Pregnancy is one of the most significant events in a woman's life. It is filled with expectations, patience, and hope. A long nine months before a new life is brought into the world. Throughout this period of time the mother-to-be will be bombarded with tips, old wives' tales, and other assorted advice - both true and untrue - about what to do during pregnancy. These can come from strangers, mother-in-law, and other well-meaning friends.
So who's right, who's wrong? Let us find out.
Communication is priority
How do you know if one is pregnant?
Other than using pregnancy kits, the following signs indicate a possibility - though one should always check with the family doctor for confirmation.
Do's and Don'ts
If you are a mom-to-be, congratulations! Do take a look at the table below for common do's and don'ts.
See your doctor regularly
Pre-natal care can keep you and your baby healthy.
Take 0.4~0.8mg of folic acid daily
Folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects, and works best when taken with appropriate vitamins.
Eat a variety of healthy food
Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, lean meats, and a variety of cooked seafood.
Get essential nutrients, especially iron, daily
Getting enough iron prevents anaemia. Ask your doctor about taking a daily prenatal vitamin or iron supplement.
Drink extra fluids, especially water
Do physical activities
Non-strenuous movement is good for you and your baby, unless the doctor advises otherwise.
Gain healthy amount of weight
Too much weight gain, or too little may complicate childbirth. The average additional intake is only about 300 calories a day, depending on whether you are under-, normal, or overweight. “Eating for two” is unnecessary and potentially harmful. You should consult your doctor for the recommended calorie intake.
Wash your hands
Especially after handling meat or using the bathroom
Get sufficient sleep
Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. Sleeping on your left side improves blood circulation to the baby and prevents swelling. Use pillows between legs and under stomach to get comfortable.
Where possible, manage the stress in your life and say 'No' to requests for time and energy you do not have. Seek help from others.
Keep health problems under control
Additional discipline is required if you have other health issues, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Try to keep them under control.
Consult doctor on starting or stopping medication
Try to keep to the same doctor, and avoid over-the-counter prescriptions as it can harm your baby.
Get a flu shot
Pregnant women are more susceptible to flu, and should get vaccinated.
Wear a seatbelt
The lap strap should go under your tummy, across the hips. Shoulder strap should go between your breasts and to the side of your belly. It should fit snuggly and comfortably.
Join a childbirth or parenting class
Don't smoke tobacco
Quitting may be hard, but the complications it will bring to the baby may be harder. Harmful chemicals such as nicotine and cancer-causing substance are passed directly to your baby through the bloodstream, increasing risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and infant death. Seek help if necessary.
Don't be exposed to toxic chemicals
Toxic substances such as cleaning solvents, mercury, insecticides and paint fumes should be avoided.
Don't eat improperly cooked food
Protect you and your baby from food-borne disease with proper hygiene
Don't drink alcohol
There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink during pregnancy, but there are many records of negative effects when they do.
Don't use illegal drugs
Illegal drugs are extremely harmful to your baby. Do speak to your doctor in medical confidence if you need help.
Don't clean or change a cat's litter box
This might be unusual advice, but doing so exposes you to toxoplasmosis, an infection that is very harmful to the baby.
Don't come in contact with rodents
Guinea pigs, hamsters and pet mice carry a virus that can be fatal to your baby.
Don't take hot baths or saunas
High temperatures can be harmful to the foetus, or cause you to faint.
Don't use scented female hygiene products
Scented products may irritate the vaginal area, and increase risk of urinary tract infection.
Using a douche bag can irritate the vagina and increase risk of infection
Don't do X-rays
If you absolutely must do it, tell your physician or dentist that you are pregnant so they can do the necessary precautions.
The Pregnancy Diet
Fish is good. Researchers have found, observing over 12,000 children, that mothers who ate the most fish during pregnancy tend to have a higher intelligence quotient than those who abstained from fish, and the children of fish-eating mothers also appear to have better motor, communication, and social skills.
There are actually very few foods you should avoid. Of these, any foods that may contain listeria top the list. These include:
Other pregnancy myths
Microwave Ovens are safe; no good science has conclusively proven that usage is adverse.
Computers emit only a miniscule amount of radiation, especially with the advent of LCD/LED screens that obsoleted the cathode ray tube monitors of the past.
Air Travel and Security Scanners. There are two main concerns here. The security scanner does emit a tiny amount of radiation, but has not shown to be harmful. Change in air pressure within the cabin is also thought to cause premature labour but that is untrue.
Hair Dye is a particularly stubborn myth to debunk, since many doctors themselves err on the safe side by recommending that women don't dye or colour their hair during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.
Nail Polish falls under the heading of "phthalates", which can also be found in other personal care items, as well as many room deodorizers. Though there is no conclusive evidence, many studies have shown evidence that phthalates are endocrine disrupters - chemicals that may have an impact on gender hormones.
Every pregnant wants a safe delivery, with the baby growing up strong and healthy. It is the first time in a mother-to-be's life where every single action and habit impacts the life of another. Having a healthy pregnancy involves lots of planning and effort. But at the end of the day, the rewards will definitely be worthwhile!