Having a baby is one of the most cherished moments of a woman’s life and losing a baby is the worst tragedy. Therefore, it is important that every pregnant woman takes care to see that she has a normal hassle free pregnancy and delivers a healthy normal baby.
There are many “dos” and ‘don’ts” for a pregnant lady. Some are proven scientifically, some not. But even those which are not proven scientifically are based on personal experiences of other women, hence are worth listening to.
The first three months of pregnancy are extremely precious. It is the time when pregnancy is stabilised and the body of the baby is formed. During this period, a pregnant woman should ideally avoid taking any medicine unless it is absolutely necessary.
For example, suitable antiretroviral drugs should be continued for a HIV positive woman. Some medicines have known harmful effects for the baby in the womb while some may harm the baby though hazards have not been documented. Therefore to be on a safe side, it is better to avoid all medicines. From second trimester onwards, one can take medicines that are safe.
Regarding food, there is no restriction on any kind of food item. But ideally one should take food that is healthy and nutritious. This should include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain and cereals, milk and milk products and meat products. Ideally the food consumed should be freshly cooked.
The requirement of calcium and iron is increased during pregnancy. If this requirement is not fulfilled during pregnancy, a woman is prone to develop anemia and backache with joint pains later on. Hence, one should be careful to see that demand of necessary nutrients is fulfilled.
Some women throw up a lot during early pregnancy, while some have vomiting throughout pregnancy. Due to this, the food intake of the affected person is reduced. Women suffering from vomiting during pregnancy are advised to take small frequent meals so that their nutritional needs are fulfilled without making them feel sicker.
During pregnancy, one is more prone to develop urinary tract infections, which in turn are harmful for the baby. Drinking lots of water keeps the urinary system clean and germ-free.
Use of alcohol and tobacco can lead to intrauterine fetal death and fetal abnormalities, hence should be avoided totally during pregnancy,
High-heel shoes are known to put the uterus under stress and can also cause abortion.
Therefore, it is better to avoid high heeled shoes during pregnancy.
Pregnant women should avoid lifting heavy objects as it carries risk of inducing miscarriage. Similarly, pushing or moving heavy objects is also risky and should be avoided.
Sex during pregnancy is a very controversial and personal issue. But every act of intercourse carries potential risk of introducing germs. Hence, if somebody does sexual activity during pregnancy, good attention should be paid to personal hygiene to avoid infections. Similarly care should be taken to see that no pressure is put on the pregnant abdomen.
Adequate rest is important for the pregnant woman. She should be encouraged to take a short nap if possible in the afternoon and sleep well during night.
Following these small steps can ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery of a healthy baby.
The Ministry of Health has put in a good surveillance and management system for women during pregnancy and delivery, thus bringing down the maternal mortality rate significantly, which is a model in this region.
It is for individuals to make use of the programme to avoid any complication during pregnancy or delivery.
Dr Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital