Generally parenting begins long before the news is delivered that a new family member is on the way. It is a medical fact that the state of the mothers’ health before the pregnancy strongly affects her health during the pregnancy, which in turn plays a vital role in the baby’s well-being before and after birth.
Below is a list of self-assessment which every mother-to-be should ask in ensuring that she is prepared for the pregnancy that will follow.
Are you taking care of your body?
Your baby needs a functional body in order to ensure a successful birth with no undesired consequences. Often, poor nutrition, smoking and the use of alcohol and drugs may have a serious impact on your baby’s development. This applies especially to the first eight weeks where vital organs of the baby are under construction.
You should always remember, you have only one body and you need to take care of it.
Are you looking at good nutrition?
Good nutrition does not necessarily involve magic formulas, rigid restrictions or loads of vitamins and supplements as advertised on telesales programs we are all so familiar with.
Studies conducted in the United States concluded that if you are a vegetarian you should be in a position to continue with your pregnancy without any difficulty, provided that you include a wide variety of foods. If you do not consume any animal products, milk, eggs or cheese you may develop a shortage of protein, calories, iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and zinc. In this event vitamin and mineral supplement would be advisable.
Theoretically, a woman consuming a wide variety of fresh and high quality food in rough proportions will often be prescribed prenatal vitamins, which will make up for the deficiencies in the mothers’ diet.
Evidence concluded that in taking supplemental folic acid mothers will reduce the likelihood that the baby may suffer from any of a variety of major problems known as Neural Tube Effects. Often neural tube effects may occur before a mother knows she is pregnant. In these events the dosage of folic acid may be increased by the physician.
All pregnant women need additional iron. Iron is required in the formation of haemoglobin, the protein within the red blood cells that binds oxygen and allows the red blood cells to deliver oxygen to all other cells. Calcium intake should generally be 1,000mg per day during the childbearing period. This should be increased to 1,200 – 1,500mg per day during pregnancy. This is required for the new skeleton that is being formed.
Do you weigh enough or too much?
Excessive weight during pregnancy is a risk factor for high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which may lead to serious problems for mother and baby.
Being underweight during pregnancy also poses its threats to the new baby as this generally compromises the nutritional needs of the baby. This often leads to babies being born with a low birth rate, babies experiencing difficulties in maintaining normal temperature or problems in blood-sugar levels after birth.
It is highly suggested that mothers who experienced a history of erratic nutrition consults a dietician before, during and after a pregnancy. It is of great benefit to your baby’s future health that you commit to these visits.
Are you exercising your vital organs?
A pregnancy ensures new changes to a woman’s current lifestyle. Aside from the normal weight gain a woman’s heart will be dealing with an additional 50% increase in blood volume. Muscles and ligaments in the back and pelvis will be subjected to new tensions and strains.
For the reasons mentioned above, exercising your muscles, heart and lung is of utmost importance. The increased stamina and muscle tone resulting from regular exercise will increase energy levels, improve sleep and reduce aches and pain in the lower back during pregnancy.
The majority of people may state that they are not used to exercising, but committing to a goal of thirty minutes of exercise three to four times a week may be sufficient. It is advisable that you consult a physician in order to find more about the type of exercises that may be more applicable to you.
What are you inhaling?
You should always be attentive to your surroundings. What you inhale directly affects the growing baby inside you. One of the most important factors that affect the majority of pregnant women is cigarette smoking.
Cigarette smoking not only affects the smoker, but also those around him or her. The thousands of chemicals making up a cigarette flow directly from the mother’s lungs into her bloodstream and then into the baby. It has been found that nicotine often causes constriction of blood vessels in both the placenta and the baby, limiting the supply of vital blood and oxygen. It is a medical fact that the smoker’s baby is more likely to be born prematurely or to be stillborn.
Not only is exposure to cigarette smoke during pregnancy a risk, but exposure to cigarette smoke after birth is often associated with colds, ear infections and asthma.