So you have decided to have a baby. Wow! How wonderful! It’s a big decision because it is going to change your life forever-but in the nicest possible way. Trying for a baby can be an anxious time, but most couples do not experience problems. Don’t expect to become pregnant immediately, but do consider the possibility that, within a few months, you will be expecting a child. In preparing to have a baby, there are a few things that need to be considered:
It is worth taking a lifestyle check before you start trying for a baby. You are not expected to change radically, but there may be some adjustments that you and your partner can make to ensure you are doing all you can to safeguard your health and that of your child. The more healthy and relaxed you are, the more easily you will be able to cope with the demands of pregnancy. A healthy lifestyle combines many factors: a balanced diet, regular exercise, and plenty of rest. All of these will give you more energy and could mean that you will avoid some of the associated discomforts associated with pregnancy. For instance, if you eat a balanced diet with plenty of fibre, you will be less likely to suffer from constipation, a common complaint during pregnancy.
You do not have to start eating for two as soon as you find out you are pregnant. If you ensure that your diet is balanced, you will be providing for both you and your baby’s nutritional health.
Healthy eating during pregnancy is not more complicated than any other time. Vegetarian diets can be just as healthy as diets that contain meat, and the extra vegetables will be beneficial.
Eating nutritiously: some tips about which foods to eat and those to avoid.
- Eat plenty of food that is high in fibre and low in fat and sugar, such as wholegrain bread, pasta and rice.
- Eat lean meat, fish eggs, nuts etc to provide protein.
- Eat at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.
- Avoid processed food, biscuits and cakes
- Avoid too much fats, undercooked meat and pates; unpasteurised foods and cheeses; pre-prepared meals, unless thoroughly heated; undercooked eggs and poultry; offal and offal based produce; unwashed vegetables and salads;
It is also recommended that you take a folic acid supplement as soon as you start trying for pregnancy as this has been shown to reduce the incidence of spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
The first step towards healthy eating is to look at foods in your daily diet. Early in pregnancy, some women find that their appetite comes and goes. Try to eat a variety of foods each day. An average non-pregnant woman needs about 2,200 calories per day. When you are pregnant, you need about 300 calories more.
It is common to develop a taste for certain foods during pregnancy. If you do, listen to your body and indulge yourself, as long as you stick to the safety guidelines and don’t eat excessively. Eating between meals is normal. Keep healthy snacks, such as pieces of fruit, to hand so that you do not get too hungry throughout the day. Eating regular small meals keeps your blood sugar stable and can help prevent indigestion.
When you decide to try for a baby, stop smoking at all cost and avoid resuming after birth of baby to stop the risking your health and that of your new born baby. Each puff of smoke you inhale, subjects you and the fetus to harmful chemicals such as nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. As a result, your baby receives a reduced amount of oxygen, and its heart beats faster; your baby is likely to have a low birth weight, to be miscarried, or to be born prematurely, and is at greater risk of Sudden Death Syndrome. Children of smokers are also more likely to suffer from illnesses such as asthma. If you or anyone else smokes around the baby, he or she is exposed to the harmful effects of the smoke, so it is also vital that your partner and any other members of the household stop smoking.
Cigarette smoke makes many women feel queasy in the early weeks of pregnancy. If your partner smokes too, make a pact to give up together. Giving up smoking is the first positive thing that you and your partner can do for your new baby.
Alcohol, coffee and drugs
It is unknown how much alcohol is too much during pregnancy, but research shows that it may cause a serious condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Heavy drinking can also increase the risk of miscarriage. To be safe, don’t drink any alcohol during pregnancy.
Caffeine found in coffee, tea, carbonated drinks and chocolate, can have a detrimental effect on the digestive system, and inhibits the absorption of iron. There is no need to completely eliminate coffee from your diet during pregnancy, but beware coffee is a stimulant so it is wise to limit your intake of caffeine-in coffee, tea and fizzy drinks. Try keeping a supply of herbal tea, or drink hot water with a slice of lemon instead of those coffees. Camomile tea will also help you relax.
If you have a medical condition that requires drug treatment, discuss the situation with your doctor-ideally before you get pregnant, and certainly once you are. Drugs for some conditions may be continued. It is a question of weighing up the risks to you if the drug is stopped, compared with the risk to the baby if the drug continues to be taken. Sometimes, a different drug is safer.
Recreational drugs aren’t a good idea at any time but there are additional hazards if you are having a baby-some consequences, such as birth defects, and placental bleeding, are very serious.
The healthier and happier you are the better for your baby’s development. Many things that you eat and drink during your pregnancy can affect your baby, so it is sensible to eat healthily and avoid anything that may be harmful to you or your baby. You may have to make a few adjustments to your lifestyle. Be positive about your new lifestyle-you are not only helping yourself and your baby, but you may also find that you actually enjoy being healthier.