All mommies-to-be should be on a healthy diet with a sufficient pre-natal supplement. It is well known that in this day and age it is not possible to get all your daily nutrient requirements from diet alone, especially not when you are pregnant with the increase in nutrient demand to keep mom and baby healthy. Please discuss the importance of sufficient pre-natal supplementation with your doctor as well as the value active metabolites and higher elemental values can add to your healthy pregnancy.
Moms-to-be should be eating meals that are protein-rich and high in fibre, include a lot of vegetables and fruits and they should be drinking plenty of water. Ideally you should be ingesting 1500 mg of calcium between your diet and supplement daily.
There are definitely some foods and drinks that MUST be avoided. These include Alcohol, Raw fish, Unpasteurized milk or juice, Fish that may be high in mercury, Uncooked beef such as steak tartare and carpaccio, Soft cheeses that are unpasteurized. These foods can carry an organism such as Listeria and Toxoplasmosis which can cause a serious illness and could even cause still births and birth defects. It is also important to limit the amounts of foods and beverages that contain caffeine like soda, tea, coffee and chocolate. You will also need to quit smoking and taking any drugs immediately.
2. Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy? And if so how much should I be exercising?
If you are a couch potato, you need to get moving. It is extremely important to stay active during your pregnancy to ensure a healthy mom and baby. However, you need to take extra special care to not overdo it and predispose yourself to falling, dehydration and overheating.
Fitness activities that are safe in pregnancy includes:
- yoga and
- strength training
Regular nonstrenuous daily exercise can be extremely helpful during pregnancy to:
- ease water retention
- decrease backaches,
- aid constipation
- alleviate bloatedness
- decrease anxiety and stress
It is important to talk to your doctor about what type and amount of exercise is right for you.
3. When do I have to go on maternity leave? Will I be able to work throughout my pregnancy?
Moms-to-be obviously wanting to spend as much quality time with baby after birth as possible, so most of the time we try to work up to the very end of pregnancy. That might however not always be possible for all moms-to-be. The first factor to consider is the nature of your work, if you have a very physically strenuous job or you experience pregnancy complications your doctor might recommend some restrictions for your and your baby's safety. Most mommies-to-be will be able to keep working up until they deliver.
4. Are there any specific tests or screenings that is necessary?
Prenatal testing is used to check whether your baby might be predisposed to certain genetic abnormalities, such as chromosomal or neural tube defects.
The Neural Tube of the Foetus closes between days 21 to 28 of pregnancy to develop into baby’s brain and spinal cord, this is usually before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. It is prior to this time that Folate is extremely important. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor / gynaecologist the importance of which form of Folate your Pregnancy supplement should contain as well as the difference between synthetic folic acid and Folate.
At each doctor’s visit an ultrasound scan will be done as to ensure that your baby is developing normally. One of the most important scans are for Down syndrome as well as certain congenital heart and skeletal malformations, these are done at around the 11th to 13th week of pregnancy. They also do certain blood tests; however, these tests and scans can only provide a probability and not a definite answer. The second most important scan is the anomaly scan, done at around the 18th to the 22nd week of pregnancy. This ultrasound scan clearly shows a detailed examination of each of your baby’s body parts as to determine whether baby is healthy and on track regarding development.
If your first ultrasound indicates an unusual result, the doctor might request to have an amniocentesis. This is where amniotic fluid is extracted from around the baby using a thin needle.
These screenings and tests become extremely important once mommies-to-be are older than 35 or if there is a history of medical abnormalities in a previous pregnancy, as well as for those who are carriers for specific genetic conditions.
5. Is it safe to drink prescription and over-the-counter medications during my pregnancy?
It is extremely important for new mommies-to-be to discuss and mention all medications, vitamins, minerals, and supplements you ingested before as well as during your pregnancy with your doctor, even if it is homeopathic. When it comes to prescription medications and over-the-counter medications the doctor will need to establish the risks / benefit involved by continuing the medication versus stopping or switching the medication.
There are some considerations that needs to be given to some over the counter and health supplement medications when it comes to pregnancy. It is likely that somewhere during your pregnancy journey you will experience hormonal headaches, seasonal allergies or a bad case of heartburn.
Over the counter and Health Supplement medications that are safe to take during pregnancy include:
- Paracetamol for headache, pain and fever
- Vitamin B6 to help ease morning sickness
- High Fibre supplements to relieve constipation
- Saline nasal spray for allergies
- VasQ10 for hormonal pregnancy headaches
- FerOvance for pregnancy associated anaemia
- Prenatal supplements like Stellar-Mama and Preggy-Mama
6. How will I know when something has gone wrong and I need to call the doctor?
I suppose the real question is what is considered to be ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’ during pregnancy. Wondering if and when to call your gynaecologist is understandable, it is important to rather be safe than sorry and make that call.
Let’s take a look at the absolute problematic ‘abnormal’ occurrences:
- Any bleeding whatsoever during pregnancy
- Untimely and severe abdominal Cramps
- Unusual pain that will not go away
- Vaginal discharge
- Severe lower abdominal pain with or without bleeding
- A sudden increase in thirst and reduced urination
- Painful or burning urine
- Fever and chills
- Sudden severe swelling or puffiness of the hands, face and eyes
- Vision disturbances like blurring, dimming and double vision that persist for more than a few minutes
- Severe headache or a headache that lasts for more than two to three hours
- After 28 weeks of pregnancy, no less than 10 baby movements within two hours after having a snack