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Friday, 2 September 2016

10 Things a Pregnant Woman Should Do Before the Baby Comes

A post from many months ago (Reposted from HubPages)

Pregnant? Congratulations!

I am eight months pregnant with my first baby. As exciting as the lead up to and the actual journey have been, there is no end in sight to the (often unsolicited but well-intentioned) advice I receive from acquaintances and strangers alike. While evaluating each piece of advice on its own merit, it dawned on me that some lifestyle choices and personal initiatives have stood me in good stead through this wonderful journey towards motherhood. The lack of others, however, stood out conspicuously.
I have taken heart in the fact that pregnancy is one of the best times in a woman’s life to actively make certain choices and changes, adding a whole new dimension to the phrase ‘new beginnings’. Culled from these eight months of introspective prep time, is my list of the ten things a pregnant woman should do before her bundle of joy arrives. I call them the 3 Hs – Health, Heart and Hearth.

Health

Keeping good health is a no-brainer for any mom-to-be. Here are my top choices on what matters most.
A wholesome diet
A wholesome diet

1. Eat well

The task of making a baby is anything but easy. From wondering about what pills are safe to combat hyperacidity,bloating and nausea, to wondering when and where to buy maternity clothing, several questions are added to a pregnant woman’s daily routine. Fortunately, this phase comes with a big benefit – enjoying the love of good food, carbsproteinsfats and all. But eating well is about more than good food.
It is also about eating and drinking on time and doing so discerningly. Eating small but nutritious meals at regular intervals of 2-3 hours keeps the pregnant body at its peak efficiency for absorbing essential nutrients from the food. It reduces the likelihood of acid reflux leading to the oh-so-awful ‘sickness’, the bane of pregnancy stories, as well as gas.
Staying hydrated with plenty of water (seriously the best drink in the world), fresh fruit juices and milk (no, aerated beverages, caffeine and alcohol don’t count) keeps the exhaustion and fatigue at bay while maintaining a comfortable body temperature, reducing the likelihood of hot flushes, dizziness and swollen limbs.
Eating well, the single most critical component of a woman’s lifestyle that the growing baby inside absolutely cannot do without, definitely calls for a lot of discipline, planning and consistency but offers big rewards too, especially where a healthyweight gain during pregnancy and a healthy weight loss after delivery are concerned.
They say it takes three weeks to form a new habit. With almost nine months of practice, a new mom-to-be is sure to find the habit of eating well worth retaining for the rest of her life.
Relaxation
Relaxation
Taking a break
Taking a break

2. Rest well

Resting well pertains not only to when and how much you sleep but also how often you take a break. A mom-to-be who is in touch with her body will sense when it is time to put those feet up and take a power nap.
Developing a relaxed stretching routine on waking up in the morning allows the already loosened muscles (thanks to the hormone relaxin) to prepare for the day. This can avoid strained muscles, pulled ligaments and aching backs & legs, make movement smoother, and promote a general feeling of well-being and positivity.
Bladders of pregnant women get a bad rap for being too active during those nine months, particularly at nighttime, and especially in the first and third trimesters. Timing and regulating liquid intake close to bedtime can reduce the number of trips to the bathroom at night, ensuring less disturbance during sleep.
In late pregnancy, as the baby starts to run out of space in the womb to practise its kicks, punches, rolls and tumbles, pushing against the mother’s ribcage, the mom starts to get more breathless. It helps then to take a few deep breaths and simply slow down for a while before continuing with any strenuous work.
Weight training with care
Weight training with care
Yoga
Yoga

3. Exercise the body

Resting well goes hand in hand with exercising and staying fit. There is no end to how much or how little can be done depending on the pre-pregnancy fitness and activity level of the mother-to be and any complications in the pregnancy. But, this is a great time to include this item to your lifestyle if it has been a distant dream. A word of CAUTION here – proceed on this track only after your doctor has green-lighted it.
What type of exercise is best during pregnancy? In one line, the type that you feel comfortable practising regularly is the best for you. For some women, it is a simple 30-minute walk 3-4 times a week, for others it is a light jog everyday with some weight training thrown in a few times a week. Yet others will swear by dancing or Yoga postures for stretching and relaxing. With plenty of options in the market these days, signing up for a prenatal exercise class is not only easy but also practical.
Pregnant women tend to be a class of people who garner empathy wherever they go regardless of the culture. If I had a paisa for every time that I was offered seat by a complete stranger on a train or tram or a park bench, I would have a neat little kitty for a sumptuous dinner at a gourmet restaurant saved up by now. But sitting for long periods of time can often cause more discomfort than good for the pregnant body. It is best to keep changing the posture to avoid fluid build-up and swelling in the limbs and to reduce the likelihood of muscle cramps.
Whatever the type, unless you are advised bed-rest by your doctor, get some amount of physical movement in your day to keep the blood circulation going. Remember, however, if ‘moderation’ is a good mantra for life in general, there was never a better time than during pregnancy to practise it.
Learning
Learning

4. Exercise the mind

Those who swear by Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’ will appreciate this easily. For the others, it might be interesting to learn that the mind and body connection becomes the strongest when one is pregnant. What you think and feel gets transferred to the growing baby subconsciously. The Indian yogic philosophy calls it ‘garbha-sanskaar’. So, keeping the mind active ensures a relatively higher level of brain activity for the baby too when it comes into the world.
A working woman may have enough mental activities in her day to keep those brain cells firing. But even a stay-at-home mom-to-be can ensure her baby has enough food for thought by picking up a new skill. It could be as simple as joining alanguage class or more complicated such as writing a research thesis. The emphasis must be on learning something new.

Heart

Keeping the body healthy is good. But keeping the heart happy is essential during these crucial nine months. Remember the mind-body connection!

5. Cultivate a hobby

Spending time on something that gives you joy is a great way to activate the ‘happy’ hormone. The added benefits are that it can keep your mind off irksome pregnancy symptoms and possibly make your pregnancy a productive time in more ways than one!
'Couple' time
'Couple' time

6. Go on a vacation

A relaxing break from the mundane is always welcome but even more so during pregnancy. The term ‘babymoon’ has not gained currency for nothing. It is an opportune time for the expectant couple to give each other some undivided attention. And what better way than to go on a vacation? Of course, do ensure that the choice of destination is conducive to the needs of the pregnant one. Niche travel advisors and tour operators have several options you can choose from.
A day at the spa
A day at the spa

7. Pamper yourself

Once your little one arrives, routine things such as a pedicure, amassage, a haircut will start seeming like a distant dream. Or, at the very least, like something that requires a few days or weeks of planning. Use the time in your last trimester to make the most of such simple pleasures of life. Give yourself a spa treat for pulling through the pregnancy.

8. Get entertained, get social

All new mothers will attest to how their whole life was upended after their baby’s arrival. A little 7-pounder has the wherewithal to keep a whole team of adults on their feet for several days after delivery. For many expectant parents, the semblance of any social life and downtime gets thrown out of the window.
All the more reason, then, to catch up on such activities before the arrival of the baby. Get out, catch a filmplayopera performance/ whatever, meet up with friends and family, and let your hair down.

Hearth

Even the most organized and control-seeking women are likely to find that the nitty-gritty of keeping a home is the last thing on their mind once the baby comes. But one can always use the time before delivery for putting the house in order... literally and figuratively!
Financial planning
Financial planning

9. Take stock (finances)

Pregnancy, motherhood and child-rearing bring rich value to a woman’s life but are also an additional and sustaining expense. Taking stock of your financial situation will stand you in good stead not only at the time of delivery but also beyond. For working women, it will allow enough time to handle issues of any loss of pay due to leaves of absence from work. For stay-at-home women, it will allow them to arrange for the nest egg that they need during the postpartum period.

10. Take stock (household)

Regardless of how gender roles are evolving, a woman’s role in managing her household will never completely diminish. The last few weeks before delivery are a time for stocking up on all the essentials needed to keep the home running smoothly as well as to run through the baby-related shopping list. You never know how soon you’ll have the ‘free-time’ to do this again once your little one comes home with you.
If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment…” - Erma Bombeck
For the pregnant ones out there, here’s your chance to cherish one now!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Why I feel lucky to be an 'older' first-time mum

There is much curiosity, apprehension, anxiety and even fear (in that order) in social circles when people learn that a slightly 'older' woman (read a woman over 30 years of age) is expecting a baby. And if that woman is over 35, then the emotional states progress to 'fear' twice as rapidly.

I was subject to seeing such emotional progression among my relatives, friends and well-wishers a couple of years ago when I was expecting my first baby. The primary cause for all this hyper-anxiety usually lies in assumptions about the reproductive health of a first-time-mum-to-be. As a healthy mum-to-be, I responded to the concerns graciously and cordially while telling myself that I needed to focus on doing what was right for the baby rather than (possibly) misplaced notions of potential harm.

I found, instead, and rather pleasantly, that there are several advantages to being an 'older' first-time-mum.

#1 Caring partner - check. Stable marriage - check. Stable finances - check. Career achievements - check. Mental preparedness - check. 
As a first-time-mum-to-be, who was well into her thirties, I had had the chance to organise my life sufficiently before bringing a baby into my world. I was mentally ready for motherhood (of course, nothing can ever completely prepare you for the onslaught of motherhood for the first time, but I knew fully what I was getting into). Thus, using some down-time from work did not feel overbearing or excessive when the baby came. Younger mums do not usually get that opportunity.

#2 Healthy Mum = Healthy Baby
Having had the convenience of prep time before conceiving, I had read up sufficiently to know 'what to expect' (pun intended!), I followed scientific and traditional advice optimally to stay healthy, whether through diet, exercise or spirituality, throughout the pregnancy. I know several younger mums who simply did not know enough to take care of themselves during those critical nine months, leading to the early onset of health problems after delivery, and in some cases, weaker babies too.

#3 To believe or not to believe, that is the question
A pregnant woman receives advice from all and sundry. And a first-time-mum even more so. As an 'older' mum, I had matured beyond the gullible years of my life to take it all with a pinch of salt. I could apply my own knowledge from scientific study, logic from traditional wisdom, and common sense from having watched other mums to decide what would work for me and my baby or not. Equally, I was less prone to influence from well-meaning relatives and non-relatives because I could defend my position more authoritatively than a younger mum might have done.

#4 Organisational ability - a new mum's best friend
Having had several years of work experience on my side, organising things, tasks and support systems came easily to me. The confidence of being able to manage the household while still being at the beck and call of a newborn was invaluable in those early months after delivery. I like to think that my husband and I brought the baby into our life rather than making the baby the focus of our lives.

#5 What a pleasant surprise!
Being an older mum has had some unintended and pleasant consequences too. People who see me with my toddler assume that I'm much younger than I actually am! Turning this happy consequence on its head, having a little one around keeps me younger, more energetic and more active too.

Here's to older mums - Cheers!

PS: I've also just learnt that the older the mum is, the taller her children are likely to be. And also that the older the mum, the longer she will live! How's that for some trivia?!

For the Love of Travel

My 38-day old niece just got named. I'm sharing the letter I wrote to her on this day.

Dear M,

Congratulations! You have your own name now! I’d like to think that I had something to do with your being given this name - I was the one who first suggested it to your Mum. You may not understand everything that I am saying in this letter now but I am requesting your Mum to explain it to you when you are old enough. Till then, I am also asking her to keep it safe to give it to you later.

Along with a new name, you will receive many things today – countless blessings, new clothes, toys and other goodies. Your Uncle and I thought hard about what I should give you…We recollected the joy we had felt on the 11th of July 2016 when we got to know that our nephew has a baby sister. You are a precious little girl because you are the first girl to be born in the family among all boys in your generation. Girls make a family complete. So we were thrilled when your GrandPa announced to us that your Mum had delivered a baby girl that day. You are a special girl and we wanted to give you something special today – the gift we want to give you is a love for travel

Great men and women have said great things about what makes travel important for life. Someday I will tell you how travelling changed my life. But today I want to share with you five reasons that you should travel when you grow up.

#1 There is no teacher like travel because it lets you experience things first hand. When you travel, you will learn about new places, different cultures, people, language, food and lifestyle. Travel will give you a new perspective on why people behave in a certain way, how various problems can be solved, and how you can make your life better, easier and happier.

#2 Travel will help you to appreciate differences and diversity. When you meet people from a different culture, you learn to understand the reason for their differences, which may be a result of their history, location or surroundings. When you appreciate such differences with an open mind, you make yourself more likeable to the new people you meet. Travel will also help you to appreciate your own culture. You will value what you learn from your family, village, city, state and country more when you can relate it to other cultures. It will help you understand yourself better too – your likes, dislikes, your ability to change, your tolerance to be patient, you attitude towards taking risks, and your openness to enjoyment too.

#3 Through travel you will get to make new friends in different parts of the world. It will help to improve your social skills even when there may be barriers of language and culture. It will make you realise how people around the world are more same in many ways than they are different. It will give you memories for life.

#4 Travel will give you a sense of adventure. It will teach you about dangers of being in a strange land in the midst of unknown people and about taking measured risks. It will make you resourceful and flexible. It will help you to deal with change rather than avoid it. It will make you less fearful in tough situations.

#5 Finally, travel will teach you the value of money. It will show you how money is extremely important in life but also that the quality of your experience and what you learn from it matter more.

When you come of age, you will reach a phase in your life when you will want to explore the world on your own terms. At that time, I want you to know that your Uncle and I will be there to help you with your dreams.

And so, little M, we have set aside today a small investment, which will grow as you grow into a confident young lady. It will be a resource for you to draw upon for your travelling adventures, with friends or family or (perhaps) even alone. We are holding the investment for you in trust until you turn 18 but we want you to know that you will be entitled to it completely. We hope you have many enjoyable, memorable travels.

We wish you a long, happy, healthy life!

Yours lovingly,


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Monday, 8 February 2016

What I've learned from my one-year old in the past twelve months #MyLittleYogi

Twelve months of being a mother - the most challenging task I've ever had to face. Yet, these twelve months of togetherness with my one-year old brought alive for me those things I had always read about, knew to be powerful, and wanted to believe in. 


On taking and giving

Ask and you shall receive
When you want something, don't be hesitant to ask for it. You may have to modulate how you ask, but do it nevertheless. Too many things were lost for the want of asking.

Sometimes, a simple smile is all the thanks you need to offer. 
Remember to thank those who've helped you. Those who are close to you will understand everything you want to say from your smile. To them, give your affection unreservedly.

The chirping of the birds at the break of dawn is a wonder worthy of admiration.
Take joy in the little things in life. Life itself is a wonder. Enjoy the sunrise and the sunset as much as the next blockbuster movie.


On feeling sad/ bad/ mad

Sometimes it's okay to just cry it out.
If you don't feel, you are less than human. Crying was the first thing you did, without being taught how to. Don't be embarrassed to let the water flow.

Mum's lap is the best place in the world.
Whatever your pain, just being close to mum will make it easier. Cherish her while she's there. 

Get angry. Then get over it.
It's all right to express yourself when things don't go your way. But don't bear a grudge. If you hurt someone, make up in the best way you can.


On learning and accomplishing

It's okay to forget old things when you are learning new things - double the joy when you relearn the old things.
Consider life a classroom and you will enjoy every moment. You may need to vacate some space for new things. Start with your body for it houses the miracle of your life. Learn to use it well.

There's no end to trying... till you succeed.
We were meant to go forwards, even if it involves a step backwards sometimes. Fall down, then rise again. Ask for help if you like.

Give everything your own thought.
Examine the world with your own eyes and hands, your own lens. Make your own opinions.

Take a minute to pause when you achieve something new - soak in the admiration you receive.
It's okay to feel proud of something you've worked hard to achieve, even something seemingly as simple as waving a hand or standing on your own feet. Believe in yourself.


On the mundane and the profound
When you're hungry, eat. When you're tired, sleep it off.
Hunger is your only religion. Sleep, your best rest. Get enough of both to make you happy. 

When you want to dance, just dance! When you want to laugh, laugh. Because it makes you feel good.
You need not wait for the 'right' environment or signals to do things you like doing. If something refreshes you, do it anyway.

Live in the moment. 
Who knows if there's a tomorrow? This moment is what matters now. Make it count.

#MyLittleYogi

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Ruswaaee

Maana ki humse hui hai khataa,
Is galati se behad naaraaz hain aap
Aapke mijaaz badalne ke bahaane to bahut honge;
Kahiye, kya pesh karoon aapki khidmat mein, janaab?

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'You can please all people sometimes, and some people all the time. But you cannot please all people all the time!'

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Rise, o Rise!

What is this wall? What is this place?
Without a name, without a face
Won't it let go?  Won't it oblige?
Won't the wall fall? Won't the curtain rise?

Still suffering from the writer's block...sigh...

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Aarasee

Teri aankhon mein teri rooh jhalakti hai

Teri muskaan se meri saans atakti hai

Teri hansi mein meri khushi bhatakti hai

Mera naam tumhare labhon par aaye yun

Jaise hoton se tumhare sudha tapakti hai

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'It is better to light a small candle than to curse the darkness.'

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Sabr-e-intezaar

Tujhe yaad karte hain har lamha,
Har lamha ab saalon-sa lagta hai

Ab judaai nahin sahee jaati,
Jo tera aana mumkin-sa lagta hai

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"Kaun kehta hai ki aasmaan mein suraag nahin hota... zara tabeeyat se patthar to maaro..."

Monday, 2 February 2009

Tere bin...

Woh tera chupke se aana, baahon mein hamein samaana
Woh shararat mein muskana, aur neendein churana
Bahut yaad aata hai

Yeh tera nazarein hataana, baat karne se katarana
Yeh nazdeeki se parhez farmana, door se hi chale jaana
Bahut sataata hai

Teri sazaa se kam berukhi se zyaada darte hain hum
Zamaana chhod denge tere liye, tujhse itna pyaar karte hain hum

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If you aren't living on the edge, then you are taking up too much space!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Makin' up

I know I hurt you,
Foolishly, it now seems
I know you still care,
You 'n' I are the best of teams

Each moment I think about you,
My face radiantly beams
I know we will make true together
All of our shared dreams!
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'A great many people think they are thinking when are merely rearranging their prejudices.'