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Top 5 Pregnancy Tips Every Woman Must Know

pregnancy tips

Congratulations on your pregnancy! While preparing for the pregnancy, there are a lot of questions in your mind like diet for a pregnant woman, exercises during pregnancy, lifestyle choices to make during pregnancy and so on. With the advances in medical sciences and growing awareness about prenatal care, such questions are now more easily answered. Following are the top 5 pregnancy tips you should know about so that your pregnancy is healthy for both – you and the baby.

1. Choose the Right Doctor

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 15% of women who are pregnant can develop a possibly life-threatening complication which might call for a skilled obstetrician[1]. As a result, it is essential to make sure that you take the required help from the very beginning. A qualified doctor will be able to anticipate any complications during pregnancy and guide you through it.  Obstetricians are medically certified doctors who take care of women during their prenatal checkups and advise them throughout their pregnancy. They are also trained to get the baby delivered surgically (cesarean delivery).

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2. Choose the Right Food

Eating the right food when you are pregnant is very important. Not only yours, but the baby’s health depends on what you eat. As a result, it is very important to remain educated about the food choices you make when you’re pregnant. You should maintain a healthy diet that provides nutrition for two – your baby and yourself. Additionally, it is important not to overeat and gain excessive weight as it can lead to gestational diabetes and pregnancy or delivery-related complications[2].

Here’s a list of foods that you should include in your pregnancy diet:

-Dairy: In order to meet the needs of your growing baby, you will need to have a good amount of protein, carbohydrates, and calcium. Dairy is rich in these nutritional components and can help you meet your daily requirements. Additionally, if you have dairy products, you can improve your digestive health during pregnancy[3]. In case you are lactose intolerant, consult your doctor for alternative sources to dairy.

-Legumes: During pregnancy, it is important to have a protein, fiber, iron, and folate-rich diet. It helps support the healthy development of your baby in utero. According to the Standards for Maternal and Neonatal Care published by the WHO, women should take approximately 400 micrograms of folic acid on a daily basis from the day they try to conceive until 12 weeks of the gestation period[4,5]. Legumes contain a high amount of folate and are also very high in fiber. Including lentils, black beans, and chickpeas in your diet is very beneficial to pregnant women as it provides 65-90% RDA[6] of folic acid.

-Sweet Potatoes: During pregnancy, it is advisable for women to increase their Vitamin A intake by 10-40%[7]. Beta carotene is a very good natural source of vitamin A for pregnant women. Sweet potatoes are rich in this compound which is essential to the growth of a healthy fetus. According to the WHO, the demand for Vitamin A in pregnant women is the highest during the last three months of pregnancy. Women experience night blindness during this phase as Vitamin A is needed by both – the mother and unborn child[8]. Always consult your doctor regarding the kind of food you should substitute.

-Salmon: One of the main reasons for pregnant women to consume salmon is that it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are very helpful in building the brain and eyes of your fetus. In case you are a vegetarian, ask your doctor for alternative sources of this essential nutrient for your baby’s healthy development[9]. However, excess consumption of seafood can lead to higher amounts of mercury and other contaminants usually found in fish[10]. Fish that are high in the marine food chain have a higher amount of mercury. You should not eat more than 56.6 g of such fish[10].

-Dark, Green Leafy Vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli, kale, and spinach contain a lot of fiber, and vitamins C, K, and A. Such vegetables are also rich in antioxidants. They also help your immune system and boost digestion[11].

-Whole Grains: Getting pregnant means that you have to take in food that is sufficient for you and the baby. You will have an increased requirement for calories which will then have to be fulfilled. Whole grains contain fiber and vitamins. They are also rich in Vitamin B and magnesium which are essential for the healthy development of the fetus[12].

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3. Make the Right Lifestyle Choices

Many women face issues like back pain and swollen feet when they get pregnant. These problems further intensify as the pregnancy progresses. Follow this list of pregnancy tips to understand how you can make lifestyle choices during your pregnancy that will help you tackle common pregnancy issues.

-Exercise Regularly: As your baby develops, your body will undergo many changes. Exercise plays a substantial role in getting your body prepared through regularly timed workout sessions. While the intensity of workouts is kept minimal to moderate during pregnancy, it is important not to become sedentary.

Exercising when you are pregnant can lead to long-term benefits and immediate benefits as well like better cardiorespiratory health, fewer chances of lower back pain, preventing urinary incontinence, less depression, and also in controlling gestational weight gain[13]. Some exercise that can help in smooth delivery involves stretches, yoga, and other kegel exercises. Consult with your practitioner and figure out a good exercise routine which suits you.

-Maintain Good Posture: It is important to maintain good posture when you’re pregnant. It includes your sitting and sleeping posture. It is advisable to not lift anything heavy while pregnant. However, if you must, you must lift with your arms and not put any pressure on your back[14].

Slouching is also not advised when pregnant. When you’re sitting, maintain a good back posture to avoid unnecessary back pain and fatigue. Switch to a chair with good lower back support and remember to be comfortable. Getting up now and then also helps if you have to sit in one place for a long time[14].

-Ditch Your Heels: Whatever the height of your heel may be, it is advisable to ditch the same during pregnancy to avoid straining your back and prevent swelling[14]. If you have foot pain, it is advisable to use a hot and cold fomentation for some relief.

4. Say No to All Vices

This one is already in everyone’s book, but it is very important to reiterate this when talking about pregnancy tips. Smoking and drinking should completely be avoided as they have proven to be harmful to the growing fetus.

Smoking tobacco or cannabis during pregnancy can cause damage to the neurological and cognitive functioning of the baby. Furthermore, maternal drinking and smoking during pregnancy have been linked to symptoms of attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD) like impulsive behavior and lack of attention, decrease in cognitive functioning, deterioration of learning abilities and memory tasks[15].

Furthermore, smoking and drinking alcohol can reduce the quality of sleep your baby has. Studies have shown that there is a significant reduction in the active sleep of babies if their mothers smoke during breastfeeding[16].

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5. Stay Hydrated at All Times

Water is essential for all the key functions of the body and helps us go about the day. Dehydration in pregnant women can lead to common problems like fatigue and headaches which can be very discomforting for the mother and the baby[17]. Dehydration has also been linked to a decrease in cognitive functions[18]. As a result, it is essential to stay hydrated and maintain water levels in your body. Consult your practitioner on the daily amount of water your body requires. Take care of your body throughout your pregnancy and follow these pregnancy tips to the core.

Comment below and let us know about tips that have helped you with pregnancy! Happy parenting!

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)

Recommended Reads:

Tips To Handle Constipation During Pregnancy

Smoking During Pregnancy: How It Affects Mother And Child

References:

1. Mathai M, Engelbrecht S, Bonet M. Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2nd ed. World Health Organization (WHO); 2017.

2. Hedderson M, Gunderson E, Ferrara A. Gestational Weight Gain and Risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010;115(3):597-604.

3. Johnston BC, Goldenberg JZ, Vandvik PO, Sun X, Guyatt GH. Probiotics for the prevention of pediatric antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Nov 9;(11):CD004827.

4. World Health Organization, Department of Making Pregnancy Safer and Department of Reproductive Health and Research. Standards for maternal and neonatal care. 2007.

5. Periconceptional folic acid supplementation to prevent neural tube defects [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2018 [cited 6 August 2018]. 

6. Wallace T, Murray R, Zelman K. The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):766.

7. Strobel M, Tinz J, Biesalski H. The importance of β-carotene as a source of vitamin A with special regard to pregnant and breastfeeding women. European Journal of Nutrition. 2007;46(S1):1-20.

8. WHO | Micronutrient deficiencies [Internet]. who.int. 2018 [cited 28 September 2018]. 

9. Helland I, Smith L, Saarem K, Saugstad O, Drevon C. Maternal Supplementation With Very-Long-Chain n-3 Fatty Acids During Pregnancy and Lactation Augments Children’s IQ at 4 Years of Age. PEDIATRICS. 2003;111(1):e39-e44.

10. Oken E, Radesky J, Wright R, Bellinger D, Amarasiriwardena C, Kleinman K et al. Maternal Fish Intake during Pregnancy, Blood Mercury Levels, and Child Cognition at Age 3 Years in a US Cohort. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2008;167(10):1171-1181.

11. Fowles E. Prenatal Nutrition and Birth Outcomes. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing. 2004;33(6):809-822.

12. Radesky J, Oken E, Rifas-Shiman S, Kleinman K, Rich-Edwards J, Gillman M. Diet during early pregnancy and development of gestational diabetes. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 2007;22(1):47-59.

13. Nascimento S, Surita F, Cecatti J. Physical exercise during pregnancy. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2012;24(6):387-394.

14. Lau K. An essential guide for scoliosis and a healthy pregnancy. 4th ed. 2012.

15. Huizink A, Mulder E. Maternal smoking, drinking or cannabis use during pregnancy and neurobehavioral and cognitive functioning in human offspring. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2006;30(1):24-41.

16. Mennella J, Yourshaw L, Morgan L. Breastfeeding and Smoking: Short-term Effects on Infant Feeding and Sleep. PEDIATRICS. 2007;120(3):497-502.

17. Armstrong L, Ganio M, Casa D, Lee E, McDermott B, Klau J et al. Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women. The Journal of Nutrition. 2011;142(2):382-388.

18. Lieberman H. Hydration and Cognition: A Critical Review and Recommendations for Future Research. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2007;26(sup5):555S-561S.

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