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Pregnancy

  • Understanding Your Pregnancy Journey

    positive pregnancy test

    Pregnancy is the start of an incredible journey for both the expectant mother and her family. We understand the many questions surrounding this topic. To help you along, we have put together the key information to address your concerns. Understand more on the body changes to expect during pregnancy, how to maintain mental and sexual health, the recommended nutritional intake for an expectant mother, pregnancy complications that may occur, the various labour and birthing methods available, as well as preparing for your baby's arrival.

  • Changes in Your Body in Pregnancy

    pregnant woman

    Pregnancy brings along physical and emotional changes to the expectant mother. Over the 9 months of pregnancy, not only does the size of her belly increase, there are many other changes to a woman’s body that are necessary to assist with fetal development and prepare for labour.

    Apart from commonly known changes – skin stretches, weight gain, feet swelling and ankles due to extra fluid in the body, a slight increase in body temperature during the first 16 weeks, morning and evening sickness during 1st trimester, and leg cramps due to weight gain – we explore in detail the various other changes that occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy:

    Changes to the Breasts

    Due to increased levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, the expectant mother’s breasts may become tender and increase in size, in preparation for breastfeeding during delivery. Her nipples may protrude more. By the 3rd trimester, a yellow, watery pre-milk known as colostrum may start leaking from the nipples.

    Hormonal Changes

    By weeks 10 – 12, the placenta acts as a temporary gland to produce large amounts of estrogen and progesterone, hormones that are vital in creating and maintaining the conditions required for pregnancy. The increased hormonal levels may cause pregnant women to have an increased basal metabolic rate, feel warmer and experience ‘hot flushes’. Some women will also experience changes in hair and nail texture and growth during pregnancy. Nearing the end of the 3rd trimester, the posterior pituitary, which is a gland in the brain, will start secreting the hormone that kick-starts the birthing process via contraction of muscles in the uterus. During delivery, the posterior pituitary will start secreting a hormone that stimulates the production of breast milk.

    Changes to the Heart & Cardiovascular System

    During pregnancy, more blood vessels grow and blood volume increases within the cardiovascular system. The pressure of the expanding uterus on large veins also causes the blood to slow in its return to the heart. This leads to increased cardiac output, elevated resting heart rate, and a decrease in blood pressure during the 2nd trimester.

    Changes to the Stomach & Digestive System

    Pregnancy may bring about increased gastric reflux and heartburn, and increase in constipation symptoms, due to the womb rising to the upper abdomen. By the end of the 2nd trimester, the top of the womb will be near the rib cage. This action pushes the intestines and stomach upwards resulting in changes to your regular bowel movement. The stretching of the abdominal wall and ligaments supporting the uterus may also cause abdominal discomfort and pulling pains.

    Changes to the Urinary System

    Pregnancy increases the workload for both kidneys due to extra waste from fetus. The expanding uterus also places pressure on the urethra, bladder, and pelvic floor muscles. This may lead to temporary bladder control problems and frequent urination.

    Changes to the Musculoskeletal System

    During pregnancy, the spinal curvatures realign to maintain balance, which results in a posture shift usually seen in women later into their pregnancy. The ligaments that hold the pelvic bones together also gradually loosen during pregnancy to prepare the mother for labour and birth.

    The changes to the expectant mother’s body are in sync with the development of fetus. In the following illustration, we look at the monthly development of the baby within the mother’s womb.

    prenatal embryo and fetal development

  • Mental & Sexual Health during Pregnancy

    expectant couple

    Pregnancy should not hamper the sexual relationship between parents-to-be, as long as your pregnancy is progressing normally and no vaginal bleeding or vaginal infection occurs. The amniotic sac, uterus muscles, as well as the thick mucus plug that seals an expectant mother’s cervix helps to guard the developing foetus against any form of shock or infection. However, pregnancy may bring about hormonal or mood fluctuations, as well as physical changes to a woman’s body that may dampen the sexual drive. Read more about sexual health during pregnancy.

    During pregnancy, it is common to feel anxious, confused, sad or angry as a result of changes to hormonal levels and physique. In some women, pregnancy and birth may trigger severe depression. Symptoms of depression include:

    • Having negative thoughts about yourself and baby
    • Feeling sad and hopeless
    • Being unable to sleep well
    • Loss of appetite
    • A lack of interest in life
    • Crying for no reason

    Women who are pregnant should take their feelings seriously, as negative emotions experienced during pregnancy may lead to more severe illnesses post-delivery. It is important to realise that changes to the body during pregnancy are temporary, and part of the miracle of life.

    Depression after giving birth may be a sign of postnatal depression. This can develop during the first 6 months after birth, and can last for over a year if left untreated. Early diagnosis helps with prompt treatment and care. If you do not feel right, or notice yourself feeling worried or sad, seek help by talking to your family physician, obstetrician or therapist.

  • Nutrition During Pregnancy

    nutrition during pregnancy

    Adequate nutrition and eating healthy are more important than ever during pregnancy. An expectant mother will need more calcium, iron, protein, folic acid, and other essential nutrients to support both herself and the growing fetus. However, ‘eating for two’ does not mean consuming twice as much. Obstetricians recommend for sensible, balanced meals that are packed with nutrients during pregnancy. Talk to your obstetrician to understand the daily nutritional requirements for an expectant mother, cravings and food aversions, and the recommended weight gain throughout pregnancy.

  • Pregnancy Complications

    woman having pregnancy contractions

    Most pregnancies occur smoothly. However at times, issues may occur that affect the health of both the mother and baby. Common pregnancy complications include:

    • Gestational diabetes
    • Preeclampsia
    • High blood pressure
    • Preterm labour
    • Miscarriage
    • Bleeding in pregnancy eg. low placenta 

    Certain medical conditions may also lead to higher risk of pregnancy complications. Some examples include diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, anaemia, or sexually transmitted diseases. Other risk factors for pregnancy complications include:

    • Eating disorders like anorexia
    • Pregnancy at age 35 or older
    • Smoking or alcohol intake
    • History of pregnancy loss or preterm birth

    If you have a chronic condition or illness, talk to your obstetrician to understand how you can minimise your complications before and during pregnancy. Even with complications, early detection and proper prenatal care can help to reduce the risk for both the expectant mother and baby.

    References:

    1. Pregnancy complications (2015, September 29). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregcomplications.htm
    2. What are some common complications of pregnancy? (2013, July 12). Retrieved from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/Pages/complications.aspx
  • Labour and Birth

    baby having a bath

    Every childbirth is a unique and unpredictable process. Understanding the timeline and having discussions with your obstetrician on what to expect can help with the labour and birthing process. In this page, we look at the key things that occur during labour and birth.

    Early Phases of Labour

    Many expectant mothers will experience a water break prior to labour. This is due to the rupturing of the fluid-filled membrane (amniotic sac) surrounding your baby, with the water breaking as a gush of fluid. This will be followed by contractions of the uterus, and dilation of the cervix to facilitate baby’s delivery.

    Delivery and Pain Relief

    Normal labour and delivery usually stretches the vagina and cervix – fortunately, both areas contain a rich blood supply and heal quickly. During birth, the contractions cause baby to descend into the birth canal, followed by entry into the vaginal area. When required, your doctor may perform an episiotomy to allow baby’s head to emerge. The birthing process ends with the delivery of the placenta.

    Pain relief methods are available, such as administering of epidural. Talk to your obstetrician to understand the various options available.

  • Getting Ready for a Baby

    Childbirth is a wonderful experience like no other for you and your family. As you step into this journey of parenthood, Gleneagles Hospital has a team of healthcare professionals, services and facilities to give you support, knowledge, and peace of mind. Read on to learn more about preparing for baby’s arrival, things to pack when going to the hospital for delivery, our maternity wards and packages, and how you may seek help when it comes to healthcare costs.

    Preparing for Baby’s Arrival

    newborn baby

    Before baby arrives, it is important to seek out a healthcare institution that addresses your concerns and professional needs. At Gleneagles Hospital, maternity tours are conducted to help you and you partner learn more about our facilities and services so that you will be better prepared for delivery upon admission. To make an enquiry or a reservation, please call the Gleneagles Hospital Customer Service Team at 6470 5615 during Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.

    Learn more about our rooms and maternity packages.

    Watch a video on preparing for your baby’s arrival:

    What to Bring for Your Hospital Stay

    We encourage you to bring the following items upon admission:

    • Documents including your NRIC/ Passport, doctor's referral letter, maternity bed reservation form, insurance card / LOG (if any)
    • Personal sleepwear (front-open types for easier breastfeeding)
    • Nursing bra
    • Cardigan
    • Bedroom slippers
    • Your preferred brand of sanitary napkins
    • Panties
    • A set of clothing each for mother and baby for discharge
    • Nipple cream
    • Camera and camera charger

    It is advisable to pack your bag to be ready for admission about 2 – 3 weeks before your baby’s Estimated Date of Delivery (EDD).

    ParentCraft Services

    Gleneagles ParentCraft Centre has a team of dedicated and trained personnel to prepare you for childbirth and provide advice on confinement/postnatal care and caring for your newborn in areas such as bathing and breastfeeding. Group and individual classes on childbirth preparation are available.

    For enquiries on ParentCraft services,
    Please call: 6470 5852
    Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm
    Saturday, 9am – 12pm

    Bills & Insurance

    Gleneagles Hospital is an integrated tertiary private healthcare provider and we work with many insurance partners for coverage on hospitalisation bills. Gleneagles Hospital accepts bill financing from local and international private hospitalisation insurance and Medisave-approved Medishield, also known as ‘Integrated Shield Plans’.

    For enquiries on estimated hospital bill size, please call the Gleneagles Bill Advisor at 6653 7566 or read more.

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