Being a mother is one position many women aspire to fill. For most mothers, it is the most fulfilling life experience. For every journey you must prepare; so as a woman how do you prepare for pregnancy?
The health of an expectant mother is critical to the development of a baby in the womb. Yes, sometimes there are circumstances beyond control; however, there are things that every potential mother can do to create a healthier environment for baby to thrive in.
- Quit smoking – Nicotine and other toxins found in cigarettes and other tobacco products can poison mother’s blood during pregnancy and lead to low birth weight of baby, a sick baby and in worst case scenario death.
- Quit Drinking Alcohol – The moment you are ready to conceive you have to quit drinking alcohol completely. Alcohol can pass from the mother’s blood into the baby’s blood through the placenta and affect the baby’s cells. The brain and spinal cord cells are likely to be impaired. The umbrella of disorders that can happen is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Children that are born with this disorder may have physical, mental and neurological problems.
- Eat a balanced diet – You are what you eat. There are different nutrients that you can get from eating foods from the six different nutritional groups. Before, during and after pregnancy you should eat a balanced diet. This should include in balanced proportions proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water. Baby only feeds from the mother’s blood throughout pregnancy so if mum is malnourished or deficient in some nutrients then baby’s development may be affected. I must note here that. It is only a myth that a pregnant woman should eat for two. Baby only takes very little nutrients from mum’s blood so overeating is not necessary. It is also normal to have cravings during pregnancy but it is best you have control over your cravings. Having ten bottles of coca-cola in the name of cravings is not recommended. Please note that too much weight gain during pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes and or pregnancy-induced hypertension. These two conditions can lead to complications during the birthing process for mum and baby. So please maintain only healthy cravings to keep weight down. Every pregnant woman needs to drink lots of water. At a minimum, you should be drinking three litres of water a day.
- Motion is life – Exercise is good for you before, during and after pregnancy. Carrying a two (2) – five (5)kg fetus for nine-plus months is not an easy task for the woman. Exercising however strengthens the body’s joints so that they can withstand the pressure of the added weight. Exercising releases some happy hormone (serotonin) in the body that helps the woman to deal with the stress of being pregnant. When you exercise before and during pregnancy too it helps you to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight faster when you start exercising again.
- Chiropractic – Many changes happen to the woman’s body during pregnancy, some women experience morning sickness and pain through a substantial part of the pregnancy. What do you do? Many will resort to drugs however using physiotherapy and or Chiropractic has been proven to be effective in treating back and neck pain. This is because the curve in the lower back increases, the pelvic also gets larger and the abdomen protrudes; all these happen to accommodate the developing fetus. Getting Chiropractic treatment helps the body to adapt to the changes better. It also decreases morning sickness and provides pain relief. It is also safer with few to no side effects. There are special techniques that physiotherapists and Chiropractors use to ensure that baby and mum are safe during treatment.
Finally, please ensure that you are up to date with your pap smears, breast cancer screening and all other medical exams before you conceive.
All the best on your journey to becoming a mother; the best career on this planet.
By : Dr. Naa Asheley Dordor