Motherhood is a wonderful experience in a woman’s life. It is also a very crucial time in a woman’s life, as her health during pregnancy directly impacts the health of the baby. A woman’s body goes through a lot of changes during and after pregnancy and therefore it is important to consider every aspect which can impact the lifestyle, such as diet, sleeping patterns, physical activity etc. Some vital precautions to be taken during pregnancy are listed below:
- Ensure proper diet: Consume foods rich in folate as folic acid is essential for the proper development of the baby’s spinal cord and formation of new red blood cells. Some examples of folate-rich foods are lentils, beans, peas, broccoli, asparagus and oranges. Prenatal vitamins also help in getting the required nutrients. Do not consume raw seafood and large fishes; instead opt for smaller fishes like salmon, sardines etc which have low mercury content. Improperly cooked meat and raw eggs must also be avoided as they may contain harmful bacteria. Also, avoid junk foods as they may contain harmful substances which are not conducive for your baby’s health as well as yours.
- Physical Activity: Moderate exercises such as light stretching exercises, yoga, meditation, light swimming etc. can improve the overall health. They help in relaxing the muscles, relieving stress and anxiety, enhance circulation, improve mental well-being and increase oxygen availability to the fetus.
- Say No to Alcohol and Smoking: Any amount of alcohol during pregnancy is harmful for the health of the baby and there is no safe limit has been established for its consumption. Alcohol causes irreversible birth defects in the child. Smoking increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Cigarettes also contain nicotine and many other toxins which cause complications like low weight of the baby, breathing and feeding problems.
- Medications: Be cautious about taking medicines containing multiple ingredients. Consult your doctor before following any prescription or taking over-the-counter medications. Some drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin etc can result in heart defects and lead to developmental problems.
- Be careful regarding caffeine and cheese: Some studies have shown that caffeine causes miscarriage, low birth weight and retardation, although there is no concrete evidence of this link yet. On the other hand, soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as Brie, Camembert etc. have been known to contain bacteria that cause Listeriosis, an infection that causes miscarriage, premature birth or severe illness or even death of the newborn.
- Keep track of your weight gain: Weight gain is an essential and inescapable component of pregnancy. However, excess weight gain or not gaining enough weight is both equally harmful for the overall health of the mother and the child. Not only the quantum of weight gain, but also the pattern of gain is also important. Check with your doctor regularly to ensure you are gaining weight at a healthy rate.
- Avoid saunas: Hot tubs and saunas whose temperature exceeds the body temperature can cause overheating which creates problems in fetal development and result in an abnormal organ development.
- Traveling: It is advisable to avoid long hours of traveling and flights during the first and third trimesters of your pregnancy. Mid-pregnancy is usually the best time to fly as the risk of miscarriage, early delivery and morning sickness is comparatively lower during this period. Drink plenty of mineral or boiled water and do not lift heavy baggage.
Your baby’s health is entirely in your hands. Keep yourself healthy and make the required changes for the sake of the baby’s healthier future, and yours!