Staying healthy should be every woman’s top priority. Some circumstance, though, requires more attention, and such is the period of pregnancy.
This is a period where extra care needs to be taken to ensure a healthy nine months for both the mother and baby. Everything during this period should be done with moderation, no excesses are allowed. If you follow these 10 tips to staying healthy during pregnancy, you would avail yourself the chance to a healthy you and a healthy child.
1. Attend regular antenatal sessions: Having visited the doctor and confirmed your pregnancy, the doctor would draw out a schedule of antenatal visits, where your pregnancy will be monitored till delivery. Some women avoid going for antenatal classes probably because of the huge crowd in most government hospitals in this part of the world (Nigeria). Well, that shouldn’t discourage you from attending your scheduled visits, because discussing with your doctor about your pregnancy would help identify danger signs if any, which would, therefore, be managed appropriately. Your antenatal visits would also give you the opportunity to know how well your baby is growing.
2. Exercise regularly: A pregnant woman benefits from regular physical exercises. You can exercise at any stage of pregnancy. For instance, walking which is one of the best types of exercise for pregnant women can be done regularly at every stage. However, you should consult your doctor before exercising, especially if you are having a high-risk pregnancy. Exercise has many health benefits for pregnant women, as it can:
• Improve your mood
• Control excess weight gain
• Improve blood circulation
• Help sleep deeper and longer
• Help shed weight after baby arrives
• Prepares your pelvic floor muscles for delivery
Some exercises you can engage in during pregnancy include; brisk walking, swimming, yoga and pilates. Avoid high-impact exercises that can increase your risk of falls such as jogging, running etc.
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3. Rest: While exercise is essential, rest is also very important. It is good for a pregnant woman to create time each day to rest. Taking fifteen to twenty minutes rest at least once a day is very beneficial, it keeps you in a relaxed mood. It also helps your muscles rest. Always make sure your thoughts stay positive while resting.
4. Eat Well: Eating a balanced diet is the way to go for a healthy pregnancy. Your growing foetus needs all the nutrient it can get from your food. The type of food you eat determines how healthy your baby will be when born. Eating for two as most pregnant women would say is a myth, you don’t really need to eat excessively as this may make you gain more weight than you envisaged and may pose a health risk for your baby. An extra 300 calories a day (half of a sandwich and a glass of skim milk) might be enough to help you meet a steady weight gain, especially during your second and third trimester according to mayo clinic (See Daily Calorie Calculator). Try to eat foods that include:
- Fruits such as oranges, watermelon etc
- Vegetables such as carrots, African spinach (green), pumpkin(ugu), water leaf, etc
- Protein foods like chicken, turkey, beans, fish, eggs, nuts
- Whole grains such as millet, oatmeal, brown rice, wheat bread, pasta, etc.
5. Take your routine medication regularly: When the doctor confirms that you are pregnant, you will be placed on supplements immediately (these supplements are routinely given at every antenatal visit), these medications include – folic acid, vitamins, minerals, iron supplements etc. Anti-malaria medication may also be given. These supplements protect the baby from neural defects that can lead to physical disability, prevents anaemia in pregnancy, provides your baby with the right amount of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy growth.
6. Stay away from alcoholic drinks: Alcohol is easily passed via the blood stream and umbilical cord to the baby, so imagine your baby (still in the uterus) taking every bit of alcohol you ingest, I’m sure you wouldn’t want that. According to the Centre for Disease Control, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioural and intellectual disability for your unborn child. It will benefit mothers to abstain totally from alcohol during pregnancy.
7. Avoid over the counter prescription drugs: Pregnancy is a period where you need to be extra careful with your habits. If you usually do over-the-counter drugs, during pregnancy, it should be avoided because you never know which drugs may harm your child. Talk to your doctor if you must take any medication.
8. Wear simple and comfortable clothing: You wouldn’t want to stall blood flow by wearing clothes that fit so tightly. Low-heeled shoes are preferable, as they make you comfortable. Firm bras that give adequate support to your enlarging breast should be worn.
9. Daily baths are required: Never skip a day without having your bath, infact you can have your bath as many times as is required in order to stay clean for you and the baby. Personal hygiene during this period is of vital importance to avoid infection. Be careful to avoid falls in the bathroom, you should wear slippers or place a rough mat in the bathtub with adequate friction to avoid slipping.
10. Sex is important: You and your spouse still need to share sexual intimacy during pregnancy until you deliver, all you need is staying in a comfortable position. However, sex should still be done in moderation. While some women may have reduced desire for sex during pregnancy, don’t let this have a toll on your sexual life. Exercise more and always be in a happy mood as it will help improve your libido. Talk to your doctor about sex if you are undergoing a high-risk pregnancy.
Stay happy and positive always, I wish you a healthy 9 months.