body.  

What to eat after deliver: postpartum

Postpartum Meal Plan

In general, you need 500 extra calories a day if you are a breastfeeding mom. This typically adds up to 2000-2500 calories per day for those who are trying to maintain their weight. You can pretty much follow the same meal plan as listed above although may be difficult the first few weeks so have friends and family help (if possible). Below are some of the items you may want to add to your diet for postpartum:

  1. Lactation Supplement: a lot of women start taking fenugreek pills to increase their milk production. You may have family members who have homemade recipes with fenugreek seeds, that works great as well.
  2. Bone broth: if you are not a vegetarian, bone broth is a fabulous addition to your diet during pregnancy and postpartum. It is rich in collagen and gelatin which contribute to strong bones, tendons and connective tissue in mom and developing baby. Decreases fatigue and weakness which is especially helpful during the first few weeks postpartum. Lastly, it contains amino acids glycine and proline which are needed for soft tissue and wound healing which may help speed recovery if you have C-section like I did. You can make your own or buy it at Whole Foods or one of the other super markets.
  3. Lentil Soup: Moog or Mung Daal is by far one of the healthiest and heartiest soups. It is packed with nutrients, high in antioxidants and rich in potassium, magnesium and fiber which are all essential throughout your pregnancy and postpartum.     
  4. Green Leafy Vegetables: rich in fiber, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C and iron, make sure you have at least 2 servings of green leafy vegetables. It can be spinach, kale, broccoli, mustard greens, etc. FYI, you will need to test and try out a variety of food during this period as you will get gassy (like bad smelly ones) and that’s OK!
  5. Meat/Protein: protein is a must during pregnancy and postpartum. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy doctors recommend anywhere between 75-100 grams of protein a day. It sounds like a lot and yes, it is if you are not used to protein being part of your every meal, that’s how you are going to need to up the intake. It does not necessarily need to be all meat or fish but those definitely will give you the most:
    1. Chicken, Fish, Lamb, Goat Meat
    2. Cottage Cheese
    3. Whole Milk
    4. Nuts or nut butter
    5. Tofu
    6. Legumes (split peas, black beans, red/white kidney beans)
    7. Eggs

Ladies, as always these recommendations are just my opinion based on personal experiences. This post is not meant to offend anyone or any culture. You know your body the best and should listen to what it wants. If you have any kind of allergy, please substitute those items with an alternative. Also check with your doctor recommend food, diet, supplement and exercise and do what works for you. I hope this helps to at least plan things out. Please let me know your thoughts on this and previous posts in the comments section below.

Next post will be on fitness journey, stay tuned!

Xo, Naya