• Saniya

My Pregnancy Journey - everything I learnt & want to share :)

Updated: Jun 1

My husband and I just had the most adorable baby girl last month. We are over the moon and cannot put into words the love and affection we feel for her. Yes, there are sleepless nights and a lot of learning with a newborn, but hey all good things in life need some hard work. Sleep is a small price tag for something so incredible as her and we wouldn’t have it any other way <3


The reason for my post is as we were starting our transition from being a couple to being an expecting couple, we had to learn heaps and heaps of new stuff and there were some really great resources available to aid our learning. We started from being really lost to somewhat knowing what we were doing. We still are by no means perfect in our understanding, but we thought we would share whatever we learnt along the way in hopes that it may be useful to someone out there.


Please keep in mind this is all based on our personal experience. You may have different pregnancy than ours and may have different health requirements, so please take it with a grain of salt. We by no means are saying these are rules, but rather our suggested tips and tricks. Alright, lets dig in.


1- Taking the home test

First step is to take a home test if you feel you have missed your period or if you have tried to conceive in the last few days/weeks.


If the test is positive, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. They will most likely recommend a blood test to confirm. It may be too early to go for an ultrasound scan at this point. Blood test should suffice. Hopefully, you’re pregnant (and hence why reading this) :)


2- Initial Tests & Prenatal Vitamins / Supplements

Most doctors will conduct some initial tests (think CBC, iron levels etc.) and recommend prenatal vitamins. Getting this done early is good, so you can start taking the vitamins you need and baby’s growth can be on a good path.


Generally speaking, during the first trimester, an expecting mum is asked to take Iron and Folic Acid. I was also asked to take Pregnacare plus omega-3

(link: https://www.vitabiotics.com/pages/pregnacare)

Iron supports the development of the placenta and fetus. Iron helps your body make blood to supply oxygen to the fetus. Iron also helps prevent anemia, a condition in which blood has a low number of healthy red blood cells. Keep your fiber intake high as Iron can sometimes cause constipation.


Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. These defects are serious abnormalities of the fetal brain and spinal cord. Ideally, you'll begin taking extra folic acid at least 3 months before you become pregnant.


(Read more here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-vitamins/art-20046945)


3- Pregnancy Companion Book

I couldn’t do the whole pregnancy journey without WhatToExpectWhenYouAreExpecting

(link: https://www.whattoexpect.com/)


This book is everything you need to know from getting pregnant, which vitamins to take, questions to ask during your doctor visits, what tests to get done at what times during pregnancy, normal symptoms one might feel and how to cure them. Book is divided into months which are then divided into weeks. It is great to learn how your body evolves and how your baby grows week by week. There is also a huge section on Labour and how to best prepare for it.


In short, I couldn’t imagine going through these 40 weeks without this book. There is an app for this book as well which is a free download and covers key baby and mum developments week by week with really cute pictures and videos of the baby. You can track how big your baby is getting each week.


This post is not sponsored in any way. I am sure there are more books and apps covering this topic, so feel free to check others as well.


4- Prenatal Mind & Soul

Having peace of mind and a positive head-space is important during normal circumstances, but extremely important when your body is busy producing a human being!

I found the following activities highly useful during the pregnancy months:

  • 21 days of Abundance Challenge by Deepak Chopra – I highly recommend it – it really makes you realize how many great things you have in your life to feel thankful for – it makes you feel more complete and generally abundant in life – something that sets your mood and your spirits really high and you feel content, happy, satisfied and crazy positive :) There is a lot written about it, so feel free to google to learn more. I highly recommend it.

  • Sketching & Painting - You can sketch and paint for your baby’s nursery – my last few months were during COVID19 crisis – so staying at home and painting kept me busy and also all stores were shut so I couldn’t do much shopping for the baby’s nursery and handmade canvases turned out to be great.

  • Writing Journal - You will be writing journal each day during those 21 days of Abundance Challenge. However, I encourage you to write as much as you can each day to record how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally and physically.

  • Taking long walks in nature - Think parks, gardens with flowers etc.

  • Meditation – Again if you decide to do the 21 days of Abundance Challenge, there will be ~10mins meditation each day. Otherwise, you can meditate on your own by sitting in a comfortable place without outside noise or interference of any kind, and try to practice mindfulness (i.e. not focusing on any thoughts and let your mind wander freely)

5- Prenatal Body Exercises

There are couple of recommended ways to exercise during pregnancy – walking, swimming and yoga being the popular choices. For me yoga has been an essential part of my life since last 5+ years, so naturally I decided to pick yoga as my pregnancy companion.


Prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. It focuses on yoga poses which are good for shoulders and back pain (something most of the mommies-to-be experience during pregnancy & you would be needing shoulder and arms strength as there would be a lot of holding your soon-to-be-little-bundle-of-joy <3). It also focuses a lot on breathing, which is essential during labour and delivery. All poses which involve inversion (head stand, shoulder stand etc.) are not recommended during prenatal yoga. Max you can do is downward facing dog as its almost half inversion. Prenatal yoga is considered safe and I believe can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies.

Prenatal yoga can:

  • Improve sleep

  • Reduce stress and anxiety

  • Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth (pelvic floor muscles)

  • Decrease lower back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath

  • Can also help you meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress of being a new parent

Generally speaking, 1st trimester is dealt with nausea/fatigue, so working out can be tricky. However, 2nd trimester is a good time to start actively exercising as nausea subsides by then and energy levels are at their peak. 3rd trimester is also usually nausea-free, but gained weight and a cute baby bump can make working out a little challenging esp. if one hasn’t been working out since 2nd trimester.


This turned out to be true for me as I had pretty bad nausea during the 1st trimester, so I didn’t have much energy to actively exercise. I was also working long hours then, so would only rest during my downtime. The moment I hit 12 weeks’ time, my nausea got so much better and I had the energy to start prenatal yoga classes.


I was in Abu Dhabi at that time and BodyTree was a blessing. Their prenatal yoga classes were great for whole body workout and super awesome as we formed a supportive mommies-to-be group in there. They have a cute little café in there too offering healthy snacks and refreshing smoothies. We had expectant mommies in their early weeks to mommies who could go into labour any day.

(link: https://www.bodytreestudio.com/)


Towards the middle of 2nd trimester, I moved to Karachi Pakistan and finding good prenatal classes wasn’t easy here. After a lot of research and asking around, I found some yoga instructors offering classes at their homes and one studio offering them. From November till March, I went to three different places for yoga classes.


  • Haya Baig: She offered classes at her private residence as the studios she worked at didn’t have dedicated prenatal yoga classes. We were about 4-6 ladies taking classes there. Her classes were great and she focused a lot on shoulder and back mobility and breathing exercises using a birthing ball. Her focus was hynobirthing , meditation , gentle stretches , strength and endurance focused workouts. Unfortunately, after a few weeks as some of the ladies had their babies, the class didn’t have more than 2-3 people and hence was cancelled as a result. I was pretty bumped out. Haya was also getting married in a few weeks, so it made sense to cancel classes (esp. when turn out got so low) and focus on her wedding preps. She is a great instructor and is super friendly and resourceful (I decided on my gynecologist based on her sister’s experience and it was the best decision!)

(Link: https://www.instagram.com/hayabaigg/)

  • Shazray: Oh she is great. I started her classes from early January and went there till COVID19 made going out impossible. Her classes were the best. We followed a phenomenal routine which covered all the essential poses. Oh and heaps and heaps of breathing exercises. We talked about gynecologists in the city, labour process and all the options available to deal with the associated pain. The ladies that came to her class were all supportive and friendly. We had dedicated time, at the end of class, to share experiences and how we were planning to welcome the cutest member of the family. We discussed everything from doctors, hospitals, special precautions during COVID19, shopping for baby, breast feeding, pumping and so much more. What really helped was Shazray is a mother herself, so she was able to share her first hand experiences with us. She is also expecting her 2nd child, so we all were in it together. Oh and her home studio is better than many commercial yoga studios in the city. See it for yourself below:

(Link: https://www.instagram.com/shazraysyoga/)

  • Saba Danawala at YogaWell: Besides being an awesome yoga teacher, Saba has a post graduate degree in Public Health and works as a therapist. She structured her classes to be 75 minutes. First 15 minutes were reserved for an emotional check in with each mum-to-be to make sure she was doing okay. Next 60 minutes were dedicated to 15 minutes of warm up, 30 minutes of intense prenatal yoga poses and last 15 minutes of meditation. I enjoyed her classes and always left with a smile. Her classes were offered at YogaWell. It is a cute little yoga studio in DHA Karachi and has a nice vibe with many indoor plants and tall glass walls

(Link: https://www.instagram.com/rise_and_rebirth/)



6- Doctor Visits & Scans

Choosing a doctor that you are comfortable with is critical. You need to do some research and ask your trusted friends and connections for their recommendations. You may also consider to see more than one doctor, so you can make a better decision.


Since I moved to Karachi during my 2nd trimester, I had to look for a new doctor. I did research on online platforms and asked almost all people in my family and friends circle. I made a list of three doctors and decided to schedule initial visits with all three of them. Two of them were at Agha Khan University Hospital (Dr. Aziza Kapadia & Dr. Azra) and I saw Dr. Zeryab Setna (he delivers at Lady Dufferin Hospital).


All three are good doctors, but I liked Dr. Zeryab the most and decided to trust him with my pregnancy and delivery. A great decision I must say. Both my husband and I were very satisfied with all our visits and our delivery. Nothing we would change about it :)

We wrote him a cute little card from our baby (picture below)

Quick Tips:

  • Do your research

  • Visit a few if you cannot make up your mind

  • Once decided, make sure to schedule all your upcoming appointments in one go, so there is less time spent on calling and scheduling (esp. if the doctor is heavily booked)

  • Try to think ahead and make note of any questions you want to ask at your next appointment. Think any pains you have, any symptoms you are experiencing, any vitamins you should be taking etc. (The book I mentioned earlier helps to prepare for all upcoming doctor visits!)

  • There are no stupid questions – ask as many as you like

  • Your doctor will guide you for your scans – each scan is important esp. the ones that are done during specific weeks to track the growth of the baby, so make sure not to skip any of those milestone scans


7- Tracking Baby Movements

Somewhere around 2nd trimester, you will start feeling your baby’s movements. It’s a good idea to keep a rough estimate of how active your baby is. Don’t get too hung up on actually counting the movements. Just know that baby is doing fine, so you should notice some movements every day. My baby got really active each night from 2am to 5am (a routine she still follows :/)


If you don’t notice any movements for prolonged periods of time, it may be a good idea to check in with your doctor to ensure that baby is doing well.

8- Gaining Weight & Getting Bigger

Accept it or better embrace it. You are growing a life inside of you. It is natural to get bigger and gain weight. Just make sure to eat healthy and help the baby grow well.

Eating healthy and some exercise will ensure you gain weight consistently (i.e. gain weight in almost equal intervals each week and not put on too much weight too fast).


Consistency ensures one doesn’t expand too much too fast and also avoids stretch marks.


Quick Tips:

  • Eat Healthy (include protein and greens in your diet)

  • Exercise

  • Try to be consistent in your weight gain

  • Use Bio Oil and / or coconut oil to help avoid stretch marks

  • Use a Pregnancy Pillow (it’s like a body pillow) to help cure shoulder and back pain (you might experience these pains due to baby bump & weight gain)

9- Hospital Bag

Any time after week 35, it would be a good idea to prepare your hospital bag. I will share what was in mine (keep in mind, I delivered during active Covid19 times, so we had to be extra careful and make sure we don’t miss anything as most of the stores were closed and it wasn’t safe to use outside non-sterilized things)


Baby:

  • Couple of baby outfits

  • Baby blankets/swaddles x 2

  • Baby Mattress

  • Diapers

  • Diaper cream

  • Wipes

  • Soft Towel for Baby

  • Cotton Wool Balls

  • Baby Massage Oil

  • Breast Pump (optional)

  • Bottles (optional)

  • Bottles Sterilizer (optional)

  • Formula (optional

Mother:

  • Shower Towel + Shampoo + Body wash

  • Tooth Brush + Paste

  • Underwear x 5/6

  • Maternity pads

  • Dressing gown / Clothing x 3

  • Socks

  • Slippers or flip-flops

  • Lip balm

  • Body lotion or massage oil. Some mums-to-be find a little massage during labour relaxing

  • Water spray and sponge. During labour you may feel you’re getting a little hot. It could help to spray some water on your face and neck, or to sponge some cool water on your forehead.

  • Comfortable pillow(s)

Room:

  • Toilet paper

  • Tissues

  • Hand Towel

  • Toiletries (shampoo, soap, face wash, tooth brush, tooth paste)

  • Drinking water (important)

  • Sanitizers

  • Disinfectant Spray

  • Spray Bottles for Disinfectant Spray

  • Pillows + Blanket

  • Table Lamp + Bulb (hospital lights can be too bright sometimes)

Food Related:

  • Juices for Mother during Labour process

  • Tea bags

  • Sugar

  • Milk powder

  • Paper plates and cups

  • Cereal + Oats + Milk + Spoons + Biscuits + Nuts

  • Electric Kettle

Labour Inducing:

  • Exercise ball

  • Yoga Mat

Others:

  • All Medical Records (Consultations, Ultrasound reports & Lab reports)

  • Phone Charger

  • Laptop & Charge

  • Father’s ID / Mother’s ID

  • Cash + credit card

10- Getting anxious about Delivery

It would be great if there was an exact date, so we could all plan perfectly and not be anxious at all. If you’re going for elective c-section, then yes you can plan for a fixed date and plan everything else accordingly. However, if natural is the way to go for you, then you gotta wait it out.


There are couple of things which are known to induce labour, but these are all based on people’s experiences and none of them is a 100% guaranteed way to induce labour.


These are good suggestions nonetheless and might work for you, so doesn’t hurt to try:

  • Regular Exercise / Walk

  • Yogi Squats

  • Sex

  • Nipple Massage / Stimulation

  • Warm Bath

  • Acupuncture

  • Fiber rich Foods

  • Spicy Foods

  • Pineapple

  • Raspberry Herb Tea

  • Primrose Oil or Clary Sage Essential Oil

Concluding remarks:

That’s all my loves. I hope you find some of it useful. I have tried to summarize the key takeaways from my pregnancy journey. I have thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant and creating this adorable little life inside of me. There’s nothing in this world I would want to trade for this joy.

There will be hardships and days when you won’t be able to sleep or your back will hurt. But please please stay positive and know that there is an end date to it and the end comes with the most cherished and valued bundle of joy in your life. It will be the most amazing feeling once you hold those little hands <3

I am no expert, but if there is anything I can help with please let me know. Sending hugs and strength your way! You got this!! <3


(If you found this useful, please don't forget to like or comment so I can cover such topics in future. Thanks!!)

(Disclaimer: above image is of a cute baby from Pinterest)