Congratulations! You are pregnant and expecting a new baby! And now it’s time to enjoy your journey as a mother-to-be.
For any woman, the first few months of pregnancy are filled with feelings of exhilaration, fear and anxiety. To help you relax and enjoy this beautiful time a little more, it is important to know how your pregnancy progresses, at what rate the fetus grows, and how you can take special care of yourself and your growing baby by monitoring even the smallest changes in your body.
As a new mom-to-be, you might have so many questions about what you can eat without adversely affecting the baby growing within you, whether you can exercise or not, and what should you do to keep your baby growing well. The only thing to know here is that a happy mommy means a happy baby!
Healthy Diet & Nutrition
As a pregnant woman, you need to take proper care of your diet. While that means that you must eat well, it by no ways means you should overeat every day.
Eat a balanced meal that comprises of 2500 to 2800 calories every day. That means your diet must include proteins, carbohydrates and fats in well balanced proportions. The right proportion for nutrition for a pregnant woman is –
– 10% calories from protein
– 55% calories from carbohydrates
– 35% calories from healthy fats
However, a pregnant woman needs to use a few supplements in addition to a balanced diet. These are:
1. Folic acid
3. Prenatal Vitamins
Pregnant women can eat anything they want. There is no need to follow any kind of strict diet, as long as they are gaining normal amounts of weight. It is normal to gain between 10 to 12 kg during pregnancy. In the first trimester, you can gain 1 to 2 kg. In the second trimester a woman can gain 1 kg every second week. And in the third trimester, a woman can gain 1 to 3 kg every month. If you are gaining weight faster than that or are not gaining any weight at all, you might need to talk to your gynecologist about your diet and exercise.
Some foods are best avoided by pregnant women. This includes any food with high amounts of Vitamin A, as this vitamin can cause damage to a developing embryo. Avoid unpasteurized cheese, liver based dishes and meats that have not been cooked well.
Exercise Is Important
When you are pregnant, it is important to stay active. By doing light exercises 4 to 5 days a week, not only will you keep your stamina up, you will also be able to manage your weight gain better.
Remember, stay hydrated while you exercise and wear lose clothing that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable in any way. Before you start exercising, talk to your doctor about exercises that are safe for you.
Some safe exercises for pregnant women are:
2. Kegel exercises
5. Aerobics for pregnant women
6. Stationary cycling
During pregnancy, your centre of gravity changes due to an enlarged belly. This may affect your sense of balance, which is why some exercises like skiing and horse riding are best avoided. Some other exercises like skipping or stair climbing that may cause sudden jerks to your uterus are also not safe during pregnancy. Other thing to keep in mind is to make you’re your body doesn’t over heat while exercising and your heart beat stays within 140 beats per minute.
Pregnancy is not the time to challenge your body physically. All you need to do is exercise for 30 minutes every day and choose an exercise that you can do with ease, without further stressing your joints and uterus.However, if you have always been a runner, you can continue to run/jog in the first two trimesters, after ensuring you have good shock absorbing shoes and stay hydrated to avoid overheating.
Premature Labour: Is It Dangerous?
A fetus needs full 9 months to develop properly inside a mother’s womb. However, some babies are in a hurry to come in to the world, and that can result in many complications for your little one, depending on how premature he/she is. A baby is often not physically mature enough to sustain on its own outside if born before 9 months, and as a result, many health complications arise for the baby. To understand what exactly ‘premature’ means, you should know that:
– A baby that is born even on time but weighs only 5 pounds or lesser is considered premature
– A baby born before 37th week of pregnancy is premature
If you are going to go in to premature labor, you will feel cramps in your uterus, very much like menstrual cramps. A dull ache in the lower back and pressure in pelvic and abdomen area are all signs you are going in to premature labor. Doctors find it very difficult to identify the reasons that could result in preterm labor. It could be anything:
– Multiple pregnancies
– Abnormally structured uterus
– Underweight mothers who haven’t gained enough weight during pregnancy
– Bleeding during pregnancy
– Intrauterine growths
– Eclampsia or pre-eclamsia
Many other reasons can also cause premature birth. If you have gone in to premature labor, your doctor will present to you 2 options – You can either give birth to the baby and see how the baby fares in incubators, or stop labor somehow and let the baby develop a little more.
To choose the latter, which is a more ideal scenario, the doctors have to see whether the placenta has been damaged or not and whether they can somehow stop the labor without endangering the life of both the mother and the baby. Doctors can inject steroids to accelerate development in the baby, especially those which will help the lungs mature faster so that the baby isn’t born with respiratory diseases. The mother will have to go on complete bed rest, take plenty of fluids and even take drug therapy to arrest labor.
Today science has developed a lot and most premature born babies make it through the 9 months with expert pre-natal care.
Postpartum Blues Are Very Real And Very Common
Some mothers start to feel depressed after their babies are born, irrespective of whether the baby was planned or not. The cause of postpartum depression is not yet known, though doctors believe that stress, hormonal changes and unwanted physical changes can all contribute to postpartum depression.
A mild form of postpartum depression is called ‘baby blues’ and is normal. If you are young and vivacious, it is normal to feel tied down by a baby and feel depressed about not having space and time for yourself.
The best way to melt away baby blues – RELAX!
R = Rest Well
Get rest whenever the baby is asleep. Also, get help from maids and family members and make sure that you take at least one meal tucked in bed where you have time to flip through a magazine or watch TV. The more you relax, the happier you will be when with the baby. The baby is yours forever; there will be time for nursery designs and cute outfits later. For now, just rest and let your body heal.
E = Expect Changes
Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster ride! You will be happy one moment and depressed the next, and you will not even know what is causing the mood swings. Don’t try and ‘decipher’ the reason, just try and get by the day. Don’t beat yourself over the head because the baby threw up or has an ear infection and you really cannot wait for this to be over rather than being worried sick.
For most mothers, the real depression comes from feeling guilty that they have the feeling of unrest and uncertainty, when everyone says that having a baby is the ‘happiest’ thing that can happen to a woman. Remember, every woman is different and you don’t have to feel the way your friend does about her baby.
L = Let Out Your Feelings
Talk to your partner or a friend and explain how you feel. Sometimes, kind words like “I know exactly how you feel” is enough to make you feel better. Befriend other new moms and talk to them about their experiences if you need reassurance that you aren’t going crazy.
A = Alone time every day
You must make time for yourself every single day. Make time for a relaxing bubble bath, reading a few pages and listening to music. Do whatever you enjoy and make sure your partner or a family member takes care of the baby at least for a couple of hours every day so you have tie to yourself.
X = Xtract Yourself From Your Routine Periodically
It is easy to get so caught up with your baby that you forget all about yourself. If you have been feeling depressed, an evening out with your husband or even friends will do you a world of good. Whether it is a movie and dinner or catching up with some friends after a romantic drive, get out of the house and don’t feel guilty about your mother babysitting your little one. Aim to go for 1 night-out per week so that you don’t get too lost in your baby and ignore your other needs.
Being pregnant is one of the happiest parts of any woman’s life. For the next nine months, your body will go through several changes, and so will your frame of mind. Pregnancy will bring out the most profound change in your life, so sit back and relax as you get ready to experience new things every day!
Also read: 10 Challenges To Overcome As a New Mom, to complete your ‘what to expect when you are expecting’ crash course!