Pregnancy is a wholesome and a transformative experience for the mother and the growing baby. As beautiful as this journey is, it must be taken seriously with utmost care and love. The good health of an individual is always important, but this importance almost doubles in the case of a pregnancy. Now is the time to take notes, do your research, and contact your health professional for a smooth and uneventful pregnancy.
When we talk about pregnancy health, we mean it in all forms. Mental, physical, and emotional health, from the inside as well as from the outside, is what you should seek. There are many things we consider when we think of a healthy pregnancy. Some of these are nutrition, sleep regimen, physical activity, regular check-ups, and emotional wellness.
Food is the basic source of all our energy, which also means that during pregnancy, you have to pay more attention to what you consume, as now this meal is for a team of two, you and your baby. While you don’t have to ‘eat for two,’ you should ensure that everything you consume is safe. It is advised to have foods rich in proteins, healthy fats, and iron and to drink plenty of water. It is important to avoid fish such as sharks and swordfish with high mercury levels. Also, items like soft cheese and raw eggs should be avoided as they pose a risk of food poisoning and bacterial infections such as listeriosis (1).
During pregnancy, folic acid is of immense importance for the growing fetus. Your doctor may prescribe you folic acid supplements for the healthy growth of the baby. You may be asked by your healthcare provider to limit your coffee consumption to two cups a day. Alcohol consumption and smoking must be completely avoided throughout the pregnancy, as it can have adverse effects (2).
One of the most practical ways to not put on unwanted weight during pregnancy is to have an exercise regimen. It is advised to exercise for at least 150 minutes each week. You may practice yoga, go swimming, brisk walking, or even cycling, as it can also help you deal with your pregnancy aches. Any form of exercise that is comfortable for you and makes you feel energized is welcome. However, it is important to note that exercises that pressure the abdomen should be avoided. Contact sports and activities like skiing; horse riding should be avoided (3).
It is important to note that you book an appointment with your doctor as soon as you know of the pregnancy. Throughout your pregnancy, your doctor or your midwife will recommend necessary blood investigations to rule out genetic abnormalities in the developing fetus and check for maternal conditions such as gestational diabetes. These tests have immense significance and hence should not be missed. You can also discuss your birth plan and the other questions you may have with your doctor. Discussing your family history with your doctor would be a good idea for the doctor to know about any genetic conditions that run in your family and whether or not you need genetic testing (4).
Good mental health during pregnancy is also very important. Needless to say that pregnancy is a roller coaster of emotions, feeling low or having mood swings is normal to happen. But, do not hesitate to ask for help. You can take it to your doctor if you experience prolonged sadness or extreme mood swings (5). To be in a good mood try doing things that bring you joy. It could be spending time with family, friends and pets or it could also be gardening, journaling or meditating. These activities can help to feel refreshed and energized.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) frequently recommends pregnant womens to take vaccines for the whooping cough and the flu vaccine. During pregnancy the immune system of the mothers gets weak and hence taking the vaccine is beneficial as it builds protective antibodies and avoids any further complications (6).
When you're pregnant, everything you consume seems to have an effect on your growing fetus, and this stands true even for medications. During pregnancy, you should not take any medication by yourself or just purchase any medication OTC, like you would usually. It is important to consult your doctor before taking any medicines or supplements. Since many medicines can pose a potential health risk to the fetus and the pregnancy, it is always recommended to take a go ahead from your doctor before you consume any medicines (7).
As much as you like to travel, you need to be extra prepared when traveling when pregnant. Most pregnant women prefer traveling between the fourth and sixth months of pregnancy. Even then being extremely cautious is important. You must take advice from your healthcare professional before you decide to travel. Always check if the country you're planning to visit requires you to take any vaccinations. Pay attention to what you eat and drink while traveling. It is advisable to travel with a companion and to know about the medical care that may be available, in case of an emergency (8).
Your pregnancy may require you to make several changes to your lifestyle, but it's important to remember that these changes will lead to a healthy pregnancy and a happy baby. It might get a bit tedious, but taking help from family members, friends, and advice from your doctor can be of immense help. Making the right choices and sticking by them will make your pregnancy healthy and enjoyable.
It is recommended that there should be one prenatal check-up every four weeks from week four to week 28 of pregnancy. From week 28 to 36, there has to be one prenatal visit every two weeks and from week 36 to 40, the prenatal visits increase to one every week. The number of prenatal visits might differ for someone according to their pregnancy (9).
Preeclampsia is a condition usually developed after 20 weeks of pregnancy, In this condition, the blood pressure and the protein levels in the urine increase. Swelling in the face and hands, headaches, and blurry vision are some signs of preeclampsia. It is usually diagnosed during prenatal visits and the treatment depends on the condition's severity and the pregnancy stage. Your healthcare provider will give you the best advice on how the condition is to be managed and treated (10).
Monitoring the fetal movement or counting the number of kicks is usually how a mother can monitor the number of times the fetus kicks in a given time. Over a period of time, the number of kicks is the same each day; this helps the mother know how well the baby is doing or whether the number of kicks has decreased, or if the baby has stopped kicking. Any unusual movements can alert the mother, and medical help can be taken. Hence monitoring the fetal moment can be important (11).
Foods that are rich in fiber can help alleviate pregnancy-related constipation. You may include foods like lentils, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your diet and also increase your water intake to get relief from constipation (12).
The risk for preterm labor is different for every pregnancy. There are many risk factors for preterm labor, from having multiple pregnancies to having medical conditions like diabetes and preeclampsia to being underweight or overweight before pregnancy, the reasons vary. You can talk to your healthcare provider to know whether or not you are at a risk for preterm labor (13).
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy might be just more than usual. It normally should look clear or white and should have a strong smell. If you feel that your discharge is unusual or if the discharge smells bad, is bloodstained, is causing itching or pain then you should contact your doctor immediately (14).
Essential oils and their soothing aroma may alleviate pregnancy-related symptoms
Lack of research on its effect raises doubts about its safety for pregnant women.
Nosebleeds can be scary but do not panic, for they are mostly benign.
Stay hydrated and maintain proper dental hygiene to avoid this bothersome oral problem.
Safely alleviate stiffness, aches, and tension by applying heat to specific body areas.
See a chiropractor when pregnant, but observe caution if you have complications.
A temporary drop in the body temperature after ovulation might indicate pregnancy.
A reliable contraceptive method with a relatively lower risk of side effects.
Brain fog may begin around the fifth week and lead to absent-mindedness.
Although claimed to have several benefits, lotus birth comes with a fair share of risks
There is limited scientific research on the benefits of this practice.
Optimal hydration is vital for a safe and healthy progression of pregnancy.