Pamper yourself all through your pregnancy

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

So you're going to have a baby. Whether you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant, you will want to give your baby a healthy start.

Kingsley Mensah, a gynaecologist of the Clinix Health Group's private hospitals, says pregnancy is the time to look after yourself very, very carefully.

"Staying healthy during pregnancy depends on you, so it's crucial to arm yourself with information about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible," he says.

Mensah says the minute you become pregnant, your life is irrevocably changed. Suddenly there is a little person to consider and everything you do somehow affects the little person.

"There are a few things you can do to ensure your pregnancy is a healthy and happy time for both you and your unborn child," the doctor says.

Tips for a healthy pregnancy

l Mensah says the best start to your pregnancy is to ensure that you visit your gynaecologist as soon as possible.

"You will most likely visit your doctor or healthcare professional once a month and these visits will increase as you get closer to your due date. At each appointment, a series of tests and examinations will be conducted to determine your and your baby's health.

"You will benefit greatly from these appointments if you use them as an opportunity to educate yourself on your pregnancy," says Mensah.

l Make a list of any questions or concerns and discuss them with your doctor at your appointment.

l Learn as much about your body and the way it is changing and how your baby is growing. Also, talk to family and friends to find out more about their experiences.

l Good nutrition is another important factor in pregnancy and Mensah warns that this does not give you a licence to eat anything you want!

"When you're pregnant you are "eating for two", but this doesn't mean you have to consume calories for two, it means consume nutrients for two," says Mensah.

l Pregnant women need a balanced diet complete with protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with a minimum of sugar and fatty foods. And drink lots of water.

"The truth is, most of our diets are lacking in nutrients at the best of times, which is why it is strongly recommended that you take a pregnancy-specific multi-vitamin. Talk to your healthcare professional to find out what vitamin is best suited for you, keeping an eye out for supplements that contain folic acid, calcium and iron," advises Mensah.

l Be very aware that everything you consume, your unborn baby consumes too. Mensah says this means it is imperative that you avoid toxic substances such as cigarette smoke, drugs and alcohol.

"Don't take any medications, even over-the-counter medications, without first discussing them with your healthcare provider or pharmacist," says Mensah.

l Light to moderate exercise is beneficial to you and your baby. Mensah advises that after chatting to your doctor, you can continue with any exercises you were doing prior to your pregnancy or if you weren't active before, consider light exercises such as swimming, walking or yoga.

l Minimise stress because stress can worsen nausea, fatigue, backache, headache and indigestion. Be especially kind to yourself during this special time. Don't take on too much work, listen to your body and get plenty of rest.

l Most importantly, enjoy this very special time.

Take the time to bond with your unborn baby, savour every little movement and talk to your baby often.

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