Pregnancy can be a challenging time for the mother; to ensure that it is safe for the mother and the baby, mothers should start taking care of their health during and even before pregnancy. If you plan on getting pregnant, then small measures like taking care of yourself are important. Other measures include: avoiding direct and passive smoke, getting rest and optimizing health.
For people who are suffering from chronic diseases, like epilepsy, heart diseases, hypertension, thyroid diseases etc., a thorough check-up from the healthcare provider before conception is important. Moreover, it is important to discuss with your doctor what medication you are on, and whether or not it’s safe for the baby.
What constitutes pre-natal care?
The care of the mother during pregnancy is known as prenatal care. It constitutes the following:
Prenatal vitamins: only with the optimal health of the mother can the baby be healthy. Prenatal vitamins are therefore essential for the mother and the baby. Infact, certain vitamins like those rich in folic acid can be started even when you are planning a pregnancy.
The reason is that folic acid helps in the development of the brain and spinal cord. Lack of folic acid can lead to certain spinal cord defects called Neural Tube Defects (NTDs). NTDs are one of the commonest types of birth defects that can be avoided by optimizing the folic acid levels in the body.
Most prenatal vitamins are available easily as over-the-counter drugs, and they should be started as soon as possible during pregnancy unless countermanded by the doctor. If taking the vitamins makes you queasy, then you can try taking them with a light snack or at night.
Gaining a healthy amount of weight: the right amount of weight gain during pregnancy will help your baby be a healthy size. The weight gain should be optimal for the health of the baby and the mother, as too much or too little may cause health concerns. For mothers who are overweight before getting pregnant, the chances of health problems are high. On the other hand, gaining a healthy and recommended amount of weight will ensure that you have an easier pregnancy and that the baby will be easier to deliver.
Infact, research shows that a healthy and optimal weight gain during pregnancy can lower the chances of the child and the mother facing obesity, and weight-related problems later on in life. So what will be a healthy weight gain? Well, for mothers with a BMI of less than 18.5, a weight gain of 28 to 40 pounds is recommended.
Mothers with a normal BMI (18.5-24.9) should gain 25 to 35 pounds, while overweight mothers with a BMI of 25 to 25.9 should gain only 15 to 25 pounds.
Exercise: Contrary to what the popular theory is about ‘resting during pregnancy’, staying active is by far the most important thing for general health during pregnancy. It can help you control weight, improve circulation, and reduce stress.
Moreover, exercise can help with proper positioning of the baby over the cervix during the last trimester, and improve the muscle tone of the pelvic muscles, thus ensuring a smooth delivery.
Opt for a pregnancy exercise class, pilates or yoga during your pregnancy. You can even walk for 15-20 minutes every day at a pace that suits you. Remember to not overdo it, and stop when you feel tired. Aim for about half-hour of exercise most days of the week.
Routine visits and testing: getting regular check-ups is important for an expectant mother. The visits are far-apart during the first trimester, about every 4th week until the 28th week of pregnancy, and then every 2 weeks until the 36th week, following by weekly visits until delivery.
During these check-ups, the doctor will make a record of your blood pressure, and weight. The shape and size of the fetus can also be measured and ultrasound may be performed during certain visits to ensure that everything is fine.
There are also important blood tests for the mother like glucose screening (done at 12 weeks) to ensure that the mother is not suffering from gestational diabetes. Other important tests can include those for thyroid, screening tests, and ultrasound scans for birth defects.
Common pregnancy discomforts: Pregnancy is a time of many bodily changes. As a result, there are many changes in the body that can cause mild to moderate discomfort to the mother. These can include breast tenderness, nausea, frequent urination, constipation, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, heartburn, backache, abdominal pain, vaginal discharge etc.
The cause for most of these symptoms lies with the hormonal changes during pregnancy. The varying levels of estrogen and progesterone result in the changes experienced during the first and last trimester.
Every woman’s pregnancy is different, but the aforementioned symptoms are considered a normal part of pregnancy. If you are having symptoms that are bothering you, then discuss with your healthcare provider.
To deliver a healthy child, it is important that you take care of yourself and your baby. Book an appointment with a top gynecologist in Lahore, Multan and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.