Profound physical and emotional changes mark pregnancy. It is a transformative and delicate phase in a woman's life. For those seeking to prevent pregnancy, understanding the menstrual cycle is essential. While no method is foolproof, tracking ovulation can help identify relatively safe days to prevent pregnancy. The menstrual cycle comprises different phases, with ovulation occurring around the middle. However, due to variations in cycle length and irregularities, relying solely on calendar-based calculations may not be entirely accurate. Combining awareness of safe days with other contraceptive methods is advisable to prevent pregnancy effectively. However, once pregnant, you need to ensure safety, beginning from the first day of discovering it. Every choice a mother makes, from lifestyle to medications, affects her health and the baby's safety during pregnancy.
A well-rounded and nutritious diet and safe eating practices can be pivotal in supporting a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women may require an additional 340 to 450 calories during their second and third trimesters. This may be obtained from various fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, peas and beans, low-mercury seafood, eggs, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. This will help them get essential nutrients, which will contribute to the optimal development of the fetus while also providing the energy (1). Conversely, food safety during pregnancy also requires attention. Pregnant women should avoid foods high in caffeine, unpasteurized juices or dairy, soft cheeses, deli or luncheon meats, undercooked meat, raw sprouts, dough, eggs, or seafood. Such foods may risk contamination from harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria, which can have severe consequences for the mother and the baby. Therefore, you should opt for well-cooked warm meals, pasteurized dairy, and thoroughly washed fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of exposure (1) (2). Exposure to cigarette smoking, alcohol, and drugs such as marijuana may also harm the fetus.
While this is a normal physiological process, certain safety precautions during pregnancy can help prevent falls, accidents, and complications. In addition, wearing high-heeled shoes may pose a safety risk while walking and lead to unanticipated falls, severe back, and leg pain, or cramping along the feet. Follow safety precautions while traveling on flights, trains, or cars. It is best to speak with your doctor about your travel plans to ensure you have no medical emergencies during your trips (3). Pregnant women should also avoid fake or spray tanning, cleaning up pet litter pans, using harsh cleaning chemicals or paints, going for hair care treatments or chemical peeling, and hair dyeing. Such exposures often pose a risk of chemical allergic reactions or infectious conditions ,which can affect fetal development (4). It is also essential to ensure that your beauty and haircare products are pregnancy safe. Also, x-rays, jacuzzis, sunbeds, and saunas may lead to higher radiation and heat exposure, which may cause developmental deficits and congenital disabilities. Thus it is best to avoid these procedures during pregnancy (4).
Moderate exercise can enhance physical fitness, regulate weight gain, and relieve discomfort. You may engage in pregnancy-safe practices such as prenatal yoga, meditation, and thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activities like walking or swimming daily (1). Adequate hydration, proper posture, and avoiding high-intensity workouts are vital for safeguarding maternal and fetal health (4). Also, maintaining good oral hygiene and managing stress are crucial in promoting a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women must also take precautions for massage, acupressure, and acupuncture procedures. It is best to opt for a professional with extensive training and inform your therapist to avoid specific pressure points that may trigger contractions (4).
You must also make informed decisions when taking medication or supplements during pregnancy. Some medicines and herbal supplements, irrespective of whether prescription or over-the-counter may cause congenital disabilities in your baby (3). Thus it is essential to follow pregnancy medication safety and consult your healthcare provider before incorporating them into the health regimen. However, prenatal vitamins and medications prescribed by your gynecologist are generally safe and can contribute positively to your and your baby's health. In addition, you must get timely antenatal checkups for diabetes, hypertension, STDs, depression, and other conditions that pose a health risk. It is also essential for you to get the necessary vaccinations after consulting with your doctor (3).
This comprehensive guide delves into the critical aspects of maintaining a safe and healthy pregnancy journey. We cover everything from food and medication safety to exercises and safety tips during pregnancy to help you make informed decisions. However, you must remember that every pregnancy is unique and requires personalized care from healthcare professionals.
Ensuring a healthy pregnancy requires taking prescribed medications such as prenatal vitamins and folic acid. You also need adequate nutrition, hydration, sleep, and regular exercise. Also, avoid unsafe foods (such as caffeine, unpasteurized or raw foods), alcohol, drugs, and smoking. All these, regular prenatal checkups, and following your health professional’s advice can help ensure a healthy pregnancy (5).
Accidental falls and injuries during pregnancy may be commonly caused by pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, upset stomach, lowering blood pressure, or giddiness. It may also occur due to the changing body balance, intoxication, and avoiding safety precautions. You may take preventive measures like lying down, wearing flat shoes with no-slip soles, moving and changing positions slowly, holding onto handrails while using stairs, adequate hydration and nutrition, and regular exercise.
It is generally recommended for pregnant women to avoid lifting heavy items. If you need to lift something, follow these precautions: Avoid sudden movements, bending at your waist, or lifting against your belly. Instead, bend your knees while keeping your back straight, and use your leg muscles to lift. To prevent strain, it's advisable not to lift heavy objects alone (6).
When using seat belts during pregnancy, ensure the top strap is positioned away from your neck and across your chest between your breasts. Place the lap belt under your belly to fit snugly across your hips and pelvic bone (7).
To exercise safely during pregnancy, start with a warm-up and only do what's comfortable. Avoid intense activities and those with fall risks. Stick to familiar routines like walking, aerobics, yoga, and swimming. Move positions carefully and involve a family member or professional if needed. Take breaks, stay hydrated, and cool down afterward (8).
When cleaning during pregnancy, wear gloves and protective clothing, read labels carefully, and avoid mixing chemicals. Keep doors and windows open for ventilation and have assistance nearby. Avoid cleaning tight, poorly ventilated spaces (9).
When driving while pregnant, adjust your seat upright with enough space for your belly. Ensure you can comfortably reach the steering and pedals and wear your seatbelt correctly. Keep your airbags turned on (7).
Swimming is a gentle exercise if you don't overexert yourself. Consult your doctor and take these precautions for water activities: Maintain the pool temperature between 27 and 33 degrees Celsius. Wear comfortable attire, a cap, goggles, and sunscreen. Be cautious getting in and out of the pool, avoid specific movements, and choose a relaxed stroke. Shower before and after swimming, eat 30 minutes prior, drink water, and contact your healthcare provider if you experience discomfort (10).
Steer clear of soft cheeses, undercooked meat, high-mercury seafood, raw fish and poultry, pre-prepared foods, deli meats, raw sprouts, tahini, unwashed fruits or veggies, soft-serve ice cream, unpasteurized dairy or juices, alcohol. Limit caffeine and organ meat intake (11).
The guided use of these medications doesn't pose a risk to most expecting women.
An early viability scan at around six to ten weeks helps determine the prognosis of pregnancy.
Taking NyQuil may be safe if it does not have alcohol; however, follow your doctor's advice.
Ascertain the safety of at-home abortion techniques to avert their undue risks.
Like a rainbow that comes after a storm, a rainbow baby is born after the loss of a baby.
These scanners emit low-intensity radiation that is usually not harmful to pregnant women.
Intranasal administration of this decongestant poses lower risks during pregnancy.
The suitability of OTC cold medicines is best determined by your doctor while pregnant.
An effective antidiarrheal drug, but ask your doctor before taking it.
Exercise precautions when taking medicines. Some may harm the fetus.
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, and taking pills to stop it can be dangerous.
Bupropion, sold under the brand name Wellbutrin, belongs to the antidepressant class of med