Bloating in pregnancy

Pregnant mothers often complain about abdominal distention commonly known as bloating.

In fact pregnant mothers often look as if they are further advanced in their pregnancy, because of abdominal distention.
In pregnancy the digestive system is influenced by pregnancy hormones especially progesterone. This causes the peristaltic movement of the gut to slow down causing fluid logging in the gut. Stagnation of intestinal contents is often associated with fermentation and gas formation in the gut! ( bloating!)

The best antidote is to eat less of the foods that ferment i.e. eat only three fruits a day. Avoid bananas, grapes, mangoes and very sugary fruits. Avoid foods with yeast and eat only a fistful of carbohydrates at every meal.
Also avoid raw vegetables as this does cause fermentation in the gut.

If possible take digestive enzymes and a good probiotic like acidophilus.

Some mothers are also lactose intolerant so if possible try eliminating milk from your intake for a week to see if this makes a difference.

Exercise can help! A brisk walk for 30 minutes every day does help in keeping your circulation in good order.
and lastly eat your food very slowly chewing your food till it is converted into a liquid before you swallow every mouthful. This reduces the work that has to be done by your intestines and leads to intestinal and abdominal comfort and better digestion.

Remedies for swollen feet and ankles during pregnancy

Ankle swellings in pregnancy could mean several things!

  • Rest! put your feet up for at least half an hour every 3 to 4 hours and perform ankle rotation exercises when you are at rest.
  • Crossing legs while siting compresses blood vessels and also increases fluid retention in the lower extremitiesAnna-46
  • Hot weather that causes your ankles to swell up and poor lymphatic circulation.
  • If you can bear it you could wear support tights that you put on in the morning and wear all day for at least 8 hours.
  • Opt for fresh foods and remove the salt shaker from the table.
  • Drink plenty of fluids at least 8 -10 glasses of water a day
  • Keep caffeine intake to minimum may also help
  • Its important to balance rest with some physical activity to keep fluid moving,30 – 45 minutes walk every day will do wonders

Of course! in extreme cases ankle swellings can indicate a more serious condition in pregnancy that needs you to get a urine test from your midwife or doctor who will check to see if you are loosing protein in your urine.In this case you will need to be monitored by your GP or Obstetrician.

Top tips for managing morning sickness

Credit: iamagloworm (Flickr)

Photo Credit: iamagloworm (Flickr)

Morning sickness is one of the more uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing aspects of pregnancy. Most women suffer from it at some point, but knowing that you’re in good company isn’t much consolation when you’re rushing to the loo – yet again!

In most cases, morning sickness starts at around 6 weeks and ends in the 12th -16th week.

And in most cases, nausea and vomiting is not limited to the morning. Sorry!

Morning sickness usually begins around the 6th week of pregnancy and ends around the 12th or 16th week. But some women, suffer from a more extreme form, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. In such cases, women can even require hospitalization and need a drip or injections to boost lost fluids.

Here are some of my favourite remedies:

  • My favourite homeopathic remedy is Nux Vomica. This powerful remedy is commonly used to treat indigestion, heartburn, bloating, nausea and vomiting. I suggest taking 6c three times per day for 3 to 5 days
  • Morning sickness can be caused by liver’s inability to detox the sudden increase in serum levels of oestrogen. The liver is the organ that clears the body of toxins. It has to work very hard, especially during pregnancy. So, reduce the load on the liver by reducing your level of toxins by switching to organic food, eating vegetarian food, avoiding caffeine and drinking lots and lots of water
  • Eating little and often can help alleviate symptoms. Avoid eating big meals that can lead to increased discomfort and indigestion. And allowing your stomach to become empty can also lead to indigestion as the stomach acids have no food to digest
  • Walking in the fresh air is another good way of reducing symptoms – even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing, it will make you feel better
  • Ginger is well known to reduce symptoms of nausea. Try ginger tea, eating a gingerbread biscuit when sickness strikes (not the whole packet!) or even just adding some raw ginger to boiling water
  • A little known fact is that the spleen can become tense during early pregnancy. This is due to the increased levels of red blood cells and other blood cell elements. I offer my clients a special spleen decongestion treatment along with repositioning the nerve centre for the spleen. This is very effective for relieving symptoms of nausea

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If however, symptoms persist and become unbearable, please do visit your GP.

Posted in Words of Wisdom | Comments Off on Top tips for managing morning sickness

Too Much Information?

Credit: Espen Klem (Flickr)

Photo Credit: Espen Klem (Flickr)

I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of information women are sharing about their pregnancies. It seems I’m not the only one.

According to a recent survey, expectant mothers may be divulging too much pregnancy information on social media. As reported by ITV.com. http://www.itv.com/news/story/2012-12-15/mothers-oversharing-pregnancy/ “2/5 people believe that pregnant women “overshare” details on websites like Facebook, according to a poll by Netmums and the Department of Health’s Start4Life campaign. 9/10 respondents said they had seen an image online of a friend’s scan and 22% said they had viewed a photo of a positive pregnancy test.”

Credit: leekelleher (Flickr)

Photo Credit: leekelleher (Flickr)

At first glance, this might seem to be a bit too much information. But, in a world where people share all kinds of things about their lives, particularly on social media, why should pregnant women hold back? After all, becoming a parent is one of the most life changing things that can happen to us. Why wouldn’t we want to tell the world?

I work with many pregnant women to help them achieve a gentle and happy birth experience. However, I also work with many women who are experiencing fertility problems. They often tell me how hard it is when everyone around them seems to be pregnant or new parents. They feel surrounded by bumps and babies. And logging onto Facebook or Twitter is no exception. Photo after photo, after amusing anecdote, there is literally no escape.

Considering too, the fact that according to a recent survey, “More than two thirds of the 2,000 Netmums members surveyed felt that mothers to be were more likely to try to show a “perfect” pregnancy than a realistic one” we are exposed to a rose tinted view of reality.

Spiritual Birthing

Image by By AlicePopkorn (Flickr)

Photo credit: AlicePopkorn (Flickr)

I was recently asked how to achieve a spiritual birth. Actually, I consider all births to be spiritual.

In my work as a birthing specialist, I like to create a sacred atmosphere throughout the entire labour and birth process. That means no unnecessary distractions, keeping the number of friends and family present to a minimum, and reducing general noise and hustle and bustle.

I believe that by world by creating a respectful and sacred place for the new born baby to enter the world, we are acknowledging the baby’s presence as a brand new human being.

Every birth, everywhere, ought to be recognised by doctors and midwives as the birth of a totally aware human being, with the heightened sense of awareness in the first few hours after birth equal to that of a much older child.  I would urge all people present at the birth to respect this.

For births to occur in a spiritual manner, the mother and the father need to be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally for a gentle birth experience. The mother needs to have a very healthy uterus and soft and clear birthing passages.  The vagina and pelvic muscles need to be stretchable and elastic (my Gentle Birth Method preparation prepares the mother to be able to enjoy this sort of natural birth as long as the principles and guidelines set out in the book are followed conscientiously). I am also against separating mother from the baby immediately after birth unless there is a serious medical condition that needs paediatric or surgical intervention.

I believe spiritual birthing is the result of conscious birth preparation. When the birthing process is proceeding normally the mother can relax and connect better with a force that is greater than ours. After all, giving birth is the most powerful thing a human being can experience.

The ability to enter a mental birthing zone that is meditative and spiritual is an art form that has to be cultured. It might sound complicated, but this is a process that can be learned by anyone.  In the classes which we run on a weekly basis for pregnant mothers and fathers we access this zone every week so that it becomes a familiar place for mothers and fathers to take their minds to when they are in the actual process of labour and birth.

Pregnant at Christmas – my top tips

  1. Photo credit: Melanie McDermott (pierrotsomepeople on flickr)

    Photo credit: Melanie McDermott (pierrotsomepeople on flickr)

    No Christmas boozing, no late night parties, difficulties squeezing into your 6 inch heels, but just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean feeling like a party pooper. Just follow these simple top tips and you’ll have a fabulous festive time!

  2. Don’t over eat, even if you’re tempted. I’m sure you know by now that indigestion and heartburn are very common in pregnancy. It’s not worth the pain! I suggest eating little and often instead of one big blow out binge.
  3. Certain foods are likely to cause bloating and wind. Think, sprouts, cabbage and sweet potatoes. These should definitely be avoided. You certainly don’t want your tummy to expand unduly! And those around you will thank you!!
  4. Go for a walk. You might not feel like getting outside, especially if it’s freezing cold, but a short walk in the fresh air, will do you and baby the world of good. Increasing your circulation, oxygenating the blood, helping keep your joints mobile and boosting your energy- wonderful! Just be extra careful if it’s icy.
  5. Ask for help. Women are notoriously bad at delegating. But, this Christmas is not the time to be a control freak. The additional stress of shopping, cooking, rushing around, cleaning up, washing up (the list goes on!) and generally being the hostess with the mostess is enough to send your blood pressure soaring. Remember, and remind those around you, that Christmas is a time for family- so get everyone to pitch in! It is not good for you or the baby to overdo it.
  6. Resist the urge to party all night. People will understand if you’re not the life and soul and need an early night. I suggest to my clients that they should be in bed by around half ten each night. If you do stay up late though, over the festive period, build in power naps and a lie in the next day. You are likely to feel more tired than usual during pregnancy, so make sure you get plenty of rest.
  7. Be extra careful when cooking turkey. Make sure it’s thawed out properly before cooking and that it’s cooked all the way through before serving. Food poisoning is extra serious for pregnant women.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask about food ingredients. Mayonnaise and homemade icing, meringues and mousses may contain raw eggs, and many puddings contain lots of alcohol!
  9. Avoid soft, blue our mouldy cheeses. Perhaps give the cheese and crackers a miss if you’re unsure.
  10. Put your feet up. Spending hours in your feet, especially if you’re wearing party shoes, can lead to swollen ankles. Not a good look! So, be sure to spend plenty of time with your legs elevated. Perhaps you could even ask your partner to give you a nice foot rub, after all it is Christmas!
  11. Get pampered. Ask Santa (and your family and friends) for pampering treats this Christmas. Luxury bath oils and body lotions will help you relax and unwind, as well as keep your skin supple. I suggest sticking to specially designed pregnancy ranges to ensure you avoid potentially harmful essential oils. You could also ask for a voucher for a pregnancy massage to help relieve tension or any aches and pains. The perfect treat!

Water all the way!

Water births are gaining in popularity, although some people still consider them to be rather unconventional! I personally believe water birthing gives the mother, baby and partner the best possible experience.

Far from being an “unconventional birthing method” according to OK! Magazine, water birthing has been around for many years.

In fact, I was the first doctor to do a water birth in a London hospital in the eighties.
It might sound like an odd idea; giving birth in a paddling pool or large bath, but there are actually many benefits.

Photo credit: cambiodefractal at flickr.com

Photo credit: cambiodefractal at flickr.com

  • Being in water allows the mother free range of movement, especially compared with lying on a hospital bed, with legs in stirrups!
  • The water is a great medium that provides muscle relaxation. This muscle relaxation helps the cervix to dilate rapidly.
  • The water also gives the mother the ability to relax better between contractions. The baby enjoys emerging into the warm water that is welcoming and gives the baby a sense of a soft welcome into the world.
  • Warm water can reduce the pain of contractions. Mothers who have a water birth are less likely to need pain relieving drugs. Water birthing is much safer than having an epidural, and it doesn’t harm the baby.
  • The water supports the mother, helping her to feel weightless, save energy and also to move around and change position during labour.
  • The pool is a calming, relaxing place away where the mother and her partner can relax and mothers who use a birthing pool tend to feel less stress. The more relaxed the mother, the more efficient labour is likely to be.
  • Partners may also bond better with the mother during labour, because the whole experience is less stressful. A happy birth experience enhances the ability of the mother and father to bond with the baby.
  • Women who have a water birth are also less likely to tear because the tissues are softer and more relaxed in water.
  • Baby emerges into water, happy, calm and relaxed!

It’s important to remember, however, that a successful water-birth requires preparation throughout the entire pregnancy. The mother’s pelvic tissues need to be clear, light and as soft as jelly so that the baby finds it easy to engage and descend down the birth passage easily. This kind of preparation is important for around 80% of women, with diet and lifestyle changes helping to soften the tissues.
If you’re pregnant, and looking for a gentle birth experience, why not ask your midwife about water birthing. I promise, you, your partner and your baby won’t regret it!

Motha the Mother

I grew up immersed in South Indian and Sri Lankan culture, where pregnant women are cared for and looked after by their families.

In India and in Sri Lanka our girls consider pregnancy and giving birth as a part of life and as a perfectly normal human function.

It’s usual for relatives on both sides of the family to visit a pregnant mother regularly bringing her easy to digest delicious food to eat.

This ritual of feeding a pregnant woman is considered to be one of the most meritorious good deeds and builds up good Karma- hence the motivation!

I love this tradition because it acknowledges the soon to be born baby and shows that the extended family are already taking care of him or her. I also like the fact that the family work together to help make life a little easier for the pregnant woman.

Here in London most of the pregnant mothers I meet are, rush, rush, rushing around – working hard, taking care of their partners and children and doing the housework and keeping everyone organised.

Perhaps this tradition should not be reserved for Indian women alone!

We can embrace these wise practices and give our mothers a bit of a break from their work routines. Perhaps lovely partners could give pregnant mothers a bit of time to put their feet up and feel pampered. This is usually much valued and effective.

Pregnancy is a time for calm. So take this opportunity to rally round your family and friends and ask for support. Asking for support is a sign of emotional honesty and not a sign of weakness. As being supported makes your baby in your womb feel emotionally more secure and happy.

You might even be lucky enough to encourage relatives or friends to pop over and cook for you once a week, or encourage your partner to be creative and cook for you a few meals. After all looking after you is helping to look after the newest addition to the family.

Gowri’s favourite things

Almond Milk
Blue Diamond almond milk and vanilla almond milk is delicious and a great alternative to dairy. It costs just £1.59 per carton and contains only 27 calories per 200 ml. You can buy it from supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose, but I suggest you go for home delivery as it flies off the shelves like hot cakes!

I recommend you eat three of the following each day:

Three Fruits
Please choose three from the following options:

  • 1 ripe pear
  • 1 apple
  • 1 peach
  • 1 apricot
  • 1 small bowl of blueberries
  • 2 slices of ripe pineapple

Please avoid grapes, mangoes and dried fruits as they have too much concentrated fruit sugar. This can put an enormous strain on your liver which has to metabolise them, and during pregnancy your liver has lots to do already detoxing excessive pregnancy hormones.

Lots of Probiotics!
I recommend taking one capsule of probiotics (10 billion units of Lactobacillus Acidophilus +/- similar strains) ten minutes before breakfast with half a glass of water at room temperature. My favourites are Lamberts probiotics because you don’t need to keep them in the fridge so you can take them with you on holiday.

Ten top tips for a Gentle Birth experience

I’m often asked what women can do during pregnancy to enjoy a Gentle Birth experience. Actually, the biggest impact can be created by what you don’t do, and what you avoid. I’m not sure if that’s what people want to hear!

Following an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and diet is the key. To give birth naturally, with minimal discomfort, the woman’s pelvis needs to be healthy and the surrounding tissue needs to be calm.

Here are my top tips:

  1. “Gluten free and sugar free” is my motto for a healthy pregnancy and birth experience. This one change contributes 80% of your birth preparation. It takes more than 6 months for the tissues in your body to get rid of the inflammation caused by gluten in your gut and pelvic tissues. Rather than focusing on the fact that you’re going to miss toast and cake, instead think positively. All supermarkets stock gluten free bread, cake and even biscuits. It’s good to know that this one simple change will help you and your baby so much.
  2. Avoid cow’s milk products – unless it is pure Guernsey milk. Goat’s milk is allowed. Most breeds of cows except the Guernsey cows secrete A1 protein in their milk which can cause inflammation in our gut and muscles. This can interfere with normal gut function and the absorption of good nutrients. It can also cause mucous congestion in our sinuses and mucus accumulation in our pelvic tissues that make it difficult for your baby’s head to descend easily. Mucous congestion also causes the cervix to dilate more slowly during labour.
  3. Listen to my CD every day for 22 minutes. This is not just a commercial plug! Mental preparation is essential for a healthy pregnancy and birth. My CD teaches expectant mothers self hypnosis, visualisation and mental programming techniques that prepare the mother subconsciously to easily accept and float through the various stages of birthing.Self Hypnosis and Visualisation CD
  4. Forget about excessive physical training! Exercises like kick boxing, spinning, excessively strong yoga and running tighten the muscles of the pelvis and makes it difficult for the pelvis to open. Focus instead on gentle yoga with micro movements and aqua yoga. In fact, a daily walk of 40 minutes is all that you need.
  5. Eating for two is a myth! Your baby needs only 200 extra calories a day. The equivalent of a gluten free avocado sandwich plus a ripe pear. A reasonable number of calories for a pregnant mother who takes a brisk 40 minutes a day exercise walk is between 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day.
  6. Eat fruit with caution. Avoid fruit juices and only eat three fruits a day. Avoid grapes, bananas and mangoes- as they contain too much sugar. Please, please, please avoid dried fruit as it’s full of sugar!
  7. I advise the use of vaginal oils from 36 weeks of pregnancy until you give birth, with daily gentle self stretching technique. This will help minimise the risk of tearing during labour.
  8. Take my herbal morning and evening teas to help the tissues in your body eliminate wastes more easily and to strengthen your uterus for birth.
  9. Go to bed at 10:30 PM every night.
  10. Spend time with your partner every night for least 10 minutes and ask them to massage my tummy massage oil using the abdominal toning techniques prescribed in my book. This will stimulate the blood supply to your uterus and to your baby and encourages normal birthing hormones to flow on the birthing day. It also helps you and your baby to bond and helps build a loving relationship between you.

Why So Scared?

There has been a lot in the news recently about Tokophobia – that is, fear of childbirth to you and me. Take a look at these recent posts:

BBC News
Huffington Post

It’s no wonder more and more women are fearful of childbirth. If you believe everything you hear in the press, giving birth is a traumatic, painful and undignified experience that women are forced to suffer. We hear horror stories about tearing, episiotomy, emergency Caesareans and dangerous complications. Combine that with the constant updates on the shortage of midwives and the pressure on our maternity services. It’s no wonder mums to be are quaking in their boots.

During my experience as an obstetrician I delivered hundreds of babies and met hundreds of mums who were rigid with fear and some of whom were emotionally out of control. My work involved transforming their fears and apprehension to positive anticipation of a gentle birth.

Growing up in Sri Lanka and in India, I had the impression, that giving birth is what our bodies were created for. It’s natural with manageable levels of pain.

When I came to England I was struck by a whole new cultural attitude that women have developed here to childbirth and most of it was fearful and negative.

Most probably this fear stemmed from the fact that mothers feel very much on their own in our society.

From my own point of view, I cannot imagine being in labour with strangers who do not know who I am or who just treat me like “a case” with machines doing all the monitoring. I believe that for a mother to experience a gentle birth they need the appropriate right kind of support and advice. Stuff that works!

In my book, I teach mothers to be how to get over their fear and use self hypnosis and visualization techniques to help them stay calm and relaxed. Using these methods can help reduce the need for medical intervention, the risk of tearing and the need for Caesareans.

This calm and gentle method, might not make for TV viewing, but there is a lot to be said for a relaxed mother, a gentle birth experience and a happy baby.