Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts:
For most women, pregnancy is an exciting time of your life. But it can also be challenging.
Unfortunately, not all moms-to-be sail through pregnancy. Some spend the first-trimester battling morning sickness, bouts of nausea and vomiting, which can last all day or for a couple of hours after waking up. Others struggle with heartburn, constipation or excessive bloating and gas.
If yours is an unplanned pregnancy, you’re possibly replaying the past month trying to determine whether you had too much to drink, eaten foods you shouldn’t have, or did something that could negatively affect your baby. You’ve likely Googled a ton of articles related to pregnancy and are desperately waiting for that first scan to confirm your baby is perfectly healthy.
Whether you’re trying for a baby or just found out you’re pregnant, you might need to make a few lifestyle changes. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to help give your baby the best start in life.
Seven things to do during pregnancy
1. Eat a balanced diet
As we’ve already mentioned, everyone’s pregnancy journey is different. While some women are ravenous during their first trimester, others can battle to keep anything down. A diet of crackers, ginger biscuits and Rooibos tea are not uncommon between six and nine weeks, often when nausea is at its worst. But as the weeks pass the smell of a tuna sandwich or Russian sausage won’t send you running for the toilet.
And don’t fret if you’re losing weight. Once the sight and smell of food become tantalizing, eat up. But you don’t need to play catch-up. As long as you eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, proteins and fats, your baby is going to be just fine.
If you experience odd cravings, go with it. While gherkins dunked in ice-cream might not sound delicious now, it could become your ultimate night-time snack.
2. Take prenatal vitamins
If there’s any prenatal vitamin you should be taking its folic acid. Having enough folic acid in your body can help prevent major birth defects such as spina bifida. While it’s advised you take folic acid throughout your pregnancy, the first three months of development are crucial.
Ideally, you want to be taking the vitamin before you begin trying for a baby. But in the case of an unplanned pregnancy, don’t stress. As soon as you know, start taking the vitamin.
Your doctor will also recommend you take a prenatal multivitamin during your pregnancy. Remember, your body is hard at work, forming a human being. Much of the goodness you consume is diverted to your little one. So, taking a prenatal multivitamin gives you that added boost you need.
3. Exercise regularly
It is vital that you keep active during pregnancy. Staying fit and strong makes pregnancy and birth easier. It’s also known to help combat moodiness, excessive weight gain, and insomnia.
While we advise you exercise during pregnancy, don’t pick up any new sports or physical activities. For example, if you were running long distance regularly, it’s quite okay to continue with your training programme. Your doctor will likely recommend you slow down towards the end of your pregnancy. But, if you’ve not run more than 5km now is not the time to start trying.
Great exercises for pregnancy are:
- Yoga (just not Bikram or hot yoga)
Better yet, join a preggy bellies class. It’s a great way to meet other expecting moms and share your experiences. More importantly, it can help to reduce that feeling of isolation that many moms-to-be experience.
Speak to your doctor before incorporating an exercise routine into your day. Our Welwitschia obstetricians will guide you on the best fitness regime for you and your unborn baby.
4. Gain a healthy weight
But what do we mean by healthy weight? You may have heard friends say you’re eating for two now. Well, that’s not entirely true. As your pregnancy progresses, you should increase your calorie intake, but nothing like having two bowls of pasta in one sitting. To give you an idea, in your third trimester you only need about 300 to 500 extra calories each day.
So be strategic about what you eat. Don’t reach for a piece of cake or a chocolate slab. Choose a healthy snack like an apple or banana.
And remember, it takes roughly nine months to lose the weight you gain during your pregnancy, provided you put on healthy weight. You’ll have to work much harder to lose any other extra kilograms as a result of overindulging.
5. Get enough sleep
You may want to nap more frequently in the first three months of pregnancy and towards the end of your pregnancy. This is completely normal. When your body feels tired, go for a lie-down.
As your baby grows, finding a comfortable position to sleep in can be difficult. Purchase a pregnancy pillow or grab a few extra pillows and place them under your expanding belly and between your legs. It’ll help you to change positions at night, and it’ll take the weight off your back.
And remember, to help get you through a busy day, try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
6. Treat yourself to a massage or manicure and pedicure
As your belly swells with your growing child, and you begin to put on more and more weight, your feet can become quite sore. It can be virtually impossible to reach your toes in your third trimester, so don’t be afraid to spoil yourself. Arrange a pedicure and enjoy a foot massage and freshly painted nails.
7. Colour your hair
You may have heard that colouring your hair during pregnancy is a no-no. If you’re panicked at the thought of grey roots beginning to show, relax. There’s no concrete evidence that dying your hair is dangerous to your baby.
So, while you can still touch up your hair colour, you will need to reduce the number of trips you make over the next nine months. Most importantly, avoid dying or highlighting your hair in the first three months of your pregnancy.
Now that we know what you’re allowed to do let’s look at the things or habits best not done.
Don’t do these four things during pregnancy
1. Smoke, drink alcohol or experiment with recreational drugs
If you want to give your baby the best start in life, don’t smoke, indulge in alcoholic beverages or experiment with recreational drugs. Chances are you’ll stunt your baby’s development.
Babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy tend to be underweight and struggle with learning disabilities.
And while the odd glass of wine is unlikely to harm your baby, consuming large volumes of spirits regularly can lead to foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Symptoms of babies born with FAS include:
- Low birth weight
- Behavioural issues
- Learning disabilities
- Falling behind in developmental and growth milestones.
Speak to a professional about ways to kick the habit. Your doctor will be able to recommend help groups.
2. Eat certain raw foods.
There are all sorts of information online about what you can and can’t eat. Some foods are perfectly fine to consume if you limit your intake. Others should be avoided entirely. Here’s what you need to know.
Steer clear of:
- Fish such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. While fish is vital to your diet, these fish have a high mercury content which can affect your baby’s nervous system. It’s also advised that you stop eating shellfish as you can get food poisoning. Instead, dine out on oily fish such as tuna or sardines.
- Raw meat or cold cuts such as Parma ham, polony, chorizo, and biltong, to name a few. A tiny parasite called toxoplasmosis lives in raw meat, and this can harm your baby. Even if you love your steak rare, to be safe, eat well-done meat during your pregnancy.
- Certain unpasteurized dairy products. Cheeses such as camembert, goat’s cheese, brie, gorgonzola, Danish blue and Roquefort are best left off your plate during pregnancy. You should also avoid goat’s or sheep’s milk. These can contain Listeriosis which is harmful to your unborn baby.
- Salad dressings containing raw eggs. Make sure to read the ingredients on the label. If you’re at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask what’s in the dressing. You don’t want to catch Salmonella.
3. Travel in an aeroplane after 36 weeks.
While travel for most of your pregnancy is perfectly safe, from 20 weeks onwards, airlines require a letter from your doctor confirming that you’re fit to fly. Most airlines won’t allow you to fly from 36 weeks onwards. The risk of going into early labour while airborne is too great.
If your pregnancy has been fraught with medical complications, you may need to put off that overseas trip until after your baby is born.
If you’ve been given the all-clear to fly, keep moving during your trip, particularly if this is a long-haul flight. Walking up and down the aisle even if it’s just to go to the toilet can reduce the risk of blood clots in your legs. It also helps to reduce swelling in your feet.
4. Ditch your caffeine habit.
It can be hard to give up your morning cup of coffee or earl grey tea, particularly if you rely on caffeine to wake you up. But it’s better for your baby. The thing about caffeine, it can travel through your placenta to your baby, increasing his heart rate. It can also lead to dehydration.
So if you really can’t give up coffee consider switching to decaffeinated coffee. It’s just as delicious and completely safe to consume. You’ll also want to avoid soft-drinks such as Coca-Cola and minimize the amount of chocolate you eat.
Take care during pregnancy
Knowing what you can and can’t do during pregnancy is vital to the development of your baby. Follow the list above to give your unborn child the best chance of a healthy life.
If you have questions or concerns, reach out to any of our obstetricians. You can book an appointment at Welwitschia Hospital by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or make an appointment with one of our experienced obstetricians.
As part of the Welwitschia Hospital’s Dear Baby Programme, parents-to-be can also attend Prenatal and Antenatal classes. Here you’ll learn more about what to expect when the baby arrives and get to know our friendly maternity staff.
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