GETTING FIT TO START A BABY
DO YOU KNOW?
The results of studies by doctors and scientists all over the world have given us some very important guidelines which will help couples to improve their chances of having the healthiest baby possible.
Most couples know that a healthy pregnancy leads to a healthy baby but do you know a mother-to-be must be strong and fit a good three to six months before pregnancy? Hence, the need for planning well ahead of pregnancy.
Very often the main responsibility for planning a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby has fallen on the mother-to-be, who thus gets most of the attention. Yet, to give birth to a healthy baby, a father-to-be must also be strong and fit before pregnancy. Hence, it is a joint responsibility of both parents.
TEN STEPS TO GOOD HEALTH BEFORE AND DURING PREGNANCY
1) GIVE YOURSELVES TIME
Allow three to six months to prepare yourself. If you have been pregnant before, wait at least 15 to 20 months after the birth of one baby before trying for another.
2) EAT GOOD FOOD
Everyday eat a balanced diet which would consist of body building food and protective food. As far as possible eat unrefined foods such as unpolished rice, wholemeal bread and wholegrain creals. Eat some fresh foods every day, such as fresh vegetables both raw and cooked and fresh fruits.
Avoid food that contains too much sugar and oil. Do not overcook food. Do not skip meals especially breakfast. A good breakfast gives a good start to your day.
3) CHECK IF YOU ARE OF THE CORRECT WEIGHT
Check you are not too thin or very fat. Check your weight with your doctor. Correct any weight problem with good food and exercise. DO NOT go on a crash diet or starve yourself to keep thin.
4) CHECK CONTRACEPTION
Just stop any hormonal therapy you are on. There is no need to wait for a wash out period.
5) PROTECT YOUR BABY FROM INFECTIONS
German measles (Rubella) can be harmful to a baby in the early stages of pregnancy. Before you get pregnant ask your doctor to check if you are immune. Infections of the sex organs, the kidney’s and bladder also harm an unborn baby. If you have an unusual discharge or if either of you have risked infection, see your doctor. Treatment is fully confidential.
6) SEE YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT DRUGS AND DISORDERS
DO NOT take any drugs or medicine until you have checked with your doctor that they are necessary and safe to take during pregnancy. Discuss any worries or minor health problems. Ask for advice if you have a long-term medical condition or if there is a disorder in the family which might be inherited. If you are due to have an X-ray, tell the doctor if there is any possibility you might be pregnant. If you are a blood donor, stop giving blood now until after your pregnancy.
7) STOP SMOKING
Smoking can damage a man’s sperms. Smoking is also harmful to a woman before pregnancy and can damage a baby during pregnancy. If you smoke, cut down now and aim to stop before trying for a baby.
8) STOP TAKING ALCOHOL
Consumption of alcohol can harm an unborn baby. When you plan to have a baby, stop taking alcohol. Too much alcohol could damage a man’s sperms so it is best for a man to stop drinking in the months before trying for a baby.
9) HAVE ENOUGH EXERCISE AND REST
To be fit and healthy, you need moderate exercise daily as well as time for rest and relaxation.
10) CHECK ANY DANGERS AT WORK
If you work with chemicals or poisonous substances you may need to take special precautions before as well as during pregnancy. Find out if there are any such hazards at your work place.
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO HAVE A BABY:
Healthy mothers have healthy babies. It is beneficial to the health of mother and child:-
When pregnancies occur to mothers between the ages of twenty-five to thirty-five.
When the child is born at least two to three years after the birth of the previous child.
When the mother has had fewer than five pregnancies.
BENEFITS OF BIRTH SPACING AND TIMING
Better health of mother
Normal easy birth
Better birth weight of child
Better chances of breast-feeding
Fewer instances of illness and better chances of survival of child through infancy and child-hood.
More attention and better care given to each child
Better mental development of child
Adapted from the pamphlet “Be Fit and Healthy Before You Start a Baby” by Dr. B.M. Pickard, Dept. Anim. Phys. & Nutrn., The University, Leeds LS2 9JT