A Healthy Pregnancyby Dr Gubby Ayida on June 18, 2012
Situated in the heart of Chelsea and Fulham, The Women's Wellness Centre is dedicated to the private healthcare of women and is the first of its kind in west London. The Centre promotes a philosophy of pregnancy as a state of health, and childbirth as a normal, healthy physiological process.
Conceived and configured to the specific needs of women, the Centre brings together at a single site private outpatient consultations, scanning and pathology services as well as complementary services and allied practitioners from nutritionists to physiotherapists. Consultations range from pre-conception advice to pregnancy and postnatal support and a full range of gynaecological services embracing subfertility concerns through to menopause. They are provided by leading consultants with proven track records in their fields of expertise.
Optimise your chances of becoming pregnant
Prior to conception, you and your partner should quit smoking, eat well and exercise regularly, and the woman should also take prenatal multivitamins containing folic acid. The latter has been shown to prevent neural tube defects (such as spina bifida) in babies. Women on medication for pre-existing conditions, such as epilepsy, diabetes, thyroid disease and depression, should visit their GP or specialist to ensure that medication does not need to be changed or stopped. Older women (those over 34 years of age) thinking about delaying the start of a family should have a fertility 'MOT', where baseline blood tests and scanning can provide an indication of ovarian reserve, and whether or not this decision needs to be reconsidered. This period also offers an opportunity for a quick check on immunity status, eg, rubella (German measles), toxoplasma and varicella (chickenpox). Knowledge of your pre-pregnancy status can prove useful in pregnancy or lead to vaccination prior to conceiving. The time prior to conception is also an opportunity to ensure that smear tests are up to date.
First trimester (five to 12 weeks)
After the exhilaration of the good news, this beginning period of pregnancy can be challenging. Symptoms of extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting, constipation and urinating frequently are debilitating in some women but can be managed. A scan (six to nine weeks) is useful on several accounts. It allows better estimation of the pregnancy date to within five days, which facilitates better timing of the nuchal translucency scan (Down's syndrome screening) at around 12 weeks. It also confirms a single pregnancy located within the uterus and not the Fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy). This scan can be particularly reassuring if there has been vaginal bleeding. This is the period of organogenesis (when all the baby's major organs are being formed). Medication, alcohol, X-rays and recreational drugs should be avoided during this important period unless approved by your doctor. If you smoke and are finding it difficult to quit then ask your midwife or GP to refer you to a smoking cessation clinic.
Mid-trimester (13-30 weeks)
This is often thought of as the 'best' trimester, with energy levels restored and nausea and vomiting reduced. By this stage, women should be booked into a maternity unit, have met their midwives and have had all routine blood tests and Down's syndrome (chromosomal) screening tests. The mid-trimester high point is the 20-week scan - a special appointment that should be attended with your partner. A full scan and anatomical survey of the baby is taken. Images can be seen very clearly, especially with highresolution machines that capture 3D images.
Third trimester (31-40 weeks)
In addition to guidance and clinical care from your midwives, GPs and obstetricians, you will have researched and booked into birth preparation classes by now. This is key to preparing for the new arrival and parenting. Topics of discussion cover signs of labour pain-relief, breastfeeding and infant first aid. Exercise in pregnancy is good: pilates, yoga, strengthening and toning exercises are particularly well-suited. Swimming offers the added benefit of buoyancy in late pregnancy. Back pain and pubic symphysis dysfunction (pelvic girdle pain) can be troublesome in pregnancy. Ergonomic workstations, meticulous back care and physio-recommended corsets can all help with these symptoms. Perineal stretching can help to improve the elasticity of the perineum (the area of skin between your vagina and rectum) and reduce the risk of tearing or prolonged pushing in labour. This can be made easier using Epi-No, a birthing trainer which has the added benefit of being used to strengthen pelvic floor muscles after delivery. A growth scan at 32-36 weeks is reassuring, keeps an eye on the baby's growth and confirms the 'head down' position.
Following the birth, it is really important to continue to eat well, drink plenty of fluids and keep taking multivitamins when breastfeeding. Remember: even if you decide not to breastfeed fully, giving the baby colostrom (milk in its first two to three days) allows you to pass immunity against infections to the baby as it's packed with useful antibodies. Pelvic floor muscle restoration is paramount and you can never start these exercises too early, do too much or for too long. The maximum benefit is for later life, to reduce the risk of prolapse or weak bladder at time of menopause.
Committed to women's healthcare
It is your pregnancy, and your baby. Therefore, you can, and should have input into ensuring that you optimise your wellbeing at every single stage. The Women's Wellness Centre personifies an environment conceived for women where you can have your healthcare needs addressed through all the stages of life, at one location and with minimal fuss. Delivering the best care The Women's Wellness Centre provides the following services:
- reconception optimisation consultations.
- Ovarian reserve testing or fertility 'MOT'.
- Ultrasound scans, including 3D scans.
- Birth preparation, parentcraft and infant first aid classes.
- Consultant appointments in obstetrics and gynaecology.
- Pregnancy-related products, including multivitamins, flight socks, Epi-No and tummy corsets.
- Complementary therapies: acupuncture, physiotherapy, nutrition and counselling.
- Breastfeeding advice.
- Paediatric services.