The moment you find out you are pregnant, you naturally want to make the news known to your near and dear ones. What follows next is an unending series of suggestions, cautions and narrated experiences, most of which are filled with horror stories about nausea and labor pain, coming from ladies around you who have already been there. While their advice and guidance are definitely a great help, as weeks and months pass by, you discover that there is a lot more to pregnancy than what you may have heard till now.
In fact, each pregnancy is a surprise package of its own kind, bringing with it all kinds of things you previously had no clue about. At the end of the day, whatever you come to know through your own experience – no matter how good, bad, nightmarish or amazing – makes you realize how little you knew about this important phase of your life to begin with.
Based on personal experience, here are a few things that I learned about pregnancy:
1. Taking hot baths is a no-no:
It is but natural to long for a relaxing, hot bath when the mercury dips down, especially in the presence of different kinds of aches and pains that pregnancy brings along with it. The idea is nothing but heavenly except that taking a hot water bath can have detrimental effects on your pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association warns that showering or bathing in water, whose temperature levels are higher than 39.8°C, can overheat the body and potentially cause:
- Birth defects (like neural tube defects) in the fetus during first trimester.
- Dehydration of the amniotic fluid in later pregnancy.
- Premature contractions and/or miscarriage.
While hot showers are considered to be safer than a hot-tub bath, the time spent should not be more than 15-20 minutes. In general, you can tell the water temperature is too high if:
- It leaves red blotches on your skin while showering.
- It feels uncomfortably hot when you enter the bath.
Although saunas are not common in Pakistan, if you do have an access to one, it would be better to avoid it during pregnancy as well .
2. There is such a thing as nutrient overdose and it is not good.
One of the most important things that pregnancy teaches you is how to maintain moderation, especially when it comes to striking a balance between your diet and the dietary supplements recommended by your doctor. While it may seem tempting to consume a greater quantity of these essential nutrients, such as vitamins, calcium, iron and folic acid, exceeding their recommended daily intake (RDI) can have a number of repercussions on both you and your baby.
For instance, the recommended dose for vitamin A or retinol during pregnancy is 700 micromilligrams. Exceeding this amount for extended periods of time can cause:
- Birth defects in infants, such as facial abnormalities or defects with the central nervous system, thymus gland and heart.
- Nausea, lethargy, pain in bones, headaches and constipation in the mother.
It is important to remember here that nutrient overdose, and possible toxicity, is more likely to be caused due to an exceeded intake of prenatal supplements rather than your diet. Maintaining a balance between your prenatal supplements and diet is not difficult if you remember a few simple things:
- Always read the nutritional information on your prenatal supplements and see the percent daily value of each nutrient they provide.
- Check the nutritional information on any food item you eat.
- For food items that come without a nutrition chart, such as meat, fruits and vegetables, you can carry out your own search online. There are plenty of sources on the internet that can help provide information about how much nutrition each food item contains.
- Do not try to compensate for a missed dose of your prenatal supplements by doubling your next dose. Carry on with your regular dose as prescribed by your physician. Additionally, these supplements should support your diet and not replace it.
3. The pregnancy pains and aches might be due to a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction.
Mild to intense pain in the pelvic area during pregnancy can be caused by a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). According to latest research, around 1 in every 4 pregnant women complain of SPD, with varying degrees of pain. Women suffering from SPD often experience difficulty in walking or standing for a stretched period of time. The good news, however, is that SPD is not known to interfere with the labor.
The main cause of SPD is said to be the overproduction of a naturally occurring hormone called relaxin. Although relaxin is supposed to prepare the body for the imminent arrival of a baby by loosening the pelvic muscles, its overproduction can stretch the ligaments too far, causing the pelvic joints to become unstable and painful. In some cases, women complain of pain associated with SPD occurring in their legs, thighs, lower back, hip area and lower abdomen.
Since many doctors advise against consuming pain medication during pregnancy, the best way to manage SPD discomfort is through different exercise routines, which you can learn more about from your doctor or the internet. Moreover, wearing supportive belts is also known to help relieve SPD. You can also read some exclusive tips on how to lose weight after pregnancy here.
Ignorance might be considered a bliss by some, but when it comes to something as important as pregnancy, it is always better to know and learn more about what’s coming your way. Pregnancy does have its share of pleasant and not-so-pleasant surprises from time to time, but it also gives mothers-to-be an opportunity to learn more about themselves as well as their babies.