Pregnancy is a particularly trying time when a million questions haunt a pregnant woman’s mind. To add to this, there are so many misconceptions surrounding it, especially in our country. Sonali Shivlani, an Internationally Certified Pregnancy, Lactation and Child Nutrition Counsellor, answers some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject.
Why is it important to take special care during pregnancy? How do a woman’s choices during this phase affect her and her child?
Pregnancy is the foundation period and is the start of life for your baby. Care taken during the pre conception and pregnancy period can actually impact the life of a human being. Having said that we do not consider that pregnancy is an illness. It is a very normal phase of life and should be treated thus. Simple changes like eating healthy, keeping active throughout the day are the most important. Your fitness levels determine the fitness levels of your baby. Keep yourself happy and stress free. Normal stress is good. Abnormal stress which makes you sad and unhappy should be avoided. Finally try to stay away from chemicals and chemical products as these can impact the development of your new-born. Always ensure that you keep your doctor’s appointments. Your prenatal checkups are your window into the womb and they help detect any issues early and can be corrected in most cases.
How should one’s diet and eating habits change during pregnancy?
It is a popular misconception that a pregnant woman should eat for two. However this is technically not true. Remember that a baby even at full term weighs only around three kilos. You need to increase your calorie consumption only by about 500 calories daily. Just two slices of bread, a glass of milk and an extra fruit per day are enough to complete that requirement.
You must also remember that there are various hormonal changes and food gets digested more slowly. So eat small meals. The baby needs to be fed constantly so eat every two to three hours. Small mini-meals can help prevent common pregnancy complaints like acidity, nausea and that bloated feeling.
The first trimester is a particularly difficult time for a pregnant woman. Her nutrition usually suffers due to morning sickness and associated nausea. How can she deal with it?
Morning sickness is due to normal hormonal changes. Some women do not get it at all and others complain of it all through the pregnancy. But in most cases women will see relief after the first trimester. Fortunately the body has reserves, so if nutrition is not optimum the baby is not compromised. If the mother cannot eat anything at all, then she should consult her doctor. She can have smaller meals, small slivers of ginger, and dry toast or biscuits with every mini meal.
How can the spouse and family members help a pregnant woman face all the challenges of pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a wonderful time but physical and emotional changes can make it very demanding on the mother to be. Support from family members and spouse can go a long way in making her feel comfortable. Spouses can help by being regular with doctor’s visits, prenatal classes and helping around the house. If there is an older child, the spouse and family can help take care of him/her. Listening to the mother-to-be and assuring her of love and support is also very helpful. Family members can offer support by helping with chores and not being critical. Supporting the mom in choices she makes especially regarding her birth preferences and not being over bearing on the subject is also important.
You can meet Sonali Shivlani, Effath Yasmin and Dr Zinal Unadkat, experts in the field of pre- and ante-natal counseling at an enlightening prenatal workshop ‘Baby on Board’ organized by DNA on the 10th of February at Hotel Courtyard Marriot, Andheri East, Mumbai. To get invited, sms DNA PN <your name> <location> to 575758. Alternatively, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.dnaindia.com/prenatal.