Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

Being pregnant is a wonderful period in every woman’s life that words cannot express.  Even though a pregnant woman has to suffer many changes in her body, she never minds anything as she is in the path of her destiny. It is important to stay healthy always, but it gets imperative when you are pregnant.  Surely, you may get advices from family members, friends, relatives, neighbours and even from strangers regarding what you should do and what not to do. It is suggested to stay healthy right from the time you plan to conceive. It is important to design a pregnancy diet for week by week pregnancy care. Begin by taking a daily multivitamin with at least 400 micro grams of folic acid that helps to prevent neural tube defects. Also, quit smoking and stop drinking alcohol if you are used to them. It is very much important to stay healthy for getting a healthy baby and a healthy delivery.

Health care tips during pregnancy:

PRENATAL CARE - Book an appointment with your health care professional as soon as you notice some pregnancy symptoms. Many people also do pregnancy test, but you should always choose a right practitioner who gives respect to your health concerns. In the first visit your doctor may do a pregnancy test, physical examination and may calculate the weeks of pregnancy depending on your first day of last menstrual cycle and predict the expected date of delivery. If the mother and baby is healthy, your health care provider may advice you to schedule prenatal checkups as shown below.

  1. Every 4 weeks until 28 weeks of pregnancy
  2. Then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks of pregnancy
  3. Then once in a week until delivery.

During the prenatal period, you will be screened for all possibilities of complication that might be anticipated during delivery and will be provided adequate treatment and care needed. Your doctor may check all routine blood test and urine tests along with blood glucose level and blood pressure. Doctor may examine you physically to know the growth and development of your baby by feeling your abdomen, measuring your belly, listening fetal heart sounds which usually starts at second trimester, checking the weight gain, examining cervix etc. Practitioner may opt for ultra sound check ups that is needed in each period to rule out tubular pregnancy and screening tests for genetic disorders to know whether the fetus is correctly attached or not

NUTRITION - Eat well but not for two. You wonder why I suggested this. It means that you should eat well balanced food which contains all essential nutrients like protein (70gm/day), calcium (1000mg/day), iron (30mg/day), foliate (400mcg/day) etc to nourish your body and the fetus. No need to eat exactly the double amount of food that you were eating before pregnancy. Take 4 or 5 mini meals to reduce heart burn, steady blood glucose and reduce bloating. You need extra 300 calorie per day for the development of baby. Include the diet with lean meat and fish, low fat dairy products, fresh fruits, whole vegetables, multi grains etc. Better avoid coffee.

  1. Along with a healthy diet your doctor may prescribe multi vitamins supplement needed for the baby’s growth.
  2. It is important to drink plenty of fluids, especially, water to prevent dehydration and constipation.
  3. A balanced diet will also reduce the risks of anaemia, as well as other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness. Good nutrition is thought to help balance mood swings and it may facilitate delivery as well.
  4. A healthy weight gain of 11 or 12 kg is recommended if you are in normal range of weight before pregnancy. This may vary in the case of twins and triplets.
  5. Eating right during pregnancy can help prevent premature labor and birth, toxemia, placental abruption, gestational diabetes, problems with breastfeeding and healing, and many other serious health problems that would place a mom in the high-risk pregnancy category.
  6. Avoid foods that are dangerous to pregnancy like partially cooked non-vegetarian items, raw sea foods, undercooked eggs, and unpasteurised dairy products to reduce the risk of bacterial and parasitic infestations.

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EXERCISE - A moderate exercise during pregnancy should be encouraged among pregnant women unless diagnosed with a medical condition that prohibits any physical activity. Exercise provides increased blood circulation, strengthen muscles, reduces stress, induces good sleep, reduces back aches, relieves constipation, facilitates easy delivery and recovery. It also helps in preventing gestational diabetes. You can opt for yoga, stretching exercises, walking, or swimming. Whatever exercise you choose, remember to take adequate break and plenty of water. Stop exercise if you feel shortness of breath and not comfortable. Take specific advice and pregnancy tips suitable for you from your health care provider. You may feel fatigued in first and last trimesters, so listen to your body and take some rest or nap.

SLEEP - It is very important to get a good sleep during your pregnancy as your body gets tired of accommodating a new life and the discomfort in lying position increases as the baby grows. It is advisable to sleep on your left side of the body with knee slightly flexed. This position may ease the blood flow to the fetus, reduces the pressure of fetus on heart, increase the blood flow to the body parts and there by helps to reduce muscle cramps because one of the big blood vessels is lying in the right side of body. Do not change your sleeping position from left side to right side or vice-versa without getting up.

THINGS TO AVOID - You should avoid alcohol. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy causes serious fetal abnormalities. It is simply unacceptable if you are continuing smoking during pregnancy. Taking drugs also cause very dangerous abnormalities in fetus. It is important to give a notice to your doctor if you have practiced some drugs in the past. You should limit taking caffeine. Don’t take any kind of medication without doctor’s consultation. So, talk to your doctor about the treatments that can be taken safely during pregnancy for common illness. Stay away from all kinds of chemicals and hazardous rays which lead to serious problems in fetus.

SURROUND WITH SUPPORT AND POSITIVITY - A pregnant lady should always be surrounded with happy and positive atmosphere. She needs many supporting hands from family, friends, relatives, and coworkers. This may help to reduce anxiety and depression during prenatal period. Intimacy is a stress reliever.Research from the Ohio State University Medical Centre confirms that unless you have risk factors for premature labor or other complications, you can enjoy a healthy sex life until you give birth.

EDUCATE - Educate yourself! Seemingly mild symptoms may signal something serious. Those signs may include dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, trouble walking, pain or burning during urination, blurry vision, pronounced swelling or decreased foetal activity for more than 24 hours. So, contact your health care provider immediately if you have any of the above symptoms or others like uterine cramping that gets stronger, gripping backache, leaking amniotic fluid, or vaginal bleeding.

Be healthy and happy from start to the end of delivery.  Pregnancy is the ideal time to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Many women remember that they haven’t been so healthy like pregnancy period.

According to Ayurveda, healthy pregnancy and delivery needs the balance of vaatha dosha, precisely apana vaayu. Follow a satwika diet. Try to take all 6 tastes (sweet, salt, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent) but emphasize on sweet , salty and sour tastes. But, in the last trimester, the diet should be less salty. Ayurveda suggests to follow monthly regime to get a healthy baby and delivery. According to Ayurveda, the ahara rasa ie, nutrition and energy that is obtained from mother’s diet serves three important functions. First is the nourishment of mother herself, second is the growth and development of baby and third is the formation of sthanya (breast milk).

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Monthly regime according to Ayurveda classics

1st, 2nd, 3rd months - milk boiled with sweet taste herbs.

Especially in  3rd  month—njavara rice with milk

4th month—njavara rice with curd or milk,  clarified butter, meat and rice

5th month—same as 4th month +milk and ghee

6th month—same as 4th month + ghee prepared with swadamstra

7th month—ghee prepared with prithak parni

8th month—enema with ghee or thaila Gruel  including ghee and milk

After 7th  month till delivery do gentle oil massage all over the body

9th month—cotton swab dipped in medicated oil should be kept in vagina.

Post-natal care is also well explained in Ayurveda for the health and growth of baby and for the healthy recovery of mother.