Imagining the future as a parent and leaving all the worries aside is a predominant need for all couples. A woman can attain the right mindset and physical health for motherhood when her pregnancy is a planned one. Preparing the body and the mind for a pregnancy in advance helps in coping with various natural changes that occur in pregnancy and has a positive effect on the health of the pregnant woman in general.
Along with physical exercises, exercises for the brain are also essential for the new mother. While physical exercises are one of the best measures for pregnant women to ensure mitigation of complications during pregnancy and delivery, meditation and relaxation for the mind on a regular basis help in avoiding stress and fatigue. Exertion, both physical and mental, should be avoided in pregnancy. Hence it is important for pregnant women to practice relaxation exercises.
Women of childbearing age benefit from prenatal vitamins and other supplements. These will provide them with vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and minerals that help in the development of the baby. Consumption of folic acid supplement from three to four months before a pregnancy is strongly advisable. Most women do not start folic acid supplements until they are already pregnant which is already late for the baby. Not getting enough folic acid can be a risk factor for developing spina-bifida and other spinal cord disorders in the baby.
Plenty of water every day helps in getting rid of toxins in the body and prevents urinary tract infections. Complete avoidance of alcohol, cigarette smoke -- active or passive -- recreational drugs, excess sugars and caffeine are also important. If a woman smokes, it is important that she quits smoking from a few months before she becomes pregnant. This will give the body time to rid itself of the toxins posed by nicotine and tar. A woman who wants to conceive should avoid being with smokers. It is important that people are asked to refrain from smoking in her presence, even before she actually conceives.
Another important aspect of preparing for pregnancy is getting the body in shape. The baby has the healthiest chance at life if the mother has an optimum weight when she conceives and the weight gain in pregnancy is also optimum. In addition, the cardiovascular health and muscle fitness will make the pregnancy and delivery easier for the woman. It is also easier to return to your pre-pregnancy weight after delivery if one has not gained too much in pregnancy. Energy levels will remain high and the woman's body will be better equipped to handle pregnancy-related stress. This can make a radical difference to how the woman feels while pregnant. Remember, one can continue to exercise throughout pregnancy. Being overweight and excess weight gain during pregnancy increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes and other complications.
Lastly, the spouse's support plays a huge role in the overall well-being of the mother and the baby. Spending quality time doing things that you weren't able to do during your pregnancy days, like getting retail therapy together, watching movies, cooking together and the like can bring back vigor and joy into your life. Nothing can stop you from re-living your younger days and doing things you haven't done for a long time.
Motherhood is an overwhelming experience that can be pretty exhausting for first-timers. But that doesn't mean you deprive yourself of the simple joys of life. Taking care of your health is very essential to experiencing a pleasant motherhood.
(Author, Dr Ranjana Sharma is an Obstetrician at Apollo Cradle Royale, New Delhi. The views expressed are personal.)