What I know now - Dr Preeya Alexander

You may have already seen Dr Preeya Alexander on instagram as the thewholesomedoctor or on your morning tv. Now she’s here with us for our first in a series of questions for parents who have been there, done that.

As a medical G.P, Preeya is a font of sensible, practical and real life information which she delivers from her perspective as a mama to Miss S and a soon to be mama of two. Preeya and her husband Will are passionate health professionals and parents. In addition to being an awesome veggie patch gardener, Preeya is author of the newly released book Rainbow Plate.  Santa is bringing this book to our home, as it adds extra fun to learning about eating the rainbow, filling plates and little tummies.

Do Preeya's talents end? Well, I am not sure, but what I do know is that Preeya is also pretty bloody down to earth and likeable too.   

What I enjoy most about Preeya is the loving and straightforward way she gives advice. Even when she’s being trolled by anti vaxxers, she sticks to her guns (Go Preeya) and has a parent's best interest at heart. I have referenced Preeya so many times during our parenting so we are thrilled to share her wisdom here with our Suite Set family. Thanks for sharing Preeya, we're sending you, Will and Miss S love (and of course a suite set) for baby two.

A Q&A with Dr. Preeya Alexander

Q

First and foremost Preeya - As a GP, what sort of a patient are you? 

A

I try very hard to be a laid back patient - because I know the pressure other health professionals feel when treating colleagues - how laid back I am though I don't know!! I'm a patient who tries to keep my thoughts about what the diagnosis is or what might need to be done in my head- switching off and being the patient can be very tricky sometimes!

Q

When a woman first suspects she may be pregnant, what are the first steps she should take around her health care?

See your doctor! If bloods have not been recently done preconception we will often repeat these to check things like blood group and antibody status, we also do a urine test. The doctor will also reinforce simply things you can do to support a pregnancy like no alcohol intake, ensuring you are on the right supplements, discussion about a good healthy diet avoiding listeria risk foods (like cured meats, raw fish) and keeping active. We do a lot in the initial patch getting the pregnancy ball rolling, and things tend to quieten down once the ground work is done.  So the first steps are have a little high five with yourself, if this is a wanted pregnancy, and then go see your doctor.

Q

Hospitals are unfamiliar places to many new parents. What are your top tips to make going into hospital to have a baby less daunting?

 A

1. Prepare - make sure you read everything you can online about the hospital you are attending, how it works, what the admission process is when you go into labour (ie. who do you call?). Loads of hospitals offer tours - it's worth doing this so you know where you will be when things start happening - eliminating the surprise factor can be helpful. 

2. Don't pack the kitchen sink but do pack a couple of comfort things for YOU - not for the baby. Your favourite face mask or cream should be in your bag to make you feel special in those initial days in hospital. 

3. Ask questions - I always say this to patients - if you have a question - if you are unsure what about why you are taking a certain medication or having a certain test - ASK! Be in the know - you are the patient in the driver's seat so feel free to ask away!

Q

What are the most helpful questions a pregnant woman should be asking her GP? 

A

I think you need to ask whatever crops up in your head. I have many patients who come in with a list of  questions (I often ensure we have longer double appointments for the initial pregnancy consultations because there often are so many questions and things to clear up!). If you have a question about vaginal discharge/anxiety/foetal movements/exercise/food safety/travel - you should ask your GP/obstetrician or midwife. Don't google things if you can help it - ask someone! Ask anything - nothing is silly and if reassurance alone is all you get that might be all you need. 

Q

Do you think it is possible to prepare for the change that having a newborn brings? 

A

I think we can try really hard to prepare but it is a big shock to the system both physically and psychologically! I think the best thing you can do to prepare is to make a deal with yourself that you will go easy on yourself . Having a day in pyjamas breastfeeding, doing tummy time and just staying in is perfectly OK - let go, you don't always have to doing more. I think if you can make that deal with yourself then the change of having a newborn can be easier. I have to say I am trying to practice what I preach before our second arrives soon - I would love to have less pressure on myself this time!

Q

Even as a GP who sees babies, pregnant women and postpartum women all the time, was it still a shock to you becoming a mama to Miss S?

Absolutely! As a GP I knew what to expect - I knew sleep deprivation would be tricky and that breastfeeding could have highs and lows - but still nothing quite prepares you for having your own newborn. I had so many "aha" moments in those initial months, when things patients had said to me in previous consults made much more sense now that I was living the whole thing myself!

 Q

Where did you turn to for support as a new mama?

 A

My husband and mum. I'm very lucky I have two very strong, awesome, "jump into action" people in my life. Both Will and my Mum will provide helpful love in that they will force me to take "me time" or do very helpful things either with the baby or around the house - and that is the greatest love of all! Practical love is what I call it - and I have to say it kept me afloat after the emergency C section we had with Miss S and all the recovery that came with that. I constantly turned to my Mum for reassurance as well - "is this normal?" was a frequent question - even as a GP I needed that reassurance often.

 Q

What was the very best advice you received before you became a parent?

 A

Go easy on yourself - and to this day it's the best advice I have heard. I think lots of us have very high expectations of ourselves. We assume we can bounce back after birth, be active, juggle work, keep the house going, maintain friendships, look good, feel good all whilst being a kind, compassionate, patient parent. Social media also doesn't help with this - the bar is set very high for new Mums these days - you see women looking very glam and amazing 24 hours post birth and you wonder if you're the abnormal one. I think going easy is the best advice you can be given - don't be hard on yourself when it comes to doing the jobs around the house, seeing people, breastfeeding, preparing meals! Just do what you can - because it's enough!

 Q

What advice would you never give to a parent-to-be?

 A

"Just you wait" - I think when people say that to soon to be parents it generates a sense of real fear. Parenthood can be scary anyway - we don't need to add to the pressure! Yes there are ups and downs in the journey and toddler tantrums can be horrific - but the impending sense of doom when you say "just you wait" whilst staring at the toddler on the floor screaming just doesn't help!

 Q

What was the best thing you packed in your hospital bag before the birth of Miss S and what will your must have be this time?

 A

Am I allowed to say the bottle of red wine my husband packed?! (of course says Sally) Golly gosh though - that was a winner. But seriously, a really comfortable pair of oversized pyjamas - far and away the best thing I packed and that's the thing I'll pack again. In fact I've just popped it on my list to do - go buy a new comfy pair of pyjamas!

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