Pregnancy is the phase that brings in a huge bundle of joy, a sense of responsibility, and also stress of the upcoming health-related problems. You experience variable shifts and drifts in this phase of life. Though this is the happiest period of a women’s life, one should not ignore the precautions which must be taken for the healthy development of the child and the good health of the expecting mother.
The first trimester plays a vital role in the phase of pregnancy as it indicates the development and growth of ‘embryo’. The growth of the baby inside the womb is quick and rapid.
Some stages of pregnancy according to weeks are described as follows:
- 4 weeks: Body parts, such as eyes, nose, ears, digestive tract, and spine, of the unborn baby, start developing during this period. The heart is first developed as a tube, and it starts beating by the end of this period.
Hence, one must focus on the foods which are good sources of nutrients and vitamins that would help in the healthy development of the unborn baby’s body parts. For the spine and nervous system, omega-3 fatty food should be added to the diet.
- 8 weeks: The heart of the unborn baby begins functioning by the end of this stage. All other body organs get developed in these 8 weeks similar to the full-term baby
- 12 weeks: Fingernails, toenails, and tooth buds develop in this stage. Gradually, the fetus starts moving in the amniotic fluid but this cannot be felt by the mother. The physician providing antenatal health care may be able to hear the heart sound of the fetus by using an electronic device.
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10 Precautionary Steps to Follow in the Early Stage of Pregnancy:
- Maintain Good Hydration Level: In the early stage of pregnancy, tremendous changes occur in the body. Blood flow to the fetus increases the blood volume, and, for this reason, a good amount of water must be consumed. Various women in the first trimester come with constipation as it is a common symptom if the hydration level is not maintained. Hence, the hydration level should be maintained adequately. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water daily.
- Have Prenatal Multivitamin: As discussed above, in the first four weeks, various organs develop, and, for this purpose, multiple vitamins and nutrients are needed. Folic acid is needed for neural tube development. In India, women’s hemoglobin levels are found to be lower than that of women in other countries. Hence, the iron supplement is indicated in antenatal care (ANC). Calcium supplements help in bone formation without any deficiency.
- Watch Your Weight: It is always beneficial to follow a healthy lifestyle and maintain basal metabolic index (BMI). A sudden rise in weight during the first trimester or before pregnancy is not recommended. Obesity increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and labor. Approximately 8-10 kg increase in weight during the entire 9 months is considered a healthy weight. Too less or too much weight causes trouble to the mother as well as to the unborn baby.
- Exercise: People get anxious if they think about exercise and pregnancy at a time. A slight simple walk and light exercises help in maintaining a healthy metabolism and keep women active and fresh. Meditation, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques help one to feel relaxed and stress-free during the gestational period. Heavy and violent exercises must be avoided. Before starting any exercise, it is necessary to consult your physician for suggestions. One suffering from habitual abortion or carrying precious pregnancy must not risk the life of oneself as well as that of the unborn baby in danger.
- Take Medications Carefully: Medications during antenatal care should be selected very wisely and only after your physician prescribes a prescription for the same. FDA has collectively categorized drugs into A, B, C, D, or X. Category B consists of mainly multivitamins and nutrients and, hence, are safe to ingest during the period of pregnancy. Drugs related to category C are considered to be harmful as observed in experimental research studies in animals. Drugs of category C have an adverse effect on the embryo and mother both.
- Avoid Hot Tubes: The body has a unique system to maintain a normal temperature in various climatic changes, it is called as thermoregulation. Increasing the temperature of the body above the normal or for a longer period is harmful to the growth of the fetus. During severe pain in any part of the body, warm water fomentation can be the best solution. However, too much hot water causes unwanted relaxation of the uterus and external OS which causes undue complications. So, avoid it.
- Avoid strong odor: Many women complain of morning sickness i.e. subjective feeling of nausea and retching in the morning, particularly after waking up in the morning. Strong odor and smell increase this nausea or retching. Retching also causes pain in the abdomen if is severe and prolonged.
- Say no to alcohol/smoking: Smoking before pregnancy hampers fertility and reduces the chances of conception in females. In males, smoking damages the sperm’s function, thereby causing an error in DNA itself. Smoking increases the fetus complications, such as preterm birth, premature birth, and abnormalities in organs, mainly mouth and lips. While alcohol causes irregularities in the menstrual cycle and difficult ovulation before pregnancy, it also has its disastrous effect on the fetus, particularly on the spinal cord and brain of the baby.
- Do Not Lift Weight: Lifting heavyweight during the first trimester is not good. Lifting weight suddenly increases the pressure on the abdomen and mainly on the uterus; and this causes relaxation of the uterus and external sphincter which may further cause leakage of the fluid.
- Follow the Right Diet: Diet plays an important role in the delicate phase of pregnancy. Many foods and food items are healthy and must be included in the diet, while some food products must be excluded. Papaya is commonly observed to cause abortion and should not be ingested. Broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and fresh fruits should be added to the meal while processed and preserved foods should be avoided as much as possible.
These few precautionary tips will help the expecting woman to enjoy their pregnancy and joy of motherhood!