page contents

Library

The gestational period, the duration of a woman’s pregnancy, is also sometimes referred to as the prenatal or the antenatal period. Special tips are given to women at this stage to ensure healthy development of the fetus and to prepare the body for labor and child birth. The fetus is entirely dependent on the mother at this stage, gleaning nutrition from her body. Therefore, it is important that the to-be mother eat well and wisely, to ensure not just her fitness but her unborn child’s health too.

Regular prenatal checks are important during the entire duration of pregnancy.  Babies born to women who receive no prenatal care are three times more likely to be under-weight.

Prenatal care involves changes in food and eating habits, lifestyle changes and environmental stressors and healthcare to ensure the very best for the growing baby.

  1. Health care:

There are many health care procedures in place for optimal prenatal care:

  • Regular vaccines and flu shots are a must as pregnancy reduces the strength of the body’s immune system.
  • It is best to consult with a doctor before starting and/or stopping any medication, that you have been taking from before you became pregnant.
  • X-rays and CT Scans need to be avoided religiously as these rays can harm the unborn child.
  • A good dose of multivitamins to keep up the strength and stamina in the body is a good bet and will be recommended by your gynecologist.
  • Ensure that every care is taken to visit the doctor all through the prenatal phase, as and when the doctor schedules a visit for regular checkups. This will ensure there are no surprises and the baby is growing well. If any abnormalities are detected, a well-informed decision and quick action can be taken on time.

 

  1. Food and eating habits:
  • The most important tip here is water consumption. Every pregnant woman needs to drink as much as 2-3 liters water each day.
  • It is important to include as many different colored fruits and vegetables in daily meals as possible. Each color represents a different set of nutrients in the fruits and the vegetables; therefore, adding five different colors may be a better idea than taking two servings of the same fruit or vegetable.
  • Whole grains and fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are better choices than their frozen counterparts.
  • Calcium and iron rich foods are extremely important in the prenatal phase as they ensure full term pregnancies and healthy babies.
  • Handling food properly is a must. Washing it thoroughly and/or cooking it properly before consumption are the best ways to handle food safely.
  • Avoiding fish like mackerel, swordfish and sharks is better as they tend to contain high levels of mercury. Opt for smaller fishes.

 

  1. Lifestyle changes:

A few lifestyle changes may be required for most pregnant women. It is best to remember that these changes, though taxing, are for a healthy child and a better you.

  • Kicking the butt (cigarettes), ditching the drinks (alcohol) and quitting the drugs are all a must.
  • Regular exercising (unless strictly instructed against by the doctor) is a good idea.
  • Weight gain, but healthily, is very crucial. Excessive weight gain might be a warning signal of an underlying health concern, and should be looked into.
  • Hot baths, tubs and saunas are best avoided during the prenatal months as they increase the chances of contracting infections.
  • Ensuring a regular sleep routine with enough hours rest is helpful for your tired body.

 

  1. Environmental stressors:
  • Avoid chemicals, whether it be at the work place or at home. Their fumes may be nasty for the unborn baby.
  • Infections spread by pets (e.g. toxoplasmosis through cats) are best kept at bay. Talk to your doctor if you have a pet and how much contact is ok.
  • Frequent hand washing before eating, cooking, after using the washroom, etc. goes a long way in averting diseases.

Care must also be taken to limit the amount of work you do. While it is okay for the pregnant women to work till the last minute before delivery, the work must not be too strenuous and must not bring her in contact with hazardous chemicals. For women using laptops, care must be taken to keep the laptops away (or any other thing really) on the bulging tummy, lest it causes problems with the uterus.

There are also a number of blood tests (double markers, triple markers and quadruple markers) and sonographies that will be done to help the doctor gain insights into the growth of the baby.

Along with all of these, reading books or watching videos to keep yourself informed about the changes happening in your body, is also a good idea.

 

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

About the Author

Dr. Rachita Narsaria

Dr. Rachita Narsaria

Poet, bookworm, tech-worm, nature lover, entrepreneur