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Dear mothers, pregnancy could be a stressful nine-month journey but with the right medical knowledge in hand, it doesn’t have to be. First, take a moment to breathe. Congratulations, you are about to take on a new role as a real-life superhero.
This may feel overwhelming but remember, you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization, there are about 211 million pregnancies every year.
As is everything else in life, a solid game plan is instrumental to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for both the mother and newborn.
Ideally, prenatal care should take centre stage, especially in the first trimester where the pregnancy is at its most ‘fragile’ state. At this stage, the foetus is developing organs, facial features, skeletal tissue and limbs hence it is slightly more exposed to risks that may result in serious birth defects.
Fret not. Mothers can make a few lifestyle tweaks to reduce the chances of said risks. When you take great care of your body, the baby growing inside of you will also feel the positive impacts.
Mommies, make good choices
Say bye-bye to your bad habits, such as smoking, use of illegal drugs and drinking alcohol.
Maintain a balanced diet and exercise as much as possible.
Do your research and when you seek consultation from a medical professional, don’t shy away from asking a lot of questions.
Drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
Are you really eating for two?
While the adage may not be the most accurate, mothers do need to consume extra nutrients.
According to Healthline, an expecting mother is required to take an additional 300 calories (in second and third trimesters), 1,200 milligrams of calcium, 600-800 micrograms of folate and 27 milligrams of iron every day. While the guideline may sound foreign and complicated, it actually translates to incorporating all food groups into your meal.
In other words, increase your legume, leafy greens, fatty fish, and whole grains intakes throughout your pregnancy.
Key nutrients for mommies and babies
While the best choice remains seeking professional advice from your obstetrician and dietitian, it is understood that prenatal care is not an affordable option to all. If additional supplements, for instance, are out of the equation, you can still obtain the necessary nutrients straight from the sources.
Protein – Lean beef, salmon, nuts and chicken. Protein helps encourage proper growth of foetal tissues including the brain. It will also increase mother’s blood supply so more can be sent to your baby.
Calcium – Milk, yogurt, cheese, cabbage, tofu and pudding. Calcium helps build stronger bones. For mothers, it regulates your bodily fluid.
Folate or folic acid – Dark green leafy vegetables, liver, dried beans and lentils, eggs and nuts. It will reduce the risks of neural tube defects that can affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Iron – Dried fruits, cereals, citrus fruits and poultry. Iron, together with sodium, potassium, and water will ensure adequate oxygen is supplied to both mother and baby.
Work it out
Your pregnancy should not stop you from doing regular exercises. In fact, studies have shown that they may work in the mother’s favour by easing the delivery process, apart from reducing the risks of excess weight gain and back pain.
Low-risk workouts: 1. Brisk walking 2. Prenatal yoga 3. Swimming 4. Stationary cycling 5. Low-impact aerobics
Be kind to yourself
You will likely encounter a number of friends or relatives who will feel compelled to give you ‘tried-and true’ tips related to pregnancies, but note that you are not obliged to heed to all the advice.
Listen to your own body. Try not to beat yourself up if you are reaching into that cookie jar, instead of sticking by the healthy diet plan.
Not all pregnancies are also the same. While it is easy to compare your pregnancy to another, chances are two mothers may not experience the same symptoms during the first trimester. Remember that your emotional health is as equally important. A worry-free mother equals a happy baby.
Spicy food intake may cause blindness in infants. This is not true. Spicy food is perfectly safe for the baby but it may cause rapid heartburns for the mother.
You can predict the gender of the baby based on the mother’s belly shape. This is also incorrect. Research has shown that stomach muscles stretch with subsequent pregnancies. The belly of a first-timer mother with stronger muscles may appear higher.
You should not have sex during pregnancy. This is false. It is safe to perform sexual intercourse with your partner when you are carrying provided the positions do not impose a lot of pressure on your tummy.
Did you know?
Back in the ancient times in Cambodia, the family of a three-month pregnant mother, especially among the Royalty, would arrange a special ceremony to pray for the baby’s health. It is also believed that the ceremony dubbed Jorng Somroang would keep the baby safe inside the mother’s womb until the due date.