If you smoke, drink or are malnourished during pregnancy, it increases the risks of harming the baby, sometimes to such an extent that you may have no option but to terminate the pregnancy.
It’s essential for women to know how to optimise their health during pregnancy. Here are five ways that will contribute towards having a healthy baby.
Get the correct nutrition
Here is a selection of the best foods to eat when you’re pregnant to ensure you get the right amount of macro and micronutrients that you and your baby need.
- Fish: Mackerel and salmon are rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for a foetus’s brain and eye development.
- Sweet potatoes: These vegetables are rich in beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A – very important for foetal development.
- Dairy products: When you’re pregnant, it’s vital to consume extra protein and calcium. Dairy products contain two different types of protein, whey and casein. Dairy is the best dietary source of calcium, and provides high amounts of phosphorus, various B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.
- Lean meat: Chicken, beef and pork are high in excellent-quality protein. Beef and pork contain iron which Is an essential mineral needed to deliver oxygen to red blood cells.
You’re going to gain weight as your baby grows. Exercise is the best way to increase muscle strength and endurance that your body needs to cope with the extra weight. Exercise will help ease joint pain and improve blood circulation in your legs. It’s also a perfect remedy for stress.
Don’t drink alcohol
In a previous article, we discussed the dangers of drinking alcohol when you’re pregnant. The main point to take from this article is that alcohol consumption can cause irreparable damage to your unborn baby. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is the primary condition that can lead to the baby being born with vision, hearing, memory, attention span as well as trouble with communication.
Get plenty of sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, ‘One of the reasons for fatigue and sleep problems during pregnancy are changing hormone levels. For example, rising progesterone levels may partly explain excessive daytime sleepiness, especially in the first trimester. Hormonal changes may also have an inhibitory effect on muscles, which may result in snoring and in obese women increase the risk of developing sleep apnea and may be partly responsible for the frequent trips to the bathroom during the night.’
Keep up with prenatal appointments
No matter how busy life may be, the health of your baby is priority number one! Expectant mothers need to get into the routine of keeping up with prenatal visits to ensure their baby’s wellbeing.
The usual schedule for prenatal visits is:
- Weeks 4 to 28: 1 prenatal visit a month
- Weeks 28 to 36: 1 prenatal visit every 2 weeks
- Weeks 36 to 40: 1 prenatal visit every week
If the doctor detects that there is a serious problem with the baby which may be fatal for you, remember that all women in South Africa have the legal right to a safe abortion – if you decide to terminate your pregnancy, Marie Stopes offers two procedures: medical and surgical.
Visit one of our centres and speak to a nurse to find out which method suits you best.
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