Care during pregnancy

During
pregnancy, it is important for a pregnant woman to take care of diet and
nutrition, weight gain, development and management of health conditions if any,
and so on.

If there is one time
in the life of a woman when it is absolutely essential to take the utmost care
of overall health, it is during pregnancy. This is because it is not only the
pregnant woman’s health in question but also the health and development of the
fetus, or the unborn baby in the womb. With all the hormonal changes going on
in a woman’s body during the time of pregnancy, it is absolutely important to
take care, especially in case of diet and nutrition, weight gain, development
and management of health conditions if any, and so on. Here are some of the
aspects of pregnancy care one must not overlook.

Safe weight gain during pregnancy:
Gaining weight during pregnancy is important but many pregnant women gain
additional weight because of the belief that they must eat for two. To
understand how much weight you can safely gain during pregnancy, you need to be
aware of your BMI (Body Mass Index) before pregnancy The higher your BMI – or
ratio of weight in kilograms to height in square meters – the lower the amount
of weight you can add while pregnant.

While in the first
trimester you need no additional calories; only in the second and third
trimesters will you need 100 – 200 calories more than your regular intake.
Ensure this with healthier options such as fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy
products, nuts and complex carbohydrates like whole grains.

Right diet during pregnancy: A
balanced diet is essential to fitness and good health, and assumes vital
importance during pregnancy. Three hundred calories a day, over and above a
daily requirement of 1500–2000 calories, is what pregnant women additionally
require from the beginning of the second trimester up to delivery. Your diet
must include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Protein is essential
for the buildup of tissues; folic acid, found in leafy green vegetables, dried
beans and peas, and citrus fruits, for example, can prevent preterm delivery,
low birth weight and poor fetal growth. Adequate amounts of calcium in your
body will meet your unborn baby’s needs for stronger bones and teeth. Right
amount of iron is required for hemoglobin production whereas zinc contributes
to healthy growth and development of the baby.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy:
While you are expected to eat more during pregnancy, you must also leave out
certain foods to avoid causing risk to your pregnancy. Fish and sea food, raw
meat, raw or uncooked eggs and vegetables, Chinese food, especially because of
its MSG content (monosodium glutamate) and caffeinated beverages are some of
the foods to be avoided. While raw meat is known to contain toxic elements
harmful for both the mother and the unborn baby, high levels of mercury found
in sea fish can also pose risks to the fetus. High levels of caffeine may cause
miscarriage or low-birth weight. Drinking and smoking by pregnant women are
absolute no-s for the serious abnormalities they can cause in the unborn child.

Dealing with pregnancy discomforts:
Morning sickness, troubled sleep, frequent urges to urinate are some of the
discomforts associated with pregnancy. You can overcome these discomforts
through: exercise after taking due advice from your doctor, using pillows to
support your lower back, knees and tummy, right nutrition that promotes sleep,
trying muscle relaxation techniques and so on.

Gestational diabetes during pregnancy:
An increasing number of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, largely
due to a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and obesity. It is
vital to screen for gestational diabetes in the first trimester and again at
around 30 weeks of pregnancy. This is especially important if you’ve had
gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy – around 50 percent of women
who have had gestational diabetes earlier develop this condition in a
subsequent pregnancy.  Regular
monitoring, dietary control and insulin, if advised, form the cornerstone of
diabetic management during pregnancy

Dental care during pregnancy: During
pregnancy, your risk of developing gum disease (pregnant women may suffer from
pregnancy gingivitis – a condition which leads to bleeding of tender gums) goes
up, and this can be detrimental to your developing baby’s health. Things
to do: Brush and floss regularly. If you are suffering from morning sickness, switch
to a bland toothpaste after consulting your doctor. If you have frequent bouts
of vomiting, rinse your mouth frequently with water, or mouthwash advised by
your dentist. Eat healthy to invest in your child’s oral health. Regular visits
to your dentist can flag any signs of gum disease.

Yoga during pregnancy: Practicing
yoga during pregnancy can help you cope with taxing symptoms such as morning
sickness and fatigue. Asanas
(especially those that strengthen the pelvic muscles) and pranayam can also prepare you – mentally and physically –
for labor.

Monitoring baby movements during pregnancy: A
pregnant woman is advised to monitor fetal movements from the 28th week by
keeping track of the daily fetal movements count (DFMC). She must watch out for
any variations in the pattern and average count of movements as these could
indicate the need for tests to check fetal health.  At the same time,
pregnant mothers must keep calm while doing the count as anxiety itself could
lead to the production of hormones and in turn cause fetal distress.