"Being a mother" is one of the high up ambitions in every women's life after their marriage; a little baby boy or girl will lighten up your life with smiles, hopes, and love. However, along with excitement, you own hundreds of responsibilities. Your baby begins to grow up from a small single cell to a healthy baby by consuming nutrition as well as love and affection that you award him while he is in your uterus. Here are some super simple but very important early care pregnancy tips which lead to a healthy, smart baby and good prenatal and postnatal maternal health.
Confirm your pregnancy
The first thing to do when you come to know about your pregnancy is to confirm it. Keep in your mind that there are some pitfalls regarding the home pregnancy tests; urine hCG test which is commonly used is sensitive up to 75% to 91%. That means, sometimes your positive result can be a false positive. So, it's better to double check your pregnancy test along with your last menstrual period. The fetal development begins in the third week after the last menstrual period. The symptoms of pregnancy such as nausea, missed periods, increased urinary frequency, combined with a positive urinary or pregnancy blood test are usually sufficient confirmation of a pregnancy. But it requires a few more time to develop these symptoms. For pregnant women, it is recommended to undergo a 'dating ultrasound pregnancy scan' during early stage of pregnancy. This scan confirms the pregnancy and accurately dates it. Consult the Gynecologist to confirm pregnancy and get guidance about next steps.
Follow the below early care pregnancy tips to remain happy, motivated and to have a healthy baby.
Be relax and avoid stress
Everybody become anxious when they got to know that they are pregnant. Normal emotional changes occurring during pregnancy may become exaggerated and may become a problem for mother and baby, especially during early pregnancy stage. Women with previous serious mental health problems are at high risk of a mood-swings during their pregnancy. Pregnancy, childbirth and the stresses of life as a new parent, may destabilize conditions that had previously been under control. The simplest pregnancy care tips is to be relaxed and avoid stress. You may take simple measures such as talking to your partner and family, enjoying some leisure time activities, get rid of your busy life etc. Keep in mind that your baby needs a happy, relaxed and healthy mother. So be one.
Folic acid supplementation
Folic acid is an important vitamin supplement that is recommended for mother to be. One of the important pregnancy care tips is to use folic acid, as early as possible, even before pregnancy and up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The recommended dose of folic acid is 400 micrograms per day. The consumption of folic acid has shown to reduce the occurrence of birth defects of brain, spine or spinal cord of your baby. If you are at a higher risk (e.g. previously affected child, women with epilepsy, diabetes, and obesity), a dose of 5 micrograms per day is recommended. Please consult the pregnancy doctor to know more details about frequency and quantity of folic acid you need to take.
Consult the doctor
When you believe you are pregnant, it is recommended to visit the pregnancy doctor. The doctor may conduct a few more tests to confirm pregnancy. The doctor will take a detailed history, examine you and perform a series of routine investigations in order that appropriate care can be offered. It is recommended to consult the Gynecologist before you reach 8-weeks pregnancy mark. The visit during early pregnancy stage will help to get appropriate advice on maintaining healthy mother and baby. The doctor will also help to identify any risk factors which may negatively impact on the pregnancy outcome.
Poor nutrition in pregnant women may lead to the delivery of low birth weight babies. Improving the nutritional status and maternal weight can have a great positive effect on the birth outcome. For a mother to be, a weight gain of around 11 to 16 kg is considered good during pregnancy. You should consume an additional amount of nutritious food to achieve the weight gain. A nutritious, well-balanced diet includes, foods rich in protein, dairy foods (which supply calcium), starchy foods, and plenty of fruit and vegetables that supply vitamins and fiber. It is best to avoid a lot of sugary, salty, or fatty foods. Food such as undercooked meats and eggs, pates, soft cheeses, shellfish, raw fish, and under pasteurized milk should be avoided. Such food is a potential source of some microorganisms that could lead to adverse pregnancy outcome. So, eat healthy and nutritious food. Consult the Gynecologist for more advice on type and frequency of the food you need to take. One of the healthy pregnancy care tips is to eat nutritious food and have a well-balanced diet.
For a mother to be, it is highly recommended to do moderate intensity exercises. The exercise helps to improve cardiovascular and muscular fitness. Best exercises are low-impact aerobics, swimming, brisk walking, and jogging. Contact, high-impact and vigorous sports which may involve the risk of abdominal trauma should be avoided. Scuba diving may result in fetal birth defects and fetal decompression disease and, therefore, is not recommended. Exercise is also associated with higher self-esteem and confidence. So if you want to have healthy pregnancy, get your tack pants and shoes out and start doing the moderate workout.
Assistance for preexisting medical conditions
During the early period of pregnancy, the developing baby, placenta, and other physiological changes produce and release increasing quantities of hormones and other substances into the maternal circulation. These trigger a cascade of events that transform the mother's heart, lungs, and kidneys. Lung or cardiac conditions, hypertension may get affected. A chronic maternal disease may restrict the fetal growth. You may have consulted your doctor about this before your pregnancy. But sometimes things may get bad after your pregnancy. Consult the Gynecologist immediately if you do have such issues. The doctor will help you to sort things out and advice for a healthy pregnancy.
Traveling for mother to be can be a tricky proposition. If there are no identified complications or concerns with your pregnancy, it is generally safe to travel during your pregnancy. The ideal time to travel during pregnancy is the second trimester. If you're planning on hitting the road, learn how to stay comfortable and educate yourself about which activities are safe and which you should avoid. Anywhere you have planned to go, just find if there is an easily accessible healthcare facility. Always keep your maternity reports with you. Some women experience morning symptoms since very much early of the pregnancy and these symptoms usually exaggerated due to traveling. Take appropriate precautions like buckle-up the seat belts, remain seated when bus or train is moving, use appropriate rails while walking etc. It is also recommended to break the long journey and keep the travel time of around five to six hours. One of the simple pregnancy care tips is to use rest stops to take a short walk and do the stretches to keep the blood circulating. Most of the airlines allow pregnant women to travel through their eighth month. Traveling during the ninth month is usually allowed if there is permission from your pregnancy doctor. Air travel becomes more challenging due to narrow aisles, smaller bathrooms, and turbulence that could shake the plane. Take precautions like wearing a seat-belt, holding to seat backs while navigating the aisle. It is highly advisable to consult your pregnancy doctor about your travel plans and mode of transport.
It is completely OK to have your normal physical relationship with your partner during early pregnancy. There are no restrictions or proven pros or cons regarding sexual relations during pregnancy. Sex during pregnancy does not harm the baby. The amniotic sac and the strong muscles of the uterus protect the baby, and the thick mucus plug that seals the cervix helps guard against infection. If you have a normal, low-risk pregnancy, sexual stimulation or orgasm cannot start labor or cause a miscarriage. Some women may experience a reduction in their sexual drive due to pregnancy-related medical conditions like nausea, vomiting and breast pain. Some may feel more desire due to hormonal changes in the body. Both conditions are normal and need not worry about. Remember, that there's more to physical intimacy than sex. If you don't feel like having sex or your practitioner has advised you not to, you can still hug, kiss, and caress each other. There are a few circumstances which may lead to modifying your sex activity or refrain from sex altogether during all or part of your pregnancy. One of the pregnancy care tips is not to hesitate or feel shy for asking about your sexual relations and desires to your doctor. If you have cramping during or just after the sex which doesn't go away after a few minutes, or you have pain or bleeding after the sex, consult the doctor immediately. Have a comfortable and a safe sex and do not get too creative. Let your partner know if anything feels uncomfortable.
Smoking and drinking
Most often, you are not a woman who is addicted to smoking. However, unfortunately, you could be a passive smoker. You may get exposed to others unfiltered cigarette smoke which probably is more harmful than active smoking. Both active and passive smoking during pregnancy has an adverse effect on your growing baby. You should strictly stop both active and passive smoking. One of the most important pregnancy care tips is to avoid going to the places where smoking is allowed. Ask your partner to stop smoking if not all-together but at least when you are around.
Consumption of alcohol is also dangerous for growing baby. When you drink, alcohol passes through the placenta to your growing fetus. Because a developing baby's body breaks down alcohol much more slowly than an adult's, a fetus's blood alcohol level can rise much higher than its mother's and stay elevated longer. The damage can be long-lasting and severe, ranging from mental retardation to heart damage. Resist the urge to take an even small sip, even for a toast, because occasional drinking may be harmful too. When you lift your glass, make sure it's filled with grape juice, not wine.
You may need explanation and reassurance to help you cope with a wide variety of symptoms, due to physical changes during pregnancy. One of the most important pregnancy care tips is to make sure that the information you get is of high quality, and evidence-based. Be aware of maternity rights and benefits, female genital mutilation, screening for your baby's problems, place of birth and labour, pain relief in labour, breastfeeding, care of the new baby and newborn screening. Also get educated about red flag symptoms such as severe back pain, vaginal bleeding, high fever, intractable vomiting, acute shortness of breath etc. You can also consult the pregnancy doctor for advice on all the issues.
Social / family support and motivation
You will be agitated, nervous and curious regarding what is going to happen in coming months, especially if this is your first pregnancy. The good interpersonal relationship between your partner and family will make you relax and motivated. Don't be hesitate to ask your doubts to your grandmother, mother, aunt whoever is experienced. Also, your partner will be there with you as always. Smile and be happy. Remember that you are going to be a great mother. Try to interact with each other more frequently. Share your thoughts and experiences you are going through. This will help you to be motivated and remain energetic. During your last few months of pregnancy, it is advised to always accompany someone. This will help you in any medical emergency. Be positive, listen to some motivational stuff and remain healthy.
When to announce your pregnancy
Announcing your pregnancy is a bit happy as well as an exciting event. This is completely depending on your wish, culture, social background, family support and maternal pregnancy-related conditions. The risk of miscarriage is usually reduced after the first 12 weeks and most women usually wait up to this point. But you will not be able to hide your morning sickness until 12 weeks and early pregnancy may be difficult without others support. One of the handy pregnancy tips is to announce to different groups such as family, friends, colleagues, employer etc. at different times. Take your own call on how early to announce your pregnancy. You may need support from others but remember that you are the only one your baby looks towards. So, whatever helps you and your baby to remain happy and healthy, should be done.
Pregnancy is a time of great excitement and some uncertainty. The physical changes experienced by the woman during her pregnancy add to this. You may need explanation and reassurance to help you cope with a wide variety of symptoms, including nausea, heartburn, constipation, dizziness, swelling, backache, abdominal discomfort and headaches. Mostly, these represent the physiological adaptation of your body to the pregnancy and are often called the 'minor complaints' of pregnancy. Use these early care pregnancy tips to make your pregnancy journey smooth. Don't be nervous; just be happy and pay your attention to your baby, always be in touch with your pregnancy doctor. This will be lead to a "happy mother" with a happy and healthy baby.
Dr. Varshali Mali is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist. She did her MBBS from Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Pune, and DNB (Obstetrics & Gynecology) from Jehangir Hospital, Pune. She has a number of years of experience working as a gynecologist, pregnancy doctor, and lecturer. Currently, through her clinic located at Life Republic township near Marunji, she provides gynecology and pregnancy care solutions to the women around Hinjewadi, Wakad and nearby area in Pune. In her patient community, she is known for her welcome nature, smiley face, supportive attitude, intelligence and in-depth knowledge about gynecology and pregnancy. Mother of two daughters, she believes that motherhood is the best gift one can get. As her contribution, she puts her best efforts to make the pregnancy journey most enjoyable for her patients.
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