So you’re pregnant, congratulations! Now, what should you do?
Taking care of yourself has never been more important. First, you need to go to your GP and have a test to confirm that you are indeed pregnant. Your GP will figure out how many weeks pregnant you are based on the date of your last period and will offer you a referral for an early pregnancy dating scan at around 7-weeks. At this appointment, it’s a good time to get a referral to your chosen obstetrician and make an appointment with them.
Pregnancy is an exciting time for any woman. Taking care during pregnancy can improve the chances of a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Measures for better health and a safe pregnancy include:
- Maintain healthy and hygienic habits
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich and well-balanced diet – What you eat and drink when pregnant is the main source of nourishment for your baby. There’s a lot of growing going on in there, so it’s really important to eat nutritious foods that will provide the nutrients your baby needs to grow. For example, when you’re pregnant you will need extra calcium because in addition to keeping your teeth and bones strong, your baby will be growing bones of its own as well.
- Drink plenty of water
- Take nutritional supplements such as Folic acid, Vitamin D and a daily multi-vitamin. Taking folic acid reduces birth defects such as spina bifida (spinal cord abnormality). Other vitamin/mineral supplements containing sufficient amounts of iron, zinc, and calcium are also advised.
- You may need to increase your dietary intake of iron, or potentially take iron supplements to meet your increased requirements of pregnancy. Normal iron levels will not only help with your energy levels, but assist in promoting normal growth of your baby and increase breastfeeding success after delivery.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight or obese increases the risk of medical complications such as elevated blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Being underweight decreases the chances of becoming pregnant, and increases your chances of having a low birth weight baby and problems during labour.
- Exercise regularly – Regular exercise helps you to maintain an ideal weight and is beneficial to you and your baby’s health.
- Avoid caffeine, smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs, certain medications, exposure to gases, chemicals, heavy metals, and radiations (X-ray). Contrary to popular belief, no amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy. There are some surprisingly nice non-alcoholic wines available these days, so you can indulge in the ritual of ‘having a wine’ but without the risks.
- Keep your home and workplace environment safe and comfortable. Wear comfortable clothing and improve your mental and emotional health by avoiding stress.