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yoga for pregnancy

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Pregnancy Notes

The Doctor Who Ghosted Me

January 7, 2024

As many of you know, I’ve been largely disappointed by the medical fraternity (the allopathic one, that is) for my pregnancy.  I speak about my experiences in this video.  During my search for a compassionate and credible doctor, I tried “famous” doctors.  The strangest doctor was The Doctor Who Ghosted Me.

I feel women should be vocal about their fertility issues because during my journey I found friends, friends of friends and even people on Instagram were more than happy to volunteer information and contacts.   Instagram is where I heard about The Doctor Who Ghosted Me  – a friend’s friend had shared a ‘he saved my life’ kind of posts and I quickly got in touch to find out more.  Feeling a renewed sense of hope, I booked an appointment.  It was gratifying to see the crowded waiting room at the hospital.  It meant the doctor was in high demand.

The Doctor Who Ghosted Me

He came across as open, friendly and even compassionate, a welcome change from the other doctors I’d met.  He was uncharacteristically laid-back about IVF, saying he believes it to be physically, emotionally and financially draining.  It was refreshing to meet a doctor who wasn’t aggressively selling IVF, and I appreciated this fresh approach.  But when I told him my history of yoga practice, he said he’d heard that yoga helps but since he’s never met anyone it has actually helped, he can’t comment on it.  When I told him I’d done a few acupuncture sessions he said acupuncture didn’t work for his debilitating backache.

Before he took out his prescription pad he seemed to think, and looked up once again.  “You’re sure you don’t want to try IVF, correct?” he asked.  I nodded and said, “Yes.”

He wrote prescription detailing the steps we can take for more clarity on what is happening.  “And this is it,” he said.  “You don’t have to come in to see me again. Scan your reports and email them to me.  I will respond within an hour.”  It seemed to good to be true.

The next month I mailed him my report and got prompt replies from him.  Things looked good and we would monitor another cycle.  Month 2 came around and I emailed him my reports as usual.

“Attached is my scan from today.  Apparently there’s a new submucosal fibroid that hadn’t been detected before,” I wrote to him. “Is it something to worry about?  What are my next steps?”

“We had planned three cycles right?” he wrote back.

“Yes, I meant does this new finding change how we will proceed.  In terms of medication etc.,” I wrote back.

I never heard back from him.

Takeaways

  1. Someone else’s personal experience doesn’t foreshadow yours.  This doctor worked well for the girl who recommended him to me.  Since he’s known for hysterectomies, I wasn’t his usual patient profile and therefore not lucrative enough for him.  This is a sad but real fact.
  2. A doctor who makes you feel bad about asking questions, or doesn’t answer your questions is not a good doctor.  Not all doctors are created equal and you owe it to yourself to find the best you can.
  3. From the numerous women I’ve met, I know that most women aren’t doing their research (because of overwhelm, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and incompetence etc), and this needs to change.  As women we need to do our research.  Much of what we hear is opinion or myth and the more you research the more you’ll be able to separate myth from fact.  I read books and research papers and listened to podcasts about many of the queries I had.  This helped to ask the right questions.    This also empowered me to gauge whether a doctor would actually work with me or was only interested his/her bottom line.

In retrospect I feel that this doctor was probably uncomfortable with a woman who was was forthright, informed, confident about her decisions and had ownership of her body and mind.  Maybe it’s easier for men to ghost such women, than to hold a conversation as equals with them.