Pregnancy and women Health

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This is because of the mercury contained in these fish. At high levels, mercury can harm a baby’s developing nervous system. This also applies during breastfeeding. Don’t have more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish includes tuna (see above for advice regarding fresh and canned tuna), mackerel, sardines and trout. But remember that eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby, so you should still aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish. Avoid raw shellfish because it may contain harmful bacteria and viruses that cause poisoning. However shellfish that is part of a hot meal that has been thoroughly cooked is fine. 

Fruit & vegetables

 Current advice is to aim for at least 5 servings of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juiced all count (although juice can only be counted as 1 serving each day no matter how much is drunk).

The immune system works hard during pregnancy leaving you more vulnerable to tummy bugs and gastroentestinal infections such as listeria and salmonella. Most gastroentestinal infections in pregnancy only require rehydration and fetal monitoring. If you have a tummy upset it is important to remain well hydrated by sipping constantly at diluted squash or water. If symptoms are severe or last longer than 24 hours speak to your GP or midwife. gestational diabetes Gestational diabetes is diabetes of pregnancy, which affects 3-5% of pregnancies and occurs due to the additional demands of the growing baby. Dietary advice is to consume regular carbohydrate containing meals and snacks, as well as an evening snack. Careful monitoring of food intake, regular weighing, blood glucose testing and urinary ketone testing are required. ginger An alternative remedy for the relief of morning sickness, which has been
shown to work in a number of studies. glucose screening It is important that pregnant women with diabetes have their blood glucose monitored regularly to ensure optimal care for both themselves and the growing baby. Each time you visit your GP or midwife they will check your urine for sugar and may take a blood test as well.

Healthy snacks
Women often feel the need to eat more frequently during pregnancy; in the early days to help combat morning sickness, due to altered blood sugar control and to meet the energy demands of the growing baby. However eating too many indulgent snacks such as cakes, biscuits, crisps and chocolate may result in too much weight being gained during pregnancy. Keep these as treats and try to choose healthier everyday snack choices such as: malt loaf; currant buns; sandwiches or pitta bread with low fat fillings; low-fat yoghurt s; hummus and bread or vegetable sticks; breakfast cereals; milky drinks or fruit smoothies and fruit including fresh, tinned in juice or dried such as raisins or apricots.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux, the basis of heartburn during pregnancy, is very common, affecting up to three-quarters of pregnancies, and can start as early as the first trimester, but is generally worst in the third trimester. Heartburn occurs as a result of increased abdominal pressure and the relaxation of the gastrooesophageal sphincter due to pregnancy hormones, allowing stomach acid to rise into the lower oesophagus sometimes resulting in a severe burning sensation.8 The discomfort can be severe and sustained and symptoms are often exacerbated by lying down, or by certain foods, particularly those that are spicy, fatty, fizzy or acidic. Symptoms will often be less severe if small frequent meals and snacks are consumed rather than larger infrequent meals. Some women may find milk and yoghurt soothing, but the most common remedy is antacids.
Herbal tea
Raspberry leaf tea is thought to have a stimulating effect on the womb, helping to induce contractions. Therefore intake of this is not usually advised until the late stages of pregnancy,
generally after 36 weeks. Whether raspberry leaf tea helps with labour still needs further research,as there have been few studies in this area. 

High blood pressure
High blood pressure can indicate a potentially serious condition called pre-pre-pre-pre-eclampsia  and is routinely tested during pregnancy. If you have pre-existing high blood pressure, (‘essential
hypertension’), your GP can prescribe tablets to keep it under control during pregnancy and this won’t affect your baby in any way.

The hormones of pregnancy relax the sphincter between the stomach and the oesophagus,which may cause indigestion. The problem might also be gastric reflux. Keeping something in
your stomach is the best way to prevent it. Eat frequent small meals throughout the day instead of a few large ones. Some women find certain foods make indigestion worse such as fatty, spicy and acidic foods and fizzy drinks. Sleeping with your head elevated may also help. You might want to try peppermint tea, which can help calm the gastrointestinal tract. Antacids can also help some people. Try to eat slowly and allow time to digest food before rushing around. Not eating just before bedtime and avoiding stress, when possible, may also prevent discomfort.
Many women suffer from insomnia and other sleep problems during pregnancy and most often it is caused by not being able to get comfortable, frequent trips to the
bathroom, leg cramps, excitement and anxiousness about the baby’s arrival. Worrying about your lack of sleep will only compound the problem so try the following methods to get a good night’s sleep. Start winding down before climbing into bed by taking a warm bath or get your partner to give you a massage. You can also try a pre-bed relaxation technique such
as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery. Also before you get into bed, make sure your room is a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Is it dark and quiet enough? Heavy or dark coloured curtains can help keep out unwanted light, and sound machines can help mask the drone of traffic with white noise. If you aren’t asleep within 20 to 30 minutes after getting into bed, get up and go into another room. Read a magazine or listen to music until drowsy, then get back into bed.

The demand for iron during pregnancy is high and pregnant women can become iron deficient, so make sure you eat plenty of iron-rich foods. Try to have some food or drink containing vitamin C, such as fruit or vegetables or a glass of fruit juice, with any iron-rich meals to help your body absorb the iron. If the iron level in your blood becomes low (anaemia), your GP or midwife will advise you to take iron supplements. Good sources of iron include: red meat, pulses, bread and fortified breakfast cereals.

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