Pregnancy is the time when a child grows inside a woman. It usually lasts around 40 weeks. During the first eight weeks following the conception, the embryo develops into an off-spring. Symptoms of pregnancy may include missed periods, tender breasts, vomiting, nausea, fatigue and changing appetite. A pregnancy involves a lot of expectations and precautions. Proper precautions should be taken to prevent accidental miscarriages. A balanced lifestyle is also essential for a healthy mother and proper development and nourishment of the unborn child.
A pregnant woman, especially the ones expecting their first child need handy and easy tips during pregnancy to maintain both mother’s and baby’s health. Consulting a doctor is a must, along with it some other health tips during pregnancy which are to be followed have been listed in the article.
Precautions during Pregnancy
The first three months of pregnancy is the most crucial stage of a baby’s development since it is the time when all organs of the baby are taking a shape. Pregnant women should abstain from alcohol, drugs and medications throughout their pregnancy, especially during the first three months. Given below are information on substances that require special precautions during pregnancy. Some precautions during pregnancy are:
Fish and seafood
Fish and seafood are an important part of a healthy diet. However, some fishes and seafood may contain high levels of mercury. Thus, one has to choose wisely among types of fish. Some precautions during pregnancy related to fish and seafood are:
- No more than 12 ounces of cooked fish should be consumed over a week.
- Shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish should be avoided.
- Consumption of albacore tuna should be reduced.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy may cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Babies born with FAS may have slow growth, learning problems, abnormal facial features and there is no cure it.
Alcohol is a common ingredient used in medicines. Always consult a doctor before using such medicines during pregnancy. Alcoholic beverages should be avoided when pregnant.
Consumption of caffeine can cause nervousness, anxiety, irritability, irregular heartbeats and amnesia. According to some scientists, caffeine can cause premature or smaller babies. I may also lead to possible birth defects. Food and drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, colas, cocoa and chocolate should be avoided.
Smoking may lead to serious health problems. Women who smoke during pregnancy usually give birth to low birth weight babies who are more likely to have health problems, such as infections, trouble keeping warm, feeding problems, breathing problems, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Studies have proved that second-hand smoking also leads to SIDS. Some tips during pregnancy related to smoking are:
- Pregnant women should stop smoking
- Try to avoid passive smoking.
Some precautions during pregnancy related to food additives should be adopted. Pregnant women should try to minimize the use of:
- Processed food items
- Foods containing sodium nitrate, such as cured meats like ham or bacon.
- Wash fruits and vegetables to avoid consuming pesticides used to kill insects.
Food handling concerns
Consuming raw fish, meats or poultry may make you prone to infection or parasitic disease. Cooking the food destroys bacteria and parasites. Some precautions during pregnancy related to food handling are:
- Avoid eating raw fish, meats or eggs.
- Only pasteurized milk should be consumed.
- Food should be cooked thoroughly.
Medications and herbs
Certain medications and herbs may harm the unborn baby. Always consult a doctor before taking any medication or medicinal herbs during your pregnancy.
Saunas and hot tubs
Saunas and hot tubs should be avoided since they may increase the body temperature and affect the development of your baby.
Toxoplasmosis is a medical condition caused by a parasite found in plant soil, cat faeces, raw or undercooked meat. If the mother is infected during pregnancy by this parasite, the developing baby may suffer from a brain damage. Some precautions during pregnancy related to toxoplasmosis are:
- Try to avoid contact with cat faeces.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Use gloves while gardening.
Fetal solvent syndrome
Exposure to harmful chemicals may cause birth defects. Try to avoid polluted places as much as possible.
Video Display Terminals (VDTs)
Video Display Terminals (VDTs) may affect a developing baby, though there are no solid research findings. Some precautions during pregnancy related to VDTs are:
- Try to reduce your exposure to VDTs.
- Frequent stretch breaks should be taken away from the computer screen.
Pregnancy Health Tips
Some pregnancy health tips are:
Good nutrition is very important for the baby to grow and develop. One should consume about 300 more calories per day during pregnancy. An expecting mother should eat a balanced-diet and take prenatal vitamins for proper nourishment of the baby. Some health care tips during pregnancy are as follows:
- A variety of foods should be consumed to get all the nutrients.
- Fatty foods and sweets should be spared.
- Fibre enriched food, such as whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta and rice, and fruits and vegetables should be consumed.
- Vitamins and minerals should be ensured in your daily diet while pregnant in proper quantities.
- Four servings of dairy products are recommended
- 1000-1300 mg of Calcium should be included in your daily diet.
- Three servings of iron-rich foods, such as lean meats, beans, spinach, and breakfast cereals should be consumed to get 27 mg of iron daily.
- A pregnant lady needs 250 micrograms of iodine every day to help ensure the baby’s proper development of the brain and nervous system.
- Each day a pregnant woman needs 70 mg of vitamin C. Thus, include green peppers, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and mustard greens in your diet.
- A pregnant woman needs at least 0.4 mg of folic acid per day to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
- Sources of vitamin A like carrots, spinach pumpkins, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, water squash, apricots, and cantaloupe should be consumed.
A regular exercise routine is an essential pregnancy health tip. It should be maintained throughout the pregnancy which will help you to stay healthy. Regular exercise can help you to deal with common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue. It may prevent gestational diabetes which develops during pregnancy, relieve stress, and build stamina.
Pregnant women with medical problems, like asthma, diabetes or heart-diseases should abstain from exercise. Women with pregnancy-related complications such as bleeding or spotting, low placenta, threatened or recurrent miscarriage, previous premature births or weak cervix should avoid exercises.
Activities like swimming, indoor stationary cycling, brisk walking, step or elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics are recommended. Playing tennis and racquetball are safe during the initial stage. Certain exercises and activities like contact sports, bouncing heavy exercises, activities that involve falling or rapid movements should be avoided as they can be harmful during pregnancy.
Women Pregnancy Stages
Pregnancy of a woman lasts for about 40 weeks. The weeks are grouped into three trimesters.
First trimester (week 1-week 12)
During the first trimester, a woman’s body undergoes various changes. Hormonal changes affect the entire body. Symptoms of pregnancy may include:
- Stopping of period
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Morning sickness
- Sudden change in appetite
- Mood swings
- Need to pass urine more often
- Weight gain or loss
With changes in the body, you need to bring changes in your daily routine. Most of the pregnancy related discomforts will fade away as your pregnancy progresses.
Second trimester (week 13-week 28)
Pregnancy symptoms like nausea and fatigue might fade away. New, more noticeable changes like expansion abdomen as the baby continues to grow will be visible. With changes in your body changes to make room for your growing baby, you may face:
- Body aches
- Stretch marks on your abdomen, breasts, thighs, or buttocks
- Darkening of the skin around your nipples
- A line on the skin from belly button to pubic hairline
- Mask of pregnancy that is patches of darker skin, usually over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip is visible
- Tingling hands
- Itching on the abdomen, palms, and soles of the feet
- Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face
Third trimester (week 29-week 40)
New body changes which may appear in the third trimester are:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face.
- Tender breasts, which may leak a watery pre-milk called colostrum
- Sticking out of belly button
- Trouble sleeping
- The baby “dropping”, or moving lower in your abdomen
As your due date comes nearer, your cervix becomes thinner and softer. This is a natural process that helps the birth canal or vagina to open and expand during the birth process. Visit your doctor and check your progress with a vaginal examination.
All the treatments – medicines, injections and vaccines are for general information of the reader. Please consult a doctor and get a formal prescription before taking any medicines, supplements and injections.
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