Proper Care during Pregnancy
Now that you know your baby is on the way, what are the things you should be
most concerned about? Of course you are planning to give your baby the very best
of care. This must begin from the day you realize that you are pregnant. In fact
it should start long before you are even planning on having a baby. The better
your general health, even before you are married, the healthier your child is
likely to be. It is most important for you to keep yourself well nourished and
The first thing is to choose a good doctor, one in whom you can have implicit
confidence. Even when this is not your first child, you can never tell whether
or not some complications might arise. Consult your doctor as soon as possible,
so that he may guide you through this important period of your life. Serious
complications can often be avoided by taking these simple precautions.
How Much Exercise
The amount of exercise in which you can indulge will depend somewhat on your
natural habits of life. If you have been an active person, you may continue your
activities in a somewhat modified form. It is probably better not to swim,
unless you are certain the water is absolutely clean, and not too cold. More
vigorous exercise such as tennis and horseback riding could be harmful. Above
all avoid exhaustion. Stop before you are too tired.
Light housework may be beneficial to you; provided you let others do the
heavy lifting. But stop and rest awhile rather than allowing yourself to become
overtired. If you are a working mother, you may wish to continue your job during
pregnancy. This is all right, provided your doctor agrees. But be sure to take
advantage of all the rest periods you can. And be sure to lie-down even for a
few minute's rest.
Taking a good walk is an excellent tonic for the whole body. Begin with
shorter walks, and gradually increase them. It is healthy to be outdoors as much
as possible in the daytime to take advantage of some light sunlight and nature.
Your bedroom should be well ventilated at night so as to create an environment
that is conducive to sleep.
How Far Should You Travel?
Your doctor is the best one to advise you on how far you should travel. Long car
or bus trips may be very tiring. Severe emotional strain associated with
strenuous travel that is full of stress and long layovers at airports might
bring on a miscarriage, especially at certain times during your pregnancy. If
you must take a car or bus trip, try to travel in easy stages. A sea voyage may
be all right, provided the water is not too rough. Plane travel is usually the
best means of transport, if you must go any distance. Train travel is also
recommended, provided the tracks are not too rough.
During the last two months of pregnancy it is better for you to stay in your
own town, where you can reach your doctor at any minute. The nearer you stay to
the place of your confinement the wiser you will be.
Should You Smoke?
Most doctors will agree that heavy smoking during pregnancy is not wise. The
smoke from one cigarette may speed up the heart of an unborn baby as much as 25%
above its previous rate. A young mother should understand that tobacco contains
certain poisons, some of which find their way into her blood stream when she
inhales the smoke. It is far wiser not to smoke during pregnancy, and better
still to give it up altogether.
The habit of using tobacco may be very hard to break. But there are ways in
which you can help yourself. Any mother who really wants to give her baby the
best chance for a healthy and happy life will find the necessary will-power to
break this habit.
Will Alcohol Harm the Baby?
Alcohol places an added strain upon the mother's kidneys during pregnancy. It is
therefore wiser to avoid all alcoholic drinks, even beer, not only for your own
sake but also for the baby's health. The use of any powerful drug is likely to
affect the baby to some extent, whether it is a sedative, a narcotic, or
alcohol. During pregnancy the mother's kidneys are already under some additional
strain due to the new requirements placed on the body during pregnancy. It is better to avoid all substances that might impair the delicate
filtering units of the kidneys.
What about Sex?
Marital relations are permitted up until the last eight weeks of pregnancy.
After that time there might be some danger of infection and perhaps premature
labor. It is wise to avoid intercourse at those times when the regular menstrual
periods would normally arrive. These are the times when miscarriages are more
likely to occur. If there is the least little bit of suspicion of a miscarriage
at any other time, intercourse should be avoided.
Care of the Bowels
It is important for you to keep your bowels regular during pregnancy. At least
one movement should take place every day. If you are following a well balanced
diet, you will probably be taking enough bulk in your foods to assure success in
this respect. Large quantities of fruits and vegetables will help to keep you
If you are having trouble with constipation you will find these foods
especially helpful: dates, stewed fruits, baked apples, oranges, whole-wheat
bread, green vegetables, oatmeal and cream.
Another important way to prevent constipation, or to cure the condition, is
to develop regular habits of going to the toilet. In the morning, or immediately
after breakfast are usually the best times. Don't strain. Instead try to drink a
glass of warm water the moment you get up, or perhaps eat some fruit just before
going to bed. Another way is to try using a little mineral oil. But remember,
mineral oil absorbs important vitamins, so be careful with this. Do not take any
laxative medicine except on your doctor's orders.
Take Care of Your Kidneys
Your kidneys are very important to your whole well-being, especially during
pregnancy. That is why your doctor checks your urine so frequently. You should
drink 6 to 8 glasses of water or other liquids each day. Do not be surprised if
in the early stage and also near the end of pregnancy there is a tendency to
urinate more frequently. This is because at these times the uterus is pressing
on the bladder, leaving less room for the urine. There is nothing abnormal about
this. But if the urine is dark in color, or very scanty, or difficult to pass,
you should meet your doctor at once.
Care of Your Teeth
Dental decay is common during pregnancy. This may be because your diet is
deficient and the baby is drawing on your supply of calcium. Or it may be that
you have reached the time when teeth begin to decay. Whatever the cause, you
should meet a good dentist as soon as you know for sure you are pregnant. If any
dental work needs to be done, this is the time to have it done.
Take your usual daily bath. It should not be too hot or too cold. A shower or a
sponge bath may be more practicable during the later months of pregnancy. Be
careful not to slip. Use a bath mat or a towel to prevent accidents. Avoid tub
baths during the last four weeks. Don't use any vaginal douches during pregnancy
unless your doctor advises them.
Your clothing should be comfortable. No tight bands around the waist or legs at
this time. Avoid any pressure over the breasts or abdomen. Don't worry too much
about your figure. A sensible diet and plenty of exercise will keep your muscles
in good trim. You may feel a bit awkward and ungainly at that time, but soon you
will be back to your old self again. The right kind of exercises will help you,
especially the exercise of pushing yourself away from the table before you have
eaten too much!
You must take some precautions, but follow your normal routine as much as
possible. Here are a few suggestions:
- Get Plenty of Rest: You should get at least 8 to 9 hours sleep
each night, and if possible a short rest in the day. When you feel sleepy,
go and take a short nap. You will feel much better afterward. Elevate your
feet whenever you can.
- Keep Yourself Calm: Peace of mind is essential when you are
carrying a baby. At this time it is easy for you to become rather excited,
and then perhaps a bit depressed. Little incidents like that at other times
would never bother you but they may greatly upset you during these months of
pregnancy. Try to keep calm and easy going as much as possible. It will be
better for the baby too if you can maintain a level of calm. Be careful not
to listen to gossip and idle tales about childbirth. Most of these stories
are based on superstition and a lack of information. If you have any
questions talk them over with your doctor.
When to go to Hospital
You should make your hospital arrangements well in advance. Your doctor may
prefer to do this for you. If not, you should understand the rates for rooms and
indicate your preference. Do not leave this to the last minute.
Some prefer a private room. Others are happier in a ward where there is
plenty of company. It is all a matter of personal choice.
Labor usually begins with regular cramp-like pains that are felt low down in
the back and abdomen. At first they may come on every 10 or 15 minutes,
gradually becoming more intense and more frequent. With the early pains there
may be some blood-tinged mucous discharge. Sometimes the "bag of water" ruptures
before any other indication of labor.
Don't get into a panic
If this is your first baby, you will have plenty of time to go to the hospital.
If there is any heavy bleeding, you should let your doctor know. If you already
have several children, you will have a fair idea of when to go to the hospital.
But in any case keep calm.
Don't be afraid of pregnancy or labor. It is a good idea to have
your bags packed and ready several weeks in advance. This saves worrying over
the details at the last minute. Remember that fear is your greatest enemy.
Therefore the more you know about yourself, the less you will be afraid. Most
women prefer to go through labor without any anesthetic. This is known as the
natural method of childbirth. If you know how to relax during childbirth, you
may not feel very much discomfort and have the joy of bringing your baby into
the world the natural way.
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