The journey towards motherhood is like a roller coaster ride that is filled with excitement, happiness as well as anxiety and stress. Adopting a holistic approach for maternity care is gaining popularity globally as it caters to balancing the mind, body and soul of an individual. It not only helps cope with symptoms of pregnancy but also helps manage daily stress for a healthy mother and a healthy baby.
Dr Jyoti Bali, medical director, Baby Soon Fertility and IVF Centre says that an integrative approach towards pregnancy and childbirth includes the use of holistic therapies also known as alternative or complementary therapies along with routine medical care to prevent or treat common discomforts and complications of pregnancy.
Here is a simple guide for all the mothers-to-be for a happier healthier pregnancy.
Regular antenatal consultation
It is important to choose a doctor you can connect with and a hospital that is not only close by but also has all the necessary facilities. It is vital to visit your care giver regularly for advice.
Take prenatal vitamin
As vitamin and mineral deficiencies are quite common these days, it is advisable to ensure that you get yourself checked before conception. Vitamin D3 deficiency is endemic nowadays and it is a very important micro nutrient for fertility (egg health). Consuming folic acid should be started before pregnancy as it helps in the brain and spinal cord development of the baby. It is strictly recommended to get a prescription from your doctor for iron and calcium. If taking them makes you feel queasy, try taking them at night or with a light snack.
Avoid over-the-counter medications, supplements, or natural remedies. Even common painkillers and antibiotics without consulting a doctor, should be avoided.
Importance of optimal nutrition during pregnancy can never be over-emphasised. A pregnant woman needs 300 extra calories daily to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Her diet should be a mixture of protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains with sweet and fat kept to minimum. Packaged food, all purpose flour, starchy food and raw fish, to name a few should be avoided during pregnancy.
Hydrate yourself well
Dr Geetika Gangwani, holistic healer says that during pregnancy, your blood is supplying oxygen and essential nutrients to your baby through the placenta and carrying waste and carbon dioxide away — which means your blood volume increases up to 50 per cent to handle all this extra activity. So, you need to drink more to support that gain.
Drinking water can also help prevent constipation, haemorrhoids, UTIs, fatigue, headaches, swelling, and other uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms. Aim for 8-10 glasses per day, and if you don’t enjoy the taste, try adding a squeeze of lime or a splash of fruit juice. Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks.
Watch the weighing scale
The common saying that you should ‘eat for two’ is a myth. Packing on too many extra pounds may make them hard to lose later. At the same time, not gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems. The optimal calorie intake would be 300 additional calories daily to maintain healthy pregnancy.
Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. Based on a woman’s BMI (body mass index), IOM recommends that before becoming pregnant with a baby
*Underweight women should gain 12-18 kilos
*Normal weight women could gain gain 11-15 kilos
*Overweight women could gain 6-11 kilos
*Obese women could gain 5-9 kilos
Check in with your doctor often to make sure you are gaining at a healthy rate.
Educate and empower
Attending a childbirth class will help you feel more prepared for delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, you can even ask specific questions and voice any concerns. You will also become more acquainted with the hospital facility and its staff. It is always a good idea to take your partner along for the classes. This not only makes him feel involved and included in the entire process but will be of great help during pregnancy, labour and postpartum period along with contributing towards baby care.
Staying active is important for your general health and can help you reduce stress, control your weight, improve circulation, boost your mood, and sleep better. Take a pregnancy exercise class or walk at least 15-20 minutes every day at a moderate pace, in cool, shaded areas or indoors in order to prevent overheating.
Pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking are also great activities for pregnant women, but be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Listen to your body, though, and don’t overdo it.
Recent studies show that practicing meditation not only helps the expectant mother during pregnancy but also during birth and postpartum period. There are numerous benefits of meditation which include better sleep, relief from anxiety or stress which brings peace of mind and positive labour preparation as well as lowers the risk of postpartum depression.
Pregnancy is definitely a time for pampering. From prenatal massage to aromatherapy and reflexology to shiatsu, choose the one that suits you best. The only thing to take care is that the therapy should be done by a certified therapist.
The beauty of holistic therapies is that it not only treats the physical body but also heals the mind and soul; creating a balance for optimal health. So sit back and enjoy your journey of pregnancy while you pamper and treat yourself.