HEALTHY PREG­NANCY

Here are some tips.

Woman's Era - - Contents - Prem­pal Singh ‘Valyam’

As soon as you be­come preg­nant, hor­mones start ad­just­ing your body's sys­tems to cre­ate a nour­ish­ing and pro­tec­tive en­vi­ron­ment for your baby. The changes you go through dur­ing preg­nancy are nor­mal and good for your child, but they can lead to all sorts of dis­com­forts for you: among them are con­sti­pa­tion, nau­sea, back­ache, and fluid re­ten­tion.

What's more, these changes can wear you out phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally. Like most ex­pec­tant women, you'll prob­a­bly ex­pe­ri­ence only a few of these dis­com­forts and only some of the time. Most prob­lems will dis­ap­pear shortly af­ter your baby is born. In the mean­time, here are some sim­ple, safe tips to help you find re­lief.

Breathe easy: In your last trimester, your baby will more than dou­ble her height and quadru­ple her weight. Some­how your body must find room to ac­com­mo­date this growth. In do­ing so, your ex­pand­ing uterus pushes your stom­ach and other or­gans up­wards, re­duc­ing the room your lungs and di­aphragm have for breath­ing. Try this ex­er­cise to re­lieve dis­com­fort:

✿ Stand with your arms hang­ing down from your sides.

✿ In­hale slowly while rais­ing both your arms over your head.

✿ Ex­hale slowly while you lower your arms.

✿ Re­peat this ex­er­cise five times, tak­ing a few nor­mal breaths be­tween each of the rep­e­ti­tions.

A swell time: The in­crease in blood vol­ume some­times slows down your cir­cu­la­tion, so a cer­tain amount of swelling is nor­mal in late preg­nancy. An­kles and feet tend to swell the most be­cause the baby's weight puts pres­sure on the veins in your pelvis, slow­ing the re­turn flow of blood from your legs to your heart.

How­ever, if you have swelling in your hands, feet or an­kles that does not im­prove af­ter el­e­vat­ing the af­fected part for 30 min­utes, con­tact your health-care provider. This could in­di­cate preeclamp­sia, a preg­nancy-re­lated form of high blood pres­sure. Also call your doc­tor if your eyes or face look swollen or puffy.

“Chang­ing po­si­tion fre­quently and el­e­vat­ing your legs will help pre­vent varicose (en­larged) veins, as will ex­er­cise. Your ex­tra weight puts pres­sure on your vascular sys­tem and this, cou­pled with your in­creased blood vol­ume, can cause veins to swell. Fit some ex­er­cise into your day by walk­ing short dis­tances.” Walk­ing helps re­lieve some of the swelling and dis­com­fort of vari­cosi­ties be­cause, as the leg mus­cles move, they "milk" the blood back up to­ward the heart.

You can also do an­kle cir­cles while you sit at a desk or stand in line. Even gen­tle rock­ing in a rock­ing chair will help. Rest­ing on your side can im­prove cir­cu­la­tion and de­crease swelling as well.if your legs ache, try ma­ter­nity sup­port hose. Put them on as soon as you get up in the morn­ing, be­fore fluid has a chance to pool in your an­kles or feet. (Oth­er­wise the pres­sure of the hose will make it even more dif­fi­cult for that fluid to move back out of your legs and feet.) If you have to wait un­til later in the day to put on hose, first el­e­vate your legs for 15 to 20 min­utes, and keep them el­e­vated as much as pos­si­ble while you put on your stock­ings.

Hem­or­rhoids are varicose veins of the rec­tum. Hem­or­rhoids can hurt and may bleed when you have a bowel move­ment, es­pe­cially if you are con­sti­pated. You can ease the dis­com­fort and swelling of hem­or­rhoids by ap­ply­ing a cold pack or cot­ton balls soaked in cold witch hazel to them, or by soak­ing in a few inches of cool wa­ter. Talk to your pre­na­tal care­giver about us­ing a com­mer­cial hem­or­rhoid prepa­ra­tion.

Eat­ing fi­bre-rich foods is a great way to help pre­vent hem­or­rhoids and re­lieve ag­gra­va­tion of those you might al­ready have. But keep drink­ing plenty of flu­ids; oth­er­wise the fi­bre won't be very help­ful. Pelvic pres­sure is an­other com­mon cir­cu­la­tion-re­lated com­plaint. Women de­scribe it as a feel­ing of heav­i­ness, sore­ness, ten­der­ness, or "a bad bruise"; it's caused by blood pool­ing in the pelvic area. You might find some re­lief by ap­ply­ing a cold pack to the area or by soak­ing in a cool bath.

A pain in the back (and ev­ery­where else): Preg­nancy also af­fects your mus­cles, bones, nerves, and joints, caus­ing prob­lems such as back­ache, hip pain and leg cramps. Un­der­stand­ing what's hap­pen­ing to your body is the key to cop­ing with any of these dis­com­forts.

Baby's in­creas­ing weight and mom's lack of ab­dom­i­nal mus­cle tone can re­sult in back­ache. Dur­ing the first half of preg­nancy, the baby rests on your hip bones, which are strong enough to sup­port a great deal of weight. As the baby con­tin­ues to grow, how­ever, the ab mus­cles tend to weaken and sag un­der the strain.

The weight drops for­ward and pulls the lower spine out of align­ment. To pre­vent back­aches, al­ways try to stand with your shoul­ders back and down, but­tocks

CHANG­ING PO­SI­TION FRE­QUENTLY AND EL­E­VAT­ING YOUR LEGS WILL HELP PRE­VENT VARICOSE (EN­LARGED) VEINS, AS WILL EX­ER­CISE. YOUR EX­TRA WEIGHT PUTS PRES­SURE ON YOUR VASCULAR SYS­TEM AND THIS, COU­PLED WITH YOUR IN­CREASED BLOOD VOL­UME, CAN CAUSE VEINS TO SWELL.

tucked un­der, and stom­ach held in as much as you can. Your child­birth ed­u­ca­tor can show you sim­ple ab­dom­i­nal ex­er­cises, such as the pelvic tilt, that will also help. Don't wear high-heeled shoes, and avoid stand­ing for long pe­ri­ods of time or ly­ing flat on your back, all of which can make your lower back arch for­ward.

Ac­tiv­i­ties that stretch or round your back will help re­lax the mus­cles and ease dis­com­fort. For ex­am­ple, bend­ing one or both legs at the hip stretches the spine and re­laxes the back mus­cles. If you have to stand for long pe­ri­ods, place one foot a lit­tle higher than the other (rest one on a foot­stool, for ex­am­ple). You can also ap­ply a heat­ing pad or cold packs to the painful area or use mas­sage or acu­pres­sure.

When you lie down, rest on your side or turn for­ward a bit to rest on your side and ab­domen. Bend one or both knees, and place a pil­low be­tween them. Place an­other pil­low in front of you and rest your up­per arm on it. If your ab­domen feels as if it is be­ing pulled, place a small pil­low or rolled towel be­tween your tummy and the bed. It may take a few tries, but when you find the right po­si­tion, you'll wake up with fewer aches and pains and a lot more en­ergy. Try to avoid sleep­ing on your back in late preg­nancy—it can in­crease swelling and may cause your blood pres­sure to drop, mak­ing you feel faint.

Hip pain, or sci­at­ica, is an­other com­mon prob­lem in late preg­nancy. It's a sharp pain, cramp, pres­sure, or aching in the hips or but­tocks. The dis­com­fort is caused by the com­pres­sion of the sci­atic nerve as preg­nancy hor­mones re­lax hip joints, al­low­ing the hip bones to spread and make room for the baby to move through. Be­cause the baby tends to lie more heav­ily to one side, the pain is stronger in one hip.

You can ease the pres­sure by el­e­vat­ing your hips above the level of your chest. A good way to do this is to kneel on all fours and rest your head and chest on a pil­low. Heat and mas­sage also can help, as can this sim­ple move­ment: Stand be­side a sturdy chair with your feet 12 to 18 inches apart. Place one hand on the chair back for sup­port. Us­ing the leg clos­est to the chair, bend your knee, and lift your foot eight to ten inches. Re­peat sev­eral times. Then face the op­po­site di­rec­tion and re­peat with the other leg.

Some women ex­pe­ri­ence leg cramps dur­ing late preg­nancy. These sharp pains in the calf, also re­ferred to as a Charley horse, usu­ally at­tack while you sleep or as you stretch your legs in the morn­ing. To re­lieve a spasm, flex your foot by stand­ing or by do­ing this stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Stretch the af­fected leg out to the side. Reach to­wards the leg with the hand on the same side. If you can, grab your toes and pull the foot to­wards you. Use the other hand to gen­tly press down on the knee. Do­ing this stretch sev­eral times on each leg be­fore you go to bed may help pre­vent cramps.if you have fre­quent leg cramps, check how much cal­cium you're get­ting. You need 1200 mg a day while you're preg­nant or nurs­ing. This equals four eight-ounce glasses of milk or an ounce of cheese. Cal­cium sup­ple­ments should state the amount of cal­cium on the la­bel.

Hard to stom­ach: Your grow­ing baby places pres­sure on your stom­ach, some­times caus­ing in­di­ges­tion. You can re­duce the sever­ity of heart­burn and nau­sea, which some women ex­pe­ri­ence through­out preg­nancy, by eat­ing small, fre­quent meals and by avoid­ing spicy and greasy foods. Saltines can help ease nau­sea. If your stom­ach is more up­set at night, avoid eat­ing within two hours of ly­ing down, and sleep with your head and torso el­e­vated on a pil­low or two. Milk prod­ucts and cal­cium tablets are nat­u­ral antacids but shouldn't be used to ex­cess. Con­sult your doc­tor, nurse or mid­wife about other med­i­ca­tions.

Con­sti­pa­tion usu­ally gets worse as preg­nancy pro­gresses be­cause the grow­ing baby takes up more and more of the space that your in­testines need to func­tion well. To pre­vent or re­lieve con­sti­pa­tion, drink at least eight glasses of liq­uid daily. Good choices in­clude wa­ter, juices and lemon­ade. Avoid cof­fee, tea, or soda with caf­feine, which can all de­plete your body of nec­es­sary flu­ids.

Blad­der con­trol, es­pe­cially when you laugh, sneeze or cough, or when the baby moves sud­denly, can be a prob­lem dur­ing the last month

YOU CAN EASE THE PRES­SURE BY EL­E­VAT­ING YOUR HIPS ABOVE THE LEVEL OF YOUR CHEST. A GOOD WAY TO DO THIS IS TO KNEEL ON ALL FOURS AND REST YOUR HEAD AND CHEST ON A PIL­LOW. HEAT AND MAS­SAGE ALSO CAN HELP, AS CAN THIS SIM­PLE MOVE­MENT: STAND BE­SIDE A STURDY CHAIR WITH YOUR FEET 12 TO 18 INCHES APART.

of preg­nancy, when your baby is rest­ing di­rectly on your blad­der. Kegel ex­er­cises can help.

Gen­eral dis­com­fort and a feel­ing that your foe­tus is get­ting too big for your body to hold are com­mon at this time. Your hor­mones are help­ing your body tis­sues stretch and grow to ac­com­mo­date your baby, but you may feel heav­i­ness, pres­sure or a pulling sen­sa­tion in your ab­domen. Use the pads of your fin­gers to mas­sage your ab­domen. Your belly but­ton may feel sore and ten­der; ap­ply a cold or warm com­press to soothe it. And you may feel most un­com­fort­able in an up­right po­si­tion.

Your breasts also reach their fullest in the last trimester. In the weeks be­fore de­liv­ery, your breasts pro­duce a yel­low­ish fluid called colostrum, or first milk, which ini­tially may be sticky and then be­come wa­tery and whi­tish as you move closer to your due date. The amount of colostrum you leak dur­ing late preg­nancy has no bear­ing on your abil­ity to breast­feed your baby. If you leak fre­quently, try wear­ing nurs­ing pads in­side your bra.

An emo­tional roller coaster

Even though preg­nancy and child­birth are nor­mal events in life, they don't feel nor­mal to you, and it's easy to feel over­whelmed, both phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally.

Most women at this stage in preg­nancy start to have fears and doubts, and the most com­mon is fear of child­birth. By tak­ing classes, you'll learn ways to pre­vent or re­duce labour pain through such meth­ods as con­trolled re­lax­ation and breath­ing, mas­sage or changes in po­si­tion. You'll also have the chance to share your fears with your child­birth ed­u­ca­tor and other ex­pec­tant par­ents.

Preg­nancy brings a range of emo­tional ups and downs. No one knows ex­actly what causes these mood swings, but hor­monal and other phys­i­cal changes are likely in­volved to some ex­tent, as well as the pro­found life changes you and your part­ner are go­ing through as you grow into par­ents. Your aches and pains may add to the fa­tigue al­ready caused by hor­monal shifts – so it's no won­der that you some­times feel de­pressed. Then the next mo­ment you might be de­lighted by a favourite song on the ra­dio, a silly com­mer­cial on TV, or a kick from baby.

With so much hap­pen­ing in your body and your life, you're en­ti­tled to be a bit moody. Some preg­nant women feel guilty about this, be­liev­ing that no "good" mother would be so un­pre­dictable. But oc­ca­sion­ally feel­ing sad or de­pressed for no rea­son is a nor­mal re­sponse to preg­nancy. Per­haps it's body-image changes that are to blame, or con­cerns about your par­ent­ing abil­ity, sex life, or fi­nances, or lone­li­ness, or wor­ries about your own mor­tal­ity. But if you ex­pe­ri­ence sad­ness or fa­tigue most of the time, or you just don't feel like get­ting out of bed each morn­ing, or you can't seem to carry on nor­mal ba­sic func­tions, your de­pres­sion may be more se­ri­ous. Talk to your doc­tor as soon as pos­si­ble. There is some­one out there who can help you feel nor­mal again. As you jour­ney through these last months, be pa­tient with your­self. You're nur­tur­ing a brand­new per­son, and that's a very big job.

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