Pregnancy books. Do you need them?!

Baby books

With the excitement of finding out you are pregnant, many women then go on a shopping spree to buy pregnancy books and let me tell you, there is plenty out there!

Once again, my thoughts on purchasing these books came down to a monetary aspect. But I still wanted to know what was going on with my body while being pregnant.

Lucky for you and me, we live in a technological era and all the information you need around your pregnancy is at your fingertips.

There is so many apps and websites that it can bit quite overwhelming but I will narrow down the apps and websites I have used as like many of you, I don’t have the time to sit there for hours reading various websites or downloading a heap of apps.

The best app for my iPhone that I have downloaded is the My Pregnancy Baby Center app. A couple of reasons why this is a great app:

  • The app tracks your pregnancy daily. It tells you how many weeks you are and how many days until your due date
  • It gives you very useful daily information around being pregnant. It covers everything from food, exercise, hygiene, pregnancy symptoms and general information. It’s fantastic to get a daily dose of info
  • The best part about this app is the Birth Club. Basically a forum dedicated to the month your baby is due. So you sign up and jump on and you and any other women who is due the month you are due are in that forum. This have been invaluable to me as I read the various symptoms and see if what I was experiencing was normal, ready on what was coming up (as most women were ahead of me as I am due 31 May) and also give you the opportunity to post your own questions and queries and have the other mothers respond. This has been great for me as mentioned previously because I don’t have friends who have been mothers to help me along so sometimes at night before I go to sleep I would stay up and chat with the other mothers and feel at ease that the things that were happening to my body was perfectly normal

The other app that I have also downloaded and used is BabyBump (both apps are free by the way).

Now BabyBump I have used for the below reasons:

  • This app also tracks your pregnancy letting you know how far along you are and how many days you have left
  • This app also comes with a daily information dose around pregnancy
  • I have used this app to track my baby bump! At first I didn’t want to do this when my Mum and others suggested it because I felt weird seeing my belly grow but I thank god I did it because it’s not something you can exactly go back and do. This app tracks your baby bump weekly and now I love going back over the weeks to see how much I have grown! It’s just such a wonderful experience to go through that I love that its been captured in this app for me to look at
  • There is a journal section which I have used to track my weight. You can also include your measurements but I never used that. I’ve only just used it to track my weight.

Now I also suggest to sign up with the Baby Center website. They will send you a weekly email to let you know how your baby is growing and developing and they also have some great videos to see your little one developing. I love receiving my weekly newsletter letting me know how my baby is growing and growing.

The other website which I signed up to quite late in my pregnancy but have enjoyed the emails coming through is the Huggies website. They also send through a weekly newsletter and gives you helpful tips and info on pregnancy at that specific stage.

Now I got given one baby book through work which is called Baby Love by Robin Barker. I have found this very very hard to read. I am not even a quarter of the way through the book and to be honest I just find it really boring and tedious. I felt guilty at first when I wasn’t enjoying reading the book but then realised that I can get that very information elsewhere and in a much more lighthearted way.

I found it a heavy read and don’t think I will be picking up the book anytime soon.

Another good source of information which I will go into more details in another post is my antenatal classes. My antenatal classes are run by the midwives and they give you a bunch of readings every week.

I found it great to read on my to work or back as it was a couple of pages and didn’t have to carry a whole book and again snippets of information.

I just find there is such an information overload with pregnancy that I can’t handle too much at the same time as I most certainly get overwhelmed so the various ways above of getting information about my pregnancy has worked for me like a dream!

Oh and being able to access blogs like mine and others out there are great as well to help through your pregnancy.

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Work it out

Workout

So I would not consider myself a gym junkie by any means but I have regularly exercised throughout my life.

I am 168cm tall weighing anywhere between 65-70 kgs.

Apart from the weight benefits of exercise, I also found it a great way to de-stress from an arduous day at work and also found I slept much better when I had a work out.

So in my case, I didn’t pick up I was pregnant until I was 8 weeks and meanwhile I was exercising as normal. Now this isn’t the best thing to do if you know you are pregnant until you get the doctor’s ok. The first trimester is always the most crucial for your baby’s development so if I had known earlier, I would have stopped.

Now I am a big advocate of exercising while pregnant! But not in the way that I was used to before. I have always been a member of a gym but when I thought about the classes that I usually do i.e. Zumba, Pump, Cycle, I started worrying that it might not be so good for the baby and also as I was getting bigger, not sure if I felt comfortable being around crowded gyms so I had to look for alternatives.

Once you have passed the 12 week mark, it’s usually ok for you to take up normal exercise again.

I heard that pre-natal yoga and Pilates was fantastic to help your body to prepare for labour and work on areas like your pelvic muscle and hips which is crucial for birthing, so I started looking around.

I needed something close to work so it would make it easier to get to. I found Life & Balance http://www.lifebalance.net.au, just down the road from my work.

They run pre-natal courses which you sign up for 6 weeks which personally I found great to motivate me to go as opposed to pay per class.

I also had the dilemma of whether I should go Pilates or yoga. I have previously only done Pilates so I signed up to pre-natal Pilates. After the first class I did, I was so sore for the next 2 days. Too sore in my mind and also maybe because I was just over 3 months, I was a bit scared that I was putting too much pressure and strain on my body so I asked if I could switch to their yoga class and it was not an issue at all.

So I have been doing yoga ever since and its been fantastic. I’m now 34 weeks and still doing my classes and the stretches are really helpful especially when you hit your 3rd trimester and the body aches truly kick in.

The other exercise I do once a week which I also heard is fantastic for pregnancy is Aqua Aerobics. Now I was very skeptical about this type of exercise as I always saw it for seniors and thinking what benefit would I get out of this but I must admit its the class that I look forward to the most.

I missed the ability to do any cardio work like running and jumping, which are all things you can do in an Aqua class. You even get to do weight training as you get the foam dumbbells which create resistance to the water and mimic weight training which I also love and missed.

The weightlessness of the water is also great to make you feel “normal” in the sense that you don’t feel heavy like you do out of water and you get to kick in the water, jump around and its a great workout.

I pay $15 per class at a health gym which is great because that’s all I use the gym for.

Also one of the girls in the class was also pregnant and did the Aqua class up until 2 days before she gave birth and she was in labour for 2 hours!! What a dream! She thinks the Aqua classes really helped her and so it has given me even more motivation to go even when I don’t feel like doing anything.

And the last exercise which time and time again you hear is the best when you are pregnant is walking! I try to walk every other day that I am not exercising and in the first 2 trimesters this was a breeze, but now in the 3rd trimester, I can’t walk as fast as I used to and I definitely need more breaks but its great for your body and helps you work out without the intensity.

Now I can’t say without a doubt that exercising is the sole reason why I have been able to maintain a good weight for my pregnancy, but I do think its a contributing factor.

I started off pre-pregnant weighing in at 70kgs and I am 34+3 weeks now and I am weighing 77 kgs.

Just to give you some perspective, the average women by the end of term (40 weeks) would have put on 12kgs. Now this is only an average number. I know women who have put on 8kgs by end of term and others who have put on 20 kgs.

Hard to say what contributed to each because I didn’t really ask what they did or did not do throughout their pregnancy.

But I believe exercising not only helps with your pregnancy and the aches and pains that will come, but also helps you prepare for labour and also after you have given labour, easier to get back in shape (I will keep you posted on this one once I have given birth!).

Public vs Private

Decisions

So by 8-10 weeks it is recommended that you choose whether you will go public or private for your pregnancy.

Now for many women this might not even be a choice because you may not have health insurance to cover you for pregnancy.

I also was quite clueless on my private health insurance but luckily I had a colleague at work who talked me through private health insurance and private care during pregnancy or else I think I would have no clue and also would not be in a position in choosing.

12 Months Waiting

  1. I’m not sure how it works in other countries, but in Australia, you can not make a claim on pregnancy unless you have been with the private health insurer for 12 months or more. So its not like you can fall pregnant and then sign up to private health insurance. You need to be with your insurer well before you fall pregnant.
  2. You also need to check what level of pregnancy cover you get! From looking on my side, it seems you have to get top hospital cover to be able to be covered for pregnancy at all the private hospitals. Some health insurance have basic level pregnancy cover, which only covers you for a private room in a public hospital and that’s about it.

Now please keep in mind that Australia as many would know have one of the best public healthcare systems in the world especially when it comes to mothers and their babies. Also the care at many of the public hospitals from what I hear is fantastic.

Like I say, everyone has their own cicumstances to think of.

Going private is definetly more expensive.

I have a more detailed expense breakdown as I have been keeping count on our expenses related to going private. Below is a breakdown (rough. If you want an exact number just ask me and I’m happy to add it up until now):

  • c$160 per month for private health insurance
  • $200 for the initial obstetrician visit
  • $100 for all follow up visits (this could be 10-12 visits all up)
  • $4,000 plan maangement fee (now this amount varies per doctor. Anywhere between $3,000-$7,000)
  • $200-$300 for ultrasounds (usually 3 throughout the pregnancy)
  • $70 per day in hospital co-payment (this was an option in my health cover that I took up to reduce my premiums)

Now I’m not taking into account what you get back from Medicare, but you do get money back from the OB visits, plan management fee and ultrasounds.

Just as an indication, rough estimates below:

  • On OB visits I was initially getting $40 back but then you hit a threshold which means you get more money back and after I paid the plan management fee, I started getting nearly $75 back on each OB visit
  • I got $500 back on the plan management fee
  • My last ultrasound cost me $209 and I got back $140 from Medicare but that’s because I have hit the threshold. Previous ultrasounds I got back less.

Some advice on ultrasounds. My OB would give me a referral to a certain ultrasound place but you can take that referral to any place that does the required ultrasound and they will accept it. The place my OB referred me to was charging $300+ per ultrasound. I rang around a couple of places in Sydney and found Bondi Junction X-Ray who charge $100 less!

You might get caught up paying more at these other places as well because they can make a DVD out of your ultrasound. In my mind, I don’t know when I will put a DVD in to watch my baby in my womb. I would rather be watching videos of my baby once they are out.

Me and my partner are middle income household earners so we tried to be as mindful as possible with the costs and what is necessary and what is just a waste.

Tip: The excitement of a new baby tends to send mums especially first time mums into spending overdrive! You think you need everything for this baby. A tip from someone who has and is going through this, I always think twice and take a moment before I consider buying whatever it is and always always think this “could this money be better spent on something else for the baby such as education, sports, music leassons or general savings for the baby?”. If you answer yes to this question, then put the product down and walk away.

So you might be asking “Why did you go private?”. My reasons are below. Again keep in mind of your own personal circumstances and do your own research to help you along:

  • My personaility type is that I am a very anxious person and I internalise this anxiousness and being a first time mum, I knew I needed peace of mind. Knowing that I had the same obstetrician seeing me every visit and who will be there for the labour and make the right decisions was important for me to be calm and in peace. This is one thing that is super important during your pregnancy. Stress free and peaceful
  • With my obstetrician I am able to see my baby every time I saw him as he had an ultrasound machine. This has been an amazing experience and I was so excited for my OB visits so I could see our baby, record him/her moving around, hear their heart beat (it still makes me well up in tears when I hear it) and again peace of mind of being able to see that baby is ok! I would tend to think bad things during my pregnancy so the anxiety was pretty bad and especially because you don’t get to feel your baby kick usually until your 4 months or more, so those first 4 months of being able to see and hear baby were so important to me
  • If you go private, you have the option to have an elective cesearean or go natural. In the public system, this option is not available to you unless you have a health problem that would require a c-section. When I fell pregnant I could not decide whether I wanted a c-section or go natural so having the option to go either way was again important for peace of mind (I will go into further details on what I have decided on doing for my birth)
  • Public hospitals are not inclined to wanting to do c-sections purely because it costs more money to have a c-section, not only the actual operation but recovery time is longer than natural and therefore take up more beds longer which means a lot of women who go public will have to go natural and if labour is long, then the hospital will encourage you to keep on carrying on with the labour. One colleague of mine was in labour for 22 hours before they decided to take her in for an emergency c-section. Again, I don’t want to be in a situation where I am not only putting stress on my body but also my baby just because I need to go natural. My OB and myself can agree at what point in time we need to go in for a c-section and having a professional who knows my history gives me assurance that he knows what to do when the time comes.
  • Being my first time going through labour, I wanted the privacy to recover on my own in my own room. In the public system, you are expected to share rooms unless you have a serious condition during or after labour, but the majority of people have to share. With private, you will get your own room if you deliver in a private hospital. You can go private in a public hospital but they still can’t guarantee you a private room which for me defeats the purpose.

Those are some of the reasons that I can think of at the top of my head, but again I want to reiterate that not every couple is in a financial position to be able to go private and to those I say that again, our health system is one of the best in the world and the public health system will look after you and the baby as need be.

For others that can afford to go private, then weigh up the pros and cons. We sat down and went over the numbers but the pros for me and my partner was the fact that I would be in a more peaceful state of mind (which I have been) and stress free when it comes to the baby’s development (again I can vouch for this).

It was also very important for my partner that I have peace of mind so he did not mind paying what we had to pay to achieve this.

In saying that, if everything goes smoothly with this baby, then I’m not sure if I would go private a 2nd time round. Reason being is that my state of mind might be different in that I hope I’m not as anxious second time round as I would already know what to expect but who knows. Will have to wait and see when the time comes.

 

The first 3 months

First trimester

So one thing that you learn very quickly is that every women, including yourself, is different when it comes to pregnancy.

I am currently 33 weeks pregnant and I have to admit, I have been very lucky with the way my pregnancy has gone but I also think that you may hear the bad things more than you hear about the good pregnancies, just like labour stories.

I have loved being pregnant! And I think its important to tell other pregnant women that you can have an easy pregnancy and hence why I want to share my story with others.

I too was expecting a hard pregnancy just because you hear so many bad things.

My first trimester I suffered from nausea. I didn’t want to eat anything, smells were intensified, so going to the food court made me sick. I think I literally lived off soup and cheese and tomato toasties. I did not want anything else.

Nausea was worst in the morning and I had to travel by bus and train to work so the movement of both made me feel even worse. Also riding in the car made me feel ill. Basically whenever I was moving around I would feel nauseous.

By midday to mid-afternoon the nausea will usually settle down.

To help with the nausea I would always have water on me (and continue doing this throughout your pregnancy) as well as getting fresh air whenever I felt sick.

First trimester I was also extremely tired! Now this was hard to cope with while working. So many times I wanted to go to my bed and just sleep. It’s not recommended to have caffeine during your pregnancy so I just tried to work through the tiredness but I do remember a particular day where I was nauseous during the morning and it really drained me and I had to leave work and go home and was in bed sleeping at 12pm.

I never vomited throughout the first trimester. It was literally nausea that hit me.

Take it easy and listen to your body! I was still adjusting from being a very active person to dealing with the nausea and tiredness and whilst I found it frustrating at the time, you need to understand that your body is working overtime to bring your baby and this precious life into the world and your body is adjusting to this and hence the tiredness and nausea kicking.

Also highly emotional! I cried all the time and I am a very non-emotional person. I would cry on my way to work, I would cry when I see a baby or kid. I was just highly emotional and sensitive. Again, its your hormones running wild and getting ready for your baby. Let yourself cry and all the emotions, good or bad, are perfectly normal.

I had a lot of anxiety those first 3 months which people don’t tell you about. As you will probably hear, the chance of a miscarriage is the highest in the first 3 months, so I was constantly worried. I was so worried. Sick to my stomach worried that I actually don’t know how I coped. I couldn’t help but think the worst sometimes and I was wishing the first 12 weeks away so that I knew baby was in a safer zone.

I won’t lie, it was horrible. The waiting and agonising. I made myself sick on top of the fact I was already nauseous

I can’t give you any advice on how to get through this except that if you make it past the 12 weeks mark then things definitely get easier.

Next up is your 12 week scan and blood test. This scan was incredible for me and my partner. We got to see our baby properly. This scan also tests whether your baby could have down syndrome or spinabifida.

Again the waiting on the results is the worst and at this point in time, most couples don’t tell their friends or extended family until they have received the results.

But enjoy the scan, it’s a most precious moment you will share as a family. Your little one up on the screen, your partner watching on and you get to see the miracle of life growing inside your belly!

What happens next?

What next

So you have found out you are pregnant! Congratulations! But sometimes hearing those words don’t really resonate immediately if like me you weren’t exactly ready to have a baby at that very point in time.

Give yourself time to go through the emotions. Whether good or bad.

I cried for days. I cried on my way to work. I cried when I was home watching TV. I cried if I saw other babies. I just cried.

I cried because I was so overwhelmed. To think I will be bringing in a life into this world that will solely rely on me to raise it and ensure its safety and happiness is such an overwhelming thought that all I could do was cry.

Tip: These thoughts never go away but get easier over your pregnancy to accept and get your head around. You cry. But much less.

If you have done a home pregnancy test, then next step is to go to your GP.

Your GP will run a blood test that will let you know how far along you are and also a general blood test on your health so will give you an STD test as well as look at your iron, iodine etc.

If the results come back that you are 8 weeks or more along, then you will need to do a dating scan.

Now at this point in time to save some money, you should decide on whether you will look to go private or public.

What this means is that you either get an Obstetrician to look after you during the pregnancy and for the delivery or you are taken care of by your GP or the public hospital you will deliver at.

The reason why you would save some money now is that if you decide to go to an Obstetrician, then most OB’s have their own ultrasound and can do the dating scan for you and its included in the initial consultation fee of $200 (that was the consultation fee for my OB so not sure if that’s the norm).

If you did not go to an OB, then you will need to pay for the scan which because I didn’t go that route, I’m not sure how much that is.

Again, be easy on yourself. If you can take a day off work, then do it. If you need to cry, then do it. The first moment when you find out you are pregnant may not always be the reaction you were expecting of yourself but I can say now going through it, I have never been this happy in my life! Pregnancy has been beyond amazing. Richest experience I have ever encountered. It has brought me and my partner closer together. Bonding with my mother has been lovely and so many other countless experiences