It is important for every pregnant woman to pay attention to the advice and counsel of her healthcare providers. There are many issues that pertain to the pregnancy for which healthcare professionals offer the best advice to the woman to ensure the safety of both the mother and her baby from the onset of pregnancy up till when the woman delivers and even the period after the delivery.
Many pregnant woman have got different questions concerning what and what is safe and best for their pregnancy and these questions are usually addressed during their hospital visits. Although not every woman gets the opportunity to ask such questions or is bold enough to ask about these questions especially those that pertain to personal life which they don’t want to discuss in public. It is important for everyone pregnant woman to seek the advice of her healthcare providers on any issue that concerns or may put her pregnancy at risk. Private or personal matters can be discussed in closed doors with healthcare professionals during antenatal care visits.
FIVE (5) BASIC ADVICE FOR ALL PREGNANCIES
Attendance to education classes
During pregnancy, the woman is advised to attend the education classes which are available at antenatal clinics where she can get the best information and counselling concerning major issues that relate to pregnancy and delivery. These classes are also meant to allay any anxiety that the woman may have about labour and delivery. The woman can receive a simple explanation of the the stages of labour so that she can know what to expect. The education classes is also a convenient time to discuss about analgesia and help the woman prepare for a delivery plan if she so wishes. Some women can even get to visit the labour ward where they can meet some staff and familiarize themselves with that environment. It is very advisable for the woman’s partner or a close friend to be present as well during such sessions.
A poor quality diet may predispose a woman to preterm labour and increase perinatal mortality. Pregnant women are advised to give attention to their diet during the entire period of the pregnancy. There is no need for a large increase in calorie of the diet but the distribution of the constituents of the diet requires great consideration.
Protein should be increased and at least two-thirds of the protein should be from animal source (meat, eggs, cheese, and fish). If these are taken, the intake of fats will be adequate. Carbohydrates can be reduced slightly to compensate for the increased calorie value of the protein and should be restricted if weight reduction is necessary.
In the latter half of pregnancy, there is need for a considerable increase in the intake of of calcium, phosphorus and iron as well as other trace elements to supply the needs of the growing fetus and to prepare for lactation. Milk, cheese, eggs, meat, and fresh green vegetables are foods very rich in mineral salts and a well balanced diet will contain sufficient amounts of minerals except for perhaps calcium and iron for which supplements are given at the routine antenatal care visits.
Rest and exercise
Although violent exercise is imprudent during pregnancy, the woman is encouraged to continue all ordinary activities. In many clinics, women are given instructions in antenatal exercises which are directed more to the posture and general physique and to the muscles especially those concerned with childbirth. Many women benefit from instructions on muscular relaxation which enables them to relax voluntarily during the first stage of labour. Relaxation may also be achieved by taking deep breaths during pains, which is the basis for what is called psychoprophylaxis.
Adequate sleep must also be secured with a sufficient number of hours in bed. Sleeplessness is occasionally troublesome towards the end of pregnancy and it may require the use of sedatives like benzodiazipines if severe enough.
Regular bowel movements
Constipation is a very common complication and complain in pregnancy. Many women find it difficult to empty their bowels during this period especially at the latter parts of pregnancy. The toxic effects of this can be detrimental to the woman’s health and so pregnant women are advised to move their bowels as often as possible, every 2 or 3 days is considered okay in most pregnancies.
With a diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables, a daily movement of bowel can be achieved or ensured. Mild use of laxatives such as senna tablets or lactulose may be prescribed with care for some women in severe cases of constipation.
This is a major concern for many pregnant women and their partners who are greatly concerned about the effects of sexual intercourse during pregnancy. Women and their spouses can be reassured that sexual intercourse is not harmful during pregnancy except in cases where there is a risk of miscarriage or a previous history of abortion. Generally, sex should be avoided if there is any antepartum haemorrhage (bleeding before birth).
Geoffrey Chamberlain : “Advice During Pregnancy” Obstetrics By Ten Teachers (16th edition).