How To Prepare For Childbirth
The birth of a child is one of the happiest moments in life for many women. Pregnancy is not all rainbows and butterflies, though. It requires careful attention to your and your baby’s needs.
Body Changes During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, you experience a lot of hormonal changes because you’re carrying a life inside you. Your body needs extra energy to prepare for delivery. Below are some of the physical changes you can expect:
One of the most common symptoms of early pregnancy is lack of energy as your body tries to adapt to all the new physical changes. As a consequence, you might feel tired and need more time to sleep. Morning sickness—nausea and vomiting—is also expected in the first trimester due to pregnancy hormones. Your skin might become oily, and your breasts are likely to grow.
In the second trimester, pregnant women usually experience skin darkening and stretch marks around the belly and breasts. These changes are a consequence of your skin growing fast, but skin tends to return to its former appearance a few months after giving birth. Sleeping gets harder and you may have leg cramps, but laying on your side can make sleep easier. Changes are also happening to your bones, so your hips and pelvis may hurt. On the bright side, it’s during the second trimester when you first feel your baby moving.
Sleeping on your back feels very uncomfortable, so keep sleeping on your side and you’ll be fine. Also in the third trimester of pregnancy, your body has to deal with changes in blood flow that might lead to varicose veins and hemorrhoids. As the uterus continues to stretch, you may experience abdominal pain. Your uterus is compressing your diaphragm, and it won’t fully expand, which may cause symptoms like shortness of breath. At this point, many pregnant women notice that the baby is not moving as much as usual. That’s because as the baby grows, he or she finds less space in your uterus.
When you’re carrying a baby, your body works hard to keep both of you healthy. It requires extra energy and, therefore, you need to rest and sleep more. However, sleeping becomes difficult as you experience body changes, so here are a few tips:
- Avoid eating less than two hours before going to bed. This bad habit contributes to acid reflux and heartburn.
- Sleep on your side. It helps you to breathe easier, relieves backaches, and improves blood circulation.
- Make sure your bed is comfy. Your whole body is sore during pregnancy, so if your mattress is too soft or excessively firm, consider purchasing a new one.
- Take some naps in the middle of the day but avoid sleeping for more than 30 minutes—you might feel groggy.
- Purchase a pregnancy pillow. It’s going to be one of your best friends along these nine months.
Nutrition During Pregnancy
You are what you eat, and the same goes for your baby. When you are pregnant, you have to make healthy food choices more than ever because you’re eating for two. Proper nutrition is key to ensure your baby will grow healthy! Your body also needs more nutrients to handle all the hormonal and physical changes that occur during pregnancy.
Do’s And Don’ts
- Choose fruits and veggies over junk food. As a general rule, give preference to food rich in protein, carbs, and fat, which are the macronutrients your body needs the most.
- Talk to your doctor to find out your recommended intake of micronutrients. Calcium, folate, and iron are particularly important for the development of your baby.
- Don’t get too worried about weight gain. It’s part of the pregnancy, and you probably won’t be able to avoid it. Instead, worry about eating healthy.
- Limit your consumption of fish and other types of seafood. While omega-3 is good for your baby’s brain, seafood might contain methyl-mercury, a pollutant that has a negative effect on the nervous system.
- Moderate your caffeine consumption. You can’t go over 300 milligrams/day, but if you want to play safe, 200 milligrams/days is a reasonable limit.
- Drink more water to prevent constipation and improve your blood circulation.
- Add broccoli and leafy greens to your diet. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
What Causes Food Cravings?
Scientists are still trying to pinpoint the exact cause of food cravings during pregnancy. A widely accepted theory is that these food cravings are just your body asking for nutrients, but not necessarily a specific food. If you wake up in the middle of the night with an intense desire for eating chocolate, it might be a sign that your body needs calcium or fat.
Many people think that pregnancy food cravings are a joke or exaggeration. However, a survey conducted with American women found that between 50% and 90% of them had experienced cravings when pregnant. Pickles, potato chips, lemon, and ice cream are among the foods women crave when carrying a baby.
Why Alcohol is Dangerous
Alcohol is a no-no during pregnancy, and we can’t stress this enough.
Every doctor will agree that too much alcohol is very dangerous for the development of your baby. Heavy drinking during pregnancy may lead to birth defects and increase the risk of miscarriage.
It’s true that some doctors don’t see a problem in occasional drinking and they might say that only one glass every once in a while is fine. We think you shouldn’t take the risk, though.
How much alcohol would be acceptable? It’s hard to tell. Studies on the effects of light and moderate drinking during pregnancy are inconclusive. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pregnant women give up alcohol entirely.
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