With pregnancy, there’s only one thing that can be said – an adventure of a lifetime is just about to begin. This holds true not just for labor and delivery but for all three trimesters. It’s amazing how this period can simultaneously be the most exciting and the most overwhelming phase of a woman’s life.
During pregnancy, the female body prepares itself to accommodate and nurture another (new) life. Some mind-blowing physiological changes that take place include a 50% rise in blood production, the creation of a whole new organ (placenta), the uterus expanding from the size of a peach to that of a watermelon, re-arrangement of vital organs, and the production of colostrum or ‘liquid gold.’
But such changes are demanding and require the mother to practice proper prenatal health care. This article will discuss some important pregnancy dos and don’ts to ensure both the mother’s and the infant’s safety.
#1 Do NOT Carry on With Your Usual Exercise Routine
Exercise or regular movement of the body is good at any stage of life to stay fit. However, you can’t just grab your yoga mat, run to the patio and commence with a Pilates session going all, “Baby, let’s move!”
No matter your usual exercise routine, there’s a need to switch things up a bit during pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should take baby steps – 10 minutes of walking a day. Gradually, build up to 20 or 30 minutes as per your comfort level.
Throughout your pregnancy, there’s plenty of room for you to enjoy yourself. But stay wary of exercises that involve high altitude, contact sports like hockey, water sports like scuba diving, and activities that pose a risk to the abdomen, like kickboxing.
While you’re exercising, listen to your body for signs such as headaches, chest pain, vaginal bleeding, and dizziness. In such instances, pause the exercise and consult with your healthcare provider.
#2 Do Eat a Balanced Diet
This one must sound cliché. While a balanced diet is important regardless of pregnancy, it is more so during that period. This does not mean you need to shift completely to a special diet unless the Standard American Diet (SAD) has been your everyday approach.
However, always keep in mind that what you eat will help or hamper your baby’s growth. Plus, you also lower your risk of developing complications like anemia, insomnia, urinary tract infection, and gestational diabetes, among others.
It’s worth noting that the National Library of Medicine discovered a direct link between medical issues in adulthood and diet/nutrition in fetal life. While it recommends a good serving of fruits and vegetables as the standard maternal diet, some foods to completely avoid include caffeine, processed meat, eggs, cheese, raw fish, and sprouts, as well as all kinds of unwashed produce.
#3 Do NOT Consume Any Medication Without Proper Consultation
Expectant mothers consuming tobacco or alcohol (if any) are severely criticized for their negligence. However, society at large turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to the practice of popping pills for aches, dizziness, fevers, etc.
Here’s the unadulterated truth – most over-the-counter drugs have never been tested for any side effects in pregnant women. If that’s not alarming enough, some have a proven track record of having disastrous outcomes for the mother, the baby, or both.
Let’s take the example of the Tylenol lawsuit. Though a popular oral medication for headaches and fever, Tylenol is criticized for causing autism and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – a complex developmental disorder – in children.
According to TorHoerman Law, attorneys have fought numerous Tylenol autism claims, and most complaints are lodged against companies like Costco, Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite Aid, Safeway, and Walgreens.
It is best to avoid all over-the-counter drugs and trust your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
#4 Do Make Your Mental Health a Priority
What most people fail to acknowledge is that pregnancy is as much an emotional experience as it is a physical one. Part of it is due to massive hormonal changes taking place within the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes depression and anxiety as not only common among pregnant women but also treatable.
It also states that mental struggles may vastly vary among mothers-to-be. Some common symptoms include –
- Feeling a prolonged sadness or emptiness
- Restlessness, mood swings, and irritability
- Crying more than usual
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Rage or unexplained anger
- Thoughts of hurting oneself or the baby
- Feeling distant or withdrawing from those who are close
- Questioning one’s capabilities of taking care of the baby
If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, prioritize your mental health and seek support. Undue stress can take a toll on your body (which is already working hard to sustain multiple lives).
#5 Do NOT Use With Everyday Products Carelessly
Did you know that some of the everyday products lying around your household may pose a health risk during pregnancy? According to the National Health Service, one such product is the hair dye. Though they are not highly toxic, it is best to avoid them for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
This is because the chemicals present in the dye could harm the baby. After 12 weeks, you must follow the precautions listed below –
- Wear rubber gloves
- Ensure the room you work in is well-ventilated
- Let the dye rest only for a minimal time
- Rinse the scalp thoroughly
Besides hair dyes, other products to avoid include cleaning products with chemicals you can’t pronounce and solvent-based paints. A pro tip is to stock your cleaning pantry with natural, non-toxic cleaning agents and avoid all kinds of paint during pregnancy and after a year of your baby’s birth.
And even while using, wear protective equipment like face masks, gloves, and eyeglasses to avoid direct contact with the fumes.
When all is said and done, there’s quite no other experience in this world that can match that of becoming a mother. As a woman embarks into this crowning experience of creation, she needs extra love and care.
When you follow the important dos and don’ts for a safe pregnancy, you will soon realize the magnitude of the jubilant adventure you’re in for. So, take care of yourself, listen intently to your body and your baby, and count down to the moment you will meet the love of your life!