Are you pregnant? Here are the 3 most important things you need to know

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In an exclusive event, experts from Mount Alvernia Hospital shared with Singaporean mums-to-be the essential things they need to know about pre- and post-delivery.

If you’re pregnant and you’re reading this, first off, allow us to say, congratulations on your pregnancy!

The next months (and years after birth) will be packed with some amazing experiences. Right now, you might be giddy with joy, nervous to the point of distraction, confused, overwhelmed, excited and emotional—all at the same time.

No doubt, you’ve got questions: What are the most critical things a pregnant woman needs to know during the birth of her child? What about the next 12 months after delivery?

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Don’t worry, experts from Mount Alvernia Hospital—Ms Kang Phaik Gaik, Head of Parentcraft/Lactation, and Dr Chua Yang, Obstetrics and Gynaecology—are here to answer your questions.At the Baby on Board event we organised in Singapore on 30 June, theAsianparent asked these two all about the concerns of mums-to-be. From choosing the right birth plan to advice on breastfeeding and newborn care, Ms Kang Phaik Gaik and Dr Chua Yangcovered these three crucial topics.

1. Giving Birth to YourBaby: C-Section vs Vaginal Birth

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Dr. Chua Yang talked about two major birthing processes: vaginal birth and C-section and the conditions where each process is recommended over the other.

It is important for a pregnant woman to understand both of these processes, and it can have a profound effect on the mum’s and child’s future. Ideally, a decision regarding the birthing/delivery method has to be made by the 22nd week of her pregnancy. A birth plan (preferably written down) should be ready and shared with her doctor as well.

Though 70-80% of deliveries in Singapore are vaginal, C-section delivery becomes essential in complicated cases or in emergencies—for example, when a pregnant woman’s pelvis is too small or when the foetal head shows severe stress position.  

Here are the pros and cons of these two types of these delivery methods:

Vaginal Births

C-Sections

Costs relatively less

Usually costs more than a vaginal birth

Depending on mothers’ decision, epidural is administered

Can be performed under general anaesthesia or regional anaesthesia

Shorter recovery time and less pain

Hospital stay usually longer

Vaginal soreness

Tenderness around incision

Quick tip on meals before delivery: According to Dr. Chua Yang, before delivery, a pregnant mum should go for light snacks. If the stomach is full, and one has to push hard during delivery, faecal matter will also come out. If a mum is on epidural, then she should not snack at all.

2. Your Breastfeeding Journey: The Importance of a Head Start

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A mum’s breastfeeding journey begins during pregnancy, even before the baby arrives. So without knowing the proper breastfeeding guidelines during pregnancy, a new mum may find breastfeeding quite frustrating when it’s not done correctly.

As a gentle warning to mums-to-be, Ms Kang explains the consequences pregnant women face when they don’t start their breastfeeding journey early on:

  1. Skipping the lactation classes weakens the foundation of your breastfeeding journey.Interestingly, only 15 percent of pregnant women register for lactation classes or go for seminars on lactation, says Ms Kang. As a result, these women are often at a loss as to when to feed, how to feed and how much breastmilk to give.
  2. The first two weeks after birth are crucial as it affects demand and supply.The amount of milk produced depends on adequate stimulation and frequent emptying of the breasts. If mothers start giving the baby supplementary feeds instead of exclusively breastfeeding, then it affects the milk supply.
  3. When the milk supply fails to catch up with baby’s demand, this may lead to more supplementary feeding.Once caught in this downward spiral, it is often difficult for breastfeeding mums to regain the supply. This is the reason new mothers are encouraged to breastfeed baby exclusively.

Ms Kang also shares important tips for new mothers:

  • If you have a nipple problem (inverted nipples, for example), you should seek help early, even weeks before delivery.
  • If your baby is not sucking well, then it’s a problem. Seek help.
  • If you are a first-time mother, you may need support from your family in your breastfeeding journey. Oftentimes, your husband,parents, siblings, and in-laws are willing to help. (Counterintuitively, they may offer formula for your baby to lessen the burden on you.) Don’t be afraid to tell them how they can help support your breastfeeding your child.
  • The position you breastfeed your baby matters—a good position leads to a good latch.
  • Formula milk cannot duplicate breastmilk.Mother’s milk has many more nutrients and elements that formula milk cannot mimic.

3. Taking Care of a Newborn

A newborn is the most delicate being you’ll ever come across—and we know, mum, you have never been so petrified of having yours in your arms! But don’t panic. Here are some helpful advice from Ms Kang on the common challenges new mums:

How often should I feed my baby?

  • Feed baby frequently on demand (eight to 10 feeds in 24 hours) and as long as the baby wants during each feed.

How should I bathe my baby?

  • Bathe the baby once a day.
  • Never leave baby alone.
  • Babies don’t enjoy bathing in the first two weeks after birth, so be gentle and even hum or sing as you slowly cleanse and rinse your baby’s body from head to toe.

How do you clean the umbilical cord?

  • Wet a small piece of cotton wool into a bowl of boiled water that has been cooled, or use a spirit swab as instructed.
  • Swab the base of the umbilical cord between the skin fold and the cord stump.
  • The umbilical cord usually dries up and drops off aroundseven to 10 days after birth.
  • If you notice the umbilical cord area is red, bleeding, or has a foul, smelly discharge, consult your doctor for advice.
  • Always keep the umbilical area clean and dry.

How do you establish a sleeping routine for baby?

- It will take a while for you newborn to establish a sleep pattern. You can help your baby establish his or her sleep pattern by avoiding stimulation in the night. Keep lights low, and do not play with or talk to your baby when it’s bedtime.  Set a familiar tune for sleep. This will help reinforce that night is for sleeping.

How can I soothe my crying baby?

  • Baby’s only language is crying. It is his or her only wayof gettingattention from you. Not every cry is a hunger cry. You will need to learn to listen to your baby’s cries and observe his or herbehaviour, movements, body language and facial expression
  • By responding promptly and appropriately to your baby’s cry, it is easier to calm your baby. This will also help build your baby’s sense of trust and security.

Clearly, with such good experts on hand, a pregnant woman needn’t be too stressed when delivering her baby at Mount Alvernia Hospital. Not only will she receive top-notch medical advice and service, but should she sign up for the Alvernia Ladies Card, she will also get a complimentary six-month personal accident coverage by Aviva for the member, newborn and spouse.

In addition, the Alvernia Ladies’ Card offers a host of hospital benefits and privileges to its members. Find out more today.