Pregnancy can bring couples closer or set them apart
Puja and Prakash had just welcomed the news of an addition into their family. Theirs was a love marriage and they were a happy couple, fully committed to building a family. Prakash was also excited by this new change in their life and equally stressed out watching his bride of one year facing these pregnancy-related challenges all by herself – he could only be a by-stander, and offer his compassion and full support. There is only that much a father can do – goes the common belief. Through the pregnancy, there were some anxieties about high BP, of baby’s heartbeat slowing down, and the never-ending throwing-up that Puja quietly endured.
As I was their closest friend, agony aunt and guide, a lot of questions came pouring out. Here are some of them that I answered:
Puja: I have these stretch marks on the sides of my tummy and on my butt – will they go away?
It’s important that you don’t give in to the urge of itching the areas that have stretched. Massage the areas with vitamin E enriched oil. In our villages young mothers go through Ayurveda herb infused massages and bath. They will also help in keeping the nipples soft and pliable, enabling early suckling for your baby. They help in your well being, lactation after the baby arrives and a quick recovery for you. Yes, you need to just get back in shape after delivery.
Prakash: How soon can we have sex again?
I know you are anxious about it. What? No sex for the next 9 or 10 months? The first trimester is a time to be careful. This is also the time when many men find it easier to slide into infidelity. Puja gave Prakash a pointed look and we all laughed. It is alright to have intercourse if the baby and mother are in good health. No acrobatics though, I warned.
Puja: Is there any special diet I must follow?
A well-balanced vegetarian diet, with a dash of your favourite meat or fish should be fine. Nuts, lentils, green leafy vegetables, fruits are all good. A lot of water is a must. A reasonable exercise regime – walking is sufficient. That way you will get your quota of sunlight. Papaya is a great fruit that has been maligned by quacks. I used to eat them in large portions.
Prakash: Anything we need to know that will ease the delivery?
There are many ways to decide on how you want to bring your baby into this world. There are natural methods, water delivery and so on. You can learn more about it on Birthing Village – it’s a website that encourages natural methods and home birthing where Prakash can also fully participate.
A few months after the baby arrived I visited her to wish everyone and gift the baby her new blanket that I had knitted. I asked the usual questions and out came pouring all the doubts and queries, from the new parents. Here are some common anxieties, and questions that worry new parents.
Puja: The baby was more than 4 kilos – doctor said he was huge and I had pregnancy related diabetes, does that mean my baby or I can get diabetes?
No, both mother and baby will regain good health, but it is vital that you keep a good diet regimen and exercise routine and get back in shape, gently. Breast-feeding will actually bring back your body back to a decent fat-loss. Most diabetes occurs due to self-medication and binge eating with no exercise.
Prakash: I am nervous about having the baby in our bed, should we keep him in a separate crib?
Ideally babies need a lot of skin-to-skin contact from both mother and father, so do carry the infant a lot, preferably bare-chested by the dad, and mom’s breast in any case should be available on-demand. Try to also do the cleaning, bathing and feeding yourself – if this is a tall order then enroll a loving grandmother to do so.
Prakash: What can I do to bond with my baby and ease Puja’s stress?
Let it be a father’s rightful duty to allow the mother some time away from the baby. That way Puja can get some me-time, catch up on sleep, or reading, and call her friends. My husband used to enjoy the oil-bath time with my babies. It is important to talk to your babies, the sound of your voice and your touch helps in bonding.
Having a baby is a time of stretch in many ways, a stretch on your routines, your sense of freedom, your sense of individuality and the best way to handle it is to get headlong into this change, by participating fully in the process of being pregnant and of caring for the infant.