Everyone only speaks about eating a lot and lot but not of eating right, drinking right, walking right and sitting right. So here is a quick guide to what and how one's pregnancy lifestyle should be. When I say should be, I don't mean has to be, because every person is different, each one has her own rate of metabolism, her own levels of absorption of vital supplements and her own unique pregnancy phase. I write this article based on my own and my friends' cousins' experiences.
First things your mind encounters when it knows that you are pregnant are questions, doubts, concerns, what to ask whom, how to learn more etc.
I list few things as follows:
1. Don't just eat, eat and eat, but eat healthy.
All I have been hearing from elders during my pregnancy is to just keep eating, be it normal meals, sweets, fruits or anything. Well, I would say, eating is definitely important but not over indulging in foods like sweets, deep fries, oily food etc.
Eating fruits, vegetables would suffice mother’s and baby’s requirement. Apart from this, there may be food cravings. You can definitely go for your craving but not in excess. Your point of focus should be healthy feeding to the baby rather than satisfying your desire of munching junk.
2. Drink lots of water/fluids
I wonder how many old gens have focused on drinking water. All they say is ‘just keep eating’ and nothing apart from that.
There is a chance of salt retention within the body during pregnancy. The main purpose of drinking water is to flush out all the unused particles instead of piling them up within the body which in turn is the cause of swelling.
Also, there is around 600 ml of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby which gets replenished regularly. All nutrients and vital supplements from the mother's food are supplied to the baby through the amniotic fluid. Needless to say, babies intake the amniotic fluid. Would you not want your baby to intake fresh amniotic fluid instead of stale one? Also, our body is designed such that, required water for amniotic fluid is in anyway extracted from mother's body and supplied to the sac. This reduces the amount of water present in mother's cells because of which unused salts remain in the cells and cause swelling.
3. Stay happy
Psychologically, man feels happy when the hormone which causes happiness shoots up. Similarly, man feels sad when the 'sad hormone' shoots up. So internally, even before you react with happiness, your mind receives signals of being happy from the hormone levels in body.
Now, when you are pregnant, whatever your hormone levels are, are passed onto the sac, obviously because you have the sac within you. Hence, when the 'sad hormone' shoots up in mother's body, the baby receives the 'sad hormone' and when 'happy hormone' shoots up, the baby receives the 'happy hormone'.
Hence, it is up to you to decide whether you want to teach your baby 'being happy' or 'being sad'.
4. Know what your body needs and increase its intake.
Go for regular medical checkup. Know what the hemoglobin, sugar, zinc, calcium, vitamin levels are in your body. Know what your body needs and increase its intake.
5. Listen to music
Music soothes the neurons in brain. Few people prefer listening to discourses and mythological stories. This is a good option.
6. Sit upright.
Sit upright. Do not lean your back. When you lean your back, the entire weight of your baby, chest and your front part falls on the back. This tends to give you back pain. Also, sitting straight helps the baby stay in the right position.
7. Walk straight. Stand straight.
Balance your weight on both the legs uniformly. For a quick check, see if the sandals you are using are more worn out at one end than the other for each feet. If it is so, it is time to change your walking style. While walking, place your foot forward in a balanced way. Do not tilt over to the inner side of your feet.
8. Talk to your baby.
Make sure the baby is listening to pleasant sounds all the time. Keep talking about what you are doing, how you would treat your baby after birth. Keep telling the baby about his dad-how good a person he is, how he would take up the responsibility etc.
9. Stay active
Take up any activity/hobby of your interest. Keep talking to your baby as you are doing that.
10. Spend time in spiritual thoughts
It is indeed the responsibility of mother to spend time in spiritual thoughts so as to enable the unborn achieve its purpose of taking birth.
11. Do not sleep too much.
Sleep sure gives you relaxation, but too much sleep does not benefit the mind in any way.
12. Allot time for yourself
Remember to allot time to speak to the most awesome person in this world-your own self. Think, think and keep thinking. Think about how you have spent your time and how you would be spending in future time. Think about how you would be treating your kid. Think about the ‘ideal family’ – you, your partner and your kid. Think about what other great things you can do as a dedication to your baby. I would say, there is no limit to thoughts.
Meditation helps inculcating positive thoughts and improves activity level of brain. You feel energized and mind feels activated after a short period of meditation.
13. Stay active
Stay active so that the baby knows her mom is an active lady. Taking up a hobby helps in this matter.
14. Do not stay silent for long hours.
Let the baby know pleasant things happen in the outside world by either talking to him or listening to music.
15. Wear bangles whenever possible.
The baby feels good and relaxed by hearing the jingling sound. And there is also scientific evidence that the weight of bangles which falls on the wrist nerve controls blood pressure.
16. Let the dad talk
Baby can listen to mother's heart beat and recognize mother's voice. It also gives a soothing effect to the baby when in womb as well as after birth.Ask the dad too to do some talking to your womb. In that way, baby will get used to the dad's voice and recognizes it soon after the birth.
17. Focus on eating healthy, not on gaining weight
As pregnancy progresses, people may comment on how you look – either ‘you didn't put on any fat’ or ‘oh my god!! You look so plump’. Brush all of them away. Make sure you are eating healthy food. Keep checking your weight regularly. But do not limit healthy food if you feel you are gaining much. Whatever is the concern, talk to your doctor.
18. Keep the baby active
Baby responds to any sound it hears. This triggers the neurons to think. Needless to say, thinking more improves the brain functionality. This is true for person of any age. Thinking keeps you active.
19. Do not run behind tablets for common ailments, instead try simple home remedies.
Try limiting your daily tablet intake to vital supplements needed for you and your baby.
20. Face the sun
Make it a habit to wake up early in the morning and have a walk under bright sun. This helps build vitamin D in our body from the early sun rays.
Walking is best exercise one can do. Walk regularly for 30-40 mins everyday. One can increase the duration depending on the comfort level. Walking helps you maintain flexible muscles, increases blood flow and keeps you active. Make sure it is a concentrated walk. Do not hang on to the phone while walking. Effective inhalation and exhalation occur if it is a concentrated walk. This helps giving fresh air to the baby. Doing household chores is not equivalent to walking or exercise.
Home remedies for common discomforts during pregnancy
1. Morning sickness
Squeeze a slice of lemon in water and have it regularly. Lemon water also helps in digestion and is a good source of vitamin C.
2. Cold/Cough/Running nose
Fry some pepper powder in ghee. Mix with rice and have it first in your meals.
Apply and massage vaporub.
In a vessel, heat water and add some vaporub in it. Inhale the steam by covering your head with a cloth over the vessel. This clears the throat/nose of any phlegm.
Dry roast some ajwain and make it into powder using a mixer. Mix this along with ghee in rice and have it first in your meals.
Squeeze a slice of lemon in water and have it regularly.
Having fig regularly also helps in digestion
4. Swelling in legs
Drink lots of water. I recommend drinking lots and lots of water even before you witness any swelling.
5. Leg/hand cramps
The main cause for any cramp is reduced blood circulation. Do some simple rotation exercises which eases off all the cramps.
While sitting, keep your leg forward; rotate your foot at the ankle 5 times each in clockwise and anti clockwise direction.
While standing, rotate your hands at the shoulder level 5 times each in clockwise and anti clockwise direction.
With hands put against the body, rotate just the shoulder points 5 times each in clockwise and anti clockwise direction.
On either side, hold your shoulder point with your fingers and rotate the elbows 5 times each in clockwise and anti clockwise direction.
6. Back ache
Spending more time sitting straight helps in avoiding back pain during pregnancy. However, you may notice that your back feels tired after walking for a long time. Lying down for just 10-15 minutes helps relieve that pain. There is no need to panic.
7. Tooth ache
Drink milk. Do not neglect drinking milk. You can immediately feel the difference when there is tooth ache and you increase milk intake.
8. Bleeding gums
Do not panic. Massage your gums in the vertical direction regularly. You may use any regular gum massaging gel if needed, though not mandatory. You just have to increase the blood circulation to ease any discomfort in our body.
Few other important things to note:
1. Calcium supply
Do not neglect drinking milk. This is very important. Baby needs calcium for all its bones to develop. As a mother, you are responsible in supplying required calcium. By nature, our body extracts all the calcium available in the mother’s body (from bones, teeth etc.) and supplies to the baby. This in turn causes weakness to mother either in the form of leg ache, tooth ache or even losing tooth during pregnancy. To avoid all this, make sure you drink milk twice/thrice every day.
2. Hemoglobin level
Make sure you take in lots of iron rich food during pregnancy. Taking iron rich food along with some vitamin C (lemon, orange etc.) increases the iron absorption of our body.