The joy of conceiving is doubled with a healthy, problem-free pregnancy. Although a number of fears might cloud a new mom’s mind, a few guidelines is all it takes to breeze through and have a problem-free pregnancy. So to help you stay in tip-top shape, we noted some important pointers for you to follow.
1.Counselling & Prenatal Care: Pre-conception counseling and prenatal care during pregnancy is essential. Counselling will enable you to know any potential risks involved in your pregnancy or any other underline fears that you may have. It would generally involve a meeting with your general physician with regards to your health followed by a routine body check. Most doctors recommend meeting your general physician as soon as you suspect a pregnancy.
2. Diet: The importance of a healthy diet is known to all new moms. But some things that are surpassed are hygienic water and milk (pasteurised, boiled or UHT milk) requirements that are important. Fruits and vegetables too, including ready-to-prepare salads must be washed well before cooking. Also remember to wash your hands before touching any food so that you keep away from disease-causing germs. Avoid raw or partially cooked eggs, meat, and poultry and wear gloves when handling soil and gardening. If at all you cannot wear gloves, then make sure you rinse your hands thoroughly. Do not forget to take your meds on time, especially vitamin supplements.
3. Exercise: Contrary to popular belief there is no risk associated with starting or continuing moderate exercise, but make sure you do not push yourself too much or get involved in strenuous activities which can be harmful to your pregnancy. Always exercise under the guidance of a professional who can impart the right knowledge and diagnose any problems that are arising.
4. Alcohol Consumption Limited: Vices like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and taking drugs are harmful for the expectant mother as well as the unborn child. Smoking increases the risk of miscarriages, preterm delivery, reduced birth weight, and prenatal death. Thus, smoking should be completely and immediately stopped.
Binge drinking is a strict no-no. Alcohol too has been cited as a reason for increasing the risk of miscarriages. Even illicit drugs can cause harm during pregnancy. Do not take any medication without consulting a doctor.
5. Occupational Hazards: For those who are planning their pregnancy, must avoid working in environments that expose them to hazardous substances, infections, or radiation. This is harmful for both the mother and baby and can also lead to deformities in the child.
6. Vaccination: Some vaccinations are mandatory for the new mommy. Vaccine for Rubella is essential as Rubella infection in first 8–10 weeks of pregnancy can cause congenital rubella syndrome. All susceptible non-pregnant women of childbearing age too should be offered an MMR vaccine. This vaccine calls for avoidance of pregnancy for four weeks thereafter.
A Varicella vaccine can be given if there is no history of chicken pox or she is not immune. This prevents congenital Varicella syndrome and adverse effects of Varicella on mother. A Hepatitis B vaccine avoids the risk of contracting hepatitis B. This also prevents prenatal transmission to the baby. On the other hand tetanus vaccine too should be given. (Two doses one month apart if not vaccinated at all and one dose otherwise)
7. Special Circumstances: Some special circumstances call for special measures of care and concern. Such as that with obese moms who are pregnant.
Women who are overweight (BMI 25 kg/m2 to 29.9 kg/m2) or Obese (BMI 30 kg/m2 or more) should lose weight before her pregnancy since the body weight can cause trouble during delivery. With diet and physical activity, this is possible sooner than later. During pregnancy too, expectant moms are advised to limit their weight gain.
8. Age: As the pregnant mommy’s age increases, there is a risk of being affected with Down’s Syndrome. Babies who are born to women above 30 to 45 years of age are more vulnerable to down’s syndrome. A screening test (USG & blood) can be done to know if this is a potential harm.
This article is written with inputs from Dr. Urmila Sureka, IVF Consultant & Board Member, Profert IVF Fertility Clinic, and Mumbai.