Pregnancy in Shavasana
Getting early and regular prenatal care is the best thing you can do to keep yourself and your developing infant healthy while you are pregnant.
When the pregnancy test comes back positive, you’ve begun a life-altering journey. As the baby grows and changes through each stage of pregnancy, you go through changes, too: in your body, emotions, and lifestyle. You need information to answer your questions and help you make good decisions for a healthy baby and a healthy you.
Pregnancy is an ideal time to start taking really good care of yourself both physically and emotionally. If you follow the few simple guidelines below, you should give yourself the best chance of having a problem-free pregnancy and a healthy baby too.
1. See your doctor or midwife as soon as possible
As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, get in touch with your GP or a midwife to organise your antenatal care. Organising your care early means you’ll get good advice for a healthy pregnancy right from the start. You’ll also have plenty of time to organise any ultrasound scans and tests that you may need.
2. Eat well
- Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet whenever you can. Try to have:
- At least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
- Plenty of carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and rice, as the basis of your meals. Choose wholegrain carbohydrates rather than white, so you get plenty of fibre.
- Daily servings of protein, such as fish, lean meat, eggs, nuts or pulses, and some milk and dairy foods.
- Two portions of fish a week, at least one of which should be oily. Fish is packed with protein, vitamin D, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the development of your baby’s nervous system.
You don’t need to eat for two when you’re pregnant. You don’t need extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy. In the last three months you’ll need about an extra 200 calories a day. You can keep up your energy levels with healthy snacks.
3. Take a supplement
Pregnancy vitamin supplements aren’t a substitute for a balanced diet. But they can help if you’re worried you’re not eating well, or you’re too sick to eat much.
Make sure your supplement contains 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. You need this while you’re trying for a baby and for the first three months of pregnancy. Taking folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.
Also, check that your supplement contains 10mcg of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for your baby’s future bone health.
Talk to your GP or a pharmacist before taking an antenatal supplement. If you don’t take a multivitamin for pregnant women, you can buy folic acid and vitamin D supplements separately.
If you don’t eat fish, fish oil supplements may be helpful. Choose a supplement made from the body of the fish, not the liver. This is because fish liver oils (such as cod liver oil) may contain the retinol form of vitamin A, which isn’t recommended in pregnancy.
4. Be careful about food hygiene
There are some foods it’s safest not to eat in pregnancy. This is because they can carry a health risk for your baby.
Listeriosis is an infection caused by listeria bacteria. It’s rare and doesn’t usually pose a threat to your health. However, it can cause pregnancy or birth complications. Listeriosis can even lead to miscarriage.
The following foods may harbour listeria and so are best avoided:
- pate of any type
- unpasteurised milk
- undercooked ready meals
- soft, mould-ripened cheeses, such as brie
- blue-veined cheeses, such as roquefort
As listeria bacteria are destroyed by heat, make sure you heat ready meals thoroughly.
Salmonella can cause food poisoning. You can catch it from eating:
Is it safe to eat soft-boiled or raw eggs during pregnancy?
Cook eggs until the white and yolk are solid. Thoroughly wash utensils, boards and your hands after handling raw poultry.
Food hygiene is especially important now you’re pregnant. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite. It’s also rare, but it can affect your unborn baby. You can cut down your risk of catching it by:
- cooking meat and ready meals thoroughly
- washing fruit and vegetables well to remove soil or dirt
- wearing gloves when handling cat litter and garden soil
5. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise has many benefits for mums-to-be. It can:
- Build your strength and endurance. This may help you to cope better with the extra weight of pregnancy and the hard work of labour.
- Make it easier for you to get back into shape after your baby is born.
- Boost your spirits and even help to ward off depression.
Good exercise choices for pregnancy include:
If you play sport, you can continue as long as it feels comfortable for you. However, if your particular sport carries a risk of falls or knocks, or extra stress on your joints, it’s best to stop. Talk to your GP if you’re unsure.
6. Begin doing pelvic floor exercises
Your pelvic floor comprises a hammock of muscles at the base of your pelvis. These muscles support your bladder, vagina and back passage. They can feel weaker than usual in pregnancy because of the extra pressure upon them. Pregnancy hormones can also cause your pelvic floor to slacken slightly.
Weak pelvic floor muscles put you at risk of developing stress incontinence. This is when small amounts of urine leak out when you sneeze, laugh or exercise.
Strengthening your muscles by doing pelvic floor exercises regularly throughout your pregnancy can help. Having a toned pelvic floor may help your baby’s birth go more smoothly too. You’ll feel the benefit if do eight pelvic floor squeezes, three times a day.
Any alcohol you drink rapidly reaches your baby via your blood stream and placenta.
No one knows for sure how much alcohol it’s safe to drink while you’re pregnant. That’s why many experts advise you to cut out alcohol completely throughout pregnancy, or at least for the first three months.
If you do decide to drink, stick to no more than one or two units of alcohol, no more than once or twice a week, and never get drunk.
Drinking heavily or binge drinking during pregnancy is dangerous for your baby. Mums-to-be who drink heavily on a regular basis are more likely to give birth to a baby with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). These are problems ranging from learning difficulties to more serious birth defects.
8. Cut back on caffeine
Coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks are mild stimulants. There are concerns that too much caffeine may increase your risk of miscarriage. It’s also thought possible that too much caffeine may contribute to your risk of having a low-birth-weight baby.
Current guidelines state that up to 200mg of caffeine a day won’t hurt your baby. That’s the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.
As with alcohol, you may prefer to cut out caffeine altogether, particularly in the first trimester. Decaffeinated tea and coffee, fruit teas and fruit juices are all safe alternatives.
9. Stop smoking
Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious health problems, for you and your baby. These risks include an increased risk of:
- premature birth
- low birth weight
- cot death (SIDS)
Smoking may even be associated with the loss of a baby at birth.
Smoking makes the following pregnancy complications more likely:
Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness).
Placental abruption, where the placenta comes away from the uterus wall before your baby is born.
If you smoke, it’s best to stop, for your own health and that of your baby. The sooner you stop smoking, the better, but it’s never too late. Even stopping in the last few weeks of your pregnancy can benefit you both. Watch a video about how smoke reaches your unborn baby.
10. Get some rest
The fatigue you feel in the first few months is due to high levels of pregnancy hormones circulating in your body. Later on, it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down.
If you can’t sleep at night, try to take a quick nap in the middle of the day to catch up. If that’s impossible, at least put your feet up and try to relax for 30 minutes.
If backache is disturbing your sleep, try lying on your left-hand side with your knees bent. Placing a wedge-shaped pillow under your bump may help ease the strain on your back.
Exercise may also give you some relief from backache. It can help with sleep problems, too, as long as you don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
To wind down ready for bed, try relaxation techniques, which are safe in pregnancy, such as:
Always let your exercise teacher know that you’re pregnant or, ideally, choose classes tailored to pregnant women.
11. Eliminate environmental dangers
Some jobs can be hazardous to you and your developing baby. If you’re routinely exposed to chemicals, heavy metals (like lead or mercury), certain biologic agents, or radiation, you’ll need to make some changes as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that some cleaning products, pesticides, solvents, and lead in drinking water from old pipes can also be harmful. Talk to your doctor or midwife about what your daily routine involves, so you can come up with ways to avoid or eliminate hazards in your home and workplace.
12. See your dentist
Don’t forget about your oral health: Brush, floss, and get regular dental care. Hormonal shifts during pregnancy can make you more susceptible to gum disease. Increased progesterone and estrogen levels can cause the gums to react differently to the bacteria in plaque, resulting in swollen, bleeding, tender gums (gingivitis). So see your dentist for a checkup and cleaning now if you haven’t had a visit in the last six months.
13. Take care of your emotional health
Many women feel like they’re on an emotional roller coaster at one time or another during pregnancy. But if your mood swings are extreme or interfering with your daily life, you may be suffering from depression, a relatively common condition.
If you’ve been feeling low for more than two weeks and nothing seems to lift your spirits — or if you’re feeling particularly anxious — share your feelings with your caregiver so you can get a referral for professional help.
Also let your caregiver know if you’re in an abusive relationship. Pregnancy can cause stress in any relationship, and it’s a common trigger of domestic violence, which puts your health and your baby at risk.
14. Educate Yourself
Even if this isn’t your first baby, attending a childbirth class will help you feel more prepared for delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, but you can ask specific questions and voice any concerns. You’ll also become more acquainted with the facility and its staff. Having 1 or 2 good books will also help you a lot.
15. Rethink Your Spa Style
Pregnancy is definitely a time for pampering, but you need to be careful. Avoid saunas, which can make you overheated. Ditto for hot tubs: According to the American Pregnancy Association, it takes only 10 to 20 minutes of sitting in one for your body temperature to reach 102 degrees Farenheit — nearly the limit of what’s considered safe for pregnant women. Also, certain essential oils can cause uterine contractions, especially during the first and second trimester, so check with your massage therapist to make sure only safe ones are being used. On the taboo list: juniper, rosemary, and clary sage.
16. Track Your Weight Gain
Packing on too many extra pounds may make them hard to lose later. At the same time, not can gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems. Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. Here’s what the IOM recommends, based on a woman’s BMI (body mass index) before becoming pregnant with one baby:
– Underweight: Gain 28-40 pounds
– Normal weight: Gain 25-35 pounds
– Overweight: Gain 15-25 pounds
– Obese: Gain 11-20 pounds
Check in with your doctor frequently to make sure you’re gaining at a healthy rate.
17. Wear Sunscreen
Being pregnant makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you’re more prone to sunburn and chloasma, those dark, blotchy spots that sometimes appear on the face. Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (many brands now offer chemical-free formulas, if you prefer a green option) and wear a hat and sunglasses. While no studies prove spending time in tanning beds can hurt your baby, the American Pregnancy Association recommends you avoid them while you’re pregnant
18. Fly Smart
Go ahead — book that flight, but take some precautions. Experts from the Mayo Clinic say mid-pregnancy, around 14 to 28 weeks, is usually the best time to fly — by this time you’re probably over morning sickness, and the risk of miscarriage or early delivery is low. Still, check with your doctor about any travel plans, and make sure the airline has no restrictions for pregnant women. On the plane, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and get up and walk around every half hour to reduce the risk of blood clots. An aisle seat will give you more room and make trips to the bathroom easier.
19. Say Yes to Cravings — Sometimes
Truth be told, no one knows why cravings happen. Some experts say they may be nature’s way of providing nutrients an expectant mom may be lacking. Others say they’re an emotional thing. Regardless, as long as you’re eating an overall healthy diet, it’s usually OK to give in to your cravings. Just be careful to limit portions — don’t down all that ice cream at once! — and know which snacks to steer clear of. A few foods to avoid: raw and undercooked meat or eggs; brie, feta, and other types of unpasteurized cheese; herbal teas; and raw sprouts.
20. Know When to Call the Doctor
Being pregnant can be confusing, especially if it’s your first time. How do you know which twinge is normal and which one isn’t? You should call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
– Pain of any kind
– Strong cramps
– Contractions at 20-minute intervals
– Vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid
– Dizziness or fainting
– Shortness of breath
– Heart palpitations
– Constant nausea and vomiting
– Trouble walking, edema (swelling of joints)
– Decreased activity by the baby
Of all the rights of a women, the greatest is to be a Mother
Happy Healthy Pregnancy