Pregnancy can come with a lot of ups and downs — both physical and hormonal. As such, to ensure a smooth and healthy pregnancy, experts suggest planning it well and in tune with one’s body condition and needs. This helps avoid issues throughout and after the pregnancy, and even during delivery.
This is where pre-conception measures can prove to be extremely helpful for new mothers, according to clinical dietitian Shivika Gandhi Anand. “Pre-conception care aims at improving the health status of the mother-to-be beforehand, by reducing behavioural and environmental factors that contribute to poor maternal and child health, in both short and long term,” she said, adding that screening tests including measuring blood pressure and weight, blood tests (full body check up, viral markers), and urine analysis must be done on time.
A post shared by Shivika Gandhi Anand (@the_nutritional_edge)
Here’s what those looking to start a family should keep in mind
Nutrition therapy: Pre-conception nutrition is a vital part of preparing for pregnancy.
Folic acid: Folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida). Take at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily starting at least one month before getting pregnant.
Vitamin D: Maintain healthy levels of vitamin D as it is required to increase calcium absorption from the intestine.
Iron: Many women have low iron stores as a result of monthly menstruation and low-iron diets. Building iron stores helps prepare a mother’s body for the needs of the foetus during pregnancy. Good sources of iron include: organ meats, liver, chicken, fish, leafy greens, whole grains and pulses.
Calcium: Preparing for pregnancy includes building healthy bones. If there is not enough calcium in the pregnancy diet, the foetus may draw calcium from the mother’s bones, which can put women at risk for osteoporosis later in life. Good sources include: milk, ragi, lotus stem, yoghurt, cheese, and leafy greens.
Dr Preethika Shetty, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Kharadi also shared a few things to keep in mind before planning pregnancy:
*Prepare your physical self, your mind, and lifestyle for the arrival of a child. Get in shape now to make your pregnancy and delivery simpler. On most days, try to engage in 30 minutes of heart-pumping activity.
*Pay attention to your diet. A lot of protein, iron, calcium, and folic acid will be necessary. Stock up on low-fat dairy products, leafy greens, almonds, fruits, and vegetables. Reduce your intake of drinks, baked goods, chips, and other processed items with empty calories.
*Take B vitamin which is present in a wide variety of foods, such as citrus, beans, and leafy greens.
*Consider your weight. It may be more difficult to get pregnant if you are very slim. Additionally, being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure. Additionally, it may lengthen labour, which is something you do not want.
*A few months before you start trying to get pregnant, get tested. Inquire about:
— tests or vaccinations, prenatal supplements, how to handle or manage any health issues you may have.
— pregnant women are not allowed to use some medications.
*Some doctors advise limiting your daily caffeine intake to 200 mg while attempting to conceive and when pregnant. Use decaf instead, or try warm, spiced milk. If you need your morning brew to get going, simply have one and keep it modest.
*One should stop smoking, avoid tobacco consumption and alcohol intake or any addictive substances.
*Recheck safety of existing medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, and any dermatological treatments.
Book pre pregnancy check up at least three months before you plan to start trying for a baby especially if you don’t see the doctor regularly, stressed Dr Shobha Gupta, medical director and IVF expert from Mother’s Lap IVF Centre, New Delhi and Vrindavan. “Your health care provider should ensure about up to date vaccinations and also check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), test for heart-health issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol, and monitor any chronic conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, or thyroid problems),” she said.
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