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When you’re expecting

Neena Jacob

Way back in 1986 when I learned I was pregnant I was assailed with doubts. Could I really look after a tiny human being? Teach him or her values? Nourish the tiny one? What happens if the baby falls ill? How did my mother manage four?

My friend’s mother, who had 10 kids, was my go to.

Nana what will I do? How will I manage? How did you manage?

She smiled and said: “Neena, listen to everyone but remember you know best what’s good for your child.”

I thought that’s easy but, how do I know what a cry means? That’s all they do right?

Or how much is enough? Do I use the rod or spare it? Spoil the child or ignore it?

Things were not much clearer.

Thirty-three years down there are days when I feel I must have done something right and days when I think – are these really mine?

According to Wikipedia – Parenting or child rearing is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the intricacies of raising a child and not exclusively for a biological relationship.

So, parenting is an arduous yet rewarding journey that begins with conception. Let’s start at the beginning and get on with the business of parenting.

Getting the right doctor is the first step. Find someone you are comfortable with. For me, I fell in love with my gynaecologist when she gave me a large kidney tray for the urine sample instead of a glass bottle. A lovely lady who made me feel special and answered all my questions with a twinkle in her eye. In those days we didn’t have Google to ask those embarrassing questions about whether we can still enjoy sex and all the other related queries. She also made sure I had a target for the next visit regarding weight gain and walking. She shared with me what stage the baby is in, when it will start moving or if its limbs are developing, and that made me feel so good.

Eat healthy! Diet should include a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables all seasonal, and remember indulge your cravings. My grandfather used to make sure that I had ladyfish as he said it was good for healing bones. Milk, cheese and dairy were part of my daily diet. In short I would tell my daughter eat more natural foods. In Goa the abundance of leafy vegetables and fresh fish make this so easy.

Maintain a record of weight gain. It should be a reasonable amount as shedding extra becomes tough once the little one comes and takes up all your time.

Moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day is good for circulation, decrease stress and strengthens muscles. I worked and did household chores till the last minute.

Please consult your doctor before you start any exercise regimen. Follow the doctor’s advice.

Feeling emotional during pregnancy is common because of hormonal changes. So, it’s natural to feel more stressed or anxious than usual. Expectant mothers’ emotional well-being can be easily overlooked with all the focus being on the growing baby. Send positive thoughts.

Pray for the health and well-being of your baby. I remember feeling so touched when my husband’s aunt shared that she prayed every day for all the expectant mothers in the family. Now I do the same for friend’s children, family members and my ex students who have shared the good news.

I used to read a lot and sing to my baby. My husband was petrified, “You teachers always speak so loudly, I am scared the baby will be loud too!”

My father also spoke to the baby as there was so much information on how the little one responds to familiar voices.

My most wonderful memories are of how my feet were washed and toe nails cut by a loving husband as the growing waist line made it difficult to bend.

Enjoy your pregnancy! If you are troubled with nausea, follow the advice of eating small meals and avoiding whatever doesn’t smell appealing.

Though I had no nausea my neighbour frying her fish in mustard oil used to make me uneasy in those early months and so every time I got that whiff I would crush lime leaves and hold them to my nose.

(Writer is a volunteer in local schools and a

trustee with Sethu)

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