Pregnancy and things to avoid
Pregnancy is an absolutely distinct and important point in any family and as such, should be handled with care.
The 40 – week period comes with changes even from the onset; ranging from physical to emotional and even environmental changes, all in a bid to welcome a new child.
During pregnancy, there may be many changes to adapt to depending on the lifestyle of the pregnant woman. It is important to take note of a few things and prepare ahead of time.
Dietary intake increases as pregnancy advances and the reason for this is very obvious; the mother begins to feed her child right from the womb.
Women with multiple pregnancies have to consume more food than those with single pregnancies.
In considering nutrition for pregnant women, there may be a need to top up the intake of some diets, and cut down or stop the intake of others. A few considerations are made below:
During pregnancy, carbohydrates should make up over 50% of the diet. This is important to spare proteins from being broken down to produce the required energy.
Foods like maize, rice, wheat, beans, fruits and vegetables, etc. contain carbohydrates and should be included regularly in the diet of pregnant women.
The body tissues of both the mother and the baby in the womb are made of proteins, hence the need for an adequate intake of protein during pregnancy.
The amount of fat your body requires during pregnancy does not change. Fat intake should be limited as much as possible.
Vitamins are classified into different groups, each one having a specific function in the body.
Vitamin A plays a very important role in vision (sight), growth of cells, and the development of immunity.
The amount of vitamin A that will be present in the breast milk is determined by that available to the mother during the last three months of pregnancy.
However, some forms of vitamin A are also known to be of teratogenic effect, hence should be taken only by instruction.
Vitamin D is needed for the growth of the skeleton; it is known to regulate the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphate. Vitamin D can be found in fish, and in some cereals, but is gotten more when one is exposed to sunlight
Vitamin B9 also known as folic acid is also very essential in pregnancy.
Lack of folic acid during pregnancy is normally associated with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid plays a major role in the synthesis of nucleic acids, hence is important in the growth and replication of cells.
This is the major component of bone and teeth and is important information and maintenance of these structures. It is also required for nerve transmission and regulation of the heartbeat. When calcium intake is low, it may lead to pregnancy-induced hypertension.
Iron is a major component of haemoglobin and the blood at large. Inadequacy leads to iron deficiency anaemia, which increases the chances of having a child with low birth weight, premature delivery, and sometimes maternal death.
During pregnancy, more iron is absorbed by the body and consumption of foods like unripe plantain that contain iron is advised.
Pregnant women are advised to avoid very strenuous exercises to avoid putting pressure on the foetus or causing premature contractions to occur, leading to a miscarriage.
However, short walks and brisk exercises are recommended to ensure adequate blood circulation, improve oxygen intake, and maintain good health.
During pregnancy, many drugs are prohibited from use; especially those that are teratogenic in nature. Teratogenic agents or drugs are responsible for many anomalies seen in babies upon delivery.
Alcohol is a known teratogen and should be avoided totally during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are commonly asked questions about the herb supplements they use and advised accordingly. Some herbs may be dangerous to the mother, child or both.
Intake of substances like caffeine which increases the risk of miscarriage is moderated.
Generally, pregnant women are encouraged to fix regular appointments with their physicians for prenatal check-ups.
However, if you notice any of the following as a pregnant woman, you should see a doctor
- Pelvic bleeding
- Abdominal contractions before the expected delivery date
- Constant leg swelling
- Other health symptoms like headaches, fever, etc.
As pregnancy progresses, you will have to take note of the baby’s “kick”. This kick is a way of measuring the activity and viability of the baby. When the frequency and strength of the baby’s kick reduce or stops entirely, you will need to see a doctor immediately.