MANAGING YOUR PREGNANCY: WHAT TO EXPECT

Many women, especially first time mothers usually do not know what to experience during their pregnancies. This is one of the reasons why there are ante-natal classes. This post highlights some of what is to be expected.

You will experience various changes in your pregnancy, some significant, others not so much, it is very imperative to reach out to your doctor if you feel or notice anything different. A minute or two on the phone for discussion and reassurance may save you hours or days of apprehension.

There are no silly questions in pregnancy.

WHAT TO EXPECT

·       Change in Emotions

Everyone has hormones and they are chemicals that circulate in the bloodstream. They carry messages to different parts of the body and result in certain changes taking place. During pregnancy, the level of female hormones – oestrogen and progesterone increases in the blood. causing the uterus lining to build up, blood supply to your uterus and breasts increases and the muscles of your uterus relaxes to make room for the growing baby. This increase in hormone levels can affect how you feel; you may

get easily irritated, feel tearful or even have mood swings. For a while you could also feel that you cannot control your emotions, but these symptoms should ease after the first three months.

·       Bleeding

It is not unusual for light bleeding to occur at various stages in the pregnancy. The bleeding is usually light and not painful. However, it is difficult to be completely reassuring in this situation, and it is advisable for you to come in and be checked by a scan to confirm that the baby is healthy and that the foetal heart is present.

·       Swelling

Women often complain of swollen ankles and nearly every woman has some degree of noticeable swelling during pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester. Swelling on its own is a common feature of pregnancy, and is not associated with any risks to the mother or baby. The one thing that we do look out for is any elevation of the blood pressure – that would be a significant problem.

·       Heartburn

Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning sensation in the middle of your chest often accompanied by a bitter taste in the mouth and it is a common complaint in pregnancy, it usually occurs in the second and third trimester but comes earlier for some women. If you do have heartburn, you do not need to ‘suffer it bravely’ through your pregnancy. It is advisable to not lie down immediately after eating and also avoid spicy and greasy food. You should check in with your doctor if it persists

·   Constipation

Constipation is a common problem caused by a change in bowel habits in pregnancy, often with some bloating and constipation. Women with irritable bowel syndrome may notice some worsening of the symptoms.

·       Hunger

During pregnancy, it is pretty common to experience increased appetite, especially in the second trimester when morning sickness fades, cravings pick up and you need more calories to feed your ever-growing baby

·       Weight gain

It is not unusual to gain between 10kg and 12.5kg while pregnant, most of the extra weight is due to the baby growing. Gaining a lot of weight can affect your health and increase your blood pressure but it is also important to know that dieting while pregnant is not advised, just eat healthily and try to control your portions. Also, stay active and keep up your normal daily activities or try a little exercise. If you are concerned, talk to your midwife or GP.

Others include Varicose Veins, Preterm Labour, and Preeclampsia.

Remember that your body is housing a new life and it is very normal for changes to occur. Do not hesitate to call your physician if you notice any changes.

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Maternity

October is breast cancer awareness month, a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations, to highlight the burden of breast cancer. In honour of the breast cancer awareness month, we are giving this helpful guide about breast cancer.

KEY MESSAGES

Breast cancer is the top cancer in women worldwide and is increasing particularly in developing countries where majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed of breast cancer in their lifetime.

Early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

Risk Factors:

  • Has abnormal genes, such as mutated BRCA-1, BRCA-2, or PALB-2 genes
  • Began her menstrual period before age 12 or began menopause after age 55
  • Used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with estrogen and progesterone over a long period of time.
  • Has a family history of breast cancer, colorectal cancer or ovarian cancer
  • Has a personal history of ovarian cancer
  • Is currently using or has recently used birth control pills
  • Has never had children, or had her first child after age 30
  • Smokes or uses tobacco

You might be at an increased risk of breast cancer if you are a woman or man who:

  • Is overweight or obese
  • Is not physically active
  • Is over age 40
  • Has already had cancer in one breast
  • Has a family history of ovarian cancer
  • Has had radiation therapy close to his or her chest

SYMPTOMS

Don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Get screened according to guidelines. If you do notice any of the following symptoms, talk with your healthcare professional:

  • A lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast
  • A lump under your arm
  • A change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Nipple pain, tenderness or discharge, including bleeding
  • Itchiness, scales, soreness or rash on nipple
  • A nipple turning inward or inverted
  • A change in skin colour and texture (dimpling, puckering, or redness)
  • A breast that feels warm or swollen

PREVENTION

  • If you have babies, breastfeed them
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Exercise daily for 30 – 60 minutes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke, if you do quit.

EARLY DETECTION

  • In your 20s and 30s, have a clinical breast exam (CBE) by a healthcare professional at least every three years
  • Beginning at age 40, have an annual CBE and mammogram
  • If you are at high risk, talk with your healthcare professional about beginning annual mammograms at a younger age and/or having a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your health care professional about genetic testing
  • When you reach menopause, talk with your healthcare professional about whether you should have hormone replacement therapy
  • Know what is normal for your breasts. (Breast self-exam is one way you can do this). If you notice changes, see your healthcare professional right away.