National Safe Motherhood Day: Self-Care Tips For Expectant Mothers
A healthy mother has a healthy baby. To achieve that, it is very important for every expectant mother to set self-care goals, so that she is mentally and physically safe and healthy during pregnancy.Today, on National Safe Motherhood Day an expert shares self-care tips for expectant mothers.
How To Eat Healthy During Pregnancy?
Healthy eating during pregnancy helps the baby develop and grow. There is no need to go on a special diet, but make sure you eat a variety of different foods every day, in order to eat the right balance of nutrients. Only 300 Kcal per day is the extra energy required during pregnancy. Any consumption above this will only add empty calories and weight, which can put you at the risk of hypertension and diabetes during pregnancy. A diet plan should be adhered to by a pregnant lady.
To combat morning sickness, eat some dry biscuits or puffed rice before getting out of bed to avoid heartburn. Avoid eating sweets or fruits or drinking fruit juices on an empty stomach. Pregnant women can cope up with heartburn by having salted curd (add a pinch of salt to home-made curd). Working women can carry some nutritive snacks like– dry biscuits, rusk, puffed rice, to their workplace; these snacks help with nausea experienced during pregnancy. More than 2-3 cups of tea should be avoided, as it causes acidity.
By taking these precautions, medicines can be avoided.
In the second trimester, a pregnant woman’s diet should include healthy snacks like yoghurt, sprouts or fruit punch between meals. It’s recommended to cut down the consumption of tea, coffee, and cola drinks. Smoking or drinking is strictly prohibited during pregnancy.
In the third trimester, pregnant women should increase the intake of cereals and pulses. They should avoid sweets and items that are high in salt content (chips, pickles), to protect themselves from gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid junk food or food with preservatives.
8-10 glasses of water or fluid intake (the amount varies as per an individual’s body requirements) per day is recommended. Avoid long gaps between meals and snacks. This is important for working women who work under demanding schedules and deadlines. They should keep nutritious snacks at office that they can munch in between meals.
Self-Care For Working Women During Pregnancy
Pregnancy need not mean an end to a woman’s career. During pregnancy a woman goes through a lot of hormonal and physical changes that may take a toll on her health and ability to work. A few tips on self-care can help her in combating problems during pregnancy and smoothly managing her work and pregnancy:
- Managing fatigue: To enhance your energy, get up and move at regular intervals. Take a short walk during break. Avoid working at stretch and try to reduce your workload at home by hiring help, and by buying household items online. Sleep for at least 8 hours, every night.
- Managing Aches And Pains: Avoid standing or sitting for long. Sitting in an adjustable chair that provides decent support to the lower back can relieve backache. While sitting at the desk, you may rest your feet on a footrest to avoid swelling in the ankles and fluid retention in legs. Wear comfortable footwear. To lift things, try bending at the knees to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the back.
- Managing Mood Swings: Practice meditation and relaxation methods like conscious deep breathing, and yoga. Getting massages, listening to music, taking naps, spending quality time with friends, may also assist in brightening up the mood. Going on walks with a good friend and talking about your frustrations and problems can also make you feel better.
- Managing Nausea And Vomiting During Pregnancy:
a. Get out of bed slowly and avoid sudden movements.
b. Eat before getting out of bed in the morning. Keep biscuits, dry cereal or toast by your bedside.
c. Avoid odours and tastes that make you queasy. Take help in cooking meals.
d. Take prenatal vitamins before going to bed.
e. Eat 5 or 6 small meals during the day. Drink liquids between meals.
5. Alleviating Constipation: Pregnant women should eat a high fibre diet to alleviate constipation. Include more fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Have prunes (dried plums) or prune juice. Drink more fluids like water, milk, fruit juices, and soup. You should exercise daily (with doctor’s permission).
6. Physical Activity During Pregnancy: The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It also helps to cope up with labour, as well as, to get back into shape after childbirth.
a. Continue normal, daily physical activity or exercise for as long as you feel comfortable. Don’t exhaust yourself. You may need to slow down, as your pregnancy progresses or if your doctor advises you too.
b. Daily activity like walking for 30 minutes, can keep you active.
c. If you go for exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified, knows you are pregnant and how far your pregnancy has progressed.
d. Foot exercises can be done while sitting or standing. They improve blood circulation, reduce swelling in the ankles, and prevent cramping in calf muscles.
For every problem during pregnancy, you do not need to take medicines. These self-care tips can help an expectant mother to take care of herself and to have a healthy body and mind.
Dr Leena N Sreedhar is the Head of Department - Obstetrics And Gynaecology at Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka, New Delhi.