A healthy pregnancy mostly depends on your diet during pregnancy. A balanced diet rich in natural foods that include probiotics and prebiotics allows you to stay healthy and fit. These components help in digesting and distributing the nutrients of the food throughout the body. Probiotics and prebiotics obtained either from supplements or from natural food sources are considered to be safe during pregnancy. But consulting a doctor is always a nice idea before taking any kinds of supplements.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Commonly known as good bacteria, probiotics are live microorganisms that are present in the intestine naturally. These good bacteria help in breaking down the food that we eat and help in providing energy to the cells. Whereas, prebiotics are food components which are not digested by our body, but they stimulate the growth of the friendly bacteria.
Benefits of Probiotics during Pregnancy
During pregnancy, women have to go through a variety of discomforts which may occur frequently or may be severe. Stomach upset, stomach cramp, bloating and constipation are some of the common conditions that occur in pregnant women. Intake of probiotics directly from food or through supplements gives you relief from these problems. Below are a few of the benefits of probiotics:
- Helps in making your digestive system healthier so that it works more effectively
- Prevents diarrhoea due to infections and antibiotics
- Makes the immune systems of mother and baby strong
- Gives you relief from inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome
- Maintains urinary health
- Prevents premature birth due to infections in your birth canal
- Helps in treating food allergies, atopic dermatitis and eczema in babies
- Aids mental health and brain function
- Helps in keeping cholesterol level balanced
Foods containing Probiotics
Probiotics are available in a variety of foods which include :
- Fermented bamboo shoot
Foods containing Prebiotics
Here is a list of some foods containing prebiotics:
- Unrefined wheat
- Soya beans
Eating a healthy diet enriched with a variety of nutrients along with probiotics and prebiotics is essential for a healthy pregnancy. It will not only help you to stay fit and healthy but will also enable your baby to have a healthy development.
With an array of physical and psychological changes going on, it is quite natural that you might not have good sleep during your gestation period. Sleep problems are quite common among expectant mothers. You may experience discomforts like back pain, fatigue, difficulty in breathing, restlessness etc.
Reasons for sleeping problems during pregnancy:
- Frequent urination
- Body aches
- Leg cramps
- Movement of the foetus
- Breathing problem
Sleeping positions during pregnancy:
Good sleeping positions are very important to ensure proper sleep during the pregnancy period. Here, are some ideal sleeping positions which you can adopt to minimize discomforts:
- Sleep on your left side: Sleeping on your left side helps in improving the blood flow. Keeping one or both knees bent while sleeping during the early months of pregnancy is very helpful to prevent discomforts.
- Use pillows: Use pillows between your bent knees, behind your back or under your abdomen to relieve sleeping discomforts.
Tips for good sleep during pregnancy:
- Avoid caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee or soda during the second half of the day.
- Avoid drinking lots of fluids or having a heavy meal before sleeping.
- Eat healthy foods which are rich in variety of nutrients.
- Have small but frequent meals to avoid heartburn.
- During pregnancy, try to maintain the same time for sleeping at night and waking up in the morning.
- A warm bath before going to bed will make you feel relaxed and help in having a good sleep.
- You can join yoga or birthing classes to learn some relaxation techniques for better sleep.
- You can have a cup of herbal tea or a glass of warm milk before sleeping.
If sleeping problems still persist, it would be better to consult your doctor regarding this.
Smoking has adverse effects on one’s health. And, when pregnant, smoking may lead to different types of health complications not only in the mother but also in the baby. Cigarettes contain carbon monoxide, nicotine and other poisonous elements that are carried to the foetus through the blood stream when you smoke during the gestation period.
Complications during Pregnancy
Complications that may occur when pregnant women indulge in smoking:
- Ectopic pregnancy, wherein the foetus is conceived outside the uterus i.e., in the fallopian tube.
- More chances of miscarriage.
- Stillbirth may occur.
- Abruption of the placenta resulting in premature delivery.
- Rupture of Membranes.
Effects on Babies
Health problems the baby faces when a woman smokes during pregnancy :
- Reduction in the supply of oxygen to the baby due to nicotine and carbon monoxide travelling to the baby’s body.
- Baby’s growth and development gets slower.
- Smoking may increase the chance of your baby being born with cleft palate and cleft lip.
- Increased risk of respiratory problems in the baby.
- Babies are likely to have defects of the heart.
- Increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Lower birth weight of the baby.
- Baby is more vulnerable to asthma.
- Increased chances of premature birth and death of the baby.
- Increased chances of obesity in the later part of the baby’s life.
Preterm babies or premature babies are those born before the completion of 37 weeks. Such babies are also known as preemies and the risk of complications in such cases is often very high. So, it is very essential to take proper preterm care of such babies.
Special Care of Preterm Babies
Babies born prematurely are not fully developed to deal with the outside world. They find it difficult to cope with the new environment in comparison to fully developed babies. When a baby is born before the expected date, the digestive system, immune system, lungs, skin etc remain undeveloped. These complications are addressed in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) where the advanced medical facilities have made their survival possible and helps in developing their body organs. When the baby surpasses the danger line, he/she is allowed to be taken home.
Caring of Preterm Babies at Home
When your premature baby is at home, you should always be alert and take proper care of the baby. In many ways, caring for a premature baby and caring for a developed baby is same. But there are some special precautions which should be taken. The following will be helpful for your preterm baby to have a healthy development.
Spend quality time with your baby so that you get to know how the baby is adjusting with the new environment and responding to everyday things.
- Keep your baby neat and clean by giving him a bath and using damp cotton balls to clean face, neck and bottom. Change the diapers from time to time and keep the surrounding areas hygienic, so that your baby does not suffer from any kind of infections.
- Make sure to keep your baby dry; each time your baby becomes wet, dry him/her off with a dry cotton cloth.
- Always take proper care to keep your baby warm with the help of blankets, sleep suit or zip-up sleeping bag and adjusting the temperature of your room. Make sure that the temperature is safe for your baby.
- Feed your baby from time to time so that he/she doesn’t remain hungry.
- Help your baby to get proper sleep as it helps in keeping him full of energy and active.
Taking proper care of your preterm baby and consulting your doctor from time to time will let the baby develop in a healthy way. For the first few months, take extra care of your premature baby as per your doctor’s advice so that the baby copes normally with the new environment.