For women who are pregnant, it is such a time to be relieved of certain chores in the home and workplace, a time to eat more and adhere to a number of rules, for the sake of their health and that of the foetus in their womb.
This is partly because it has been established that the actions and inactions of a pregnant woman go a long way to impact on the well-being of the foetus she’s carrying. Thus, the need to examine the things a pregnant woman should do.
Visit a pre-conception clinic: Usually, women start visiting the hospital when they want to register for prenatal care, and that is about few months into the pregnancy, but, according to a consultant endocrinologist, Dr. Michael Olamoyegun, a woman should see a doctor even before she is pregnant, which means consulting a doctor when she is still anticipating the pregnancy is important.
But why should a woman see the doctor about a pregnancy that has yet to be? Olamoyegun explained that this is to ensure that the woman puts on hold any habit, drug usage or attitude that she has been involved in that may endanger the life of the foetus. He said this is more important for people who have chronic medical conditions, like hypertension and diabetes.
He said, “The first thing before being pregnant is to see a doctor. In developed countries, they have pre-conception clinics for women anticipating pregnancy. The woman could have been taking certain drugs that are not compatible with pregnancy, and she would need to stop such.
“For example, if she is planning to be pregnant in three months and she has hypertension, the doctor could look at the drugs she had been taking to control her blood pressure, and then withdraw some of them that might not be compatible with pregnancy, to avoid some adverse effects on the baby.
“Here, some women don’t even go for ante-natal booking until the pregnancy is advanced, which is not right. So, if somebody is taking a drug that is not compatible with pregnancy, and that person has taken it throughout the time of being pregnant until it is later discovered, that could have adverse effects on the baby. So, the ideal thing is to see a doctor before being pregnant, especially for those who have chronic condition, like hypertension, diabetes.”
He said if somebody has diabetes and the blood sugar is not well controlled, that is not the best time for the person to be pregnant, because uncontrolled blood sugar affects pregnancy on its own; make the pregnancy to be aborted and make the foetus to develop congenital abnormalities.
But if the person had come before getting pregnant, the doctor would be able to regulate the blood sugar and put it under control before the person would be pregnant. This and many other reasons are why you should discuss with your doctor before getting pregnant.
Avoid smoking and taking alcohols: According to the expert, one other thing pregnant women should avoid is taking alcohols and smoking. He said these substances contain some chemicals that could have adverse effects on the foetus, and could cause “congenital abnormalities.”
Findings show that a child could develop disorders such as low intelligence, problems with hearing and seeing, short height, low body weight, small head size and behaviour problems if the mother smokes or drinks during pregnancy. Thus, to have healthy children, stay away from alcohol and smoking.
Don’t take drugs, unless prescribed: Pregnant women are also advised not to take drugs, including antibiotics, except they are prescribed by a doctor. “Most antibiotics, antidiabetic, anti-hypertensive and antiasthma drugs are not very safe in pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, when the development of all the body structures usually takes place. So, any alteration from any drug or smoking can have a devastating effect on the foetus,” Olamoyegun said.
Don’t wear tight clothes: It may be fashionable dress to wear, especially by those who don’t want others to know they are pregnant, whether the pregnancy is unwanted or not, but it has always been advised that pregnant women should always wear loose or roomy dresses. “If a pregnant woman wears a tight dress, it can form a band on the tummy and even compress the pregnancy, so, it is not encouraged,” Olamoyegun added.
Eat quality food and in good quantity: Even though there is no basic restriction on the kind of food a woman should take during pregnancy, it has however been advised that such women should take more of food that are rich in protein, so as to increase their blood flow, more so that the foetus would benefit from the same food.
According to the expert, if the woman is not well fed, the foetus would not get enough nutrients, which would impact on the size of the baby and the development of the brain.
He said, “One of the things that cause intrauterine growth retardation, in which case the baby does not attain the expected growth rate, is malnutrition. So, if the woman is malnourished or the quality of the food she eats is not good, it will impact on the size of the baby and the development of the brain.”
He explained further that when a child does not have the normal weight at birth, it can serve as a precursor for the development of kidney problem, diabetes and hypertension when the child grows old.
“That is why we encourage women to eat well and they can eat what they like, especially proteinous food, even though there are taboos, like not eating snail or okro. Those are all myths and misconceptions,” he explained.
Mind your sleep position: Due to the bulging stomach, it has been found that there are some sleep positions that pregnant women should avoid. According to Olamoyegun, pregnant women should avoid sleeping on their tummy, and sleeping on their back has its bad side as well. They should also have good rest.
He said they should avoid any sleeping position that would make the uterus, especially when the pregnancy is advanced, to compress either on the blood vessel or on the bladder. However, he said the best sleeping position is to sleep on their side, whether left or right, and or any posture that is convenient for them and the baby.
He said, “When they sleep on their side, it is better and they find it easier to stand. But when they lie on their back, we don’t encourage them to stand up without turning to the left or the right. If you lie on your back, especially when the pregnancy is advanced, it compresses the abdomen and that would indirectly be on the foetus when you stand from bed like that.”
According to a study published on Mail Online, pregnant women should wash their fruits and vegetables before eating them, because it makes a lot of difference to the health of the baby.
They are also advised to avoid seafood (and if they must eat, it must be well-cooked), ice cream and some herbs to avoid listeria, which is food poisoning or other disease caused by infection with a type of bacterium that infects humans and other warm-blooded animals.
While pregnant women are advised to engage in some exercise, like yoga, to stay in shape and burn fats that would have remained when the baby bump is gone after childbirth, the study found that doing rollerblading, horse riding, downhill skiing and some other exercises should be avoided. It should also be noted that any exercise by a pregnant woman should be moderate and must be under the supervision of a trained instructor.
In the same vein, ankle massage should be avoided, as it has been found that certain pressure points in the ankles can stimulate labour. So, to avoid premature birth, you should stay away from that, no matter how fun it is.
And due to the sensitivity of the skin at that period, pregnant women are advised to limit their exposure to the sun.
Speaking on the need to do exercise in pregnancy, Mirella Ingamels, a personal trainer in Lincoln, United Kingdom, said, “For their own wellbeing and sanity, pregnant women shouldn’t let themselves go.
She said, “Exercise during pregnancy can also reduce pain and give women a stronger chance of re-gaining their post-baby body once they give birth, boosting their confidence. You lose the baby bump but you don’t lose the body fat – that stays with you. And your body changes after pregnancy.
“Being healthy and active gives mothers a better chance of having an easier labour and means they will be less likely to need a Caesarean,” she added.