- When it comes to pregnancy women are a perspicacious lot. It is an experience, going by the most popular pregnancy cliché, like no other.
- The morning sicknesses; the hormonal tantrums; the warm glow of a radiant skin; the tender kicks at six months; no other gender can claim a glorious cocktail that ends with a final push and a shrilly cry.
"It is something beautiful," one Mwende Macharia would say that. "It changes your perspective of life."
Women take pregnancy seriously. And they have plenty of reasons to do so – that is if the fact that something is growing inside you is not enough. The modern pregnant woman is ferocious. She wants to know her chances. She wants to be vigil as the pregnancy unfolds. She may not have the expertise to handle a situation but nonetheless she wants to know what is happening with the baby.
"Kenyan mothers are curious; they want to be ahead of the problem so that they are not caught unaware," observed Dorothy Ooko of Google. Dorothy and her team have tracked the most asked questions by Kenya's would-be-mothers as well as new mothers. These questions make part of the 2 million monthly google click emanating from Kenya.
Here are the answers – as offered by professionals.
Symptoms of alarm during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a normal and natural phenomenon. It is rarely traumatic: we wouldn't expect much heartache from it. Nonetheless there are incidences during pregnancy that put the lives of the baby and the mother at risk. Bleeding of any kind from the birth canal, for instance, is not a good sign. "Bleeding would mean certain blood vessels have raptured. It would be important to establish if the injury is coming from the womb (where the baby is growing) or from a different part," Dr John Ong'ech, a gynaecologist at KNH in Nairobi says. Then there is preeclampsia, a physiological condition that manifests as high blood pressure. Preeclampsia is deadly and should be reported at the earliest time, says Ong'ech.
How to prepare for delivery
Birth can be through a Caesarean Section or normal (natural) delivery. Every woman should be planning for the latter. The healing process from normal delivery is quicker and poses less danger. "A CS is considered last resort – when labour is not progressing as it should," says Dr Stephen Mutiso, also of KNH. To prepare for delivery [all women should be aiming for normal birth], says Emmah Kariuki, a midwife nurse with Jhpiego in Nairobi, it is important that the woman maintains an active lifestyle. "But they should seek exercise advice from relevant medical personnel," she says. Most importantly, she adds, the woman should train her mind to handle labour without any fear – understanding that it is a natural process.
How to bath a newborn
New-borns are delicate, says Lucy Muchiri, a doula at Eve's mama birthing centre. "Babies don't respond well to cold. So, the room should be pre heated either with steam from the birth water or with a rod heater. Only cotton wool should be used on the baby's skin," Lucy says. The best approach, she adds, would be to start with the face, stroking gently from inside going out, all the while the baby remains clothed. The head and hair should follow. Finally, the body, held gently at an angle should be cleaned. Baby soaps are a welcome but even plain water, Lucy says, can do the job perfectly. Drying should be performed with a soft cotton towel – which blots the water off the skin. "Nothing should be rubbed on the baby's skin," Lucy says.
How to get a baby to sleep
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Apparently babies learn sleep patterns. "They learn how to sleep," says Lucy. "How they are prepped for sleep registers in their minds. They get to know, 'this is how I transition to sleep.'" Parents should hence be careful to create habits and patterns that can be sustained. "If you want the babies to learn that singing is how to get them to sleep then you have to be prepared to sing every time they need sleep," Lucy advises.
Which diaper brand is best for new-borns
There is no direct answer to this question. However, Dr Supa Tunje, a paediatrician with Adora Children's clinic in Kitengela, says that parents should watch for "something with high absorption capacity for urine and moisture from stool." Some brands may create allergic reactions to the baby's skin at which time it would only be prudent to resort to something mild. It should be noted though that babies are different and as such react differently to specific brands.
How to treat colic
Colic is the term used to describe painful gas within a baby's alimentary canal. It is not exactly known why colic afflicts children. However, Supa believes, babies ingest gas as they suckle. "If this gas is not expelled it causes pain to the baby," she says. This gas can be relieved by burping the baby. She describes: "Place the baby on your shoulder or lap then gently massage their back." Persistent and severe colic should be reported to a paediatrician who could then prescribe a relaxer or a sedative.
Can breast milk be supplemented with something else
Breast milk, says Ong'ech, has no substitute. Not formula milk and not food. A mother should breastfeed her baby exclusively for six months. Breast milk contains nutrition and immunity for the child that "nothing else has".
How to boost breast milk supply
If a mother fears that she has less milk, perhaps, Ong'ech says, they should try to breastfeed more "to stimulate mammary glands to produce more milk." He adds, it is rare that a mother would have less milk. However, in rare occasions, a diagnosis would be warranted. "There is medicine that can be prescribed for that," Ong'ech says. The baby however has to continue taking breast milk; nothing else in its place. Otherwise, a balanced diet and plenty fluids (including water) is good for milk production.
How to lose baby fat
A woman is bound to gain several pounds from pregnancy. And that is normal, says Dr Lyudmilla Shchukina, an obesity specialist. It is true that too much fat is not healthy. There is no other way of shedding fat but through proper diet and an active lifestyle. Baby fat tends to shed off after pregnancy. Eventually women revert to their original body size; but not with an uncontrollable appetite and a couch-potato lifestyle.
Unique name should I give my baby
A baby's name is a personal decision. It should be informed by one's beliefs, offers Catherine Mbau. Mbau , a psychologist, says though that names are important for identification. As a mother, you ought to be careful not to limit your child's capabilities to who they are called. Whatever your choices, love your child more than you love what you name them. Eventually your child will achieve that which you pray and direct their path towards.