Matters Of Motherhood
Deciding to expand your family is one of the most significant decisions one makes in a lifetime. A great number of variables come into play. It might be your own choice to walk into this new experience, perhaps you might be swept into this. Regardless of the decision you take, care and guidance is important in embracing the new found emotion of motherhood.
The preconception period (three months prior to pregnancy) is the time to make changes in your lifestyle that can help boost fertility and reduce problems during pregnancy. Preconception health refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years, which is normally between the age of 23 and 31. Women are said to be at the peak of fertility during this period, though it dips as the women crosses the 35 year mark, whereas that is not the case with men.
Preconception health is essential for every woman irrespective of planning a pregnancy. It means living well, being healthy and feeling good about oneself. It is a precious gift to your babies; it means that the parents have taken those important steps to get healthy and ensure a healthier future. Such babies are less likely to be born early (premature) or have low birth weight. They are also more likely to be born without birth defects or other complex conditions.
Women who are overweight or obese are highly prone to complications during pregnancy. They have a high risk of many serious conditions, including complications during pregnancy, heart diseases, pregnancy induced type II diabetes. It is every woman’s prerogative to achieve healthy weight through healthy diet and regular exercise.
After all this, the first and the most important step is to visit your doctor and discuss your medical history, family history and any other pertaining medical conditions. It is important to share any previous pregnancy problems, medicines that one has been taking as well as the vaccinations taken in the past. It is recommended that a woman starts preparing for pregnancy three months prior to conceiving.Taking folic acid supplement everyday while trying to conceive and up to twelve weeks of pregnancy is advised. Folic acid reduces the risk of the baby having a neural tube defect, such as spinal bifida – where the spinal cord of the fetus does develop normally.
Smoking during pregnancy is a big NO and can some cause serious problems for the woman such as difficulty in getting pregnant, separation of placenta from the womb resulting in bleeding, miscarriage and is also linked to a variety of problems to the baby like premature birth, low birth weight and breathing problems in the first six months of life. No level of alcohol has been proved safe for women trying to get pregnant and moreover it can reduce chances of conceiving. It is a well established fact that drinking excessive alcohol can cause birth defects, particularly when the organs of the fetus are developing. There is also risk of mental retardation linked to alcoholism.
It is important to talk to the doctor about the medications to be avoided and the ones that are safe to be consumed. Some are completely safe while others may be harmful. Medicines used to treat infections, epilepsy, blood clots, and some cancers can be risky. It is important to inform the healthcare provider about the pregnancy. Do not stop any medicines that you already are on till you speak to your doctor. Also avoid new drugs as most of them have not been tested for their impact on pregnant women and the fetus. While, what is safe is acceptable dosage of paracetamol and the golden rule here is to always discuss and check with your obstetrician.
TESTS AND SCANS
During pregnancy it is important to undergo certain prescribed tests to ensure the safety and proper development of the fetus. These tests are an important part of the antenatal Care and help protect the health of the mother and the baby throughout the pregnancy.
During pregnancy, hemoglobin in the blood is important for transportation of sufficient oxygen to both the mother and the fetus. If there is an insufficiency in hemoglobin it is called anemia. Most pregnant women experience some level of anemia. Anemia in pregnant women can cause the fetus to receive little oxygen to support normal development. To prevent these problems, the hemoglobin levels tests should be taken before and during pregnancy. A balanced diet with fruits and green leafy vegetables helps to prevent anemia.
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose). Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health. It is generally diagnosed between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Thus it is important to take an Oral Glucose Challenge Test (OGCT). Normal blood glucose levels peak within 30 to 60 minutes after drinking the glucose solution. A higher than normal blood glucose level does not always mean you have gestational diabetes. In case of an abnormal OGCT, an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) is conducted.
Urine tests provide your doctor with the important knowledge of diseases and conditions that could potentially affect the mother or the fetus. A sample of the urine will be collected during your prenatal visit. The urine tests detect sugar, protein, bacteria, ketone (fat broken down for energy instead of carbohydrates).
The commonly known test during pregnancy is the Ultrasound which shows you and your doctor the position, movements and development of your baby. The first scan is done at 6-7 weeks of gestation will check the baby’s heart beat. The nuchal translucency scan or NT scan is conducted between the 11th week and 14th week. In most cases, this is combined with a blood test- Double marker or First Trimester Screening ( FTS) for increasing accuracy.
During the second trimester anomaly scan is performed in the 20th week. In the third trimester growth scan is performed during the 30th week of pregnancy to check for the baby’s size, amniotic fluid amount and the blood flow adequacy to the baby. It is repeated around the 37th week of pregnancy.
- Ensure you follow a balanced diet.
- It is important to include high fiber food during pregnancy.
- At least two fruits a day should be a default inclusion and it is important to consume it as a fruit and not in the form of juice. Fresh Fruit juices or tetra pack only increase your sugar levels and do not provide you with the necessary important nutrients.
- Most importantly, it is a mandate to consume at least 3 liters of water per day to keep Urinary tract infections away .
Food to be AVOIDED
- Junk and fried food.
- Sweets, chocolates, pastries.
- Excess rice, excess ghee/butter.
- Juice (Both Fresh & Tetra Pack).
Physical activity and exercise can help relieve stress, anxiety, depression. It helps in maintaining a healthy weight, helps you sleep better, boost your energy levels, boost the immune system, build stamina which is necessary during labour. Heavy activity & exercise maybe be avoided during the first few weeks of pregnancy and in case of complications, as advised by your obstetrician
Activity’s that are Good to Do Activities to be avoided Walking Aerobics, Zumba Routine activities like cleaning your house Lifting weight, Climbing steps Lamaze ( advised and helpful during labour) Contact Sports Yoga & Breathing exercise.
|Activity’s that are Good to Do||Activities to be avoided|
|Routine activities like cleaning your house||Lifting weight, Climbing steps|
|Lamaze ( advised and helpful during labour)||Contact Sports|
|Yoga & Breathing exercise|
Article written by
Dr. Anita K Mohan
Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital