Pregnant? Congratulations! Pregnancy is a time when your body and you are going through many changes. On top of all this, it is also a time when you get tons of advice from all sides - relatives, friends, websites, doctors etc. etc - information bombardment for sure. You might feel overwhelmed by all this information especially if you are a first time mom-to-be.
So much going on and so much information! You might get lost and confused. Some common sense wisdom to always keep in mind. Here are 10 nuggets in a nutshell that pregnant Indian women should always remember.
Be in control of the medical-stuff
- Get a good doctor. Get leads from your friends and family. Ask prodding questions about the doctor’s caesarian track record to avoid unnecessary complications resulting from mercenary motivations. It is important that the doctor is experienced and you trust the doctor. Make sure that the doctor does not pressurize you into unnecessary tests and procedures. This is where staying well informed can help.
- When in doubt about anything, check with your doctor rather than getting swept by advice from relatives or a website.
- Keep a tab on the medical tests and put them down on your calendar.
- Listen to your doctor. Take the tests, medicines, nutritional supplements that your doctor recommends. Do not second-guess the doctor. If you are not sure of your doctor, you could look for another appropriate doctor. But make sure that it is a well thought, well researched and well discussed (discuss with your spouse) decision.
Listen to your instincts and your body
- Remember that pregnancy is not a medical condition but a natural phenomenon. Having a baby is natural and has been happening since times immemorial. Get the medical help if needed, read up and stay well informed, but after a while listen to your gut.
- Stay focused and calm and you will be better able to listen to that inner voice. Meditating can also help to tune-in with yourself and the baby inside you.
- If you have a normal pregnancy, you can pretty much continue the same kind and level of exercise, that you were doing before you got pregnant, other than lifting heavy loads.
- When in doubt, check with your doctor.
- Walking and swimming are safe exercises.
- Exercise can help you stay healthy and help alleviate pregnancy symptoms like nausea, heartburn, mood swings, constipation etc. It will also tone your muscles and help in an easier labour and delivery.
Eat healthy and listen to your body
- Of course, eat a balanced and nutritious diet. But remember that the extra energy that is required is only 300 kcal/day and any consumption above this will only add empty calories and weight to the mother. The usual Indian advice is to eat for two but we must keep in mind that it is not two grownups we have to eat for. It is for a baby that is 3 - 4 kgs in weight. So focus on nutrition, rather than the quantity of the food you eat.
- Different nutrients are more important at different times in pregnancy. In the first few months of pregnancy, the baby’s organs are being formed and it is important that you eat folic acid supplements. As the baby grows, you should focus on protein, calcium and iron to support the baby’s rapid growth.
- The best is to eat a well-balanced meal and listen to your body. The Indian ‘thali’ concept of a well-balanced nutritious meal works well in pregnancy as well.
- Make sure that you take the nutritional supplements (folic acid, iron etc.) that your doctor recommends.Do check with your doctor about these.
- More on healthy foods and meal planning
- Keep yourself mentally and physically active. As long as you have a normal pregnancy, it is important that you continue your daily life. If you are working outside the house, continue working or if you work at home, continue those chores (other than lifting very heavy objects).
- Being busy will keep you physically active. It will also keep you healthy and help in an easy delivery. And it also helps you be mentally active and keeps you happy and away from being too preoccupied by your pregnancy symptoms which will only worsen the impact.
Make sure you get sufficient rest
- You will need all the energy and fortitude during childbirth and when the baby is born. So make sure that you get enough sleep. It will also ensure that you are relaxed and will further reinforce good health in you and your baby.
- In your last couple of months, make sure that you can steal a nap in the afternoons as well. This can help in maximizing the blood flow to the baby. Even if you work, try and sneak a quick nap in the car.
NO to alcohol and smoking
- They are harmful for your baby and you. Your baby might suffer for the rest of her life or might not even survive if you overdo this.
- There is no conclusive research on what amounts are acceptable. Meanwhile, it is best to avoid alcohol and smoking while pregnant.
- The first trimester especially is a delicate phase because the baby’s organs are being formed. Stay away from strong harmful chemicals. Read what is safe and what is not.
- Remember when in doubt, check with your doctor.
Prepare for the baby
- Read up about pregnancy and childbirth and enjoy the baby shopping. But rather than being consumed by medical information and websites, or maternity and baby shopping, make sure that you are also relaxed and mentally prepared for the baby. Learn about baby care and breastfeeding so that you are prepared when the baby comes.
- Keep your spouse involved. Working as a team will make it easier for you folks to undertake the challenges of pregnancy, childbirth and life after the baby. For example, get him to read the pregnancy sections on Parentree.
- Stay informed about your labour and delivery options.
Stay in the moment and enjoy
Last but not the least enjoy this special time. Being in the moment and taking each moment as it comes, will also help you stay calm and relaxed - good for you and your baby!