Motherhood can seem daunting to many pregnant women as they navigate their way through taking care of not just their health but also that of the baby. From diet and proper sleep to medications and mental health, everything needs to be kept in check.
National Safe Motherhood Day is observed every year on April 11. It is aimed at raising awareness about the care that a pregnant woman needs before, during, and after childbirth. On this day, let’s magnify on the major health tips every mom-to-be should remember as per the trimester they are in.
Below, Dr Vikas Kaushal, Head of health, Save the Children, shares some of the most essential things pregnant women should keep in mind.
He suggests every mother an early registration of pregnancy to get the ID number and the mother and child protection card. She should also have minimum 4 antenatal check-ups (ANC) including screening of hypertension, diabetes, anemia, immunization for pregnant woman-TT, IFA and calcium supplementation. “During pregnancy, 100 tablets of iron and folic acid will be given. One tablet of IFA is to be taken daily starting from the fourth month of pregnancy. If you are anemic, you will be advised to take two IFA tablets daily, one tablet in the morning and one in the evening,” he advises.
1. First ANC Checkup- As soon as the period is missed or within first three months of missing the period.
2. Second ANC Checkup In 4th – 6th month of pregnancy.
3. Third ANC Checkup In 7th – 8th month of pregnancy.
4. Fourth ANC Checkup In 9th month of pregnancy
As for nutrition, Dr Kaushal says that mothers-to-be need to eat one extra meal a day during pregnancy. Foods that should be consumed are milk and dairy products like curd, buttermilk, paneer that are rich in calcium, proteins and vitamins. Eat fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables as these provide vitamins and iron. Cereals, whole grains and pulses are good sources of proteins. Green leafy vegetables are a rich source of iron and folic acid. A handful (45 grams) of nuts and at least two cups of daal provide daily requirement of proteins in vegetarians. For non-vegetarians, meat, egg, chicken or fish are good sources of proteins, vitamins and iron.
The first trimester is the time from the first day of the last period and until the end of week 12. A lot happens during these first three months, says Dr Kaushal, sharing the following health tips:
-Increase the intake of folic acid supplements.
-Consume more of homemade food rich in minerals and essential vitamins and proteins. Eat a variety of healthy food that is rich in iron, calcium and folate.
-Small frequent meals at regular intervals, along with an adequate liquid intake, are essential during the first trimester.
-Pursue normal daily activities unless advised otherwise by the treating consultant.
-Do take plenty of rest. Have 8 hours of sleep at night and at least 2 hours rest during the day. Lie on your left side as it increases the blood supply to the foetus.
-Walking plays a critical role and is considered to be the best exercise for pregnant women. It helps to keep your muscles toned and, most importantly, keeps you active. It also helps control blood sugar levels, thus reducing the risk of gestational diabetes.
-Avoid dehydration and stress.
-Avoid self-medication as there could be a health-risk for the mother, and also avoid consuming any junk foods as they lead to an increased risk of gestational diabetes since they are high in sugar and calorific content.
-Smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption should be avoided.
-Do not consume raw papaya and raw pineapple.
-Avoid foods that lead to constipation.
Second and third trimesters
“The second trimester is from week 13 to the end of week 26 and is the safest and the best time during the entire phase. The third trimester is from week 27 to the end of the pregnancy. During this phase, a woman may experience more aches, pain and swelling as she carries around her baby”, said Dr. Kaushal.
During these phases:
-Take a high protein diet with adequate milk and milk products. A balanced diet is very essential to ensure there is no weight gain.
-Stay hydrated. Ensure a regular intake of fluids.
-Do regular exercises such as yoga.
-Prepare your home to receive the new member.
-Avoid alcohol, smoking, and excessive intake of caffeine.
-Avoid undercooked meat to prevent diseases like Toxoplasmosis and Listeriosis.
-Avoid any kind of sexual contact in the third trimester.
-Wear comfortable clothing and flats for the entire phase.
Dr Kaushal also notes that the best time to travel is the middle of your pregnancy—between week 14 and week 28. Travel, however, is not recommended if you have certain pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, premature rupture of membranes, and preterm labour.
If any complications occur, seek help immediately to preserve your health and life. Seek timely help from facility for proper management of complications; it can save your life, as well as the baby’s.