Pregnancy is considered as the most amazing period of a woman’s life. A woman not only carries the responsibility of her child but also has to take care of herself during the period of 9 months of pregnancy. There are a number of things that a mother should keep in mind before planning for a new born. Pregnancy brings out the motherly feelings and compassion in a woman.
Now, let’s have a look at some of the key essentials that a pregnant mother should keep in mind in order to have a successful and healthy delivery of a child:
1. Getting Pregnant
The journey towards pregnancy is not always a smooth ride. Making sense of menstrual cycles, getting the period of ovulation right, chalking out the days on which having sex is most likely going to result in conception – these are some of the few challenges that are faced by newly parents.
Thus, it helps to have a clear idea of the process – what it entails, the dos and don’ts of it all – something your doctor can help you figure out in an organized way that suits you perfectly. This is a good step also because there are often factors like illnesses, medical conditions, irregular periods, fertility issues that pose as problems, and a professional can help you make the best choices in each scenario.
2. Routine Visits to the Doctor
Whether you are trying to get pregnant or have already conceived, it is strongly advised that you visit a doctor on a regular basis – be it at a hospital, a clinic or your local aanganwadi. These visits go a long way in ensuring you are in the right state, physically and mentally, for the journey ahead. A doctor can find out, and begin the treatment for any vitamin deficiencies, suggest improvements in your diet and lifestyle as needed, outline any risk factors based on your age, health and family history and determine your due date.
3. Stop Drinking, Smoking and Drugs, and Decrease Caffeine Intake
Drinking and smoking (active and passive, both) are a big no-no before, during and even after pregnancy. They can make it harder for you to conceive, increases chances of a miscarriage, and cause various kinds of complications in the future like heart and facial defects, behavioral issues and learning disabilities. Smoking can result in low birth weight of the newborn and it makes recovery from pregnancy more difficult. Caffeine consumption above a certain limit by pregnant people is also not advisable. Two cups of coffee (500 mL) or caffeinated soda more than 2L on a daily basis is risky.
Though letting go of these habits often proves to be very tough, you can make use of resources around you to help you, because they are extremely damaging to your health as well as the fetal development. And it goes without saying, this rule applies to not only the mother, but also to the partner and other members who surround her. The environment that the fetus is developing in has to be nurturing and conducive to keeping the baby and mother healthy and safe.
4. Vitamins and Folic Acid Intake
Vitamin D, for one, plays an important role in maternal and fetal health. Its deficiency can lead to many problems like issues regarding neurodevelopment or the immune system. Folic acid reduces birth defects and decreases the chances of the baby developing any problems related to the spine. Many women in India are tested to be anemic at the start of pregnancy, or a few months into it, which is why the Ministry of Health recommends an intake of 100 mg of elemental iron paired with 500 mg of folic acid for at least 100 days during the second half of pregnancy. Do bear in mind that excessive amounts of the same prove to be harmful, and hence should be avoided.
5. Keep up-to-date with your Medicines and Vaccines
As mentioned earlier, regular visits to the doctor can help you figure out and get access to the medicines and vaccines you are in need of – before, during and after the pregnancy. These include vaccines against Rubella, tetanus, flu, and whooping cough etc. Other vaccines given during this time include reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine. Strong maternal immunity keeps the fetuses safe by shielding them against vaccine preventable infections and from the transfer of antibodies. Timely and informed vaccination is an excellent cost-effective way to enhance the health of the mother and the baby.
6. Plan a Nutritious and Balanced Diet
A well-balanced diet – one that has an appropriate amount of the required vitamins, nutrients and fibers – is integral to a healthy pregnancy. You can ask your doctor or specialist to guide you through this, so that you incorporate all the seasonal fruits and vegetables as needed.
Eat foods that are high in protein, and reduce empty calories (food composed of just oils, fats or sugar) and artificial sweeteners that are found in “sugar free” products. And though this period of time doesn’t mean that favorite pizza of yours is completely off limits, but it is certainly one where you have to be more mindful of your food intake.
7. Make Time for Physical Activity
Physical activity during pregnancy brings forth many wide-ranging benefits that better equip your body to deal with the ongoing and future changes and yet, awareness regarding the same is relatively low in India. These benefits can be achieved through a variety of ways, and it is advisable to have a talk with your doctor about the same. Exercise during pregnancy improves psychological well-being, enhances feto-maternal health, decreases the risk of gestational diabetes and creates a pattern of regular physical activity, which is a good thing to practice at all points of life. Of course, care should be taken to not overwork yourself beyond a certain limit, which may cause chest pain, headache, vaginal bleeding or hurt joints that become vulnerable especially during pregnancy.