When you start thinking about trying to have a baby you should
- Visit a doctor for a pre-pregnancy checkup to detect medical or genetic conditions which can be passed onto your child and for an overall health checkup
- Focus on foods that contain necessary nutrients such as folic acid for preconception, followed by supplemental support.
- Practice some pre-pregnancy exercises such as walking, yoga, Lamaze or water aerobics
- Reduce stress using some simple stress relieving techniques such as breathing exercises, visualisation techniques
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. You could quit smoking and alcohol
You may notice some subtle signs of pregnancy – fatigue, nausea, frequent urination, aversions to foods that you usually love, morning sickness, breast swelling and tenderness, and a missed period if you are very regular with menstruation. A pregnancy test is a way to know for sure.
- Have a healthy and balanced meal. Get all essential vitamins and minerals, leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, proteins and calcium rich food.
- Light to moderate exercise is recommended for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
- Practice clean hygiene. Take regular showers and always wash your hands with soap before preparing food, meals, after handling raw meat and using the bathroom.
- Paint- Let somebody else paint the baby’s room. Pregnant women shouldn’t be exposed to toxic substances and chemicals, which include paint and cleaning solvents.
- Get an X-ray- Get an X-ray only if necessary. It is highly advised to avoid tests like X-rays and mammograms while pregnant because they can be dangerous to your growing baby. If you need to have an X-ray, make sure that your doctor knows you are pregnant so they can take extra precautions.
The average pregnancy lasts for 280 days or approximately 40 weeks from the last menstrual cycle. So if your last period were on 1st Jan, your due date would approximately be 7-Oct. Remember this will be an estimate and not an absolute certainty.
Typically, sex is perfectly safe during pregnancy – right up to delivery. Therefore, put aside your doubts and fears that intercourse will hurt your baby. It is essential to know that the amniotic sac, the uterus, and the mucus plug in the cervix all provide robust protection for your baby. However, sometimes, your doctor may tell you to abstain from intercourse while you’re pregnant. This is to avoid unpleasant situations if you risk premature labour, or if you suffer from placenta previa (the placenta is too close to the cervix), or if you have had vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy.
Here are a few tips for preventing some of the most common pregnancy symptoms:
Vomiting and Nausea: Get up slowly in the morning as movement can make nausea worse. Don’t let your stomach empty. It is advised that you eat five or six small meals throughout the day, drink plenty of fluids, get some fresh air and avoid fatty foods that are hard to digest.
Cramps in the legs: Exercise regularly, get plenty of fluids, and avoid sitting in the same position for a prolonged period. It is essential to stretch your legs before going to bed by straightening your heel first and then wiggling your toes. Massage your feet and apply heat to relieve a cramp.
A backache: Wear low-heeled shoes with good arch support to avoid straining your lower back muscles. Avoid lifting heavy objects or standing for extended periods of time. Make sure your mattress is firm, and that chairs you sit in have good back support. Don’t take medications for back pain unless approved by your doctor. Try a heating pad, warm water bottle, or cold pack instead.
Approximately 90% pregnant women develop stretch marks as their body grows during pregnancy on the stomach, thighs, buttocks, and breasts. You can try to prevent such stretch marks by drinking lots of water to keep your skin hydrated, massage your skin with a moisturiser or oil that is high in vitamin A and vitamin E and by consuming a diet that’s rich in skin-supporting vitamins – E, C, A, and zinc.
The average woman should gain about 1-2 kg during her first three months of pregnancy, and 0.5kg a week for the remainder of her pregnancy. If you’re at a healthy weight before pregnancy, gain between 11-16 kg during pregnancy. If you are overweight before pregnancy, gain 7-11 kg. If you are underweight before pregnancy, gain 13-18 kg. For multiple births, consult your doctor. Usually, you should gain about 16-20 kg for twins.