Nature has exclusively reserved the privilege of nurturing a life form inside the body and bring it into this world, to females and in the case of humans, the nine months of pregnancy by far is also the most enjoyable period in life for most women. But the experiences, living conditions and mental health issues that women from refugee backgrounds have experienced can contribute to certain types of obstetric complications. There are significant disparities in maternity outcomes for Australian women from refugee backgrounds as compared with the rest of the Australian population. It can also cause increased anxiety about receiving right maternity care in Australia.
All those emotions, psychological and physiological highs and lows that women were going through during pregnancy, the expectations, and the challenges lead to deliver a healthy baby. As a woman, it is also therefore essential that you take the greatest care and pay close attention to all that matters for the health of your baby and eventually, your health. You are doing an excellent service to your child and yourself. To help you through the process, we have culled out some of the important aspects that are essential to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a charming, healthy baby.
The foetus is dependent on your nutrition intake during pregnancy. Do remember that most of the birth defects can be kept at bay when you take adequate and appropriate nutrition during pregnancy. Development of foetal brain and birth weight are determined by your nutrition intake. Further, a balanced diet will also help you reduce the risk of anaemia and other pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue. Good nutrition also helps in balancing mood swings and potentially labour and delivery too. Ideally, a well-balanced pregnancy diet should include:-
Vitamin C Vegetables and fruits
Protein Foods rich in iron
Calcium Folic acid
Whole grains Adequate fat
The best way to meet your nutritional needs across the nine months of pregnancy and beyond is to eat a wide array of foods from each of the above groups every day. One major concern with most women, however, is the amount of weight they could gain during pregnancy. According to Dr Shelley, from EMOG, pregnancy by itself can potentially add about 25 – 35 pounds, and this is usually monitored by your doctor during each visit. Your doctor’s recommendations will vary from one individual to the other and will also consider your weight before you became pregnant. Multiple pregnancies is also a factor that would impact weight and the doctor’s recommendations.
Try and stay away from these foods during pregnancy
To protect yourself and your baby from the parasitic and bacterial infection like listeriosis, you should ensure that all cheese, milk and juice are pasteurized. Similarly, meat obtained from the deli counter and hot dogs are also best avoided unless you are sure that they are heated thoroughly. Smoked food, refrigerated food undercooked meat, seafood and poultry can also adversely affect the progress of your pregnancy and the good health of the foetus. Check if anyone has a history of allergy and confirm with your doctor on what other foods need to be avoided.
Your food intake is the source of most nutrients needed for you and your baby during pregnancy. However, prenatal vitamins prescribed by your doctor also play a crucial role. Often, pregnant women find it a huge challenge planning three meals full of nutrients every single day and vitamin supplements, therefore, help to fill the void to ensure that the developing foetus gets the nourishment it needs. The importance of folic acid cannot be overemphasized. This vitamin is crucial for every pregnant woman and folic acid supplements are usually taken even a few weeks before the start of the pregnancy and into the 12th week of your pregnancy. This has been found to have a salutary effect in lowering the risk of a baby with neural tube defect like spina bifida. Folic acid is found in most of the prenatal vitamins and your doctor can decide what suits you best.
Exercise is another crucial component of a healthy pregnancy
Moderate exercise is always recommended for pregnant women and a 30 minutes exercise is recommended and considered beneficial for the growing baby as well as the mother to be. Exercise is known to improve blood circulation, decrease stress and strengthen muscles. It is important however that you speak to your doctor and understand the type of exercise that best suits you. This is particularly so if your pregnancy is categorized as high-risk. For most pregnancies exercise contributes to:-
Enhanced energy level
Better endurance and stronger muscles
Relief from constipation
There are many forms of exercise, designed specifically for pregnant women and it is always safer to talk to your doctor to understand where the lines are drawn.
Staying away from all forms of bad habits
This is another crucial component of a healthy pregnancy. Alcohol consumption, tobacco, drugs and substance abuse etc. can seriously impact the foetus, your health and the chances of a safe and healthy delivery. Alcohol consumption can potentially lead to issues like premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth etc. apart from causing other health issues for you and your baby. As for smoking, although there is no evidence pointing to any harm for the developing foetus, an adequate proof is available to show that smoking is hazardous for the pregnant woman and the foetus. Smoking impacts oxygen delivery and blood flow to the foetus and impairs its growth.
Smoking by pregnant women can also trigger the following, among other issues:-
Premature detachment of placenta
Sickness during pregnancy
Pregnant women also tend to be susceptible to infections like flu or the common cold. Although this can make the individual pretty unwell, it usually does not affect the foetus. However, it is important that you speak to your doctor and get appropriate directions on treatments that are safe during your pregnancy. Do also remember that common medications like ibuprofen and aspirin are contraindicated during pregnancy. And, our grandmas were spot on when they said prevention is the best weapon to fight against getting sick.
‘Be a happy mother’