Each person’s life technically wouldn’t be possible without his or her mother. As the quote “womb to tomb” means, we were all brought by our mothers in their bodies for about nine months. Nine months isn’t a joke; it’s a real sacrifice for mothers just to be where we are today.
Being pregnant isn’t just throwing adorable baby showers after getting the results of your pregnancy test or showing fetal ultrasound photos on your social media profiles. Pregnancy is the beginning of life, and it’s a very challenging responsibility because if you are a pregnant woman, you have two lives to take care of. Thus, it’s important to pay attention to pregnancy nutrition.
Pregnancy nutrition is about monitoring the health status of a pregnant woman, as this too will significantly affect the health of the baby. Pregnancy nutrition should be well-planned on the very day you decide to be a mother. Nope, this doesn’t just start on the day you get your pregnancy test, but rather, on the day you’re sure you want to get pregnant.
After the Pregnancy Test
For some, living a healthy lifestyle starts only once you’ve found out the results of your pregnancy test. For others, it begins at the first trimester of the pregnancy. In truth, once you have established with your partner that you want to be pregnant, this should be the start of it all. Even before getting a pregnancy test, the transitioning to a healthy lifestyle should begin there.
A general term used to describe this kind of mindset is preconception health or preconception care. The notion that the healthy lifestyle of moms should begin after the pregnancy test is a big no-no because they should plan much earlier than that. Robert H. Shmerling, MD and co-author advise to “Try to maintain a healthy weight prior to conception. Obese women have a higher risk of complications.” To give aspiring moms a quick tip, the best time to get pregnant is when you are mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.
Pregnancy nutrition or also known as maternal nutrition is essential because this becomes the starting point of the foundation of your future offspring. If the mother is careless about her health status, this might significantly affect the baby. Most unhealthy habits lead to congenital disabilities or, even worse, death.
Approximately 85 million pregnancies worldwide were unplanned, a National Center for Biotechnology Information study found. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, a non-profit organization and coalition in Hawaii, stated that due to the many unintended pregnancies worldwide, it is imperative to start taking initiatives in improving maternal health even before conceiving to ensure that babies are born healthy and strong.
The increase in congenital disabilities among children also increases the risk of death for one-year-olds. Thus, it is crucial to start focusing on pregnancy nutrition as early as possible so that healthier mothers could avoid the chances of having preterm labor, miscarriages, gestational diabetes, and other health issues caused by unhealthy habits during the mother’s gestation period.
To better improve one’s maternal health, here are a few tips to ensure that you’re ready for real mommy responsibilities:
Increase Nutrient Intake
As a pregnant mom, remember that you are eating and feeding for two. Thus, you should double on the nutrients you’re taking because you’re feeding yourself and your baby as well. Audra Meadows, MD, MPH emphasized that “Eating a healthy diet is especially important for pregnant women. Your baby needs healthy food, not sugar and fat. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and foods low in saturated fat.”
Know Your Supplements
When you’re pregnant, you will not feel well very often. Thus, it’s important to be sure of the medicines you take so that you won’t damage your baby’s health. It’s vital to know which nutrients to take more and which ones to avoid. For example, folic acid is helpful in preventing congenital disabilities in fetuses. Kristina Rauenhorst, M.D. says “Folic acid supplementation is recommended for all women of reproductive age and who are pregnant, as it helps prevent neural tube defects or abnormalities, such as spina bifida.” Likewise, calcium is essential to help make your baby’s bones strong. However, too much fluoride can cause fluorosis which is a mild teeth-related issue. This issue is caused by too much fluoride usually found in unfiltered water sources.
Live Healthily; Avoid Junk
As mothers, it’s important to sort out old habits that may be dangerous to the child’s health. For smokers and drinkers, it’s essential to make that sacrifice of stopping the said habits. These habits can cause major congenital disabilities to your child once they start growing in your womb.
Junk food also includes sweets and other sugary foods. Studies have shown a link between high sugar intake during pregnancy and poor child cognition and verbal memory. Aside from its effects on babies, sugar can also cause pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes to mothers like you. So tone down your sweet tooth and avoid overeating donuts and pastries while you’re still pregnant.
Maintain Your Shape
Being pregnant requires a lot of shape-maintaining methods as this would also affect the child’s physique afterward. In relation to preconception care, chubby moms who would want to get pregnant should think about losing weight before getting pregnant. This advice does not intend to body-shame. The extra fat cells that are inside a woman’s body may be passed on to the baby once conceived. For thin women who plan to get pregnant, it’s essential for them as well to try and gain more weight. Once they have a baby to carry in their womb, the weight of the baby might lead to posture and back issues for the mother sooner or later.
So, to maintain your shape and avoid posture issues, you can try out low to moderate pregnancy exercises. A simple brisk walk in the morning or yoga and pilates in the afternoon can surely help you stay healthy. Low-impact aerobic exercises are also applicable to pregnant women. Just avoid strenuous activity as it can stress both you and your baby.
Schedule Your Doctor’s Appointments
What better way to take care of your maternal health than by seeking medical and professional help? Once you learn of your pregnancy, you should find an obstetrician who will guide you throughout your process. These medical professionals will also aid in monitoring your health, hormones, and weight during your pregnancy. With their help, you will know which types of nutrients or vitamins you need more.
Monitor Your Mental Health
Aside from staying physically healthy, you also have to take care of your mental health. Your hormones are at a high during your pregnancy, and you may feel more moody than usual. To handle these changes, make sure you get enough sleep and rest, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. Talking to your loved ones or a therapist can also help you during such a precious stage of your life.
Love Yourself, And Love Your Baby
For moms who are on their way to living a healthy lifestyle before getting pregnant, loving oneself is ultimately crucial. In line with it, self-esteem will be a critical issue once you start gaining all the weight when pregnant. Taking good care of yourself is essential. Not only the physical attributes but also aspects such as mental, emotional, and physical health of the mother will matter once the baby is conceived.
With this, may it be instilled that pregnancy is a real responsibility for mothers to take. We must learn to handle it with utmost maturity. Learn to love our future offspring with all the care we can offer in the world. Choosing to be a mother is not only a responsibility but also a choice—this is where Day 1 truly begins.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can we confirm pregnancy?
Pregnancy can be confirmed in different ways. First, you can use a pregnancy test kit from drug stores. It can be used at two weeks after conceiving. Second, you may visit a doctor to get a request for a blood or urine test for pregnancy.
How early can a home pregnancy test detect pregnancy?
The most accurate result for a home pregnancy test is after the week of the missed period. If you want to do the test earlier, you can try a week after having sex. The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) level takes time to develop to be detected.
Can pregnancy tests be wrong?
There is a possibility to get a false negative result when you take the pregnancy test too early. A false-negative result means that you are pregnant but the test yielded a negative result.
How can I tell if I’m pregnant after 1 week?
There are early symptoms of pregnancy including bleeding, cramps, nausea, headaches, fatigue, mood swings, and swollen breasts. These symptoms vary among women and may or may not appear in the first week of pregnancy. Some of the symptoms are like pre-menstrual conditions and are less likely to be noticed.
How can we check pregnancy naturally?
There are various homemade test suggestions. There is the vinegar test where you add your urine to two tablespoons of white vinegar. If it changes color, it means you are pregnant, otherwise you’re not. Also, there is a sugar pregnancy test. This test is done by adding urine to one tablespoon of sugar. If the sugar dissolves it means not pregnant. Meanwhile, if it forms clumps it means you are pregnant. It is said that the HCG in the urine prevents sugar from dissolving. These are tests to be done only in the absence of proper test kits. To get accurate results, it is still best to get a proper test kit or consult a doctor.
How do you use salt to check pregnancy?
Pour two tablespoons of salt into a container, then add your urine. After a few minutes, if it turns like cheese or milk consistency, it is supposed to mean that you are pregnant.
What is the minimum days to confirm pregnancy?
The pregnancy test is supposed to be used until the period is missed. If you want to it earlier, try taking the test after a week of having sex. The pregnancy test needs detectable HCG levels to confirm pregnancy.
How long does it take for HCG to show up in urine?
HCG can be detected around 10 days after the missed period. The HCG levels begin to rise when the fertilized egg is on the uterine wall. This will continuously increase rapidly up to 8 to 10 weeks.
Can I take a pregnancy test at night?
Yes, a pregnancy test can be taken at night. It is only suggested to take it in the morning because urine is more concentrated then than at any time of the day which can yield accurate results.