It is said that a baby fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty. Sentiments that any parent can vouch for, as their children fill their hearts with love.

However, as joyous as having a child is, pregnancy is an educational time for any mother and father. From morning sickness to cravings, mothers and fathers find themselves experiencing an assortment of emotions in the build-up to birth. 

As new parents prepare to embark on their new journey of parenthood, Mediclinic Newcastle hosted a pregnancy education workshop on Saturday, February 22.

Focusing on cravings, the workshop saw pregnant moms learn more about their cravings and the cravings of their babies. Fathers also had the opportunity to understand what their partners and new-born babies were experiencing.

Opening the workshop was paediatrician, Dr Xiaojun Song, who focused on cravings that babies experience in their formative months and years.

Dr Song explains the most common needs of babies explains warmth, food, sleep, cleanliness and protection from infection.

According to Dr Song, breastmilk plays a major role in meeting some of these needs. Not only does it allow the mother and child to bond, the opportunity to indulge in each other’s love, but it plays an important role in a baby’s nutrition.

“Breastmilk is a perfect source of nutrition for babies, as it is specifically designed for them. As a food source, breastmilk is much easier for a baby to digest. In terms of protection, breastmilk has antibodies which help the baby stay healthy.”

However, Dr Song says it is important for babies to go for their immunizations to protect them from issues such as polio.

Babies also crave to return to the womb. Dr Song explains to satisfy this craving, parents can look at kangaroos for the ideal answer. Kangaroo Mother Care and Kangaroo Father Care see parents keep their bodies close to their bodies.

This allows the baby to hear their parent’s heartbeat; while experiencing the warmth of their parents’ bodies and love.

Following Dr Song’s presentation, registered dietician Jandri Barnard gave an in-depth discussion focusing on cravings which pregnant women often experience.

“Up to 90% of women experience specific food during their pregnancy,” Barnard explains. This can range from ordinary foods to a combination of foods which some might view as odd, such as peanut butter and tuna.

Barnard explains cravings usually start in the first trimester of pregnancy. The first trimester usually sees women crave savoury foods, while the second and third trimester usually see pregnant women crave sweet and salty foods respectively.

However, Barnard explains there are times when pregnant women crave abnormal foods during their pregnancy.

This can include ice, chalk, soap, soil and washing powder. While these cravings are not unusual due to the hormonal changes pregnant women undergo, Barnard does encourage pregnant women to visit their doctor if these cravings do appear.

“There can be an underlying cause to these cravings, and it is important to visit your doctor.”

With guests finding the workshop highly educational, learning about the importance of their cravings and the importance of nutrition on their baby’s development, the workshop was enjoyed by both pregnant moms and dads to be.