Pregnancy is the pinnacle of a women’s successful and complete life. This beautiful time is precious and it is the first boost to our baby from us. The approximate duration of a pregnancy is around 40 weeks from the last menstrual period, that is approximately 9 months and 7 days. In the present competitive world woman are on full throttle, come what may.
As a child specialist, my common advice is along the following lines “how many babies do you plan to have? may be 2, sometimes 1 or even 3 in this career-oriented times. The pregnancy time is a god given gift, dedicate 1 or 2 years to it, take it easy and enjoy the time”. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are the most unique time when the woman bonds deeply not only with her baby but also with her spouse and family members who share her joys, doubts and work.
The most important “to do” things are:
1) Eat healthy. Preferably home cooked. 3 meals, 2 glasses of milk and 2 healthy snacks. A meal becomes balanced when the combination is cereal + pulses + vegetables + curd. Cereal can be rice/ Chappati / Ragi ball, pulses are dhals incorporated into sambhar / rasam / dhal / saaru. The quantity of vegetable should be at least 3 servings per day where each serving is one katori. It is better to cook vegetables with water and fresh spices and not fried. Pregnancy requires an extra calorie intake of 300 to 500 kcal which is easily got by an extra healthy snack for an average weight gain of 10 to 12 kg. Some healthy snacks are fruits, nuts, sprouts, sundal, salads etc.
2) Light exercise is very important to boost metabolism, preventing too much weight gain. Endorphins released during exercise makes feel good and happy also! Some good options are walking, swimming, gentle yoga/ pranayama and Lamaze. Lamaze and breathing exercises help in relaxing and aide in normal birthing. Too much of weight gain (due to overeating especially sugars / fatty meal) and sedentary life style can lead to high sugars especially in women prone to gestational diabetes, obesity and difficulty in normal delivery.
3) Emotional well-being is understated in the positive outcome of a pregnancy, too much of stress and emotional neglect can lead to high BP, poor baby weight and pre-term delivery. The responsibility for mental peace and happiness lies on the prospective mother father and family / friends of the couple.
4) Do not ignore medical problems during pregnancy especially infections which can be safely treated. Some pregnancy related problems like anemia, high sugars, high BP, poor weight gain should be treated to avoid adverse outcomes.
5) In an uncomplicated pregnancy, one needs to see her doctor at least once a month in the first 3 months, twice a month in the next three months and once a week until delivery. Some medications like iron, calcium, folic acid and DHA are routinely prescribed. Every pregnant woman undergoes minimum 2 scans, one at around 4th month to ascertain malformations and another in later pregnancy to ascertain adequate growth of baby. Tests like haemoglobin, urine, blood sugar is done as per doctor’s advice.
6) Some common pregnancy problems are vomiting / nausea in the first months and excessive tiredness. Apart from tablets for severe morning sickness some tips to alleviate it are slow relaxed awakening in the morning, taking crackers or tapelas or dried toast. In empty stomach avoid drinking coffee and tea. Excessive tiredness is prevented by frequent and adequate nourishment especially fruits, plenty of water (2-3litres/day). Sometimes it may indicate blood pressure extremes, anemia or high sugars hence to be evaluated by your doctor.
Dr. Divya Srirangarajan,
Paediatrician & Paediatric Emergency Care Specialist