As soon as you announce to your friends and family that you’re pregnant, you’re likely to be bombarded with advice on what you should or shouldn’t do to have a healthy pregnancy.
Can you eat cheese? Can you dye your hair or paint your nails?
Some women become hyper-sensitive about what they put into their bodies when they’re pregnant. It really isn’t necessary to become overly paranoid, after all, women in impoverished areas eat what they can, live their lives normally and still give birth to healthy babies.
The best bit of advice is to consult your doctor regularly and go about your daily activities, doing a few simple things that will keep you and your baby healthy.
So, what should you avoid?
If you’re a smoker, now is the time to go cold turkey. Research has shown that a baby born to a mother, who smoked during her pregnancy, will have a greater chance of health problems. He’s more likely to be born prematurely, have a low birth weight and breathing problems. You should also try to avoid area’s where there’s a lot of smoke, as second-hand smoke can also contribute to your unborn child’s poor health.
While the odd cuppa coffee isn’t going to hurt your baby, excessive amounts of caffeine have been linked to birth defects and other health issues. Stay away from caffeinated coffee, tea and energy drinks.
It’s unclear exactly how much alcohol is safe for your baby. Many doctors will say that a glass of wine every now and then is fine while others recommend that pregnant women totally avoid it. If you’re having an evening out with your friends, and would like to have a glass of wine with them, ask your doctor for advice.
During your pregnancy you may want to eat soft cheeses and cold meats. Without wanting to be a spoilsport, rather avoid eating these foods. Forgo unpasteurised milk and smelly cheeses, including Brie, Roquefort and Camembert. Some experts would also recommend that you not eat items, including cold meats, from the deli counter.
Try to avoid chemicals when you’re pregnant. Rather get your partner to scrub the shower with disinfectant or paint the baby’s room. Some doctors and midwives also don’t recommend that you dye your hair during your pregnancy.
What should you do?
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
It’s difficult to resist chocolate or greasy chips when you’re pregnant, especially when you’re craving it. The odd sweet or savoury treat is fine, but try to stick to a healthy diet of natural, wholesome foods. While you shouldn’t monitor every mouthful of food like a sergeant-major, try to be sensible about your calorie intake.
Pushing heavy weights and doing hour long high-energy aerobics classes is not the answer when you’re pregnant. If you haven’t been seen at the gym in years, rather start off slowly. Go for a brisk walk or take an aqua aerobics class. Spending hours on the couch, in front of the TV, clutching a bag of chips won’t do you or your baby any good.
Take a good multi vitamin
In the first trimester, you should avoid taking multi vitamins, other than those prescribed by your doctor. High doses of certain vitamins have been known to cause birth defects. You must however take folic acid as it’s incredibly important for your baby’s development. Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you can then take a multi-vitamin, specially made for pregnant women.
Pregnancy can be an incredibly stressful time on your body and your mind. Struggling to cope with your ever increasing waistline and belly and demands at work and home, can make even the most level headed woman want to pack her bags and run away.
Realise that your hormones are going to be up and down and as a result, your moods will see-saw too. Talk to your partner and friends if you’re feeling overwhelmed and explain to them that the maniac they saw, screaming for no good reason wasn’t you, but your hormones.
Take time to relax by reading a good book, escape for an hour or two to the nearest coffee shop for a decaf cappuccino or go to a movie.
If you’re just not coping, speak to your doctor, who will be able to recommend where you can get help.
Remember that a healthy, stress-free mom, leads to a healthy, stress-free baby.