Pregnancy is a beautiful journey. Being a unique and a life-changing experience, it brings immense joy and excitement, not only to you but your entire family.
Your body will go through a world of changes during pregnancy. Taking precautions right from the beginning - your posture, exercises, diet, sleep, and stress management are the simplest, yet the most important things to take care of. To make sure your pregnancy is filled with a bundle of sweet surprises and memories, it is important to know what to do and what to avoid, during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring (the young ones of living organisms) develop inside you. In other words, it is the period in which a fetus (baby-to-be, that forms after 8 weeks of conception) develops inside your womb. The womb is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in your lower abdomen. Pregnancy usually lasts for about 40 weeks (9 months) and is divided into 3 primary segments or trimesters:
1st trimester: Week 1 to the end of week 12
2nd trimester: Week 13 to the end of week 26
3rd trimester: Week 27 till the end of your pregnancy
Keep the following 7 dos and don’ts in your mind while you’re pregnant and stick to them.
Pregnancy Do’s & Don’ts
1. Maintain a healthy weight to avoid complications. Eat smartly during your pregnancy. Weight gain can increase the risk of health problems in your baby, and cause complications at birth.
Your diet should be full of nutrients to support your growing fetus. During your first trimester, you are required to consume only an additional 100 calories per day. By the end of your third trimester, this need increases to about 300 to 500 calories per day.
Eat bread, whole-grain cereals, fruits, green vegetables, cheese, yogurt, nuts, fish, lean meats, soy products, and foods rich in vitamin A, C, B6, B12, and D.
Avoid excessive consumption of aerated or caffeinated beverages. Cut down on sugary and fried foods. Stay away from unpasteurized milk, alcoholic beverages, and smoking.
2. Take your multivitamins on time. Prenatal (care that you receive throughout your pregnancy) vitamins are essential for the healthy growth and development of your baby. Most often, pregnant women require extra doses of folic acid, calcium, and iron during their pregnancy, obtained through multivitamins. Your doctor can suggest multivitamins that are best suited for you but be careful not to over-consume them.
Folic acid prevents birth-related defects and behavioural disorders.
Get at least 1000 mg of calcium when you’re pregnant to support your baby’s developing bones and muscles. Discuss with your doctor if you have gastric or acidity episodes after taking calcium supplements.
Pregnant women need double the amount of iron that nonpregnant women need. Iron helps in making haemoglobin, the protein that supplies oxygen to your body’s tissues.
3. Include kegel exercises in your workout routine. Kegel or pelvic floor muscles are the muscles present in your vaginal region that play an important role during childbirth. If your kegel muscles are not strong, you will find it difficult to bear the pressure and push your child, in case of a normal delivery.
Kegel exercises will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles that will allow flexible movements during childbirth and help control your urination.
You can start doing kegel exercises as soon you find out that you are pregnant. Continue them through your pregnancy and do them even after your baby is born.
Doing about five sets of kegel exercises each day is recommended. Check with your doctor what exercises can you do and if you need any additional support while performing them.
Other exercises that you can try are knee-joint exercises, back exercises, and abdominal exercises, after consultation with your doctor.
4. Mind your mental health for a happy baby. Your hormonal changes can take you for an emotional ride during pregnancy that you might not be ready for. Making peace with your mind is very important to reduce stress, beat negative emotions, and shun frustration. Stressful conditions will impact your baby’s health and can make pregnancy bitter.
Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), and yoga to keep your mind and body calm.
Yoga poses recommended during pregnancy are - Marjariasana (Cat Stretch), Konasana-I & 2 (Standing Straight and Sideways, Bending One Arm), Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), and Baddha konasana (Butterfly Pose). Check with a certified yoga teacher to learn how to perform each of these poses.
Maintain a pregnancy journal. Write what you did, each day or week or month, and put photographs and pictures. Journaling is a method of recording things and moments by way of writing or drawing or through pictures. This can help you keep calm and stay positive.
5. Don’t forget your dentist while you’re pregnant. Routine oral checkups and dental cleanings will not cause a tooth infection; something that was believed for ages and ages.
Regular dental visits will help you avoid serious complications that you would have not identified by yourself at home.
Good oral hygiene also reduces the risk of dental infections in the future in your baby.
Getting an X-ray done, taking pain medications, or local anesthesia for dental problems during pregnancy can be done after consultation with your gynaecologist. Make sure to mention to your dentist that you are pregnant while undergoing any dental treatment.
6. Stay away from those allergy-causing symptoms. While most women get affected by seasonal allergies during their pregnancy, the good news is that the symptoms don’t have an impact on your baby.
An allergy is your body’s way to fight foreign irritants or substances (allergens) that you might be in contact with, like dust, viruses, bacteria, pollen, pet dander, mites, etc.
While some allergic medications are safe during pregnancy, it is advisable to avoid the triggers and medications should be taken only after consultation with your gynaecologist.
Most often, allergic reactions cause inflammation and swelling of your nasal passages that start producing extra mucus (slippery, stingy fluid in your nose that traps allergens) to get rid of the allergens. Over-the-counter (OTC) nasal sprays and drops can be used to ease your symptoms.
A type of allergy known as ‘rhinitis of pregnancy’ is very common during pregnancy and produces the same symptoms as regular seasonal allergies, like a runny or blocked nose, headache, swelling of the nose, nausea, vomiting, etc. It can last for more than 6 weeks and can occur during the early stages of the first trimester and last days of the third trimester. Talk to your doctor if you have these symptoms and take only prescribed medicines.
7. Travel but with extra precautions. Traveling when you are pregnant calls for a lot of planning and caution. Whether it is by bus, car, plane, or on a ship, be extra careful while traveling during pregnancy.
Commercial air travel before week 36 of pregnancy is considered safe, only if you have a healthy pregnancy. During air travel, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Avoid eating food given on the flight and take a few walks to keep your blood flowing.
If you’re traveling by car, wear the seat belt at all times. Do not drive for more than 5 to 6 hours a day. Keep your seat as far away from the steering wheel as possible; take breaks and stretch your legs. Wear loose-fitting clothing and stay hydrated.
If you’re on a cruise during your pregnancy, make sure there is a doctor/health care professional on board the ship at all times. Carry medicines to prevent or treat seasickness. Wash your hands regularly and avoid stale food, especially salads.
Pregnancy is a 9-month long journey that needs a lot of planning, attention, and care. These are a few dos and don’ts that apply to all pregnant women during each pregnancy. Talk to your gynaecologist/obstetrician regularly about your health, developments and understand what to do and what not to do at each stage.
Stay positive, take a lot of rest, talk to your baby and enjoy every moment of your pregnancy. Remember, an overall healthy lifestyle prevents risks of pregnancy complications and helps maintain the health of you and your baby.
1. Koletzko B, Cremer M, Flothkötter M, et al. Diet and Lifestyle Before and During Pregnancy - Practical Recommendations of the Germany-wide Healthy Start - Young Family Network. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2018;78(12):1262-1282. doi:10.1055/a-0713-1058
2. Acog.org. 2021. Travel During Pregnancy. [online] Available at: <https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/travel-during-pregnancy> [Accessed 27 January 2021].
3. ACAAI Public Website. 2021. Pregnancy and Allergies. [online] Available at: <https://acaai.org/allergies/who-has-allergies-and-why/pregnancy-and-allergies> [Accessed 27 January 2021].
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