Care during pregnancy

 

Consult your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • constant irritation. It may be a sign of a liver disorder
  • morning sickness that persists beyond the first 16 weeks.
  • a sudden weight increase, more than 500 grams in a week. It may be a sign of excess fluid
  • swollen ankles or hands
  • iron deficiency, anaemia
  • a stinging sensation on passing water. It may be a sign of cystitis and need medical treatment
  • a bad headache

Go to hospital immediately if:

  • you have any vaginal bleeding
  • the waters break
  • you feel a sudden sharp pain in the upper or lower abdomen

In such cases there is a danger of miscarriage.

 

Care during pregnancy

Although pregnancy is a natural state, it is nevertheless a strain on the mother. Her entire system has to adapt to the new situation. Her metabolism is enhanced, her breathing and circulation become more efficient, and her womb grows. During pregnancy the placenta emits numerous enzymes and hormones which, together with the corpus luteum (a temporary organ secreting the hormone progesterone) and pituitary glands, regulate the changes taking place in the body.

 

Rise in temperature

During the early stages of pregnancy the temperature of the mother’s body usually rises a little. This is quite normal and does not need any attention.
Do not take any medicine, even for a common cold, during pregnancy without consulting a doctor or nurse. Some medicines can harm the fetus. If you visit a doctor or dentist, be sure to tell him you are pregnant so that he can adjust the treatment accordingly.

 

Feeling tired

Pregnancy is tiring in various ways. Some mothers feel in the pink of condition, while others feel very tired both during the first three months and during the last two or three months. A lot depends on your physique. A large woman does not suffer so much strain as a small one, for whom “growing” a baby weighing 3-4 kilos is no mean task.
Don’t make light of being tired. Have a rest if you can in the middle of the day, or at least put your feet up. If the miscarriage tiredness persists for a couple of weeks even, consult your doctor.

 

Alcohol

Alcohol can harm the fetus and it is also a strain on the mother during pregnancy. Even small amounts can be harmful if taken every day. It is not known what is a safe amount to drink during pregnancy .It is therefore recommended to avoid alcohol while you are pregnant.

 

Cramp

If you suffer from cramp, exercise your feet by stretching and screwing your toes up and by flexing and relaxing your legs from the knees down. During a fit of cramp, straighten your knee, take hold of your big toe and pull your leg up. Night stockings may also help.

 

Anaemia

Your tiredness may be caused by anaemia. The haemoglobin (the respiratory pigment in the (red) blood cells) often decreases during pregnancy because the amount of blood increases and the blood is in a way diluted. If necessary the doctor will prescribe iron tablets. Exercise and vitamin C (fruit and vegetables) help your body to absorb the iron.

 

Backache

As your tummy grows, your back muscles take a lot of strain that results in backache. Good posture, and holding your tummy in (insofar as that is possible during pregnancy!) ease the ache. So do a good maternity girdle and loose, low-heeled shoes. Find a mattress that gives your back the support it needs. Tight back muscles can be relaxed by gentle massaging and by gentle massaging and rest. Light exercises to strengthen the tummy muscles are also recommended. The clinic will be able to advise you here.

 

Breasts

Your breasts will get bigger as time goes on, and will feel tender and taught. You may have a slight milk discharge from the second month onwards. At this stage your breasts will be sensitive to cold, so keep them warm. Protect them with a large woollen scarf, for example, in winter. Swimming in cold water is not recommended.
It’s a good idea to massage the nipples with a basic cream obtainable from the chemist’s So that the skin will grow stronger and stand up to breast-feeding. If the nipples are small or turned inwards, stretch them daily for a few months before the birth, then the baby will be able to get a better grip.

 

Exercise

Get as much exercise and fresh air as possible during pregnancy. A good physical condition will help to make your baby healthy. If you already do some particular sport, you can usually continue right up until the last few weeks. You should, however, avoid sports and dancing involving leaps, stretching and other sudden movements. Use your common sense about swimming in cold water, too, due to the danger of infection and contractions. A gentle walk every day is an excellent form of exercise.
Light housework also provides the exercise you need, but heavy housework, such as washing rugs, adds to the risk of miscarriage. Nor are long car journeys and motorcycling to be recommended. Flying in planes that are not air pressurised may cause the fetus to suffer from oxygen deficiency.

 

Frequent urination, sweating

In the early stages of pregnancy, and especially before the time you would normally be expecting your period, you may have a vague feeling of heaviness in the lower abdomen. This is because the blood veins are expanding and the circulation is becoming brisker. There is a growing need to pass water. Particularly towards the end of pregnancy, when the womb is pressing on the bladder, a kick from the baby may well cause an “accident”. You will sweat more in the course of pregnancy, just as all the activities of the body will increase, so take frequent showers.

 

Heartburn

Heartburn is a common complaint towards the end of pregnancy. Avoid highly spiced food, coffee and strong tea. Fried food can also cause indigestion.
Soda and salts cause increased swelling, but the clinic can advise you on safe things to take for indigestion. The heartburn will vanish of its own accord once the baby is born.

 

Nausea and sickness

About one in two expectant mothers suffer from nausea in the early stages of pregnancy, especially in the mornings when the stomach is empty. It may also be accompanied by dizziness and fainting on getting up. The nausea usually stops after the first three months. It helps to eat a dry biscuit, a slice of bread, or drink a glass of milk or juice in bed before you get up, so put something ready beside your bed the night before. Get up slowly and without any fuss, and give yourself time to take life easy in the mornings.
You may also be overcome by nausea in the middle of the day as your stomach becomes empty. You can prevent this by having small snacks throughout the day, so long as they are not sweets.
Serious vomiting is not normal during pregnancy and should be treated by a doctor.

 

Piles

As the uterus grows, it presses against the back passage and thus increases the tendency towards piles. Piles are aggravated by constipation, so pay special attention to what you eat. You can prevent constipation by choosing a diet rich in fibre: plenty of wholemeal bread and porridge, vegetables, fruit and berries, and sufficient liquid. If necessary add bran or wheat germ to your food, or eat dried fruit. Exercise also keeps you regular.

 

Safety belts

Safety belts are now compulsory both on the back seats and the front seats of cars. The modern 3-point belts are safe for baby, too. Sometimes, however, belting up may be a problem in the final stages of pregnancy .In the case of an illness a doctor may issue a certificate relieving you of the obligation to wear a safety belt.

 

Sex

There is no reason why you should not have sexual intercourse throughout pregnancy, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. However, avoid intercourse during the first days of the second and third months (when you would normally be expecting your period), because at this time there is always the risk of a miscarriage. As your tummy grows, try making love in different positions. Some women are so tired in the early stages of pregnancy that they have no desire for sexual intercourse, but as a rule making love is an even pleasanter experience during pregnancy because there is no need for contraception. You can still be tender to one another even if you don’t both feel like intercourse. Anything that brings the other pleasure is a part of love.

 

Skin blemishes

Most women’s skin gets darker during pregnancy, especially the tips of the breasts and around the genitals. A brown line often appears from the lower abdomen to the navel. Brown spots may also appear on the face. These fade after the birth but there is no real cure for them.

 

Smoking

Tobacco smoke often causes nausea in expectant mothers. Both mother and father should give up smoking both for their own good and for the baby’s sake. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in the smoke are absorbed into the mother’s blood and pass via the placenta to the fetus, at the same time impairing the work of the placenta. The babies of smoking mothers are usually smaller at birth than those of non-smokers.
When you are feeding your baby, the nicotine is absorbed into the milk. This can cause restlessness, indigestion and crying in your baby. Your baby may also be more prone to coughs and catarrh during the first year of life as a result of smoking. In other words smoking is harmful to your baby in many ways.

 

Stretch marks

Mothers with weight problems tend to develop stretch marks on their breasts, tummy and thighs. These red lines, which look as if the skin has split, fade away almost entirely after the birth. You can try using a mild cream on them in the early stages.

 

Swelling

A small amount of swelling is normal, unless your blood pressure rises and there is protein in your urine. A sudden weight gain (more than 500 grams in a week in a normal-sized woman) is a sign that something is wrong, so consult the clinic or doctor immediately.

 

Vaginal bleeding

You will stop having your period during pregnancy because the lining of the womb that comes away during menstruation is vital to the development of your pregnancy; this is what the fertilised ovum attaches itself to. You may, however, have slight vaginal bleeding at the times when your period would normally be starting during the first two months of pregnancy. All other vaginal bleeding is a sign that something may be wrong and you should consult your hospital or doctor immediately.

 

Vaginal discharge

The normal amount of vaginal discharge tends to increase in pregnancy .If you have itching or a smelly discharge, you should consult your doctor as it may be a sign of inflammation. Have a good wash morning and night but with water only, because soap and impregnated tissues may cause inflammation. Do not use douches as they increase the risk of miscarriage.

 

Varicose veins

Varicose veins and cramp get worse during pregnancy and the tendency to suffer from them increases as the uterus presses on the arteries. They can be alleviated by getting yourself a good maternity girdle half way through your pregnancy and by wearing stretch stockings. Pull the stockings on before getting out of bed. It also helps to put your feet up sometime during the day, and to place a pillow under your feet at night. Do not wear tight shoes or very high heels, and change your shoes during the day.

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