Have a safe pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause a lot of stress to a woman’s life. As a lot of pregnant women continue to work - whether at home or at office - through the end of pregnancy, it is important that they make sure they are doing the best for both, the baby’s health and their own. 

The choice of food, level of daily activity and sleep schedule play a major role. Most women make certain common mistakes, which might have a negative effect on the pregnancy.

Long meal-intervals 

Due to constant focus on work, most pregnant women tend to consume meals after long intervals. Hunger or low blood sugar can cause nausea. Therefore, it is important to eat three to five healthy meals a day, and never skip breakfast. Snacks have to be nutritious, like sliced raw vegetables, fruits, yoghurt, peanut butter and crackers, cheese, dals, sprouts, soya, milk and egg products.

Avoid fried chips, burgers, pizzas and other such junk; they can lead to excessive weight gain and water retention during pregnancy. Keep yourself well hydrated by sipping iced water, lemon juice or barley water.

Unplanned schedule

Pregnancy can make a woman forgetful and her schedule can go for a toss. The multiple changes in her mind and body often upset her schedule and there are high tendencies for her to forget doctor’s appointments or medications that need to be taken. 

Keep a notepad handy and write reminders for yourself, whether at work or home. Make a list of to-dos on your calendar. Stick to the schedule to avoid becoming over-worked or excessively tired.
Inadequate hydration

Not drinking enough water during the day, is a problem that most of us face. But during pregnancy, improper hydration can lead to multiple issues and complications, for both the mother and the baby.  Hydrate yourself and make sure that you get enough vitamin C from fruits, juices or supplements.
Inadequate sleep

Most women fail to realise that, during pregnancy, they need to clock-in extra hours of sleep to ensure proper growth of the foetus. Sleep is very important for pregnant women to gain strength and continue with her day-to-day activities. You need to get ten or eleven hours of sleep. Resting on either side will help good blood flow to your baby and will help prevent body swelling. If sleeping on your sides gets uncomfortable, invest in a good maternity pillow. 

Overexerting mind and body

A busy professional life, coupled with added responsibility of managing a pregnancy, makes many women neglect the benefits of a good workout. Inactivity could lead to blood clots, varicose veins as well as swelling of the feet and legs. Go for a walk around your workplace or home. Also, remember to put your feet up at night; you could use a stack of pillows for this. While it is advisable to avoid heavy exercise, you could pursue a suitable workout, with your doctor’s recommendation.

Smoking or drinking

Smoking is extremely harmful during pregnancy. Exposure to smoke can cause abortion, premature birth, low birth weight and infant death. Also, there is no safe amount of alcohol that a woman can consume during pregnancy. It is necessary for a mother-to-be to stay away from it. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) causes severe retardation and birth defects in the baby and it can be triggered by even small amounts of alcohol.

Self-medication

It is prudent for a pregnant woman to avoid any self-medication, even if they are available over the counter or are herbal, unless it has been approved by your doctor, especially during the first two months of pregnancy. The wrong kind of drug exposure may cause low birth weight, nervous system damage and physical malformations of the baby such as cleft palate. 
(The writer is a consultant gynaecologist at Apollo Cradle, Bangalore) 

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