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Have a safe winter pregnancy

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Winter can pose some discomfort during pregnancy but a little care can help you cherish this beautiful phase of a woman’s life, says Dr Gayathri Kamath

Pregnancy is a state of physical, mental, hormonal and psychological changes happening in the body. It is the hormonal changes that lead to most of the signs and symptoms commonly associated with pregnancy. Women going through pregnancy during the winter have to ensure certain measures are taken care of for a good outcome.

Food

Keeping healthy when you are pregnant depends on both the amount and type of food you eat. The basic tenet is to have a balanced diet without overindulging in food. It is good to have at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables every day rather than foods that are higher in fats and calories. Whole fruits are recommended, rather than juices, as one will be missing on the fibre content which is important to overcome constipation.

The importance of adequate water consumption during winter needs to be stressed and pregnant women should consume at least two litres of water per day. Winter and pregnancy is likely to increase the visits to the washroom to void urine. Adequate care is to be taken to ensure prevention of slipping and falling in the bathroom.

Avoid fried food and drinks, which are high in added sugars. Hunger pangs in winter can be satiated by oats, beans, lentils, grains and seeds, as well as whole grain, bread or brown rice. The protein necessary for pregnant women can come from lean meat such as fish or for vegans lentils, and beans. Calcium needs can be taken of care by consuming dairy food/ productsbut choosing low-fat varieties such as skimmed milk or low-fat yoghurt.

To reduce the risk of infection, avoid undercooked food. Wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming. Ready prepared meals are to be cooked as per instructions and to ensure that they are reheated very well. Typhoid can be

prevented by avoiding consumption of raw or partially cooked eggs, mayonnaise, raw or partially cooked meat especially poultry and shellfish.

Exercise

Extreme winter is likely to make some pregnant women housebound. Pregnant women who are already active should be encouraged to maintain their physical activity levels. It is recommended that pregnant women can work on moderate physical activity throughout the week for at least about 150 minutes. Moderate physical activity involves activity that makes women breathe faster. This prepares them to get accustomed to the stress of labour.

Avoid activities which involves risk with falls and lying on the back after the second trimester as the cardiac output reduces and blood pressure can drop. The most important message is to listen to your body and adapt. Activities that must be avoided include skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, horse-riding and contact sports such as ice hockey, boxing, football or basketball. Doing physical activity will ensure the right weight gain. Women remaining indoors during winter and who have limited exposure to sunlight should ensure vitamin D supplements.

Skin care

The common skin problems pertinent to pregnant women are acne, dryness,

itching and stretch marks. There is no perfect solution for stretch marks or pigmentation which happen to some women during pregnancy. Cracked nipples need to be addressed in the third trimester to ensure breastfeeding is not hampered. Lanolin-based creams help maintain the skin soft and supple to some extent. Itching of the skin over the stretching abdomen and breasts are worsened during extremes of winter. Moisturising creams are welcome to soothe the skin on account of dryness.

It is important to check the active ingredient in cosmetics. Tretinoin and hydroquinone should be strictly avoided as their absorption can have a negative impact on the baby in pregnancy and during lactation.

Haircare

There is no need to change one's shampoo after getting pregnant. Natural dye is safer. It is better to avoid chemicals for permanent colouring during pregnancy. Hair straightening treatments contains formaldehyde, hence need to be avoided.

Wardrobe

It is essential that women wear warm clothes during pregnancy. Tight inner wear and snugly fitting clothes are not recommended. It is good to keep the maternity bag ready with warm clothes for the newborn. Newborn babies have very little fat and quickly lose their body temperature when exposed to cold. Hence wrapping the baby with a soft flannel cloth is suggested.

Miscellaneous

Pregnant women have decreased immunity to fight certain viral infections. Influenza is a viral infection causing serious respiratory complications. If left untreated, it poses risks for the expectant mother and the infant.

Recommendations are clear to vaccinate all pregnant women against influenza. The influenza season in India varies in each region. Cases of flu are reported between October to February. Women who have tendencies for seasonal allergy and asthma should consult a health care provider who cansuggest nasal sprays which do not harm the baby within.

There are chances that winters can pose some discomfort during pregnancy and you may find it hard to cope with the seasonal changes, however a little care and precautions can help you in cherishing the most beautiful phase of a woman’s life.

Dr Gayathri Kamath is consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital

Short takes

  • Pregnancy is a time of physical, mental, hormonal and psychological changes in the body.
  • Keeping healthy when you are pregnant depends on the amount and type of food you eat.
  • It is also essential to keep active, while avoiding certain kinds of sports.
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