the unnatural mother

embracing mother-ing and all its glory – from wet diapers, spit-ups, tantrums to first smiles, hug-a-bugs and sweet cuddles

Third time’s a charm September 27, 2011

So it’s my third time around and surely, I have some credits in OB-GYN “patient-ing” if there was a course! Let me share with you my usual pregnancy woes and remedies that I found very useful.

I was still breastfeeding SKY and was only contemplating lessening my pumping sessions when I learned about the pregnancy. I didn’t want to stop and knew from many BF advocates and real-life stories  that it IS possible to breastfeed while pregnant. However, my morning sickness got the better of me.  I was physically drained. I am on the petite side with an average weight of 103 lbs pre-pregnancy. Pumping at work, breastfeeding at night with no appetite and vomitting is not really a good combination for the demanding fetus in me. I had to stop and I did it rather quickly – in a month’s time. Though I did extend a couple more weeks because I kept getting engorged or when we didn’t know what else to do when SKY was being fussy.

The 2nd and 3rd pregnancy was plagued by morning sickness and this time, the vomitting extended until the 5th month. Though by the 4th month, the nausea was significantly less and only the vomitting persisted when the lingering taste in my mouth didn’t agree with me. Some things I did to abate the nausea:

1. Smell something you agree with. For me, it was anything citrus-y: calamansi, lemongrass, orange peel. If I was really dizzy, I would sniff amonia to get me on my feet. On the other hand, avoid scents that you don’t like, of course.

Human Nature Body Scrub in Lemongrass

Human Nature Body Scrub in Lemongrass. I love sniffing this. It relaxes my nerves.

lemon

Lemon. You can pack along lemon skin when you travel during these difficult times.

2. Don’t starve yourself. On this 3rd pregnancy, I found it really helpful to munch on Skyflakes plain at the first hint of hunger. I realized that the more hungry I got, the more nausea came.

3. Eat small meals. Always have healthy snacks on hand – nuts, fruits, raisins, cereals.

Cereals

Cereals. Keep in an air-tight container on your desk to munch on at the first sign of hunger.

4. Avoid fatty and oily foods. For me, this goes hand in hand with #1. The smell of anything oily or fatty just doesn’t work with me.

5. Take your prenatal vitamins and iron later in the day. I made the mistake of drinking all my vitamins at breakfast when I was in my 1st trim with SKY. As morning sickness was something new to me then (as I never had it with my 1st born, NY), I ended up vomitting gloriously! Iron supplements are especially tough on the stomach for some reason so take this in the afternoon or at night.

6. Get lots of rest. If like me, you still have a 1-yr old who wakes up at night, get cat naps anywhere and everywhere. If your office has a clinic, this is the best time to take advantage of it. Otherwise, sleep at your desk! 🙂 If your boss is a man and doesn’t understand, give him the evil eye and say “No uterus, no opinion!”. As for the lady boss, any woman who has been pregnant will and should understand your predicament. Of course, make sure you complete your day’s goals as well.

For other tips on morning sickness remedy, click here.

After the morning sickness during the 1st trimester comes the constipation during the 2nd trimester. For some women, this comes earlier than the 2nd trim and for some comes only during the 3rd trim. For all my 3 pregnancies, they came at different times. If you’re OC about doing #2 at a certain time of day everyday(like me), a couple of things to remember: First thing about constipation is that you should never exert effort to move your bowels during pregnancy at any time or trimester! Second, a good balanced diet really helps improve this pregnancy torment. Here are some foods that helped me:

1. Eat fruits. Almost all our Philippine fruits are high in fiber but the most effective for me are: Papaya, Pineapple, Grapes. I need to eat 2 servings of papaya – a serving would be 2-3 “boats” – everyday (at breakfast and dinner).

Papaya

Papaya. 2-3 boats of papaya per serving; 2 servings a day helps me.

2. Eat Oatmeal. I used to eat the readily available, instant Quakers oatmeal but as I made homemade baby food for SKY, I learned that the instant type has been processed so much that the benefits are minimal (plus it has added sugar which is another pregnancy restricted element) . I switched to Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old fashioned Rolled Oats (available at Healthy Options for P265 for 2lbs). The 2 lbs pack would last me 2 months or more so the price is good enough. Since it takes time to cook (10-15 mins on a stove top) and am usually on a rush every morning, I cook 1 cup in advance and put it in the ref. I only have to add a little water and pop it in the microwave for a good reheat and this batch lasts me 5 days.

Rolled Oats

Bob's Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (from Healthy Options)

3. Yogurt. Yogurt is healthy for anyone at any age (starting 1 yr old up). Though the effects of yogurt in bowel movement is not explicitly discussed by Dr. Sears in this article, I think it has something to do with the friendly bacteria present in it. Aside from that, yogurt is a good source of calcium which is essential in pregnancy. No need for fancy imported yogurt. Nestle Fruit Selection yogurt retails for about Php 25-26 for the 1 serving size. I buy the big one which is 4x more than the small one – it’s P108 in most groceries but I chanced upon one that sells it for P101. My kids and I all eat yogurt so buying the big one is worth it (plus buying in bulk equals less trash) .

Yogurt

Nestle Yogurt

4. Drink an adequate amount of water everyday. Water is good for you. It helps moves your bowel. Enough said. Dr. Sears recommends at least 8 x 8oz glass of water everyday. That’s about 2 litres of water (1 litre = 34 fl oz). And in tropical countries like ours, I would suggest more.

5. Prunes. I almost forgot about prunes. When I had it really bad with NY, I’d drink half a glass of prune juice. ACK! Let me warn you… it’s too sweet and sour at the same time. Try munching on the dried pitted prunes instead – it’s yummy to some extent – like dates or a big raisin.

Prunes

Prunes. Munching on these is better than drinking the juice.

For a more comprehensive list of constipation remedies, click here.

As the 3rd trimester sets in, I find myself getting bigger and heavier. The growth rate of my baby is now on a steep curve as it packs up fat for the outside world. New & other troubles during this time would be back, knee, foot pains, trouble in sleeping, trouble switching sides while sleeping or getting up from bed, walking,urticaria,cramps,  frequent urination.. and the list goes on. Again, some troubles start earlier in the pregnancy and this post is by no means a standard (this is only my experience and it has been different in all 3 pregnancies).

Remedies for these? The thought that a little sweet smelling bundle of human awesome-ness is about to arrive 🙂 But seriously…

1. For body pains and aching joints. Try moving slowly and steadily – no one expects you to be nimble and speedy at this point. Try some stretching exercises while standing and raise your legs while sitting at your desk. Avoid sitting, standing and walking for long periods of time. The good thing nowadays is that they let cars with pregnant women park at the handicap slots in malls – I’ve tried Ayala malls (Trinoma, Market Market) and they do allow this; have not tried SM; Robinson’s Galleria does not.

2. Trouble sleeping. A nice foot and back rub before going to bed usually helps to keep me asleep through the night. Have not tried arometherapy/lavender oils but they say, it also helps.

3. Trouble switching sides in bed or getting up from bed. Pillows help a whole lot. At this point, you shouldn’t be sleeping flat on your back so it’s presumed that when you do lay down, you are on your side. Put a baby’s bolster pillow under your belly to support the weight.  It will make picking up your belly to switch to the other side easier. When getting up from bed, ask help from your better half. Even if he’s sound asleep in the middle of the night and you need to get up to go the bathroom, wake him! – it’s the least he can do for putting that baby in your belly.

4. Urticaria. Urticaria is like a skin allergy except that in pregnancy, it isn’t really caused by anything. I got this during my 1st pregnancy and it was the worst! I was itching in the lower portion of my back, butt and back-side of my thighs.  My skin felt immensely hot – almost feverish. I’m not sure if the heat was causing the allergy or the allergy was causing my skin to be hot. Either way it was uncomfortable, giving me sleepless nights. The only remedy I could do was rub ice on the affected portions. At one point, a dermatologist gave me oral steriods but I did not take them for more than several days.

5. Cramps. This can happen at any point in the pregnancy. Being a person who is predisposed to cramps (inheritting it from my father), I get cramps all the time regardless if I’m pregnant or not. The most common remedy would be eating bananas but as bananas are high in sugar, I don’t want to indulge on that while pregnant. What works for me is drinking milk or taking calcium supplements (if you’re lactose intolerant like me). I used to take Calciumade (Ca 600 mg, vit D2 5 mcg (200 iu), Mg 40 mg, Zn 7.5 mg, manganese 1.8 mg according to MIMS) for Php 6.5/pc at Mercury. Now, I take Kirkland Calcium Citrate (Vitamin D3 800 I.U. , Vitamin B6 10 mg, Calcium 500 mg, Magnesium 80 mg, Zinc 10 mg, Copper 1 mg, Manganese 1 mg, Boron 1 mg). The values for Kirkland is for 2 tablets (so you need to take 2 for one dose) but for Php 800 / 300 tablets, that’s only Php 2.66 /tablet.

Caclium Citrate

Calcium Citrate (Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, etc)

6. Frequent Urination. There is no escaping frequent urination during pregnancy and this happens all throughout. As we all know, the dangers of stopping our urge to go is UTI; this is even more harmful in pregnancy as it can cause bleeding. So if you have to go, go. Go before leaving the house and go upon reaching your destination. Most malls nowadays have separate bathrooms for the handicap and pregnant people are also entitled to this – no long lines!

7. Swelling / Edema. “Manas” as I’ve been told is not normal in pregnancy (but others would say it is). It is a symptom of something wrong. It’s usually a sign of too much salt in the diet which is not good in pregnancy – it leads to preeclampsia which from my understanding is hypertension during pregnancy and can cause childbirth difficulties. Luckily, this is the only thing I didn’t get in my past 2 pregnancies and I hope not to get it this time around. My doctor just reminds me to avoid salty food and in my list, these are:  french fries, fast food, canned foods, chips, chicharon, patis, suka, bagoong. For more information on swelling, click here. (Quick note: to know if you have “manas”, pinch the flesh above the  bone/”bolt” on your ankle. If it indents, you probably are “manas” and should tell your doctor if he/she doesn’t check)

French fries

French Fries is a big "no-no" for me during pregnancy.

So that’s most of my pregnancy woes and remedies that aren’t really out of the ordinary. But just to put it out there for first time mommies or planning to be mommies, you can never be too prepared. If you’re experiencing any of these, make sure you take it up with your doctor – he/she could really give some good advice if not from personal experience and medical studies but from other patients as well. As a rule, never self-medicate! Always try the natural way to relieve anything. God bless!

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Toys for my boys

Being a mother of 2 boys, I’m so used to looking and shopping for boys toys & clothes. In any store, I’m immediately drawn to the boys section – probably because of the need to shield myself from griping (at the beautiful girl-y dresses and close-to-the-real-thing cooking sets). From match-box size cars to parking lot playsets and make-believe carpenter tools, I’ve gotten the knack for eyeing anything red and blue or has wheels on it but moreover, I can appreciate well-made, safe and educational toys that boys naturally prefer. And In today’s hard times, I’m learning to spot good craftmanship and durability.

Thus, I’ve come up with a list of (my) finds that are worth my money – be it a splurge or deal – and why!

Bright Starts License to drool (around P 179)

My second son played with this almost every waking hour when he was about 4 months old and every so often after that. We have the blue and green one and with such bright colors, it is an easy attraction to babies. It encourages grasping as he can hold it in his hands and eventually, put it in his mouth as a teething toy. This is a great alternative for those liquid filled teething toys that get punctured by uber excited babes.

License to Drool

Baby can practice grasping and is encourage to bite.


Duplo vs Megablocks.

This is MY Duplo set from (i’m guessing) 30 years ago! See how the bricks are still in good condition and fits nicely and snuggly with each other.

Duplo

Duplo (circa 1980)

Duplo #45. This is how it's supposed to look when all set up.

Duplo is really expensive locally but in the U.S., you can get an assorted brick box of 33 pcs (item # 5416) for $20

Duplo #5416

Duplo 5416 (33 pcs) recommended for 1.5 yrs - 5 yrs. Duplo assorted bricks comes in a special storage box.

This is my son’s 4-year old Megablocks – they are loose and won’t stay together 😦 so they are deemed totally useless. We even have 2 bags of 70 pcs each. I should have just saved up for Duplo instead.

Megablocks. The actual blocks are loose and won't stay together. It is a relatively cheap buy but poor quality.

LeapFrog Scribble & Write (P 1599.99 @ Toy Kingdom)

My first son received this as a gift for Christmas when he was 3 yrs old. At that time, he already knew the alphabet and liked pressing the letter buttons and hearing it “talk”.  Now he is almost 5, in kindergarten and has learned to write his name. He’s enjoying this to the full potential. There are 4 different playing modes – drawing shapes, tracing the uppercase letters, tracing lowercase letter, guessing the letter. It also guides the child in drawing or writing by visual and audio aids.

LeapFrog Scribble&write

LeapFrog Scribble&write. Recommended for children 3 yrs old & up

Wooden toys by Wonderworld

I’ve been seeing this kiosk in front of Mothercare Shangri-la selling wooden toys. As I have an impression that wooden toys tend to be expensive (compared to their plastic counterparts), it’s an effort not to stop and look. From afar, their toys do look expensive but they also look fun and playable. Finally, I chanced upon them in a mommy sale and was immediately converted to a wooden-toy-lover. Not only are they environmentally safe (i.e. they degrade naturally in the environment and has a CSR to plant more trees), they rarely have small pieces that pose as choking hazards to little ones. Most of their toys are designed to be educational and simply made – no outrageous designs and complicated mechanisms that overwhelm the child and the parent. These are the 2 toys I bought for my boys:

3D Transport Domino

3D Transport Domino

This is for NY who’s turning 5 this November. The toy is actually recommended for at least 3 years up and domino is just really matching but I’m hoping this can enhance NY’s creativity in designing layouts instead of just matching them.

Transportation Matching

Transportation Matching

This one is intended for SKY who would be 1.5 yrs old on Christmas. He can move the pieces around without losing them! And as the title says, the skill to learn is matching. It comes with a removable stand; though I doubt it’ll be staying on it for more than 5 seconds.

There are so many toys out there – so many to choose from – and the “best” toy for your child really depends on his/her preference, interest and age. Know your child and you’ll surely get the best bang for you buck! Good luck!