Skin Care During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a phase in a woman’s life during which your body undergoes different type of changes. These changes occur as your body produces hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. Changes on your skin also occur as a part of pregnancy. If you are lucky enough, you will look luscious and beautiful. But in some, the effect is just the opposite resulting in varied types of skin problems.


During pregnancy, the area around your chin and mouth are the most common areas affected. Due to the baby bump, stretch marks also occur on your skin. So, it becomes very essential that you take care of your skin during pregnancy. From the foods you eat to products you use on your skin, all have effects on your baby. Though most of the skin products are safe, there are some which may be harmful to your developing baby.


You can combat stretch marks by using cocoa butter which is safe to use during pregnancy. It helps in diminishing blemishes, as well. You may also notice darker skin in certain areas, especially around the areolas due to hyper pigmentation. In order to make the dark patches fairer, you can use lotions which are safe to use during pregnancy.

You can also opt for natural and oil-free skin products during the gestation period. Such products don’t contain harmful chemicals which are not good for the baby in the womb. There are some products especially made for pregnant women. Otherwise, you can consult an experienced dermatologist to treat different types of skin problems that occur during pregnancy.


You should avoid using skin products that contain the following ingredients:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Any type of Retinoid

Make pregnancy the most beautiful phase of your life by eating well and taking care of your skin. You will definitely like playing the role of mom-to-be. Stay happy, and your pregnancy will definitely be beautiful!

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The foetus is surrounded by a water-like fluid known as amniotic fluid. This fluid contains the live cells of the foetus and other substances which are helpful in determining the health of the baby before birth.

Amniocentesis is a specialised medical procedure in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is taken out from the womb to perform a laboratory test. Usually, it is done between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy. When done before 15th week of pregnancy, the chances of miscarriages or other complications increase. It is performed on those women who have the risk of genetic disorders.


Need for amniocentesis

With the help of amniocentesis, the following things could be determined:

  • Genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormality: Genetic disorders like Down’s syndrome and sickle cell anaemia can be detected. Down’s syndrome has adverse effect on the mental and physical appearance of the baby and  in sickle cell anaemia the red cells are abnormally developed and lyse(break )easily.
  • Infection: It also helps to detect any kind of bacterial or viral infection in suspected cases

How is amniocentesis  done?


Prior to amniocentesis, an ultrasound is performed which helps in detecting the position  and condition of the unborn baby .

Then under ultrasound guidance, a thin needle which is inserted into the uterus through the abdomen. And approximately 15 to 20 ml of amniotic fluid is withdrawn

The sample of the amniotic fluid is then tested in the laboratory.



Risks of amniocentesis

Though amniocentesis is helpful in detecting the health of the unborn baby, it includes some risks to the mother. Following are some of the complications which may occur in pregnant women or in the baby:

  • Miscarriage: If amniocentesis is performed before 15 weeks of your pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage is higher.
  • Amniotic fluid leakage: It is very rare that the amniotic fluid leaks. And if it so happens, normally it stops within a week without having any effect on your pregnancy.
  • Injury during needle insertion: While performing amniocentesis, the unborn baby might move its leg or arm and get a little hurt. But it doesn’t cause any serious injury to the baby.
  • Transmission of infection: If you are suffering from any kind of infection like toxoplasmosis, hepatitis C or HIV, these infections may get transmitted to the foetus during amniocentesis.

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Stork Delivers the First Baby

Dr.Evita.jpgLast night I stood silently by the side of a young mother who asked me to be present at the birth of her second baby. I re-entered a birthing room after several years. It was a privilege, to be a part of that very special, intimate circle. She chose to have the chants of the Vipassana meditation which added a spiritual dimension and left her calm.

I continue to be in awe of the mystery of birth. I never cease to be amazed by the quiet inner strength and determination of a woman, to birth. The sheer unadulterated joy she displays when she holds her baby only reiterates the power of a mother’s love.

Thank you my young mother, for drawing me back into that special spot last night.

A successful vaginal birth, following a previous Cesarean section, is a reason to celebrate. You have only reinforced my belief in women and their understanding of their own bodies.

Our first birth in Stork Home – a good beginning indeed.

– Dr. Evita Fernandez

Glycemic index of food you eat during pregnancy


During pregnancy, food with low glycemic index reduces the risk of various complications such as gestational diabetes. In addition, it helps in reducing the risk of high birth weight of the baby during delivery.


A woman who is pregnant gains more weight on normal diet as compared to one with low glycemic index. Pregnant women can cut down excess weight to around 20 per cent if they follow a healthy diet with low glycemic index. So, it is very essential to have food with low glycemic index during pregnancy. However, take recommendations from your doctor before going on low glycemic index food.

What is glycemic index of food?

Glycemic index (GI) of food is the number which is associated with carbohydrate containing food indicating its effect on the blood sugar level of a person. Different foods have different glycemic index and a value of 100 is said to be the standard one. It is equivalent to pure glucose. This is a new method of analysing food, giving you the impact of particular food on the blood sugar level of your body.


Suggestions to help you to take low glycemic index food:

  • Plan your meals and snacks for a couple of weeks using the glycemic index chart.
  • While shopping, carry the chart along with you, it will help you buy food that is low in GI.
  • Eat whole grains as they have more nutrients than refined ones; during pregnancy, it is very essential that you and your baby get proper nutrition.
  • You can include oatmeal, barley, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, high bran cereals and sprouted whole wheat products.
  • Have plenty of vegetables in your meals; some of the healthy options with low GI are broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, peas, carrot, cabbage, mushrooms, corn, eggplant, beans and sweet potatoes. Potatoes and pumpkin are high GI foods.
  • Eat plenty of fruits as they have lots of nutrients which are required for proper development of the baby. Oranges, plums, cherries, coconuts, kiwis, peaches and strawberries are some of the fruits with low GI. Dates and watermelons should be avoided during pregnancy as they are high GI fruits.



  • It is essential to have low-fat dairy products as they provide calcium, responsible for healthy growth of bones, teeth and nails of the baby. Most of the low-fat dairy products are low in GI. Milk, yogurt and cottage cheese are not low but moderate GI foods.
  • You can eat white fish and chicken during pregnancy as these are low GI food. Pork, lamb and beef should be avoided.


As the glycemic index of food you eat during pregnancy plays a vital role in the development of the baby, you should eat food with low GI. But don’t forget to consult your doctor before going through such diet.

Eat healthy and give birth to a healthy baby.

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Back pain during pregnancy — How to overcome it

Back pain is one of the common problems that occur during pregnancy. Most pregnant women suffer from back pain mainly due to weight gain. But this doesn’t mean you have to suffer throughout the pregnancy. Besides consulting your doctor, there are several ways (read further below) you can overcome back pain during pregnancy.


Factors causing back pain during pregnancy:

  • Weight gain: Gaining weight during pregnancy is quite a normal phenomenon. But some women tend to gain more weight than required. The extra weight  puts a load on your spine resulting in lower backache and other complications. Moreover, the weight of the developing baby and the uterus puts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels of the pelvis and back.
  • Hormonal changes: This is another factor causing back pain in pregnant women. Due to the hormone called Relaxin, the ligaments in the pelvic area tend to relax and the joints loosen. It also loosens the ligaments supporting the spine that causes instability causing back pain.
  • Changes in posture: As you gain weight during pregnancy, the centre of gravity also changes. So, in order to be comfortable, you change your sitting postures, the way you walk etc. These changes in posture give rise to back pain.
  • Muscle separation: As time passes, the uterus starts expanding more and more. In the process, the two parallel stretches of muscle between the rib cage and pubic bone get separated along the centre seam. This process worsens backache if you are already suffering from it.
  • Emotional stress: During pregnancy, emotional stress causes tension in the back muscles which may result in back pain.

Back pain during pregnancy can lead to following:

  • Difficulty in getting up from a sitting posture
  • You may find it difficult to change positions on the bed
  • Uneasiness while walking for a longer period of time
  • Dressing and undressing may become a problem
  • Difficulty while taking a bath
  • Doing work with back pain becomes very painful

How to ease back pain during pregnancy?

Following these points can help you get rid of your back pain to a great extent:

  • Exercise: Exercising is one of the best ways to ease backache in pregnant women. Walking, cycling on stationary cycle and swimming are some of the safe exercises which you can do while pregnant. Exercising for at least 30 minutes five times a week will not only help you strengthen your body muscles but also increase your flexibility. Staying active by doing exercises and light work is the key to reducing back pain during pregnancy.


  • Posture: Improving your posture helps in getting relief from backache. You should avoid staying in the same posture for a long period of time. While sitting you can use a cushion at the back and rest your feet on a stool. Using maternity pillows while sleeping also help to reduce backache.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture helps you to get rid of back pain. But it is very necessary to get it done by experienced professionals.
  • Heat and cold: To get relief from pain, you may apply cold packs or hot water bag according to your convenience. Even a warm bath can be helpful to reduce back pain.


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Intake of Ghee during pregnancy – good or bad?


Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the key factors for a healthy pregnancy as the baby receives its nutrition from the food that the pregnant woman eats. During the nine months of pregnancy, you have to follow a strict diet and may have a variety of problems like uneasiness, nausea, mood swings etc. But all these seem nothing in comparison to the little bundle of joy that will arrive at the end of the third trimester. So, make the best of your pregnancy by having nutritious food that will help your baby develop in a healthy manner.

All through your pregnancy, you will get an array of advice regarding what food you must eat and what you should avoid. Ghee is one such item in the food list suggested by your relatives and other concerned people.



Importance of ghee

An integral part of Indian cuisine, ghee is nothing but clarified butter. It has lots of nutritional benefits and contains Omega 9 fatty acids, Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc. Though there are many health benefits of ghee for a normal person but whether the consumption of ghee during pregnancy is beneficial is not properly known.



Some of the health benefits of ghee are:


  • Maintains the cholesterol level of blood
  • Stimulates the digestive fibre of the body
  • Enhances metabolism
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Moisturises and nourishes skin
  • Nourishes scalp hair
  • Maintains healthy growth of brain and bones of the baby

Consumption of ghee during pregnancy

According to nutritionists, the consumption of ghee is not a good idea during pregnancy as ghee is said to be a saturated fat. Though the benefits of ghee for pregnant women is not proven, but in Indian culture it is believed that consuming ghee during this period has the following effects.

  • Helps in the development of the baby’s brain
  • Nourishes the baby
  • Helps in relieving constipation
  • Improves digestive function
  • Helps to induce labour by acting as a laxative
  • Helps in stimulating contractions naturally for smooth delivery


If you follow a diet that consists of fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy options, adding ghee in a small proportion to your diet does not cause any harm. Homemade ghee is often supposed to be a healthy option and is considered stable for cooking in comparison to butter or oil. And if your weight gain is quite normal, it is safe to have ghee during this period. But if you have gained excess weight, it is advisable not to take ghee. No matter what, it is always good to consult your doctor regarding the inclusion of ghee in your diet and in what amount.

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Proper Exercises During Pregnancy

Being pregnant does not mean that it is time for you to rest and relax throughout this period. While you do need rest and relaxation, you have to keep yourself active during pregnancy. Exercising is one of the best ways to keep healthy and fit.

Exercising not only helps in improving your strength and muscle tone but also to adapt to the changes that occur due to pregnancy. You can join classes or consult your doctor regarding the same. In case of any pregnancy related complications, it is better not to do exercises.


Benefits of exercising:


  • It will provide you strength and energy to keep yourself active
  • As it is normal to gain weight in pregnancy, exercising will help you carry this weight
  • It will help you during labour and childbirth, as it prepares you for the physical challenges associated with them
  • It will allow you to have proper sleep
  • It will help to deal with mood swings which is very common in pregnant women
  • It will help you to get back in shape after childbirth

Some exercises you can do during pregnancy:

  • Walking: Brisk walking is one of the best ways to remain fit and healthy during pregnancy. This is one of the safe cardio-vascular workouts possible without putting stress on your ankles and knees. If you can walk 30 minutes daily, five times a week, it is perfectly good for your health.
  • Swimming: One of the best exercises with little risk of injury, swimming is safe during pregnancy. Swimming lets your legs, arms, heart and lungs to work out. Moreover, it helps reduce swollen feet and backaches. But if you don’t know swimming, it is not the best time to start this exercise.
  • Yoga: Yoga during pregnancy helps you improve your posture, flexibility, muscle tone, blood circulation and to relax. It may help you in maintaining blood pressure, as well. You can even learn methods to stay calm and relaxed during labour.


  • Aerobics: Low impact aerobics can be done by pregnant women. It is better to join classes if you are planning to do aerobics during pregnancy. It will help you to strengthen your muscle tone as well as your heart and lungs.
  • Cycling: Cycling on stationary cycle is absolutely safe during pregnancy. This is the best way to strengthen your heart without putting much strain on your knees. Stationary cycles also reduce the risk of falling down.

Tips to follow while exercising:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and remain hydrated while exercising
  • Don’ t indulge in exercises that involve lying flat on the back or on the stomach
  • Avoid exercises that include heavy weights and straining
  • Don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion
  • Have healthy meals



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Allergies and Intolerances during Pregnancy – How to avoid them?

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful stages of a woman’s life. But being pregnant doesn’t only mean taking care of the baby, but taking care of self, as well. Taking care of self is one of the vital things during pregnancy. And, if you have allergies, you should consult your doctor regarding the same. Because when you stay fit and healthy, only then will the baby receive all the vital nutrients required for proper development.


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What is an allergy?

An allergy is a response by the body’s immune system to allergen, which may not be very harmful. Some people are sensitive to the allergens and get affected when exposed to them. Though most of the allergies are mild and don’t do much harm, some are severe and life-threatening. The life-threatening ones are known as Anaphylaxis. Food allergies are the most common form of allergy which occur during pregnancy.

Food Allergies and Food Intolerances

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Food allergies are not to be mistaken with food intolerances. Though seemingly similar, each has different signs and symptoms. But it is very difficult to differentiate between the two. The following will help you know the difference:

  • Food allergies occur when the immune system of the body reacts abnormally to certain foods. Food intolerances, however, don’t have an allergic reaction.
  • Allergic reactions happen quickly while the symptoms of food intolerance usually manifest a few hours after having food.
  • In case of food allergy, even a small amount of the food can cause allergic reaction. But the case is not same for food intolerance.

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Symptoms of Food Allergy:

  • Vomiting
  • Itching and tingling
  • Swelling of mouth, lips and throat
  • Constipation
  • Atopic eczema
  • Loose motion
  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Tiredness
  • Poor growth

Symptoms of Food Intolerance:

  • Diarrhoea or loose stool
  • Bloating and tummy pain
  • Skin rashes and itching

How to Avoid Allergies and Intolerances?

Change in the hormonal level during pregnancy leads to change in allergy symptoms. Pregnant women should note the following to help avoid allergies and intolerances.

  • Avoid food that causes allergy and intolerance
  • Consult your doctor if you are allergic to certain foods
  • Take medications for allergy and intolerance as per your doctor’s advice
  • Check the medication information if it is suitable for use or not during pregnancy
  • Make a list of your allergic and intolerance factors
  • Inform emergency staff about your allergies
  • Ensure all your medicines are easily accessible
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking

Remember, it is very essential for pregnant women to take care of their own health along with the baby in the womb.



ZIKA Virus


The Zika virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease, was first identified in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947 in the rhesus monkey. Eventually, it got transmitted to humans in 1952. This illness is transmitted by two species of mosquito — Aedes Albopictus and Aedes Aegypti. The Zika virus is similar to yellow fever, dengue, West Nile and Japanese Encephalitis viruses.


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Signs & Symptoms:

The time from incubation to exposure is not so clear but it lasts for 2-7 days.

  • The symptoms are a bit similar to dengue, usually causing mild illness which appears after some days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • Mild fever, skin rashes, headache, muscle and joint pain, and pain behind the eyes may occur in an infected person.
  • Conjunctivitis, vomiting and malaise are some other symptoms of Zika virus.

 Modes of Transmission:


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  • Primarily, the Zika virus gets transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, mainly Aedes Aegypti.
  • Unlike the Anopheles mosquito causing malaria which is active during night hours, the Aedes mosquito is extremely active during daytime; it can survive in both outdoor and indoor environment.
  • When a mosquito feeds on the blood of an infected person, it gets infected itself, transmitting the virus to other humans through bites.
  • Transmission through asymptomatic blood donors in whom RNA of Zika virus has been identified.
  • Possible transmission through sexual contact has also been reported.


A Zika virus infected person can be diagnosed through the following ways:

  • The presence of the Zika virus can be based on general symptoms such as mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis, pain, vomiting, uneasiness etc., Zika virus can be suspected through the patient’s place of living and history of travelling.
  • However, proper diagnosis is done by laboratory testing of blood, urine, saliva or other body fluids through the following tests:
  • PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) or by RT-PCR (Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) for viral RNA
  • Serology Test


As the disease caused by Zika virus is usually mild, it does not require much medical attention. Those infected require proper rest, should drink plenty of fluids and take common medicines for fever and pain.

If the symptoms worsen, it is advisable to seek proper medical treatment. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific drugs available to fight the Zika virus.


To protect yourself from Zika virus, the following measures should help:

  • Avoiding mosquito bites is the best prevention.
  • Using insect repellent to kill mosquitoes.
  • Wearing light-coloured clothes that cover most parts of your body.
  • Sleeping under mosquito nets.
  • Covering water containers and emptying them from time to time

Microcephaly and Zika Virus:

Microcephaly is a neurodevelopmental disorder due to which babies are born with unusually small heads. The brains of these babies don’t develop properly during pregnancy or may stop growing in the first year of birth. Children infected with microcephaly experience problems like intellectual defects, developmental delays, hearing loss etc. It may also occur if a pregnant woman is malnourished, has diabetes or consumes alcohol.


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It is found that the rate of babies born with microcephaly in the virus-affected places is rising due to the possibility of pregnant women being infected by Zika virus.

Those travelling to infected areas should take all the preventive measures. Women planning to get pregnant or already pregnant and living in the affected areas should follow the measures strictly. Others should refrain from visiting these places so they don’t get infected.

Virus Affected Zone:

As per the update till 15 February, 2016, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned about travel in the following areas with Zika virus transmission.

  • South and Central America: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Panama, Venezuela Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Suriname and Nicaragua
  • Caribbean: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Curacao, Saint Martin, Martinique and US Virgin Islands
  • Oceania: Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga
  • Africa: Cape Verde

Fatigue Problems During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, most women experience extreme tiredness and fatigue. It is quite normal to feel tired during pregnancy as your body undergoes different types of changes,  and pains, aches, tender nipples etc occur. During the early and later stages of pregnancy, fatigue becomes very common. Some pregnant women experience fatigue throughout the whole pregnancy yet some don’t feel tired at all.


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Reasons for fatigue

Though the actual reasons for fatigue during early pregnancy are not known, it is assumed that  hormonal changes are the main reason. As progesterone is known to make one tired and sluggish, rapid rise of this hormone in pregnant women make them feel more tired. The hormonal changes results in a mess of stress level with the mental state taking a toll on the rest of the body making you feel tired. At the end of the first trimester, all these symptoms reduce to a great extent. If they still continue in the second trimester, it is advisable to consult your doctor.

Moreover, most pregnant women get affected with anaemic problems. The symptom of anaemia during pregnancy is fatigue. An expectant woman needs greater amount of iron for the baby and for the blood loss during the delivery.

Some other causes of fatigue may include the stress of becoming a mother, carrying twins, vitamin D deficiency etc.


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How long does fatigue last?

Fatigue is common in the first and third trimester, but in some cases it may occur in the second trimester, as well. You will gain more weight during the last months of pregnancy resulting in  trouble while sleeping, backache, leg cramps, heartburn etc. So, it is very natural to get tired and restless during the first three months and the last months of pregnancy.

How to reduce fatigue during pregnancy?

Though there is no prescription to reduce fatigue, doctors advise pregnant women to rest and relax.  The following tips may help you to prevent and manage fatigue during pregnancy.

  • Take rest as much as possible
  • Drink lots of fluids in order to keep hydrated
  • Take power naps in the afternoon to compensate loss of sleep at night
  • Eat small but healthy meals throughout the day which will help you gain energy
  • Do some deep-breathing exercises, some stretches or take a short walk every day
  • Include protein and iron rich food like whole grain bread, red meat, sea food, leafy vegetables
  • Go to bed early and try to get a good night’s sleep
  • Adjust your work schedule and be less busy during your pregnancy. You can ask your family to help you in household activities.


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Consult your doctor if the following occur:

  • Fatigue due to extreme thirst and hunger
  • Fatigue due to sore throat, swollen glands or fever
  • Excessive fatigue along with vomiting, nausea, increased urination etc
  • Fatigue due to depression or stress
  • Fatigue even after proper rest

Though it is pretty normal to be tired during the first and last trimester of pregnancy, at times it is advisable to consult your doctor. Taking proper rest is one of the best ways to get relief from stress and tiredness during pregnancy.