A miracle that is pregnancy
Growing life within yourself is nothing short of a miracle. A miracle that requires immense patience and power to accept all the bodily changes occurring within you every minute.
And it’s not just the booming transformations in your body. Pregnancy brings forth a series of emotional and psychological challenges that need to be addressed too.
Your growing bundle of joy absorbs everything you eat. Creating an environment conducive to healthy baby growth, while taking care of your own body, is no mean feat.
Once you announce the news, countless bits of pregnancy advice come shooting towards you. Everybody has their own personal anecdote to share with you.
The list of pregnancy dos and don’ts which people keep thrusting towards you could be a bit overwhelming. Some are helpful like when nauseated suck on ice chips instead of drinking water. While others are downright weird like eat more spicy food if you want your baby to have great hair.
It could be trying for you to separate the science from silliness here (and why wouldn’t it be, your body is behaving in ways that go beyond your imagination).
To ease your pains during such a taxing phase of your life, we bring for you a list of well-researched and proven tips to ensure a healthy pregnancy. And yes, congratulations!
So, what should you expect?
But before we start handing you out a list of dos and don’ts, let us first understand what kind of changes you can expect once you conceive.
Most women experience mild bleeding as the egg implants to the uterine wall.
The initial days of pregnancy are marked by a heightened sense of taste and smell.
Erratic mood swings and morning sickness gradually become a part of your everyday routine.
With your body producing massive levels of hormones to prepare itself to host a living creature, it’s only natural to observe these drastic changes.
Since your body’s resources are busy in creating the perfect environment for the fetus, there is very little energy left for you. This will make you feel fatigued more often.
Headaches, bloating, and even constipation go hand-in-hand with pregnancy. And not to mention the excruciating food cravings (pickles with vanilla ice-cream? Yum).
What you eat is what your baby eats
It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to understand that what you eat becomes your baby’s sole source of nourishment.
Load up your diet with healthy calories and nutrients for a healthy fetal growth. The first step would be chuck out all the edible sources of toxins from your diet.
In addition to these, you need to pack your every meal with essential vitamins and minerals which are at the core of healthy pregnancy.
The main nutrients required to make a healthy baby are folic acid (Vitamin B), calcium, iron, proteins, zinc, and magnesium.
Each prenatal vitamin and mineral serves an important duty in the development of the fetus. To understand the specific role of each nutrient, refer to the list below.
Folic Acid – Prevents the onset of Neural Tube Defects. These conditions prohibit the proper growth of the brain and the spinal cord in the baby.
Calcium– For stronger bones, for both the mother and the baby.
Iodine – regulates the mother’s thyroid functioning.
Iron– Helps in oxygen transportation via blood in both mother and the baby.
Vitamin D– Boosts immunity, aids in developing strong bones and muscle mass.
Zinc – Important factor in gene expression.
Are these sufficient to ensure a healthy pregnancy?
Pre-natal vitamins are analogous to seat-belts. Seat-belts do provide sufficient protection from accidents and mishap yet wearing them doesn’t give you a guilt-free pass to drive recklessly.
Similarly, consuming the recommended dosage of prenatal vitamins and minerals is critical to ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
Yet, it is not the only set of rules or instructions that you should adhere to.
Are you curious to know what pregnancy advice is best for you and your baby? Don’t look further than the ones mentioned below.
Dietary dos and don’ts
- Try to derive all your nourishment from natural and “real” foods instead of opting for highly refined and processed foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably free of chemicals and pesticides) and whole grains with legumes are the best options.
- Pregnant women need to consume 2-3 glasses of milk (fat-free) to meet the daily required dosage of calcium, in addition to calcium supplements.
- The intake of caffeine should be highly restricted in pregnant women. For those who are addicted to the morning coffee or pot of tea, try munching on fruits such as apples and bananas. The natural sugar present in these will give you the energy lift you need.
- Fish is an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. You need these for healthy brain development of the fetus. Studies have shown strong links between increased fish consumption by expecting mothers and higher IQ levels in their kids.
- Following yet another popular fad diet circulating the internet should be strictly prohibited. Your baby is extremely sensitive to your nutritional status. At this point, the baby needs more than 40 nutrients daily. Fad diets tend to limit these essential nutrients in your food.
- Refrain from eating undercooked meats and seafood such as sushi or sashimi. Also, consume only pasteurized milk and milk products. Consuming these could trigger dangerous infections such as listeriosis.
Lifestyle and exercises
- Performing safe levels of exercises during pregnancy ensures lesser backaches, better sleep, a limit on excess weight gain, and also a lower probability of gestational diabetes.
- 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 3-4 days per week is considered safe and healthy.
- Yoga, Pilates, and walking are the best options. It is important to practice these in moderation and not over-indulge.
- Exercises which strengthen your pelvic-floor muscles such as Kegels are great for expecting mothers. It helps in building stronger muscles in the uterus, bladder, and bowels. These are extremely easy and can be done anywhere.
Now that you are pregnant, it is advisable that you pass on the responsibility of taking care of the household to someone else. Avoid bending and standing on ladders and stool. Avoid lifting heavy objects or standing for too long.
- Cleaning after pets, especially cats, could increase your risk of contracting highly infectious diseases such as toxoplasmosis.
- Indulge in meditation to de-stress yourself. Or any other activity that makes you feel happy.
- Staying away from stress and anxiety should be your number one priority as it can have direct adverse consequences for you and your baby.
- Keep a track of your body weight. Also, make a note of all the bodily changes you are observing. Share these with your doctor during those regular monthly visits.
Pregnancy often results in swelling of feet (since there is increased fluid retention in your body). Buy comfortable footwear that will take care of your feet.
Some miscellaneous yet important points
- Do not underestimate the power of proper hydration during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones often lead to troublesome side-effects such as constipation, bloating, bladder infections and hemorrhoids. Drinking plenty of water is the sole cure for all these.
- Self-medication is a strict no-no when you are expecting. Any medication that you take, even the common ones like ibuprofen, should be first consulted with the doctor first.
- Your body’s immunity is at an all-time low. Protect yourself from colds, flu, and other infections.
- If you are experiencing any kind of persisting pain or more-than-usual nausea/morning sickness, immediately contact your doctor. These could include palpitations, dizziness, leaking of fluid or blood, cramps, or decreases in the fetal movement.
- There is no safe limit on alcohol, tobacco, or nicotine consumption during pregnancy.
Educate yourself as much as possible regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. Eating the right foods, exercising the right amount, and keeping yourself stress-free will bring to you and to your baby unlimited advantages. Kick-starting these healthy habits from today will ensure a healthy tomorrow for you and your soon arriving bundle of joy.
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