Overview

A healthy pregnancy is a dream of every couple, but does everyone have it this way? No, not really! As magical as it is, pregnancy does bring many complications, which sometimes are really hard to tackle.

So, it is in the best interest of the couple to take every precautionary measure they can to ensure the safety of their unborn child throughout the nine-month period.

We have listed a few important tips for every couple to minimise the risk of some complications you will encounter during the time of pregnancy. Have a look –

Staying Healthy for Healthy Pregnancy

Your health reflects on your pregnancy. So, you must follow the basic health guidelines for healthy prenatal development of your child, like –

  • Have protein-rich food
  • Avoid active smoking
  • Avoid passive smoking
  • Quit drinking
  • Take proper rest
  • Take vitamins, as recommended by your gynaecologist

Having Prenatal Vitamin and minerals

You should begin with prenatal vitamins, and other essential nutrients as advised by your doctor, right before you start trying. It is really important as the fetus’ neural cord forms in pregnancy’s first month [1]. This neural cord later transforms into the spinal cord and the brain of the baby. Hence, essential nutrients like calcium, iron and folic acid play a very crucial role.

Exercising for Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy does slow you down, but you have to do enough physical activity to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Physical activities help in reducing stress, controlling body weight, boost blood circulation, and induce better sleep. You can attend a pregnancy class to learn exercises. You can also walk for at least 15-20 mins every day in a cool or shaded area.

Some more options for physical activities could be –

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Swimming

More importantly, you must consult with your gynaecologist before starting any exercise. Also, you should never overdo any exercise.

Take Childbirth Classes

You may think that you are prepared if you have had a successful pregnancy before, but every pregnancy comes with its own risks. So, it is important to educate yourself by attending childbirth classes, where you can ask questions related to your previous pregnancy as well.

Moreover, you should also speak with your gynaecologist about the family history of pregnancy. You must report every complication to your doctor which any of your family members ever faced.

Do Kegel Exercises

Kegels play a very key role in helping you with a healthy pregnancy. These exercises toughen up your pelvic floor muscles, which give support to your uterus, bowels and bladder. If you do these exercises correctly as advised by an expert, these will ease up the process of delivery, and also prevent problems like incontinence. [2]

Avoid Toxins

During pregnancy, you must avoid consuming tobacco products, alcohol, illicit drugs, paint thinners and nail polish removers. These toxins are very harmful to the baby as well as the mother and can cause birth defects, miscarriages and other problems.

For example, smoking cigarettes decreases oxygen flow to your baby, which may cause preterm birth and many more complications.

Layoff Some Chores from To-Do-List

Pregnancy also calls for quitting some everyday chores like cleaning your bathroom or looking after the pets. The cleaning products you use may contain toxic chemicals which may not have been harmful to you but surely would affect your child. So, below is a list of some chores you must quit right after conceiving –

  • Heavy lifting
  • Climbing on step stools or ladders
  • Changing kitty litter
  • Using harsh chemicals
  • Standing for too long
  • Standing in or near any hot place

Avoid Over-The-Counter Medication for Healthy Pregnancy

You should check with your gynaecologist before taking any over-the-counter medication, supplement or natural remedy. These may heighten the risk of miscarriage, and can potentially impair fetal blood vessels.

Monitor Your Weight for Healthy Pregnancy

Weight monitoring can be tricky during pregnancy. You have to ensure that you do not put on a lot of weight as it becomes very difficult to lose it later, and at the same time, you have to ensure that you gain enough weight so that there is no risk for your baby. Here is how much weight gain is ideal during pregnancy, depending on the woman’s body mass index – [3]

  • Underweight – Gain 28-40 pounds
  • Normal weight – Gain 25-35 pounds
  • Overweight – Gain 15-25 pounds
  • Obese – Gain 11-20 pounds

Stay in touch with your gynaecologist to ensure that weight gain isn’t getting out of control.

Change Your Regular Fancy Shoes

Women usually like to buy shoes which look good in their feet, without even considering if they offer any comfort or not. But pregnancy is a time when it becomes very critical to wear extremely comfortable shoes, as their natural weight gain changes their centre of gravity, putting more pressure on their tootsies. This can go on to trigger over-pronation, or flatten their feet. It may also cause fluid retention, leading to swollen ankles and feet.

Enhance Water Intake for Healthy Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your blood supplies essential nutrients and oxygen to your baby through the placenta and flushes out carbon dioxide and other waste material. This extra effort increases your blood volume by 50 per cent. Hence, it becomes very critical to support that gain.

Drinking extra water can help a pregnant lady in avoiding swelling, fatigue, haemorrhoids, headaches, UTIs, constipation and other irritating pregnancy symptoms. Drink 8-10 glasses of water on a daily basis. If it isn’t that easy, you can add a lime or fruit juice to make it interesting.

Consume Folate-Rich Food for Healthy Pregnancy

You should also have 5-6 well-balanced meals, which feature enough folate-rich food like lentils, fortified cereals, wheat germ, oranges, asparagus and orange juice. Moreover, folic acid plays a key role in developing the baby’s neural tube and is also important for forming new red blood cells.

Replace Caffeine with Fruits

The doctors advise pregnant women to avoid or at least limit caffeine intake as it can cause harmful effects on your baby. You can replace your caffeine drinks with fruits like bananas and apples which contain natural sugars, that can give you instant energy.

Include Fish in Your Diet for Healthy Pregnancy

As per research, children whose mothers ate fish during pregnancy have better I.Q. and better motor and communication skills. Fish is rich in omega 3s, which is very critical for brain development. However, you must consult with your doctor before choosing the type of fish as some of them contain mercury which can be toxic for both babies and adults.

However, pregnant women should not have more than 12 ounces of fish in a week. Here are the types of fishes which are safe for consumption – [4]

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Pollack
  • Shrimp
  • Catfish

The fishes that you should avoid are –

  • King mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Shark

Apply Sunscreen

When you are pregnant, your skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight, putting you at a bigger risk of sunburn and chloasma. So, whenever you are stepping outside, you must wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, and always wear sunglasses and a hat.

Keep Yourself Clean for Healthy Pregnancy

Doctors recommend regular hand washing or use of ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitisers to avoid communicable infections like Group B streptococcus, cytomegalovirus, Fifth disease and chickenpox. These diseases can be very dangerous for the baby,

Make Your Travel Safe For Healthy Pregnancy

As per the experts, flying during 14th to 28th week of pregnancy is safe, as by this time, you have overcome morning sickness, and the risks of miscarriage and early delivery are the lowest.

However, you must check with your gynaecologist first before planning any such trip. When in the plan, you should increase your water intake, and take a short walk every half hour. This helps you in avoiding the possibility of having blood clots.

Know More About Postpartum Depression

There are a lot of women who suffer from depression during pregnancy. This is a very serious problem, which may lead to preterm labour. Therefore, to avoid it, you must consult your doctor if you feel extremely sad, guilty or angry if you lose interest in chores you used to enjoy or your sleep too much.

After analysing your condition, your doctor may suggest you undergo therapy, join a support group, or prescribe antidepressant medication.

When Do You Need Doctor’s Intervention?

Knowing when to consult a doctor during pregnancy can be a tricky business. Sometimes, it becomes really difficult to know which twinge is normal and which isn’t. However, you should see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms –

  • Any kind of pain
  • Contractions in every 20 mins
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Strong cramps
  • Fluid leakage
  • Less activity by baby
  • Constant nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble walking
  • Swelling of joints

Takeaway

It may not be easy to have a pregnancy, but it surely is the most memorable time of your life. So, make it a joyride by taking good care of yourself using the points discussed above. Moreover, if we have missed out on mentioning your problem here and you are feeling something unusual, do get in touch with a gynaecologist without any further delay.

References –
[1] – Periconceptional supplementation with folate and/or multivitamins for preventing neural tube defects (Review) [2] – KEGEL EXERCISE APPLICATION DURING PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM IN WOMEN VISITED AT HAMADAN HEALTH CARE CENTERS [3] – Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines [4] – Fish Intake during Pregnancy and Early Cognitive Development of Offspring