Pregnancy: Things you need to know!

Pregnancy Care

Pregnancy, a life-altering journey and the most exciting phase of your life will put your body through the most incredible changes. You can ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for you and your baby by empowering yourself with knowledge. Department of Health of various countries around the world organizes “Pregnancy awareness week” every year from February 10th to 16th to strengthen pregnancy education and stress important issues that promote healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood. Read on and make good decisions for a healthy baby and a healthy you.

Fast facts:

  • Pregnant women, at a healthy weight, only need to eat an extra 300 calories per day.
  • During pregnancy, if the mother suffers organ damage, the baby in the womb sends stem cells to repair the damaged organ.
  • Pregnant women have about 50% more blood by week 20 of pregnancy than they did before they conceived.

Basic Do’s and Don’ts of pregnancy:

The Do’s:
  • Get screened to analyze hormone levels in your blood and an ultrasound done irrespective of your age.
  • Gain weight the right way.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check up to keep gingivitis and other infections at bay.
  • Work out wisely after consulting your doctor.
  • Always wear your seat-belt while travelling in a four-wheeler.
The Don’ts:
  • Avoid high impact sports and activities like basketball, football, gymnastics, kick-boxing, hockey, skipping, jumping, hopping and bouncing.
  • Do not choose to deliver early unless you are having twins, the baby’s in distress, or your health is at risk.
  • Do not drink too much coffee, less than 200 milligrams a day is a safe quantity.
  • Do not smoke and abstain from alcohol.
  • Avoid raw, unpasteurized, or processed foods.

Personal Hygiene during Pregnancy:

a) Skin Care: The glands of the skin may be more active during pregnancy and the expectant mother may tend to perspire more. Frequent baths or showers are recommended.

b) Hair Care: The hair tends to become oily more frequently during pregnancy due to over activity of oil glands of the scalp and may require hair washing more frequently.

c) Breast Care: It is important to begin preparing the breast for breastfeeding during the prenatal period.

d) Dental Care: The patient must maintain normal daily dental care. Preventive dental work while pregnant is essential to avoid oral infections.

e) Clothing: During pregnancy, the clothes should be given the same or perhaps even a little more attention than at other times.

Vaccination during Pregnancy:

Baby gets disease immunity (protection) from a mother during pregnancy. If you are pregnant you would require some specific vaccinations which are determined by factors such as your age, lifestyle, medical conditions you may have, such as asthma or diabetes, type and locations of travel, and previous vaccinations.

  • Take vaccines like Tdap (Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis) to protect against whooping cough, during your pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation.
  • Also check if you should take Hepatitis B vaccination.
  • Other vaccines like the flu shot can be given before or during pregnancy (any trimester) during the flu season.

It is safe for a woman to receive vaccines right after giving birth, even while she is breastfeeding but very crucial to consult the doctor before determining which vaccines to take during or after pregnancy.

Pregnancy care should include:

  • Managing or eliminating existing medical conditions which can be aggravated by pregnancy, such as hypertension, diabetes, infections and anaemia.
  • Information about HIV testing and voluntary counselling (VCT).
  • Early recognition of danger signs in pregnancy and post-delivery.
  • Preparation of childbirth and awareness on complications.
  • Self-care including nutrition and high standard of hygiene.
  • Information on the role of the father and the family.

DID YOU KNOW?

The longest pregnancy in humans on record is 375 days (12.5 months).

Sources:

1. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. ACCESSED FEB 10, 2016.

2. BABYCENTER.CO.UK. ACCESSED FEB 10, 2016.

3. NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE. ACCESSED FEB 11, 2016.

4. WOMENSHEALTH.GOV. ACCESSED FEB 11, 2016.