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Looking for the perfect recipes for pregnancy? You can’t go wrong with these two…Dates are powerhouses of nutrients with many benefits for moms-to-be. Try them in sweet and savoury dishes.

ALSO SEE: Why healthy eating is vital during pregnancy

Try these delicious recipes for pregnancy Moroccan chicken and date tagine

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 4 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 150g pitted Medjool dates, chopped
  • Handful parsley, chopped
  • Rice, to serve

Method

  1. Heat a splash of oil in a large saucepan on high and fry the chicken until golden. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Heat another splash of oil in the same saucepan and sauté the onions until browned. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and fry for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stock and carrots. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until car-rots are tender. Add more stock if necessary. Add chicken and dates and cook for 5 minutes. Mix through the parsley and serve with rice.

ALSO SEE: 3 winter dinner recipes the whole family will love

Spiced date baked apples

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 100g Medjool dates
  • 1 tsp caramel essence
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon + extra
  • Pinch ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp plain yoghurt + extra
  • 3 apples, cut in half
  • ¹/³ cup gluten-free oats
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar + extra
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Blitz the dates, caramel, cinnamon, ginger and yoghurt in a blender until smooth. Remove the cores from the apples and place in an oven tray (skin side down). Divide the date mixture between the apples.
  2. Blitz the oats until it forms a flour, but with pieces still. Stir in sugar and butter and spoon onto the apples.
  3. Bake for about 40 minutes until the tops are golden and apples tender. Serve with dollops of extra yoghurt and a dusting of cinnamon.

Health fact

Dates are high in fibre (bye-bye pregnancy constipation), iron and potassium. But it’s especially helpful during the third trimester as it has positive effects, like increasing chances of going into spontaneous and shorter labour. Try to eat six a day.

The post 2 healthy, tasty recipes for pregnancy appeared first on Living and Loving.

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Your changing body and growing baby place an increased demand on you dietary intake. Taking a good prenatal vitamin can help to keep your body in tip-top shape to sustain a healthy pregnancy.

However, some women experience side effects or concerns with their supplements. Let’s take a look at common problems and how to overcome them.

Nausea

Many women experience what is commonly known as morning sickness. While this is normal in early pregnancy, it may be aggravated by prenatal vitamins. Try to eat something before taking the supplement, or taking the supplement in the evening if you experience most of your nausea first thing in the morning. If the nausea is severe, rather hold off on the vitamins until the second trimester when morning sickness usually subsides. You will still need to take a plain folic acid supplement, but this rarely has any negative side effects.

Some supplements contain omega oils, which can leave a bad taste in your mouth if you burp. These essential oils usually come in a separate tablet. Try taking them at night when you’re less likely to experience a nasty after taste.

ALSO SEE: Moms share their morning sickness remedies

Tummy issues

Many prenatal vitamins contain iron, which may cause you to become constipated. In combination with pregnancy hormones slowing down the digestive tract, this can cause a lot of discomfort. To minimise this negative side-effect, be sure to eat a fibre-rich diet and drink plenty of water. You may also opt to switch to a supplement with a lower dose of iron if you’re not iron deficient. Chat to your doctor or midwife about options.

ALSO SEE: Dealing with constipation and 4 other pregnancy niggles sorted

Forgetfulness

“Preggy” brain is real and some women may find it hard to remember to take their supplement every day. It helps to keep your vitamins somewhere that forms part of your daily routine – like next to your tooth brush so you remember to take them after brushing your teeth in the morning or evening.

Bad taste

Finally, if you are finding it difficult to swallow a tablet, opt for a liquid supplement, which are usually in the form of a sachet or drink. This is sometimes is easier to tolerate.

Remember, prenatal vitamins are supplements and not substitutes for a healthy, well-balanced diet. A well-balanced diet of healthy protein, low GI carbs and a mix of fruit and veggies will provide your growing baby with all the nutrition it needs to grow.

The post 5 common prenatal vitamin concerns all moms-to-be have appeared first on Living and Loving.

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The statistics on rising male infertility are alarming says Christopher Barratt, professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Dundee in Scotland, with an estimated one in 10 young men today having sperm counts low enough to impact conception.

The rising male infertility rate is alarming

Barratt was recently in Hong Kong, the keynote speaker at the 9th Congress of the Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction (ASPIRE). He believes this is an issue of concern and feels the world has not “woken up” to the impact of male infertility, and “its longer-term economic and societal consequences”.

As the former director of the World Health Organization’s Male Fertility Expert Working Group, Barratt knows what he’s talking about. He believes assisted reproductive technology is a highly newsworthy, multi-billion dollar enterprise to assist the one in six couples struggling to achieve their dream of having a baby.

ALSO SEE: 5 reasons you’re not falling pregnant

However, he shares: “The perception from the outside is that all is well in the world of male reproduction, but this is an illusion.” He adds that the lack of research and data about male infertility and how to treat it, often means boosting a couple’s chance of having a baby involves costly and invasive intervention for the female partner. “In a world in which we claim to be addressing inequalities between men and women, the fact that the female partner often has to bear the burden of male infertility is an infringement of basic human rights and dignity.”

Barratt adds that sperm counts have been steadily declining for the past 40 years. While environmental factors have been sited as the cause, he adds that the specific reasons are currently only “educated guesswork”.

ALSO SEE: 5 fertility myths debunked 

We need to invest into a men’s health strategy

There has been extensive research in some Scandinavian countries. The Australian Government also recently announced that it was investing millions of dollars into a men’s health strategy, which includes research into both the causes and prevention of male infertility. However, Barratt has raised concerns that in other parts of the world, including Africa, Asia and South America, there is “little definitive data on male infertility”.

Barratt adds: “We must engage medical professionals to develop the drive and energy to deal with this global health issue. Now is the time for an urgent wake-up call. The first step is to galvanise the professions into action and also to get a groundswell from patients pushing for this to be done.” He says, “This should involve, in part, better promotion of positive lifestyle issues to help men make more informed choices about their reproductive health.”

One of the areas that could assist is ensuring quality semen analysis be part of the strategy of action. “We now know for sure that semen samples analysed in different laboratories give different results, hence diagnostic and prognostic information.”

There is hope: A UK-study presented recently at the European Association of Urology Congress in Barcelona has shed some light on our understanding of male infertility and provides insight into how this can be better treated in the near future.

The researchers found that sperm DNA from the testicles of many infertile men may be as good a quality as ejaculated sperm in fertile men.

The scientists found that sperm can become damaged on the journey from the testicles, along the series of ducts, before reaching the end target. Some of this damage is due to oxidative stress.

Consultant Urologist at the Imperial College, London, and one of the researchers, Jonathan Ramsay explains: “When we looked at ejaculated sperm, we found that the extent of sperm DNA damage was much higher in infertile men than in fertile men, with roughly 15 % in fertile men, but 40% in infertile men. It wasn’t a surprise to see greater DNA damage in ejaculates of infertile men. What we didn’t expect was the consistency in these results when we looked at sperm taken directly from the testicles of infertile men, we found that it was of similar quality to that of ejaculated, fertile sperm.

The majority of DNA damage caused in transit from testicles to ejaculate is caused by oxidative stress, which causes DNA single but not double strand breaks. This occurs when the sperm is subjected to poor lifestyle habits such as poor diet, sitting at a laptop all day or smoking. Diseases such as Crohn’s disease and Type 2 Diabetes also cause oxidative stress”.

The researchers believe this could lead to interventions where sperm is taken directly from the testes of those men who have damaged sperm upon ejaculation. DNA integrity plays a large role in fertilisation rates in assisted reproduction, and this could help in the decision-making process, whether or not to resort to testicular sperm aspiration rather than using ejaculated sperm in those men with signs of DNA damage. Using sperm from the testes could lead to an improvement in male fertility.

The post New hope for infertile men appeared first on Living and Loving.

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Moms-to-be are bombarded with contradictory information and advice from family and friends, books and “Dr Google”, which can leave them stressed and confused about how their daily actions are affecting their unborn child.

ALSO SEE: 6 pieces of pregnancy advice for first-time advice

Here we offer some expert advice on what’s safe for you and your baby.

Beauty treatments

Feeling and looking good is important during pregnancy, but evaluating the risk factors can become stressful.

  • Don’t use a sauna or steam room, or have a hot bath: Netcare medical director Dr Anchen Laubscher explains that increasing your core temperature significantly may cause dizziness with the risk of fainting when you get up out of the bath, sauna or steam room. “It’s best to avoid taking long hot baths or using a steam room or sauna while pregnant,” she says.
  • Do book a pregnancy-friendly massage: A massage can be exactly what you need during pregnancy to relax and ease tired limbs. Opt for an unscented lotion or oil and seek out a treatment designed specifically for new moms.
  • Don’t dye your hair: Avoid colouring or chemically straightening your hair before the second trimester, and skip any keratin treatments as many contain harmful formaldehyde.
Physical activity

The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the better.

  • Do exercise: Studies show that pregnant women who exercise for 20 minutes at least three times a week experience a shorter labour than moms who don’t. Exercise also helps control pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, weight gain and stiff muscles. Remember to check with your doctor before you start an exercise routine. “If you have been running or cycling, you can usually continue with this by adapting your workout. Stationary bikes are a good alternative,” says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Mapendo Ndekwe.

ALSO SEE: Your ultimate pregnancy workout

  • Don’t Lift heavy objects: Lifting or carrying heavy things puts strain on your back and the pelvic ligaments. Dr Ndekwe advises pregnant women to use safe techniques if they have to pick up objects, like bending at the knees and not the waist.
  • Do get plenty of rest: “If your body is telling you to slow down, try to get as much rest as possible by having a quick nap whenever you can,” says Dr Laubscher.
Food and drink

What you eat or drink has the potential to affect your child’s current and future growth.

  • Don’t drink alcohol: Regardless of the amount, or how far along you are, drinking alcohol increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, foetal alcohol syndrome and low birth weight.
  • Do cut down on coffee: The majority of studies on the effects of caffeine during pregnancy recommend that pregnant women consume no more than 200mg of caffeine, or one cup of coffee, per day.
  • Do drink lots of water: Drink at least eight glasses (1.5 litres) of water every day. “If you don’t like drinking water on its own, try adding a wedge of lemon,” suggests Dr Laubscher.
  • Don’t eat raw meat: Dr Ndekwe says pregnant women should avoid eating raw fish and meat. Dr Laubscher agrees. “Pregnant women should not eat raw protein as it could increase the risk of bacterial contamination. Although the chances of getting a parasitic infection from eating sushi, for example, are slim, the consequences are severe enough that you don’t want to take the risk.”

ALSO SEE: 10 things to avoid during pregnancy

Medications and your health

Some medications are considered safe to take during pregnancy, but others could be harmful for your baby.

  • Do Get the flu vaccine: The World Health Organization recommends that women who are pregnant during the flu season receive the flu vaccine. “There is sufficient evidence showing that the vaccine is safe for mom and baby at any stage of pregnancy, as it offers protection from what could be a severe illness in pregnancy,” notes Dr Laubscher.

ALSO SEE: Flu tips for pregnant and breastfeeding moms

  • Do take it easy on the pain killers: Dr Ndekwe says there are risks associated with pain killers and pregnancy, especially anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. “Paracetamol is a safe option, but must be taken in moderation,” he adds.
  • Do manage any chronic medical conditions: These include hypothyroidism, hypertension, diabetes or epilepsy. Always consult your healthcare provider about whether the medication you are taking is safe for your unborn baby and before taking any new medication or changing the dosage of your current medication.
  • Do Take folic acid: Studies reveal that taking folic acid before and after conception reduces the risk of serious neural-tube defects in babies by up to 70%.
  • Don’t smoke and don’t take drugs: Remember, whatever you put into your body affects your baby too. “Smoking or taking drugs has negative effects on your baby’s growth, development and health, so it’s important for you to change your habits,” cautions Dr Laubscher.
  • Don’t expose yourself to toxic substances and chemicals: These include cleaning solvents, lead and mercury, some insecticides and paint. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure to paint fumes.

ALSO SEE: The dangers of self-medicating during pregnancy

Travel safety
  • Do wear a seat belt: The lap belt should go over your hips and under your belly and the shoulder strap between your breasts.
  • Do travel in your second trimester: Morning sickness has usually settled by then and most women are still reasonably comfortable.
  • Don’t travel far from home in your third trimester: “If you do deliver unexpectedly between 27 and 34 weeks, your baby will need expert neonatal care,” says Dr Laubscher.
  • Don’t fly after 36 weeks: If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, it’s safe to fly during the first and second trimester. Doctors advise that pregnant women should not fly after week 36. Flying can increase the risk of thrombosis (blood clots) and varicose veins due to sitting for long periods of time.
  • Don’t travel to malaria-risk areas: “Even though there are malaria prophylactics that can be prescribed during pregnancy, there are still health risks,” says Dr Laubscher.

ALSO SEE: Travelling while pregnant – how to do it safely

Do seek advice

If you are unsure or worried about doing or eating anything during your pregnancy, always consult your healthcare provider.

The post Dos and don’ts to have a safe pregnancy appeared first on Living and Loving.

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Some level of vaginal discharge is normal for most women at various times of their cycle, and this is no different in pregnancy. In fact, for some women, this can be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy.

In pregnancy, you may notice you have a constant and often increased vaginal discharge. This is known as leukorrhea.

ALSO SEE: 6 early pregnancy symptoms before a missed period 

What is leukorrhea?

Leukorrhea is a normal discharge that you may notice when you’re pregnant. It’s watery and white in colour. It doesn’t itch or smell foul and is the result of increased pregnancy hormones and blood flow that results in this discharge hanging around in your underwear making it one of those pregnancy symptoms that one doesn’t really talk too much about.

Why is it constantly wet down there?

There is an increased amount of blood flow to the pelvic area, which is a result of your pregnancy hormones – namely oestrogen. This means that the mucous membranes in the vagina are more stimulated. This actually helps to keep the vagina clean by passing out old cells and preventing any overgrowth of bacteria in the area. The amount of discharge can vary from day to day. There also tends to be an increase closer to the end of pregnancy, leading up to delivery.

ALSO SEE: 5 types of pregnancy discharge and what they mean

How can I stay fresh down there?

Maintain normal personal hygiene by bathing regularly. There is no need to use a vaginal douche or any specialised products. This may upset the very delicate natural pH balance of the vagina and could potentially worsen your symptoms. Make use of unscented, cotton panty liners which can be changed throughout the day to keep the area dry. These are perfectly safe to use in pregnancy. Don’t make use of tampons at all.

When should I worry?

A watery, milky to clear discharge is normal. If you notice the colour changes to a creamy yellow, green or grey colour, it is time to get checked out. If the discharge becomes offensive with a musky or fishy smell, or chunky texture, there is a chance that you may have an infection. Consult your clinic or doctor to get this seen to immediately. It’s also important to let your healthcare provider know if you experience any burning inside the vagina, painful intercourse or painful urination. Any unwanted infection can pose a risk to your unborn baby. Your doctor or clinic may treat an abnormal vaginal discharge with an antifungal medication or antibiotics.

While your body undergoes many changes in pregnancy, rest assured that leukorrhea is normal and nothing to worry about.

The post Leukorrhea discharge during pregnancy appeared first on Living and Loving.

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You’re ecstatic about your pregnancy and you love your growing bump, but everything is changing and now you can’t wear your favourite perfume and even the faintest hint of rump steak your mouth once watered for, turns your stomach and sends you charging for the bathroom.

What’s happening and how can you keep the lurching in check?

Nausea and vomiting is usually one of the first signs of pregnancy starting at around week six, and seems to ease after week 12 of pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, more than 50% of women experience morning sickness.

ALSO SEE: Morning sickness is actually beneficial for your baby

Do this to ease the quease We asked moms to share what worked for them to relieve their morning sickness. Here’s what they said…

“Dry crackers and plain salted chips helped with the nausea. Also eating small meals frequently. I never threw up, just suffered from nausea. I couldn’t stand the smell and taste of chicken.” – Kayleen Telemachus

“I went off meat entirely for most of my pregnancy. Ginger ale helped, and plain crackers. My Gynae prescribed tablets, which helped tremendously.” – Janine Celia Lutchmen

“As soon as I turned my shower tap on in the mornings I would get sick. A glass of Nesquick chocolate milk, and it all went away.” – Kayleen Wolmarans

“I was nauseous and vomited a few times each day right throughout my entire pregnancy. The only thing that helped a little for the nausea was ginger (biscuits, tea etc), something salty and apple juice.” – Danielle van Wyngaardt

ALSO SEE: 2 yummy popsicle recipes to treat morning sickness

“I hated the smell of garlic, but smelling fresh lemon helped the nausea.” – Melandri Diedericks

“I had morning sickness for the first 14 weeks and couldn’t handle the smell of meat or eggs. Eating ginger biscuits in the morning with rooibos tea helped me.” – Nadia Nel

“Have four to five Marie biscuits as soon as you wake up. Don’t put your feet on the floor, brush your teeth or shower before you’ve had them. The biscuit absorbs the gastric juices in your tummy, which causes morning sickness.” – Rita Rampersadh

“I had hyperemesis gravidarum and was hospitalised for it with my first pregnancy. I couldn’t stand the smell of any meat. There wasn’t much that helped, but there were some things that made a small difference. I also found small meals often and a bit of lemon in water helped. I also tried to get something light and easily digestible like toast or Marie biscuits in my tummy as soon as I woke up and before getting up. Soda drinks like coke also helped a bit.” – Debra Carter

“I was sick from day one until the day I gave birth! Ice cold water and Coke Zero, original Pringles and toast helped. I couldn’t stomach any warm food and the smell of anything being cooked or warmed almost killed me.” – Marique Mc Enery

“I couldn’t open the fridge during my first pregnancy, I had never noticed the smell before, but it made me sick every time. Mint sweets and water with lemon helped.” – Paula Dos Santos Paterson

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Often concerned with the logistics of maternity leave, moms-to-be can overlook the months spent at work before their new arrival. World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which takes place on 28 April, aims to promote safe, healthy and decent work for all, including pregnant women.

ALSO SEE: Everything you need to know about maternity leave

“Pregnancy itself can feel like a full-time job, but most expectant mothers continue to work until the birth of their child, and many return to their desks while they are still breastfeeding,” says Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and head of The Birthing Team, an affordable maternity care programme available in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Polokwane.

He shares some key pointers for pregnant women to take note of in their workplace: Know your rights

It’s illegal to dismiss a woman because she is pregnant. Expectant mothers are protected by the labour laws and can’t be discriminated against in the workplace. Familiarise yourself with legislation and codes that provide guidelines for tasks that women can’t be expected to perform, such as heavy lifting and exposure to chemicals.

Manage your symptoms

Morning sickness, pregnancy brain and pregnancy bladder all have an impact on your productivity. Women can eat smaller, healthier snacks throughout the day to keep their blood sugar stable and curb nausea. If you’re struggling to stay focused on work, set up daily task lists and take more frequent breaks.

ALSO SEE: Tips to deal with morning sickness

Stop stressing

Stress has a major effect on the body. Physical activity not only helps boost your energy, but can help you manage your stress levels. Take a brisk walk during your lunch hour, stretch and breathe deeply to help reduce your stress.

ALSO SEE: 10 tips on how moms can avoid being overwhelmed during pregnancy

Speak to your boss

Although there is no provision in South Africa’s legislation that states when an employee needs to inform employers that they are pregnant, it’s important to inform them in writing as early as possible. This ensures that they can advise you of any potential hazards in the work environment and begin making provisions for your safety. By law, your employer must change the working environment if it is ill-suited to your needs.

ALSO SEE: The dos and don’ts of announcing your pregnancy

“Pregnancy in the workplace should be taken in a serious light by both the expectant mother and her employer,” says Manyonga. “Try work with your employer to ensure your working environment is as healthy and safe for you as it can be.”

The Birthing Team, supported by healthcare management company PPO Serve, makes complete private maternity care affordable for uninsured women by charging an all-inclusive fee that covers all necessary scans, tests, medications, services and assessments from 12 weeks of pregnancy to six weeks after delivery. It is currently operational at Netcare Park Lane in Johannesburg, the Femina Hospital in Pretoria and JMH City Hospital in Durban.

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People are fascinated by pregnancy and new babies, which often leads them to make comments and share opinions that can add substantially to a new mom’s anxiety levels.

“There are various ways to deal with these comments. It will depend on your personality, how well you know the commentator, and how you feel on the day,” says independent midwife and lactation consultant Christine Klynhans.

She suggests keeping the following in mind when friends, colleagues or strangers have anything to say about your pregnancy:

  • It’s your body and your baby, and you don’t have any responsibility to endure unwanted opinions – you can simply brush them off. In many ways, this is the easiest solution and a good skill to learn when you become a parent.
  • You can be assertive and set a boundary for someone failing to treat you with respect. Be honest and let the person know your feelings are being hurt or they’re making you anxious. This is the way to go if the perpetrator is someone you deal with on a regular basis.
  • Defuse the situation by turning it into a joke.
  • Blame it on your doctor. Few people will openly speak out against advice given to a woman by a healthcare professional.

ALSO SEE: 6 pieces of pregnancy advice for first-time moms

We asked moms to share their awkward pregnancy encounters and asked Christine to give advice on how to best handle these situations unique to moms-to-be.

Scenario 1

“I’m always faced with questions about whether what I’m eating is good for my baby – whether it’s a small packet of popcorn with a side of carrots, a healthy salad, a cheese-and-tomato tramezzini or a steak.” – Jane Viviers, 20 weeks pregnant

Christine’s advice: “The responsibility of having a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy causes anxiety and guilt for many women. Throw in food cravings, nausea and food aversions and diet becomes a major stressor. The last thing you need is comments from those around you. You can simply say, “I discussed my diet with my doctor, and she’s happy with what I’m eating”.

Scenario 2

“It’s really uncomfortable moments when people ask me how far along I am and then respond in shock: ‘Wow, you’re really big for 20 weeks. Are you sure there’s only one baby in there? I only showed much later in my pregnancy’.” – Imka Webb, 30 weeks pregnant

Christine’s advice: “Commenting on someone’s body is rude and warrants an assertive reply. Answer with something along the lines of, ‘That’s not a very kind thing to say. There are so many changes in my body and I’m feeling quite vulnerable’.”

ALSO SEE: Is your bump too big?

Scenario 3

“I get constant questions regarding pregnancy clichés like cravings, morning sickness, and heartburn. If you don’t have them, people think you’re lying or putting on a show. People think you have to crave weird combinations or there’s something wrong with you. Also, I cringe every time someone ask me if my twins, Jacques (boy) and Hannah (girl) are identical. – Heleen Theron, mom of twins

Christine’s advice: “These types of comments can usually be managed with some humour. Answers like: ‘Food cravings are part of my everyday life, perhaps I’m just not noticing it!’ or ‘Pregnancy must be my superpower – I feel great!’ usually do the trick.
Regarding the ‘identical’, yet different gender, twins – most people will realise their error as they’re asking it. Those who don’t probably don’t understand the concept, so simply say ‘No, they’re not’.”

Scenario 4

“My first pregnancy has been an amazing journey so far. The only thing that gets to me is when people feel they can comment on my choice of birth (C-section). I feel that it’s my body and my choice.” – Inge Swanepoel, 29 weeks pregnant

Christine’s advice: “There is no ‘correct’ birth choice for any mother. What matters is you have options and these are honoured and respected. Ultimately, it’s your body and your baby. I believe in simply blocking all negative input from others about birth. Just say, ‘Luckily, I get to choose what option is going to work best for me and my baby.’ Or, ‘I’m actually trying to keep an open mind and a positive outlook about my birth. Please don’t tell me anything that’s negative and scary. Perhaps we could get together afterwards and share experiences’.”

ALSO SEE: 5 strategies for a better birth

Scenario 5

“The thing that annoyed me the most during my pregnancy was hearing everyone’s advice – especially because it was my second pregnancy. I wasn’t a new mom and did actually know how to care for my new baby. I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want to offend anyone or seem ungrateful.” – Tanya Serrao, mom to Keanu (4) and Milanay (6 months)

Christine’s advice: “This type of advice is mostly offered with good intentions. You should take it in that spirit and simply choose to ignore it and do your own thing. Simply say, ‘Thank you very much, it’s amazing how different methods work for different people. I’ve found this method works quite well for me right now, but will definitely remember what you said and give it a try if needed’.”

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If you’re concerned breastfeeding will take a toll on your breasts, Dr Angela Lanfranchi, breast cancer surgeon and co-founder of the American Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, reassures women that it’s pregnancy, and not breastfeeding, that changes the breasts. This also depends on the woman’s age, weight and breast size before pregnancy, and her number of pregnancies.

ALSO SEE: 8 ways your body changes during pregnancy

Dr Lanfranchi explains further that by not breastfeeding, the physiological changes of pregnancy are incomplete. This means women lose out on extra protection against breast cancer afforded by breastfeeding.
There are no guarantees that breastfeeding is going to be a hassle-free, bonding experience. It’s not a foolproof contraceptive, or a promissory note that you won’t get breast cancer. But women who have breastfed will tell you breast changes are a small price to pay for the rewards of motherhood. Mom and author, Vicki Iovine writes in her book The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy, “Most breast-deflating comes from losing pregnancy weight, not the act of nursing.”

ALSO SEE: 10 benefits of breastfeeding for mom

Noticeable breast changes

One of the first signs of pregnancy is super-sensitive, painful, heavy breasts. Your nipples will also get bigger, darker and more sensitive. Little “bumps” also appear around the nipples that look like pimples, but are actually lubricating glands that keep the nipple moist and supple during breastfeeding.
All this may even happen before you’ve missed a period or had a positive pregnancy test. Your breasts will now steadily grow bigger (which means buying bigger bras), the ducts will mature and blood vessels will dilate.
In the third trimester (from 28 weeks onwards), your breasts may leak a thick, yellowish fluid called colostrum, or your baby’s first milk. Colostrum is full of goodness and can act as an antimicrobial cream if you rub it into your nipples.

What you don’t see

While you’re either grappling with, or enjoying, your more voluptuous breasts, there’s plenty going on inside them. With the help of oestrogen and progesterone (now made by the placenta) lactiferous ducts grow like the roots of a tree and you now have between 10 and 20, which merge into ducts just under the nipple. This means you now have between 10 and 20 minuscule openings from the nipple that “spray” milk into your baby’s mouth.
Breast lobules are the glands that make milk. These glands look like bunches of grapes and milk travels through the ducts to the nipple. Each of the lobules is nestled in a circle, like petals, in connective tissue and fat to make up the breast.

Stages of breast development:

Stage 1: At birth, boys and girls have dormant, immature lobules.
Stage 2: At puberty, with help from oestrogen and progesterone, girls develop breast tissue.
Stage 3: Begins at the start of a pregnancy and lasts for the first and second trimester.
Stage 4: Begins during the third trimester and continues throughout breastfeeding.

Once your breasts have reached the fourth stage (full maturity), breast tissue is no longer sensitive to the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects of oestrogen. This helps to give you some protection against breast cancer.
You can produce milk for as long as you’re feeding a baby. Recent studies suggest genetic “tags” are passed down through generations, helping to maintain breast tissue preparation between pregnancies. So, once you’ve breastfed, you’ll find it easier the next time.

ALSO SEE: Do you have enough breast milk? Here’s how to tell

Preventing the droop
  • During the day, wear a supportive bra without underwires, and at night, wear a stretchy sports bra.
  • Providing you’re not likely to go into premature labour, massage your breasts daily during your last trimester. Not only will this help your milk to flow, it helps you to feel comfortable handling your breasts.
  • In the bath/shower, soap your hands. Use one hand to cup your breast while massaging from the base to the nipple with your other hand. Repeat all the way around. Gently roll your nipples a few times between your finger tips to prepare for baby’s strong grip. If this stimulates contractions, stop.
  • How your skin stretches and bounces back to its original shape depends on your age and how much elastin and collagen (proteins in connective tissue) you’ve inherited.

Add the following to your diet:

  • Berries and pumpkin – they’re powerful antioxidants
  • Celery and cucumber – these contain silica, which helps to boost moisture and elasticity
  • Salmon, olives and walnuts – they contain omega 3 fatty acids, which help to improve skin ageing.
  • Spices like turmeric and cinnamon – have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

The post How pregnancy and breastfeeding changes your breasts appeared first on Living and Loving.

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