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Towards a healthy pregnancy II

By Dr Khushboo Shah Sawant

Moving ahead in the journey towards a safe and healthy pregnancy, we shall now uncover a few common problems faced during pregnancy. Right from conception until the final stages of pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through tremendous changes, be it, physical, hormonal or emotional. During this phase, the body adapts to accommodate the new life growing within itself, nourish it and provide the unborn foetus with everything it needs to stay alive and grow normally. This gives rise to a number of health related difficulties in the mother, many which are a routine part of pregnancy.

Morning sickness and nausea is one of the most common problems of pregnancy, which usually clears up by 12-14 weeks. It may be an uncomfortable feeling but it does not put the baby at any kind of risk. These symptoms may also be aggravated by tiredness. In some cases however, women experience severe vomiting, which is prolonged, for which medical attention is needed, as there is a specific form of treatment. However, most common simple changes can help, like take some time before getting out of bed. Eating plain food like a biscuit or toast first thing may also help to fight off nausea. Also eating smaller meals at frequent intervals help. Drinking plenty of fluids is important and drinking cold water in small sips may also help. It is best to avoid foods whose smells aggravate the symptoms.

Constipation in pregnancy, which can start very early during the pregnancy is the result of hormonal changes in the body. To cope with this, pregnant mothers are advised to include plenty of fluids in their diet, eat foods rich in fiber, wholegrain cereals, vegetables, lentils etc. and to exercise regularly to tone the muscles. . Also iron supplements may also give rise to constipation; the doctor can help manage or change the brand in case it affects bowel movements too much.

Swelling of ankles, feet and fingers often happens during the later stages of pregnancy. This is because the body is holding more water than its normal capacity which tends to gather up in the lower part of the body. To deal with swelling, the mother must avoid standing for long period and wear flat comfortable footwear. Also while resting, keeping the feet raised up with the help of a pillow may soothe the swelling.  Backache during pregnancy is another common problem. To cope with a backache always sit with enough support to the back. Avoid lifting heavy weights, and while bending down, it is advisable to bend from the knees keeping the back straight. Also woman must wear flat shoes, which helps to evenly distribute the weight.

Feeling faint during pregnancy especially when standing up too quickly, or lying down happens as the brain does not receive blood supply too quickly. The solution is to simply slower down your movements. While standing up or moving around, find a chair immediately if you are feeling faint. And while lying down, try changing the posture to lying sideways. Feel increasingly hot is another common feature of pregnancy, it happens due to increased blood supply to the skin. To cope with it, expecting mothers must wear loose clothing made of natural fibers and freshen up or bathe regularly.

The increase in frequency to urinate is seen often from the early pregnancy stahe and may continue till later stages where the urge to urinate is due to the pressure of the baby’s head on the bladder. It can help to avoid drinking fluids closer to bed time, which might reduce the frequency during sleep. There also are skin and hair changes during pregnancy. There may be darkening of the nipples, which may also increase in size. Birthmarks and moles also may get darker. Some women develop a dark line on their belly, while some may notice increased acne break outs. Most of these changes fade away after childbirth. Also there may be increased hair growth and the hair itself may be greasier.

Varicose veins (swollen veins) also affect many pregnant women. For this, the woman should avoid standing for long periods, try and avoid excessive weight gain which adds to the pressure. Also sleeping with a pillow under the feet also helps to reduce pressure. Some women experience sore and bleeding gums during pregnancy. This is caused due to hormonal changes which make the gums more vulnerable to soreness and bleeds. Brushing teeth often and avoiding high sugar foods before bedtime can help. Also use of a soft fiber tooth brush can also reduce bleeding gums.

High blood pressure may also occur during pregnancy and monitoring the blood pressure is important during the prenatal checkups. Though most often the rise in pressure is mild, it may be life threatening to the mother as well as the baby. It may also lead to fits if the blood pressure remains increased and untreated. It is best to go for regular checkups and have the blood pressure monitored. Avoiding increased salt consumption and foods with high amount of preservatives may help. Acidity and indigestion also are a very common feature and may increase as the pregnancy progresses and the size of the baby increases, pushes the stomach higher up into the body. Avoid increased spice and seasoning in the meals, avoiding sleeping immediately after a meal, eating smaller meals more often also helps.

Stretch marks is one of the most dreaded changes of pregnancy. As the skin stretches to accommodate the increasing size of the baby, it leaves behind marks. The marks fade away after childbirth and only remain as silver whitish lines. Nosebleeds occur in some cases, which are caused due to hormonal changes in the body. Using ice packs on the bridge of the nose helps in relieving the nosebleeds. While all the above are routine problems experienced during pregnancy, in case any of the above symptoms increase to a point making life debilitating, it should be brought to the doctor’s attention.

But all said and done, the journey to a health pregnancy is possible and well worth it!




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