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Pregnancy Notes

My First Mother’s Day

May 12, 2024

It’s 8 pm and it’s the first time I’ve sat down today. By the time i publish this blog it might be after midnight.

I have been planning my first mother’s day for the last week. I washed my hair and chose an outfit. I googled the Water Monkey Cafe and imagined having coffee and a chocolate muffin with the Bangalore rains in the background. Maybe even taking some Instagram worthy photos with my munchkin.

This morning I finished packing for our first trip with Kalindi. I spent a few hours going through Kalindi’s clothes so that she’s nice and cozy in Coorg. I’d contemplated swim diapers, then decided a chlorinated pool was too risky for a one and a half month old. I imagined two restful days with Kalindi and Animesh in the verdant Coorgi hills with its crisp, inviting weather.

Little did I know that my first mother’s day would be spent in vomit-stained clothes (albeit with clean hair). My daughter was unsettled, uncomfortable and throwing up every time I fed her. Her appetite was decreasing and she fed frenetically, only to regurgitate everything minutes after. I had been congratulating myself on her healthy weight gain, long and peaceful sleep and general happy demeanor. Maybe I jinxed it. 🧿

I gave a distress call to our paediatrician as our house help tried to calm down our inconsolable daughter. I also spent the better part of an hour on the phone with MakeMyTrip and Aurika trying to figure out if our non refundable booking could be amended. The folks at MakeMyTrip were more accommodating than I expected and I’m so grateful for that.

My maternity shoot.

My maternity shoot.

But as I got off the phone with them, I saw my messy living room as though for the first time. There were burp cloths of every size and color strewn haphazardly on the couch. The elegant mango wood table which had once held interesting coffee table books now had squeaky toys, some sensory books, the instruction manual for our new baby sling, the remote, a pair of headphones and a box of roasted makhanas. The diaper bag was on the floor.

By now my daughter had wet her langot once again and there was a flurry of activity as one of us distracted her from her crying, the other ran to get a fresh langot and a third cleaned her up. It took about half an hour to settle her down again, but my nervous system is still in fight or flight mode. My daughter has finally fallen into a deep slumber.

As I look at her I think of the luxurious holiday that my maternity leave was supposed to ne, of which only 4 months are now left (the last two months have faded into oblivion). I think of the Vedanta lessons I was supposed to transcribe at a leisurely pace. I think of the book I’m supposed to be working on.

I look at my daughter’s calm face and little body. And I think of how my plans are no longer only mine, but ‘ours’. I think about how much more interesting Coorg will be with her in tow. I think of how much more relevant Vedanta has become for me. I think of how I’m endlessly inspired to write more and how much I’ve been reading lately. I think of how my daughter has brought a whole community of mothers and fathers and children closer to my life.

And I think maybe this is what a Happy Mother’s Day is all about.

My little yogi.

My little yogi. 💗 🧿

Pregnancy Notes

My Birth Story

May 5, 2024

I didn’t expect that I would write about my birth story soon after my First Trimester – A Recap blog, but life is full of surprises.

My water broke at around 9.50 am on Sunday the 24th of March, catching me completely off guard three weeks before my due date, and in the middle of a very interesting Vedanta lecture.  I hobbled to the bathroom as quickly as I could, wondering why I wasn’t able to hold the pee in and also wondering why there was so much of it.  Within minutes I had decided I was doomed for a lifetime of incontinence because I hadn’t assiduously done my kegels.

I was supposed to attend a get-together after my Vedanta class and although I had a premonition that something wasn’t quite right, I still got ready to go.  Just as I was about to exit my house I decided to listen to the incessant voice inside my head that told me to call my doctor “just to be safe.”

“What do you think?” my doctor asked me.  “Do you feel it’s urine or do you feel like your water broke?”

“Well if this is urine,” I said.  “My bladder has never produced so much before!”

At the Hospital

At the hospital they confirmed that my water had broken and induced me because there were no contractions.  My gynaecologist was enjoying her Sunday but soon came in to check on me.  During a routine checkup the previous Thursday, I was only 2 cms dilated.  Now on Sunday, after four excruciating hours of labor, I was still only 2 cms dilated.

That’s when my doctor said the dreaded ‘C’ word.  I was in more pain than I’d ever been in life, cumulative.  “Noooooo….” I moaned, thinking of all the horror stories I’d heard about C-sections.

“Listen,” my doctor attempted to reason with me.  “You’ve had a wonderful pregnancy, everything went just like you wanted to.  This is the last step.  Don’t risk it now.  Delay may lead to distress for the baby and exhaustion for you.”

I continued writhing in pain.  My contractions were coming in faster and more painfully.

“Are you scared of the stitches then?” she continued.  “Look, if you’re reluctant because you think a normal delivery doesn’t involve stitches then remember that even in a normal delivery you may need an episiotomy which takes it’s own time to heal.  There is not much of a difference between a natural delivery and caesarean.”

I looked at my husband with feverish eyes.  I know he would support me in whatever decision I took, but he was also considering the risk, and watching me writhing in pain.

“OK!” I screamed as the next contraction wracked my body.  “Let’s do this.”

The anaesthesiologist tried to make conversation with me when I was wheeled in.  “What are you expecting?” he asked me.

“A healthy baby,” I told him.

And a healthy baby is exactly what our wonderful team of doctors brought to us, and for that we are ever grateful.  But…

The Aftermath

I recently finished reading My Caesarean: Twenty-One Mothers on the C-Section Experience and After.  It’s a collection of essays about the c-section experience, and it helped put my experience into perspective.  I resonated with every story.  An unexpected c-section is something many women have a hard time coming to terms with.  It’s an unplanned turn of events resulting in surgery and recuperation, and that is overwhelming.

Groggy from all the antibiotics and painkillers, many women struggle to make sense of what happened, how it happened and the millions of other ways it could have gone.  Many feel the birth experience was ‘stolen’ from them.

Have I come to terms with the fact that my healthy, active, radiant, fabulous pregnancy ended with a c-section?  Maybe not just yet.  But like a friend of mine said to me, “Give up resistance.  That’s yoga too….”

Our baby.

A healthy baby is exactly what our wonderful team of doctors brought to us, and for that we are ever grateful.

 

Pregnancy Notes

Kalindi

April 24, 2024
Birth announcement.

Kalindi,
She is Durga Maa
Born to avenge both Gods and mortals alike.

Born of Surya and Sanjana, the goddess of the clouds
And twin sister of learned sage and guru, Yama.
She is also Krishna’s beloved wife.

She is the shimmering Yamuna,
Whose waters turned dark when Shiva fell into them
in search of succor for his boundless grief.

Our Kalindi, born on the colorful festival of Holi
Heralding a new Spring in our lives.

Pregnancy Notes

First Trimester – A Recap

April 11, 2024

Now that I’m in my third trimester I wanted to do a recap of my first.  Here’s a detailed video about it.  I hope this blog resonates with other women who are on the conception/pregnancy journey.  It’s also serves as a record of this very special time in my life.

Something ‘Was Up’

I first knew something ‘was up’ when my period was late.  I was in Nagpur to train with Honey Unnikrishnan, my Mohiniyattam teacher.  I expected to get my period towards the end of my time there.  It was a strenuous five days, with up to 10 hours of dancing daily.

During the two week wait, women are told to rest and relax.  But I had spent numerous two-week-waits resting and relaxing unsuccessfully, and didn’t want to miss out on dancing with my teacher.  My period was never late, and I chalked it up to all the rigorous physical training I was doing.

In Nagpur with my Mohiniyattam teacher, Honey Unnikrishnan.

In Nagpur with my Mohiniyattam teacher, Honey Unnikrishnan.

 

The Positive Pregnancy Test

I’ve had numerous negative pregnancy tests.  I wasn’t eager for yet another one.  But we were headed to Goa, and I wanted to make sure that it was OK to do eat drink and make merry while I was there.

I did a home pregnancy test and it was positive.  It was the result we’d been waiting for but now that I had it, I couldn’t believe it.  Later that day my doctor confirmed the pregnancy through a TVS scan.  I will never forget her words.  “This is a medical miracle!  You’re a medical miracle!”

For the four days we were in Goa I was paranoid about losing the pregnancy, so I kept checking to make sure I wasn’t bleeding.  It was an unsettling feeling.  The entire vacation felt different, although we weren’t doing anything different from what we usually do in Goa.  My mornings had changed though – I could no longer stand the smell or taste of coffee.  In a way this was the first casualty of my pregnancy hormones.

Our Goa trip was probably our first and only trip during the first trimester.

Riverside dinners in Goa.

Riverside dinners in Goa.

My Symptoms

Never have I experienced hunger like I did in my first trimester.  I once ordered and ate an entire pizza before dinner, and went on to have the a full dinner.  I desperately wanted to maintain a balanced and healthy diet – but that hunger was phenomenal and during the first trimester (or even afterwards) I never denied myself food.  Also, if I tried to ‘ignore’ my hunger then I’d be nauseous.  Elaichi (cardamom) also helped to keep the nausea at bay.

I also discovered that ‘morning sickness’ is a misnomer.  My nausea lasted all day.  It would get worse if I ate too little, but also if I ate too much.  When I spoke to my doctor about this she replied, “Be thankful that you’re eating.”

Women always remember their pregnancy food cravings.  In my first trimester I had few cravings, but many aversions.  I didn’t want any hot liquids like tea or even soup.  I couldn’t stand the thought of foods I felt were “heavy” like millets and rajma.  I didn’t even like the taste of water.  I ate white rice, wheat rotis and had sips of water.  Also, my cravings changed every two weeks!

What I did like though was slightly spicy food.  And pickles!

I think knowing what I wanted to eat and didn’t made it easier to plan the menu.  Also listening to my cravings instead of blindly following a diet helped the cravings and aversions easier to manage.

What I wasn’t ready for was the intense fatigue.  I wanted to crawl into bed as soon as I put my students into savasana.  I took multiple naps through the day.  I slept more in my first trimester than I ever have.

Overall my first trimester was great because I was traveling and eating well and the pregnancy was a strong, healthy one.

Rakhi during my first trimester.

Rakhi during my first trimester. Some of my clothes had started to become snug.

Exercise

I discovered that walking was a great way to keep the digestive system moving (which sometimes gets sluggish because of all the pregnancy hormones).  Also, it helped with the nausea.  So I borrowed a smart watch from my mother in law and aimed to get 10000 steps in daily.  I even studied for a Sanskrit exam while pacing the hallway in my house!

I also did some yoga.  My doctor was a bit concerned about this, but as she saw the pregnancy blooming, she supported my fitness initiatives.  Didn’t do challenging  or advanced asanas.  I demonstrated in class, but was very very careful.  I had a routine designed for me by my teachers and I stuck to that.  Pre-natal yoga isn’t about conquering new asanas, or proving that your body can bend deeply despite a pregnancy, but about preparing the body for the changes that are inevitable on this journey.  I think this made me appreciate yoga a lot more.

I stopped Mohiniyattam though.  My teacher felt it’s for the best as I’d only been dancing for a year and, unlike with yoga, I may not be able to control how hard I bend, stretch or stamp my feet.

I went to Goa again with my mother in law and two of her friends.

I went to Goa again with my mother in law and two of her friends. Read my blog on it here.

Many women have asked me what I did differently that month to get pregnant.  I’ve wondered the same thing.  The only difference I can think of now is that I decided to focus on what made me happy, which was my practice, whether Mohiniyattam or yoga.  Or maybe it was a little luck and a lot of faith.

Yogis on display.

Yogis on display somewhere in Goa.

Pregnancy Notes

Empowered to Advocate for Myself

March 5, 2024

It's been a long journey but it's taught me to advocate for myself.

A still from our maternity photoshoot.

I feel empowered to advocate for myself today.  The journey to conception has variegated shades. For many it’s as easy (or as inconvenient) as an accident. For others it’s about cycle tracking, second guessing, fretting and despairing.  The other day in Vedanta class we were talking about how if you live consciously, every event in life, whether good or bad can help in inner growth.  My conception journey, and subsequent pregnancy, have actually been a time of immense growth for me.

I’ve come across many women whose health issues have led to a deeper and more meaningful connection to themselves.  In this conversation with filmmaker Roopal Kewalaya, we spoke about how she experienced a closer connection to herself because of her experience with endometriosis and how she now feels that illness is your friend, not an enemy.  It’s a wonderful, heartening conversation that all women should watch.

✅ Don’t give in to paranoia.

When I first started on my journey to conception I met a lot of doctors who had a spiel about maternal age, IVF and all the things that could go wrong.  I speak about it in my video about my first trimester that you can watch here.

I also met an acupuncturist told me that even a ‘normal’ woman ovulates only once every two months, which is 6 times a year.  When I cross questioned her she told me this is what all the books say and if I worked with her she could have me ovulating every month.  This was factually incorrect.  Also, there was nothing wrong with my ovulation cycles.

I also met a fitness professional told me that I probably had diastasis recti because ‘all women do’.  According to my research it wasn’t that clear cut.  So I asked my doctor to check and she said it’s not something that I have to worry about – those bumps look very different from mine.

These experiences can make any woman paranoid.  But they also emphasise the importance of a pause – I remember I needed all my energy to confidently advocate for myself.

✅ Say no to pushy doctors.

There are all kinds of bullies in the medical fraternity.

A radiologist I got to know well once said about a famous doctor that “…she has a terrible bedside manner but her rates of conception are very high”.  The doctor in question might be a great doctor but she has no right to be rude and aggressive with patients.  I’ve read review after review about her online where women talk about leaving her office in tears.  I remember I stood up and literally stormed out of this doctor’s office as she was mid-sentence.

A disrespectful doctor will continue to bully you (just like any other bully).  You might be coerced to do what they feel is right for you.  But I’ve learned that if a doctor doesn’t inspire a 100% faith and trust in you, they are usually not right for you – in fact they are terrible for your mental health, which feeds into your physical health.  Standing up to bullies is one way you can advocate for yourself.

✅ Research exhaustively.

The more doctors I consulted the more IVF sales pitches I got.  Many of my questions were dismissed and my fears weren’t addressed.  I was not only unhappy, but also dissatisfied.

Eventually I decided to do my own research.  I refused to blindly trust the information that was coming my way.  Instead I looked for studies and data.  I read a lot of books and blogs.  I channelled my anxious energy into research on infertility and women’s health.

Health issues can make many women feel vulnerable.  When we operate from a space of vulnerability instead of peace we’re rarely thinking rationally.  This reflects in the decisions we make.  Instead of looking at illness as some kind of punishment, I love Roopal’s take on it – that illness is your body trying to communicate with you.

In my case the journey has taught me to unequivocally, unapologetically and powerfully advocate for myself.

 

 

Pregnancy Notes

The Fat Girl’s Pregnancy

March 5, 2024

The other day we went out for lunch with another pregnant couple we know, and as usual we took some photos after lunch.  The photos were amazing, what with Bangalore in full bloom.  But looking at them later I felt a twinge of discomfort.  My friend is further along than me and she barely looked pregnant.  In fact she was radiant, glowing and happy.  All I could think when I looked at myself was would I ever go back to what I looked like before?  Welcome to the trials and tribulations of the fat girl’s pregnancy.

One of the most read blogs on this site is this one where I write about my struggles with weight loss.  I’m surprised more women aren’t discussing this.  Pregnancy weight is different for women who used to be overweight.  The fat girl’s pregnancy isn’t an excuse to eat whatever she wants and get away with it.  Instead, we gingerly analyse every new bulge.  We know we’re not eating for two, and remember that with every morsel we eat.  We don’t bask in our ‘pregnancy glow’.

At every doctor’s checkup, the fat girl faces the weighing scale and feels a little unbalanced when the extra kgs are met with an approving smile. 

It’s about looking critically at our bumps and thinking why we look so huge as compared to the friend/celebrity/influencer who has the cutest bump but retains her chiseled face. 

It’s also about feeling uncomfortable in our clothes (and skin) but not wanting to get new ones for fear of having to live in them forever.

I’m in my 8th month now, and we’re successfully ‘march’-ING (get it?) towards the finishing line.  And not a day goes by when I don’t think when will I be back to ‘normal’ size?  What if I never lose this weight?  What if I’m the fat girl again and forever?

Unfortunately, there is no roadmap for how fat girls can silence the internal critic (which is their constant companion).  How do we lose the weight all over again, a painful ordeal we’ve been through once already?  

Monthly Catch-ups

Exchanging notes and excitement.

Our dates with Mayank and Amita have been about catching up and exchanging notes and excitement. I can’t believe our children will grow up together and it’s awesome to have someone to share this journey with.

Pregnancy Notes

The Disturbing Narrative Rampant in the Prenatal Fitness Domain

February 25, 2024

There’s a disturbing narrative rampant in the prenatal fitness domain.  It’s about women being encouraged to push themselves to continue their workouts with the same intensity as before they fell pregnant.  Many coaches are even saying that you can get stronger during the pregnancy.  The first time I heard this I involuntarily cringed.

The last 8 months have been transformative for me on many levels, including the physical.  I’ve always maintained (perhaps controversially) that my life is not structured around my yoga, but that my yoga is structured around my life.  I think this is the reason behind my robust sense of intuition.

My Prenatal Fitness Journey

During my journey to conception it was the confidence in my practice that helped me stand up to the usual spiel about IVF.  I practiced my conception sequence daily without fail.

In my first trimester, when nausea plagued me all the time, I slowed down and took it easy.  My yoga teachers told me to stop practicing until my fourth month.  I didn’t lie down with my legs up the wall, I didn’t do ‘slow’ surya namaskars or a ‘modified’ practice.  Instead I went for long walks and listened to helpful podcasts.  I knew I had to support my body in establishing a healthy and strong pregnancy.  I demonstrated the bare minimum in class and slept when fatigue overcame me.

In my second trimester I traveled to Chamrajpet for an entire month to learn my prenatal yoga sequence.  It included inversions and supta asanas for almost thirty minutes.  I continued to demonstrate the bare minimum in class, and by now my students knew I was pregnant and put their minds and bodies through my instructions.  My backbends were supported and handstand jumps were off the table.  I was growing and exploring my hunger pangs (which included random things like Magnum ice cream bars).

Now in my third trimester I’m bigger than ever.  The other day I told my teacher that I’m slower now.  She cut my asana reps to just one on each side.  She’s happy that this journey is healthful and vibrant for me and for her.  Both teachers have told me to practice until the last day of my pregnancy.  And to restart 4 months after I deliver.  These days I can’t do 10000 steps at a stretch, so I split them into intervals.  Sometimes if I overdo it the PGP comes back and then I have to consciously rest.

The Notion of Strength

I came across a personal trainer who looked at my arms deprecatingly and said, “You’ve lost some tone there.”  The same trainer went on to tell me about other clients who’ve been running and lifting weights until the day they delivered.  In my first trimester I read about such wonder women in ‘Yoga Sadhana for Mothers’ and it made my nausea worse.  Whether it’s in the softness of my limbs or muscle tone, or my willingness to step back from tasks and classes that are ‘too much’ at the moment, this pregnancy has shown me I’m so much more than just my yoga.  And that there is so much I can rely on in life than my yoga.

My own experience has convinced me that pregnancy is not a time to ‘prove’ things about my physical fitness.

The fact that a woman’s body goes through hormonal changes for 9 whole months as she gets heavier and slower shows what the female body is capable of.  I didn’t pine after these asanas that many would consider were ‘lost’ to me.  I still don’t feel I’ve ‘lost’ anything.  The practice was, is and always will be mine.  Which is why this narrative needs to stop, prenatal fitness is a whole different ball game.

I wonder if I had obsessed over the time I lost practicing, or fretted over my soft body, or forced myself to practice with the same intensity as before, would I have appreciated this journey and been prepared for the beautiful challenges yet to come?

A photo shoot I did to document my prenatal fitness.

Trusting the process.

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy Notes

The Best Pregnancy Advice I’ve Been Given

February 15, 2024

Looking forward to dancing with my teacher again.

With my beautiful (and wise) Mohiniyattam teacher, Dr. Honey Unnikrishnan. Looking forward to dancing again, I didn’t think I would miss it so much.

 

The pregnancies of social media are vastly different from the pregnancies of real life.  Pregnancies are about hormonal imbalance, lack of sleep, dark circles, the ‘pregnancy mask’, vomit, illness, crippling back pain….the list is endless.  When a woman goes through this, she just wants to feel better.  In my first trimester I leaned into my friends’ sympathising looks, my husband’s proactiveness in taking over the running of the house, and my students’ understanding when I’d be a few minutes late to class.  The best pregnancy advice I’ve received also came to me during my first trimester.

My Mohiniyattam teacher, Dr. Honey Unnikrishnan, has been a pillar of support for me.  In this video I speak about how Honey was the first person who noticed a change in my body.  During one of our online dance sessions, she asked me why my feet were so heavy, was I tired?  I said perhaps I was about to get my period in a few days.  In a few days I was in Honey’s house cum dance school, and as many of you know, I feel implantation happened during those few days.

When I gave Honey the news she was ecstatic.  From then on she made a point coming home every time she was in Bangalore to spend some time with me.  She became an invaluable source of information, advice and wisdom.  She’s the one who gave me the best pregnancy advice I’ve received so far.

“Remember that this phase is just a part of you, and not 100% you,” she said one evening as we sipped cups of chamomile tea.

“You’ve done so much in life, remember your accomplishments, your achievements.  This is not the only thing that’s going to define you.  This is an important part, and certainly one of the priorities, but not the only priority.  So stay balanced and don’t forget yourself.  This is only a beautiful addition to you, not the complete you.”

The Worst Thing I’ve Heard During Pregnancy

I feel the worst thing a woman hears during pregnancy is, “think about your baby.”

I don’t think anyone can stop thinking about the baby (after all that’s what’s wreaking this havoc on our systems).  While pregnancy is a time of growth, newness, discovery, it is also a time of uncertainty.  Nothing you read or watch (certainly nothing you watch) can prepare you for the actual experience.  You’re hungry but too sick to eat.  Even drinking water is a challenge.  The fatigue is indescribable.  To tell a woman to focus on the baby is denying her experience and reality.

Some women are told to eat more than they ever have, because ‘you’re eating for two.’  Some are told not to exercise because of ‘their condition.’  Many are told not to go out or meet too many people because ‘nazar lag jayegi.’  As a culture we are focused on the unborn baby.  Once they are born babies naturally become the centre of everyone’s attention, most of all the mother’s.  But before that mothers deserve all our attention.

Like one of my friends said the other day, “Happy mothers, happy babies.”

 

Some happy mothers trying to get some fake candids.

Some genuinely happy mothers trying to get some fake candids.

 

Amita and I excited for our coffee date at Araku Coffee.

Amita and I excited for our coffee date. Coffee is so a pregnancy controversy. For a long time everyone has been cautioned against it. As for me, I couldn’t stand coffee in the first trimester, but that got better in the second and third trimester. You can certainly drink your coffee (in moderation) during pregnancy, could also be the best pregnancy advice I received.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books Pregnancy Notes

My Pregnancy Reading Collection

February 5, 2024

In a talk I gave the other day on my pregnancy journey, I was asked to recommend trusted sources of information.  My sources will always be books written by qualified experts.  In the last few months (my pre-pregnancy and pregnancy phase) I read a lot of academic and research articles, blogs and books.  I’ve complied a list of books that form my pregnancy reading collection (so far).

1. Yoga Sadhana For Mothers by Sharmila Desai and Anna Wise

Because yoga practitioners use their bodies every day, they are conscious of subtle changes that others may not notice.  This can make pregnancy overwhelming or wondrous depending on the practitioner.  Some practitioners end up focusing even more on their daily asana practice to feel a sense of ‘balance’ and ‘rootedness’ in the face of the major changes happening inside them.

My first trimester was marked by constant nausea and fatigue.  I was able to muster just enough energy to do the bare minimum required.  Most days this was just teaching classes between which I ate and slept so that tomorrow would come faster.  The quality and state of my personal practice was the furthest thing on my mind.  So reading about women who are obsessed with ‘losing’ their practice is unnerving for me.  Many readers may marvel at the ‘commitment’ these women have towards their practice (so much so that some of them were back on their mats 6-9 days postpartum), but I simply found it irksome.  After all, your life isn’t about your yoga practice, your yoga practice is about your life.  I will say that this book has about two pages on PGP which were helpful.

The personal stories in this volume were full of anxiety about the pregnancy-related changes in a woman’s yoga practice, and I wish it had a more wholesome approach.  What I learned from this book was how not to approach a yoga practice during pregnancy and how relaxing your hold on it can be more rewarding than straining your body to align with imaginary ideals.

2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff

This tome is the bestselling pregnancy book of all time, and it has answers to pretty much any query you may have about conception, pregnancy and even postpartum.  I recommend reading only the parts which apply to you and skip/skim through the rest.  Too much information can bog you down.  Even though the book is intended for an American audience, it’s still wonderfully relevant to the rest of us.

The book and our baby's first onesie 💗.

Our friend Susanne lugged this copy all the way from Germany for me. This version isn’t available in India, but I’m sure the other versions are equally good. Also in the picture is the first onesie for our baby 💗.

 

3. Expecting Better by Emily Oster

This book’s tagline of the book put me off –  “Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know.”  I don’t think the conventional wisdom is necessarily wrong.

Oster structures this book around the most common advice women receive during their pregnancies.  She then investigates the scientific soundness of this advice.  The book has separate parts for trimesters, conception and labor.  Each part consists of chapters about the myths associated with each phase, such as women over 35 being of ‘advanced maternal age’ (a chapter I found interesting and relevant).  She also writes about date for consumption of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

I’ve tried to keep my pregnancy as simple and uncomplicated as possible.  This isn’t easy considering we’re bombarded with unsolicited advice pretty much from all quarters.  I feel the book does a good job of presenting research to lay readers.  But at the same time, I feel there’s a lot of confirmation bias in her approach.

 

4. What’s a Lemon Squeezer Doing in My Vagina by Rohini Rajagopal

Throughout my journey I looked for books about Indian women, and after extensive search I came across this one written by Bangalore-based Rohini Rajagopal.  Her honesty and rawness are touching.  Rajagopal chronicles her five year long experience with infertility and (eventual) successful IVF.  Whenever a doctors recommends any line of treatment, my first instinct is to speak to someone who has been through it and get real insight about the experience.  This book is an intimate and honest look at the entire process with the human aspect intact.

I feel many of us read a lot of non-fiction during our pregnancies.  But the faceless humans behind the statistics are important.  This book bridges that gap.

I would recommend it for everyone’s pregnancy reading collection.

5. Yoga for Pregnancy by Rosalind Widdowson

A friend of mine gave me this book.  It has great pictures but I’d say the book is more about stretching and mobility than yoga.  But because it’s easy to follow, even non-yoga practitioners can follow the guidelines.  I ended up skimming the book to see if I could find anything relevant for me.

 

I’d love your recommendations for other pregnancy-related books that I can add to my pregnancy reading collection.  Books that moved you during your pregnancy.  A book that you believe all pregnant or women on the conception journey should read.  Leave the titles in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy Notes

The Two Pregnancy Symptoms No One Tells You About

January 30, 2024

Photos from our Sakleshpur baby moon.

I’ve tried to document this pregnancy as much as possible. This is from a collection of photos we took on our baby moon to Sakleshpur.

Before I fell pregnant myself, pregnancy seemed pretty straight forward.  You get big, sometimes cranky and start to waddle around.  Some women glow, and some can’t stop eating.

While all the above is true, it is also only a superficial insight into pregnancy.  Pregnancy encompasses a whole gamut of experiences that no one really talks about.  For instance no one tells you ‘morning sickness’ is a misnomer, that it should actually be called ‘all day sickness’.  That you might not throw up, but you’ll feel like throwing up all the time.  Also that your digestion goes for a toss, regardless of what you eat/don’t eat.  Also that sometimes your skin might break out.  And also no one tells you about the constant fatigue, which in itself is fatiguing.  But there are two pregnancy symptoms that no one seems to be talking about…

Two Pregnancy Symptoms No One Tells You About

1. Gingivitis

One night I did a double take and blanched at what I saw in the sink – I had just spit out dark pink toothpaste froth.  I looked at my gums and couldn’t believe that blood could ooze out of your gums like that.  Painless yet frightening.  I recalled reading a little about this in ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting‘, but couldn’t remember what it said I should do.  I sent a frantic message to my friend and dentist Teena, whose calm response did nothing to alleviate my panic.  “It’s a normal pregnancy symptom Pragya.  Use your water flosser regularly and come in for a cleaning.”

Gingivitis can happen during any trimester and usually peaks during the third.  While the exact cause isn’t known, doctors speculate there could be several reasons for this.

  • Changes in hormones during pregnancy, specifically the increase in estrogen and progesterone.  While these hormones are important for the growth of the baby, they also cause gum inflammation.
  • Increased volume of blood in a woman’s body, leading to more blood flow to the gum.
  • In addition to this, eating more frequently leaves your mouth exposed to more bacteria than usual.

 

What To Do
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily.
  • Salt water rinses – this actually helps to keep oral bacteria in check.

I remember an entire week where I’d wonder when the bleeding would stop, and eventually it did stop.  So if you’re in the same boat, don’t worry too much about this, but make sure you’re maintaining as much oral hygiene as possible.  And schedule an appointment with your dentist asap.

2. Nose bleeds

Sneezing blood is not what great pregnancy stories are made of.  But many women, including me, have that unfortunate experience.

Nosebleeds happen because of the same reason that your gums bleed – there is so much more blood circulating through your system and hormones.  In addition to this:

  • Blood vessels in the nose are delicate and can rupture easily – leading to nosebleeds.
  • Hormonal changes can leave pregnant women susceptible to allergies and colds – and these increase changes of nose bleeds.
  • Dehydration can also cause nosebleeds.  During my first trimester drinking water made me nauseous and consequently my water intake reduced.

 

What To Do
  • Jal Neti to the rescue.  I found that jal neti also helped calm the dry, raw skin inside my nostrils that can happen because of the dry weather or allergies.
  • Use pregnancy-safe balms around your nose to relax constricted blood vessels.  This also lubricates the nostrils and eases the pain and discomfort.

 

Although nosebleeds are nothing to worry about, if it doesn’t stop then it’s a good idea to consult a doctor. Also if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, or feel dizzy and have problems breathing, then consult a doctor asap.

Besides these two pregnancy symptoms, there are so many others that women encounter.  No two pregnancies are the same, so the symptoms vary from person to person.  That said, there are so many things, such as PGP, which are just a game of hormones (as my yoga teacher likes to say), and you have to work on management rather than prevention.  Thus far I’ve relied on my intuition and a fair amount of research to make decisions for myself, which has worked for me.

As always reaching out to friends and family can give you the support you need for a healthy and rewarding pregnancy.  In case you have any questions about your experience, please leave a comment or email me on pragya.bhatt@gmail.com