Staying Healthy and safe

Eating For Two :

Eating healthy foods is more important now than ever! This is the time which is exciting and yet a bit scary. Having a baby means so much more than just carrying around some extra weight for the next nine months. That new life growing inside you will depend on you for everything it needs, to be healthy and strong. You need more protein, iron, calcium, and folic acid than you did before pregnancy. You also need more calories. But “eating for two” doesn’t mean eating twice as much. Rather, it means that the foods you eat are the main source of nutrients for your baby. Sensible, balanced meals combined with regular physical fitness is still the best recipe for good health during your pregnancy.

Getting an early start:

When Is the best time to start eating a healthy diet? Obviously, before you become pregnant. This will ensure that both you and your baby start out with the right balance of nutrients required.

If you are planning a pregnancy, it would be a good idea to start taking FLOIC ACID. This vitamin prevents you from having a baby with certain spinal defects. Folic acid occurs naturally in leafy vegetables, citrus fruits or dried lentils.

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In addition, your doctor will prescribe a folic acid supplement. It is recommended to start this at least 1-3 months before you get pregnant and to continue it for the first three months of the pregnancy.

Weight gain :

Many women today are conscious about their weight. They dread going out of shape during pregnancy. The amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy depends on your body mass index (BMI) before you became pregnant. A healthy weight gain should be 8-10 kgs for the entire pregnancy. If you are obese at the start of the pregnancy, it is important to restrict the weight gain to 6-8 kgs. If you are underweight to begin with, it might be advisable to put on 10-12 kgs. After the first three months, a healthy weight gain is usually between 1-1.5 kgs per month.

Where does the weight gain come from :

  • Average size baby – 2.8 – 3.5 kg
  • Uterus, placenta, and amniotic fluid – 1.5kg
  • Blood and retained water – 2.5kg
  • Body stores ( mostly fat) – 4 – 4.5 kg

Recent research shows that women who gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy and who fail to lose this weight within six months after giving birth are at much higher risk of being obese nearly 10 years later. Findings from another large study suggest that gaining more weight than the recommended amount during pregnancy may raise your child’s odds of being overweight in the future. If you find that you are gaining weight too quickly, try to cut back on foods with added sugars and solid fats. If you are not gaining enough weight, you can eat a little more from each food group.

Calorie needs :

Your calorie needs will depend on your weight gain goals. Most women need 300 calories a day more during at least the last six months of pregnancy than they do pre-pregnancy. Keep in mind that not all calories are equal. Your baby needs healthy foods that are packed with nutrients — not “empty calories” such as those found in soft drinks, candies, and desserts.

Although you want to be careful not to eat more than you need for a healthy pregnancy, make sure not to restrict your diet during pregnancy either. If you don’t get the calories you need, your baby might not get the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Low-calorie diets can break down a pregnant woman’s stored fat.

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The first three months :

In the first three months, pregnant women may not like the smell and taste of many foods and at the same time may develop strange cravings. At this time, it is easier to eat bland, dry food like salt biscuits , dry toast, dry chapattis or idlis. Identify the healthy snacks that you can eat during the day. This is the good way to get the nutrients and extra calories you need. You may find it easier to eat small meals at frequent intervals rather than three big meals in a day.this may also help avoid nausea. Avoid long period of starvation because this will increase acidity and nausea.

Getting through those first three months :

In the first three months, eat small, healthy snacks or meals at frequent intervals to avoid nausea. Try to avoid long period of starvation.

Eat low fat foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as toast, idlis or chapatis. Avoid strong smelling, oily, spicy foods. If you can tolerate milk, have a bowl of cereal with cold milk.

A mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks keeps the acidity down and can decrease nausea. It can be a fruit juice, salt and sweet biscuits or fruits.

If you are vomiting a lot, you may tend to get dehydrated. This will make you feel exhausted and can cause constipation. Try and consume at least 2c litres of fluid everyday. You may not even like taste of water, so you can drink other fluids like dilute buttermilk, tender coconut water, thin soups and juices like sweet lime or lemon.

Food good for Mom and Baby :

A pregnant woman needs more of many important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than she did before pregnancy. Making healthy food choices every day will help you give your baby what he or she needs to develop.

Importance of protein : Pregnancy is considered to be the most important phase in a woman’s life. It is the foundation to future generations literally. When a woman is pregnant there is a lot of advice provided on what to eat and how much to eat and what’s good for the mum and baby and what’s not. Protein are the building blocks for the baby.

Pregnant Moms need to eat every 2-3 hours which means six meals and should include good protein sources at every meal to support the baby’s growth. Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, cheese, milk, nuts and seeds.

Dairy products : Pregnant women should try to drink two glasses of milk and two cups of curd a day. Dairy products are excellent source of protein and calcium. If you are trying to control your weight, then low fat milk and curd will give you the protein and calcium you require, without the fat. Cheese and paneer are also good sources of milk protein.

Carbohydrate : carbohydrate provides you with energy. When taken in larger quantity, you will get empty calories. You need not increase the quantity of rice you normally take. Substitute chapatis for rice at one meal, if you are gaining too much weight.

Iron : Pregnant women need 27miligrams of iron a day, which is double the amount needed by women who are not expecting. Additional amounts of the mineral are needed to make more blood to supply the baby with oxygen. Getting too little iron during pregnancy can leda to anaemia, a contain resulting in fatigue an s an increased risk of infections. To increase the absorption of iron, include a food source e of food which are rich in iron, like meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, and green leafy vegetables.

Vegetables and fruits : Pregnant women should focus on fruits and vegetables, particularly during the second and third trimesters. Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and roughage. Try to include 3-4 servings per day. A salad wit fresh raw vegetables is highly recommended. This will provide the fibre and roughage that will prevent constipation. About 2-3 servings of fruit should be included daily.

Vitamins and minerals : Many women of childbearing age have low iron stores. It is important to be on a combination supplement of iron, B-complex and folic acid. Calcium requirements double during pregnancy. A Mother’s body adapts to absorb more calcium from the foods eaten and so keep up your intake of dairy products. Pregnant women need extra iron and folic acid, and these are usually prescribed in tablets or capsules. A prenatal supplement that contains these two nutrients plus vitamins and minerals is recommended.

Folic Acid : Women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, in addition to a well balanced diet for at least 1-3 months before pregnancy and during the first three months of the pregnancy. This can help prevent neural tube defects, which affect the spine and skull of the foetus.

Women who have had a child with neural tube defect are more likely to have another child with this problem. These women need much higher doses of folic acid -4 milligrams daily.

Don’t forget fluids : All of your body’s systems need water. When you are pregnant, your body needs even more water to stay hydrated and support the life inside you. Water also helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, excessive swelling, and urinary tract or bladder infections. Not getting enough water can lead to premature or early labor.

Your body gets the water it needs through the fluids you drink and the foods you eat. How much fluid you need to drink each day depends on many factors, such as your activity level, the weather, and your size. Your body needs more fluids when it is hot and when you are physically active. It also needs more water if you have a fever or if you are vomiting or have diarrhea.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups of fluids daily. Water, juices, coffee, tea, and soft drinks all count toward your fluid needs. But keep in mind that some beverages are high in sugar and “empty” calories. A good way to tell if your fluid intake is okay is if your urine is pale yellow or colorless and you rarely feel thirsty. Thirst is a sign that your body is on its way to dehydration. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink.

Food to avoid :

Alcohol : There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant. When you are pregnant and you drink beer, wine, hard liquor, or other alcoholic beverages, alcohol gets into your blood. The alcohol in your blood gets into your baby’s body through the umbilical cord. Alcohol can slow down the baby’s growth, affect the baby’s brain, and cause birth defects.

Caffeine : Excessive amount of tea, coffee and cola drinks and chocolates should be avoided. They contain caffeine and other related susstances like tannic acidity, which impair and upset digestion. Caffeine is diuretic, that is, it causes more urine to be passed.

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This also washes away essential salts and water soluble vitamins. Further, it reduces absorption of iron and calcium. It can also cause sleep disturbances, anxiety and heartburn. The amount of caffeine present in a cup of coffee or tea depends on the quality used and the amount of time taken to brew it. The more bitter it is, the more caffeine content.

Caffeine : Excessive amount of tea, coffee and cola drinks and chocolates should be avoided. They contain caffeine and other related susstances like tannic acidity, which impair and upset digestion. Caffeine is diuretic, that is, it causes more urine to be passed. This also washes away essential salts and water soluble vitamins. Further, it reduces absorption of iron and calcium. It can also cause sleep disturbances, anxiety and heartburn.

The amount of caffeine present in a cup of coffee or tea depends on the quality used and the amount of time taken to brew it. The more bitter it is, the more caffeine content.

Fish with high levels of mercury : Seafood such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy and tilefish are high in levels of methyl mercury, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and should be avoided during pregnancy. Methyl mercury is a toxic chemical that can pass through the placenta and can be harmful to an unborn baby’s developing brain, kidneys and nervous system.

Quitting smoking : Smoking cigarettes is very harmful to your health and could also affect the health of your baby. Not only does smoking cause cancer and heart disease in people who smoke, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight. Low birth weight babies are at higher risk of health problems shortly after birth. Also, some studies have linked low birth weight with a higher risk of health problems later in life, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than other women to have a miscarriage and to have a baby born with cleft lip or palate, types of birth defects. Also, mothers who smoke during or after pregnancy put their babies at greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Mothers who smoke have many reasons to quit smoking. Take care of your health and your unborn baby’s health: Ask your doctor about ways to help you quit during pregnancy. Intensive counseling has been shown to increase a pregnant woman’s chances of quitting success. We don’t know whether the drugs used to help people quit are safe to use during pregnancy. But we do know that continuing to smoke during pregnancy threatens your and your baby’s health. Quitting smoking is hard, but you can do it with help!

Cravings : Many women have strong desires for specific foods during pregnancy. The desire for “pickles and ice cream” and other cravings might be caused by changes in nutritional needs during pregnancy. The fetus needs nourishment. And a woman’s body absorbs and processes nutrients differently while pregnant. These changes help ensure normal development of the baby and fill the demands of breastfeeding once the baby is born.

Some women crave nonfood items such as clay, ice, laundry starch, or cornstarch. A desire to eat nonfood items is called pica. Eating nonfood items can be harmful to your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you have these urges.

Oral health :

Before you become pregnant, it is best to have dental checkups routinely to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you are pregnant and have not had regular checkups, consider the following :

  • Have a complete oral exam early in your pregnancy. Because you are pregnant, you might not receive routine x-rays. But if you must have x-rays for a dental problem needing treatment, the health risk to your unborn baby is small.
  • Dental treatment during pregnancy is safe. The best time for treatment is between the 14th and 20th weeks. During the last months of pregnancy, you might be uncomfortable sitting in a dental chair.
  • Do not avoid necessary dental treatments — you may risk your and your baby’s health.
  • Use good oral hygiene to control your risk of gum diseases. Pregnant women may have changes in taste and develop red, swollen gums that bleed easily. This condition is called pregnancy gingivitis. It can be caused by both poor oral hygiene and higher hormone levels during pregnancy. Until recently, it was thought that having gum disease could raise your risk of having a low birth weight baby. Researchers have not been able to confirm this link, but some research is still under way to learn more.

After you give birth, maintain good oral hygiene to protect your baby’s oral health. Bacteria that cause cavities can transfer from you to your child by :

  • A kiss on the mouth
  • Letting your baby put her fingers in your mouth
  • Tasting food on your baby’s spoon
  • Testing the temperature of a baby bottle with your mouth

Staying fit :

Special benefits of physical activity during pregnancy:

  • Exercise can ease and prevent aches and pains of pregnancy including constipation, varicose veins, backaches, and exhaustion.
  • Active women seem to be better prepared for labor and delivery and recover more quickly.
  • Exercise may lower the risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Fit women have an easier time getting back to a healthy weight after delivery.
  • Regular exercise may improve sleep during pregnancy.
  • Staying active can protect your emotional health. Pregnant women who exercise seem to have better self-esteem and a lower risk of depression and anxiety.
  • Results from a recent, large study suggest that women who are physically active during pregnancy may lower their chances of preterm delivery.

Fitness goes hand in hand with eating right to maintain your physical health and well-being during pregnancy. Pregnant or not, physical fitness helps keep the heart, bones, and mind healthy. Healthy pregnant women should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. It’s best to spread your workouts throughout the week. If you regularly engage in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or high amounts of activity, you can keep up your activity level as long as your health doesn’t change and you talk to your doctor about your activity level throughout your pregnancy.