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Guidelines for Pregnant Mothers

Womanhood is perhaps never complete for a woman without her becoming a mother. Pregnancy, a new dimension in a woman’s life, a state of poise and grace-is one of the greatest experiences of her life. It is a sequence of events that begins with fertilization and proceeds to implantation, embryonic development and fetal development, normally ends with labour. 

The first sign of pregnancy is the fact that menstruation comes to a halt. As early as the end of the first month, i.e. from four to six weeks after her last menstrual period, a woman can know for certain whether she is pregnant by undergoing a pregnancy test that should be followed by a medical examination. She generally experiences feeling of weariness, inertia and irritability. Due to anatomical and physiological changes in the body, different problems can be faced by pregnant women. Below are few guidelines for pregnant mothers:-

First Trimester

Fatigue, nausea, vomiting, bleeding from gums (mainly because of increased blood supply to the gums in response to higher blood level of progesterone), flatulence, increased frequency of passing urine, headache, dizziness, pain or tenderness in the breasts (mainly because of increased production of the estrogen and progesterone), spotting or bleeding and pelvic pain problems can be faced by pregnant women in the first trimester:-

• During the early part of pregnancy most women experience a strong feeling of nausea, perhaps with actual vomiting, very common in the morning but can occur any time, commonly known as ‘morning sickness’. Together with this discomfort come dullness and lethargy and a loss of appetite that may develop into an aversion to particular foods and cooking odours. Hormonal changes, changes in digestion, stress and fall in blood pressure are the four main causes for morning sickness. It may occasionally last for several months, but generally, it stops towards the end of the third month.

• The intensity of morning sickness can be reduced by eating some food in bed before getting up. Always eat in short intervals.

• The practice of Kunjal Kriya (stomach washing with salt water) is very good. It cleans the stomach and puts a stop to nausea. It stimulates the appetite and digestive fire. You will feel fresh physically and mentally. There will be abundant energy and optimism to begin the day. Since vomiting frequently occurs spontaneously during early pregnancy, this conscious vomiting cannot be regarded as harmful, especially if you remain relaxed and don't strain.

• Avoid oily and heavy food at all times, especially at night, and try to eat the night meal between 5.00 p.m. and 7.00 p.m.

• One may experience fits of giddiness or feel extremely tired. This is often due to lack of proteins, vitamins and minerals (iron in particular), a situation which can be rectified by means of appropriate diet.

• Breasts grow heavier, while the nipples become larger and darker. Bosom will expand and enlarge. It is because of increased production of the estrogen and progesterone.

• The size of the uterus will grow and therefore presses against urinary bladder, so urge for frequency of passing urine will increase.

• About 20-25% pregnant women have bleeding even after they conceive. This normally happens when fertilized ovum gets implanted in the wall of the uterus. This type of bleeding persists usually for one or two days. Bed rest is advisable.

• During pregnancy women usually gain weight. All these changes are only temporary and should not be cause for alarm.

• To avoid a miscarriage they should take care of themselves, avoid strenuous physical effort and make sure not to carry or move objects that are too heavy.

• Long journeys (especially by car) and sports (other than walking and swimming) are not advisable.

• The mother-to-be should pay attention to what she eats and avoid food that is heavy or difficult to digest.

• A pregnant women should not smoke or drink.

• During the night if she experiences cramps in the calves or toes, she should massage the affected parts and walk a few steps.

• A five to ten minutes footbath before the evening meal would provide relaxation to swollen ankles. Make sure the water is lukewarm and covers the calves and add one soupspoon of sea salt per litre of water.

Second Trimester
Hormone levels in the body continue to change in the second trimester also. These too can cause some discomfort and minor aches and pains. Backache, pain in the abdomen (due to increased weight and size of the uterus), constipation, heartburn, leg cramps and darkening of the skin are some other symptoms associated with the pregnancy during the second trimester:-

Fourth month
By the fourth month, the body has usually become accustomed to the hormonal change and the future mother’s psychic balance has been re-established. She can feel the child moving inside her by the end of the sixteenth week.

Fifth month
During the fifth month, all pregnant women feel the baby moving. As for the baby, it begins to hear external noises, e.g. its parents’ voices. At this stage in their development, many babies react when they hear certain sounds or when their surroundings are too quiet.

During the fifth month, the future mother should begin paying special attention to the exercises which help avoid pains in the spinal column and lumbar region, fight against constipation and improve the circulation.

Sixth month
During the sixth month the baby’s muscles grow stronger. The child begins to move more and turn around. Meanwhile the mother’s legs begin to feel heavier and she should practice Yogic relaxation by raising them in a very precise manner in order to avoid blocking in the circulation of the blood. The pregnant women should avoid wearing high-heels or shoes which pinch the feet. She should also take food having enough iron and calcium and it is imperative for her to see her doctor and dentist.

Third Trimester
Breathlessness, pain in hip region, sciatica, vaginal pain, swelling of the feet, sleeplessness, itching of the skin, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, difficulty in holding urine are other symptoms associated with the pregnancy during the third trimester:-

Seventh month
During the seventh month, the mother-to-be should make sure that she bends her knees and avoids twisting her spinal column when she wishes to pick up an object and she should never carry items weighing more than ten kilos. She should relax, avoid tiring herself out, refrain from going on long journeys, especially by car and make sure she gets enough sleep in order to avoid the kind of premature birth which occurs in women who are overtired.

Eighth month
During the eighth month, the mother’s heartbeat is faster. She breathes more rapidly owing to an increased need for oxygen. Pressure on the bladder grows heavier, giving rise to a greater need to urinate. Some women find that most of the time they do not sleep well and experience pains in the groin and pubic region. In the West, doctors state that sexual relations should cease by the end of 32nd week at the latest, .i.e. the eight lunar months. In India couples are advised to refrain from intercourse much earlier.

Ninth month
During the ninth month, the oil massages of the bosom and stomach, begun during the third month, should be continued, for they help prevent stretch marks. The uterus rises extremely high at the end of the 36th week, thereby hampering abdominal (diaphragm) breathing. Towards the end of the 38th week, however, the respiration becomes easier again, because the baby’s head moves further down into the pelvic region. The uterus also redescends and the mother can again practice complete yogic breathing in three parts.

Birth (40th week (280 days)
The mother usually gives birth towards the end of the 40th week but sometimes birth takes place earlier or later than this. The fact that the baby arrives early or late does not represent a danger for mother or child and ten to fifteen days either way will not lead to problems. To find out the approximate date of birth, count from the first day of the last menstruation period and add nine months and seven days. To take an example, if the last menstruation period began on 12th January, the baby will probably arrive on19th October i.e. 12th January plus nine months and seven days.

For easier childbirth and a healthy baby, pregnant women should undertake Pre natal Yogic classes under a well trained Yoga teacher. Prenatal Yoga is a much gentler variant, which focuses on relaxing the hips in preparation for labour, reducing lower back pain and swellings. It helps keep you & your baby calm and relaxed. Yoga does wonders on the physical and mental development of the foetus. Smooth pregnancy and a natural childbirth are just some of the benefits of Yoga. Must read my next article on Yoga and Maternity

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti