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Tips to ensure a healthy pregnancy

Congratulations on becoming pregnant! This marks the start of a beautiful and exciting part of your life. Your body goes through major changes whilst preparing to give birth and it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed. To make this journey smoother and worry-free for you, we have put together an “ultimate guide for your first trimester” to help you navigate through your first trimester. So, take a deep breath and read on.  

Before we begin to cross off the completed tasks in the “ultimate guide for your first-trimester” checklist, let us understand the first phase better. Your pregnancy is divided into three stages: the first trimester, second trimester and third trimester. Your first trimester starts from the date of your last period and lasts till week 12 of the pregnancy. In these first three months, your baby grows faster than any other time. Starting out as a couple of cells, by the end of the first trimester, your baby’s bones muscles and all the organs would have formed. By this point, your tiny little miracle will even start looking like a mini human in the ultrasound.  

Without further ado, let us start preparing to bring your little bundle of joy into this world.

  1. Book your first consultation with your obstetrician 

    First things first. Visit your obstetrician. Your doctor would first take your detailed medical history and perform a pelvic exam. He/she may also confirm the pregnancy with an ultrasound, test for STDs, estimate your due date, and screen you for risk factors.
    In case of any complications, your doctor would also help you plan out your pregnancy to mitigate any of risks (such as diabetes and hypertension during pregnancy). Your doctor is an important aspect of having a healthy pregnancy. Make sure to discuss all your questions and feelings with full candour. If you don’t understand anything specific, be sure to ask. 

  2. Take prenatal vitamins

    Prenatal vitamins are an important part of pregnancy care. These vitamins such as folic acid are used to make up for any nutritional gaps in the mother’s diet. They go a long way in protecting your baby from developing any complications such as spina bifida. Your obstetrician would recommend prenatal vitamins based on your general health and diet.  

  3. Quit smoking

    There is no grey area when it comes to smoking during pregnancy. Smoking puts you at a greater risk of preterm labour, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriages, not to mention complications in foetal growth and development. If you smoke, quit as soon as you find out about your pregnancy. 

  4. Cut down on caffeine

    Excessive consumption of caffeine has been linked to an increased chance of miscarriage. Limit yourself to less than 200 mg of caffeine in a day (equivalent to two cups of instant coffee or one cup of brewed coffee). You can even switch to decaf. 

  5. Follow a healthy diet

    Remember, your baby eats what you eat. Diet is an important factor in ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Develop a tailored diet to your needs with the help of your obstetrician and nutritionist. Certain foods such as unpasteurised dairy products, raw or undercooked meat, raw shellfish, liver and pate, and some cheeses should be strictly avoided. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and folate rich food. 

  6. Avoid alcohol and other harmful substances

    Alcohol and illicit substance consumption during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, miscarriages and other pregnancy complications. Consult your doctor to help you stop consuming any addictive substances during pregnancy.

  7. Get plenty of rest

    Building a tiny human from scratch is no easy feat. Give your body time to adjust to the changes and get plenty of rest. Try to fix your sleep schedule and get as much sleep as possible to prepare yourself for the arrival of your little one. Your sleeping position is also important. It is advised to sleep on your side especially in the third trimester, getting used to this sleeping position is advised early on.

  8. Learn the danger signs

    Understand what to watch out for during pregnancy. In case you feel any form of cramps or observe any amount of bleeding, get it checked to ensure the health of your baby. If you have any pregnancy conditions such as gestational diabetes or hypertension, take advice from your doctor to identify any early signs of complications. 

  9. Exercise
    Many to-be mothers can find the idea of exercise daunting during pregnancy. In fact, regular exercise can not only help you maintain your physical health during pregnancy but also help you regulate your mood. If you have any doubts about what exercises are safe for you, consult your doctor and develop an exercise plan to stay physically and mentally fit during your pregnancy

  10. Buy a maternity bra

    Mastalgia (breast pain) is a common complaint amongst pregnant women. In the first trimester, you can experience discomfort and tenderness in your breasts. Your breasts might even grow in size. Invest in good supportive maternity bras to help you relieve the symptoms.  

  11. Take precautions to safeguard yourself against the coronavirus

    Unfortunately, coronavirus and the disease it causes (COVID_19) is especially dangerous for pregnant women. So, it becomes more important for you to take the necessary precautions against this 2020 pandemic. Step out as little as possible to minimise your exposure, wear proper masks to cover your nose and mouth, wash your hands regularly with soap and water, use hand sanitiser if necessary, minimize your contact with outsiders and seek guidance from your doctor regarding any additional precautions you should take.  

Read: Early signs of pregnancy

Most importantly, remember to stay positive during your pregnancy. Stress is never good, especially not for the little one growing inside you. Fix regular appointments with your doctor to monitor the health and growth of your baby. Every pregnancy is unique in its own way, understand your needs and indulge once in a while. The best way to take care of your little one is by taking good care of yourself. Stay happy and stay healthy while you get ready to take on your new role.

Read: How to prepare your body for Pregnancy: A complete how-to-guide

Dr. Aruna Kalra
Author: Dr. Aruna Kalra
Dr. Aruna Kalra, a renowned Gynecologist in Gurgaon, has over 23 years of experience in managing women’s health. She is a gold medal holder for her academic work in her field. She specializes in scar-less laparoscopic surgeries. She is experienced in performing, minimally invasive gynaecological surgeries, managing high-risk pregnancies & aiding vaginal deliveries after caesarean.
 
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