Photo by Eric Froehling on Unsplash
In our previous article, we touched on the mental, spiritual and financial preparation to consider BEFORE actually deciding to have a baby. If you have not read that yet, click the link here (insert link). In this article, insyaAllah we will be covering a few aspects of life DURING pregnancy – how is it actually like?
Now we all have watched at least one Hollywood movie where one of the characters is pregnant, so you must have at least some idea on what to expect during pregnancy, right? Well, unfortunately, Hollywood has a way of exaggerating or romanticising certain events in life, so you might have to throw some of your ideas out of the window, especially if you are a first-time mom.
So, how is it really going to be like? This is a rough guide on the physical aspects of being pregnant based on the different trimesters; all the other spiritual elements will be covered in the next article.
Here’s the funny thing about how every pregnancy is calculated in weeks – for the first two weeks, you are not even pregnant yet. Yes, it is absolutely true. This is because the doctors and nurses will start to count the weeks starting from the first day of your last menstruation (period), so that is roughly two weeks before the foetus is even conceived.
And for the next two to three weeks, because the baby is still only a ball of cells and so tiny, you will not see any immediate changes and hence will remain unaware until you realise that your period is late. Therefore, by the time you do get around to buying one of those DIY pregnancy test kits, you would have already been about 4 to 6 weeks pregnant (though for the first two weeks, you’re not actually pregnant, get it?)
Now, try to hold in your excitement to let everyone around you know the news because sometimes, there may be an error in using the DIY pregnancy test kits, though that is rare because most of the kits are at least 90% accurate. It is best to actually go down to your normal family doctor or polyclinic to confirm again.
This part is important: if you are planning to go for the subsidised check-up route at Kandang Kerbau Hospital (KKH), go to the polyclinic to get yourself checked and referred to KKH. If you’re planning to go for private check-ups and treatment all the way, then it does not matter which doctor you go to. You simply have to do your homework, look up the list of obstetricians you have in mind and call up the hospitals that they are in to make your appointment. Try to have about two to three options in your list because some doctors are very popular especially among the Muslim community in Singapore, hence you might not be able to get a slot in their busy schedules.
Ok, so now that we have got what to do once you discover you’re pregnant covered, let’s move on to the next bit of the first trimester.
During the first trimester, your tummy will not suddenly balloon to Hollywood proportions (in the movies, they always seem to have a big belly overnight!). In fact, some women don’t even start showing until they are five to six months along. But what will happen is that you will feel an extreme fatigue, one that you have never felt before in your life. Most women will find that they get very sleepy multiple times during the day and at the end of the day, it will feel as if a ton of bricks has knocked you to the ground.
This is because for the first trimester, the foetus inside you is growing very rapidly, so although it might look like there is nothing much going on the outside, a lot of things are actually happening on the inside. Your body is basically a factory with a long and never-ending production line in the womb.
You might also experience something called ‘morning sickness’, though this term must be used loosely because it occurs morning, afternoon and night for many women. Up to 50% of women suffer from it, so if you’re vomiting and giddy, don’t worry – you are not alone. However, do watch for signs of dehydration and malnutrition in the even that your morning sickness is extremely bad; for some women, they might even need to be hospitalised to ensure that their body gets the nutrition it needs.
At this point, you must let your husband be aware of all these changes to your body so that he can chip in to help. Household chores that require way too much energy can now be transferred to be under his purview and you both might want to start changing your diet and lifestyle now that you really are pregnant.
If you’re one of those women who do not suffer from morning sickness, congrats! For the rest of us, unfortunately, it can get a little tough. Get your husband to stock up on things that you can eat. If you can’t cook during this period, then seek his help to cook for the family. The key is to always be honest with your partner about the kind of help you need.
There have been many studies to suggest that a mother’s diet even before conception of the baby has been known to have an effect on the development of the foetus. And during the entire course of pregnancy, every single bit of nutrition that the baby receives comes from the mother, hence the importance of ensuring a healthy diet. That means, no fast food, instant noodles and the like throughout pregnancy.
Get your husband to jump on the bandwagon so that it is easier for you to stick to a healthy diet; having a partner in this will make a difference, believe me!
In the second trimester, most women will have their morning sickness ease off, alhamdulillah. You will also get your energy back during this stage so this is the time for you to start looking into getting your body fit and ready for labour!
Remember our previous article where we talked about labour being the actual marathon? Well, to run a marathon, one needs to prepare months in advance! Some of the exercises that I myself have done or heard of other women doing are: lunges, climbing up stairs to get to your house, birth walks (basically just a very long walk) and prenatal yoga.
The idea here is to exercise the muscles that will be required for pushing and to help build on stamina, because trust me, labour, especially for first-borns, will be long arduous.
You would also want to continue eating healthily and some pregnant women I know start juicing at this point. Juicing basically means you put a bunch of vegetables and fruits together and blend them all up, and drink the juice without straining it, hence retaining the full nutritional value of the fruits and veggies. If juicing is not for you, then perhaps you might want to read up on the types of foods that are nutritious for pregnant women. Do take note, though, that there are some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, such as raw fish (sushi and sashimi) due to the risk of food poisoning and bacterial infection.
I would strongly recommend that you continue doing your household chore routine as per usual because that is a form of exercise as well. It is a myth that pregnant women should not be doing any work because we now know the benefits of remaining mobile and fit throughout pregnancy. However, do refrain from carrying heavy things and if your condition does not allow it, then do not force yourself to do household chores. At all times, always check with your doctor before signing up for exercise classes to ensure that it is not too strenuous for you.
At this stage, you will start getting quite swollen around the feet, nose and face. This is normal due to water retention and most women usually will lose this after pregnancy. Because your belly suddenly expands rapidly, the extra weight might cause you to feel out of breath easily and ache everywhere all the time!
At every stage of your pregnancy, do remember that verily, with every difficulty, there will be ease, and that Allah SWT already knows that you are facing all these because He Himself has said in the Quran,
“His mother carried him, (increasing her) in weakness upon weakness…” (Surah Luqman: 14)
“…His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship…” (Surah Al-Ahqaf: 15)
Take comfort in the fact that Allah SWT sees your pain and fatigue and He will reward you for this, so try to bear all the trials and hardship of pregnancy with patience and forbearance.
Secondly, do know that every time you face a trial in life, it is meant to help you grow as a person and help prepare you for something good that Allah is about to hand to you. In this case, all the aches and pain will seem like a small price to pay when you get to hold the bundle of joy in your arms at the end of your 40-week journey. May this experience help shape you as a Muslimah and make you emerge a stronger person! Amin.
For those of you who are keen on reading more about what to expect during labour and delivery, here are some articles that we can recommend:
- What to Expect During a Vaginal Delivery: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/intrapartum-care-vaginal-delivery#birth-plans
- Normal Labor and Delivery Process: https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/normal-labor-and-delivery-process#1
In our next article, we will be discussing some specific du’as that you can make as a mother and post-partum preparation, insyaAllah!
About the writer:
Sis Suliyati is the founder of @MuslimParents.SG, a Muslim parenting portal that runs parenting classes and courses as well as kids-friendly Quran classes for parents. For more info, follow us on IG and FB @muslimparents.sg