By Gayatri Namboodiri
You have just discovered that you are pregnant and it is the best feeling in the whole world. A thousand thoughts run through your mind as you come to terms with the fact that a tiny life is taking shape inside you. Along with the heady feelings, some concerns also rear their head. Will I have a smooth pregnancy? Will my child’s growth be normal? What are the things I should take note of during these very important nine months of my life?
The answer to these questions is very simple: the physical and mental wellbeing of a pregnant woman is directly proportional to the growth of her child. A happy mother makes for a happy baby. Read on to find out what to do, and what not to, for a problem-free pregnancy:
Get proper pre-natal care
The first thing to do after the home test has confirmed the pregnancy is to seek a medical appointment. Effective pre-natal care is crucial for the mother and the baby during the early days of the pregnancy. During the first pre-natal test, the mother is scanned for medical conditions that could lead to complications. After the medical consultation is set up, the doctor will regularly monitor the health of the mother and foetus. It is also important to strike a rapport with your doctor in order to openly clarify any doubts and queries you may have.
The pre-natal visit gives you an idea of what to eat and what to avoid during the pregnancy. An expectant mother must have a daily dose of pre-natal vitamins like folic acid, iron and VitaminC to ensure that her health and foetal growth are normal. A pregnant woman requires an additional 300 calories per day (this limit can go up to 500 calories by the last trimester; do consult with your doctor).
A protein-rich diet, complete with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is what doctors recommend for this nine-month period. The list of foods to avoid includes undercooked eggs, unpasteurised milk products, juices and cold deli meats as these may contain bacteria that are harmful to the foetus. It would also be best to avoid certain kinds of fish, like shellfish, that have high levels of mercury. Do take your recommended daily dose of calcium. Do talk with your doctor regarding your diet and take cues on how you can alter it for all the recommended nutrients.
Know what to avoid
Once you have conceived, there are many things that are a strict no-no. The expectant mother must completely avoid alcohol consumption and smoking as these habits increase the risk of miscarriage and premature delivery. Smoking can also lead to growth abnormalities and placental abruption in the foetus.
Studies have shown that women who consume alcohol during pregnancy usually give birth to low-birth-weight babies. These children are more likely to develop problems with learning, speech, attention span and language. Some also suffer from Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, the symptoms of which include mental and growth retardation, behavioural problems, facial and heart defects. Doctors also ask pregnant women to drink less coffee as it has no nutritional value and only increases the risk of miscarriage.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
It is crucial for a pregnant woman to maintain a healthy lifestyle: this not only has health benefits for the woman but also aids foetal development. An exercise regime tailored to your condition will help you manage your weight, improve blood circulation and ease unwanted aches and pains. Exercising during pregnancy also proves helpful during the delivery process.
As important as it is to be active during pregnancy, it is equally crucial to give your body the right amount of rest required. An expectant mother experiences fatigue easily and so she must take ample rest. Taking small breaks during the day and letting go of minor responsibilities is highly recommended.
Take care of your emotional health
The emotional wellbeing of an expectant mother is as important as her physical health. She must avoid stress and stressful situations for the proper growth of the foetus. Pregnancy is an emotional rollercoaster ride for most women; mood swings are quite common. If not handled properly,this can lead to serious conditions like pre-natal and post-natal depression. The expectant mother must talk about her emotions with family, friends and caregivers.
We hope these pointers help you while you prepare to take the first step into motherhood. Have you any more dos and don’ts that you would like to share with us? Comment here.