Hygiene during pregnancy

During pregnancy, it is very essential to take proper care of your health as it not only helps you to stay fit but also keeps your baby healthy. From a healthy diet to keeping yourself clean, you need to take proper care of everything you do. Personal hygiene is one of the vital factors for a healthy pregnancy.

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Importance of maintaining proper hygiene during pregnancy

When you get pregnant, your body tends to undergo many uncomfortable changes due to the increase in blood circulation and hormonal changes. This results in frequent urination, perspiration, vaginal secretions etc.

The baby in the womb is vulnerable and weak. If the expectant mother does not maintain proper personal hygiene, there are more chances of infection which may harm the baby. The would-be mother also suffers from various infections that affect the skin, stomach, urinary tract etc. Thus, it becomes very necessary for expectant mothers to maintain a healthy personal hygiene.

Tips for maintaining healthy hygiene during pregnancy

  • Clothing: For pregnant women, it is very important to wear washed clothes as it helps prevent infections and irritation of skin. Throughout pregnancy, you should wear loose and comfortable cotton clothes as cotton is said to be the ideal fabric for expectant mothers. It helps in absorbing any discharge and dries quickly. As milk secretion is possible during the third trimester, wearing cotton maternity bra with pads will help to absorb the leakage of colostrum from the nipples. Moreover, you should avoid wearing sweaty clothes for longer period of time.
  • Breast care: To prevent nipple irritation, it is very important to wash your breast and nipples properly with water so that the dry colostrum gets removed. Caring for your breast will help you maintain good personal hygiene.
  • Genital care: Pregnant women should take special care to keep their pubic area hair-free and clean but you should not douche. It thus helps in preventing genital infections which may affect the developing baby. To maintain the pH level, you should use mild and unperfumed genital wash.
  • Dental care: During pregnancy, teeth care is another important factor of hygiene. Due to the increase in estrogen level, pregnant women may suffer from gum sensitivity or swelling. You should make sure that you brush twice daily to keep your teeth and gums free of infections.

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  • Wash hands: In order to prevent stomach infections, you should wash your hands properly before eating. If you go to work or any other place, use sanitizer before having food. In addition, have fruits and vegetables that are washed properly and use clean utensils.

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  • Skin and hair care: As the oil glands become more active during the pregnancy your scalp might turn oily. So, shampoo your hair regularly using mild shampoo. Avoid taking bath in a bathtub as there is a higher chance of vaginal infection as the water gets dirty in the bathtub. Use the shower or a mug to take a bath and natural bath products to wash your skin.

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Benefits of Coconut Water during Pregnancy

Introduction

Extremely refreshing with a slight sweet taste, coconut water helps you to keep hydrated. Rich in electrolytes and essential nutrients like potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin C and certain B vitamins, coconut water helps in giving you instant relief from fatigue and tiredness by reviving the salts lost by your body.

Coconut water is produced naturally in the fruit and contains 94% water and very little fat. It should not be confused with coconut milk, which is made by adding water to grated coconut meal. Coconut milk contains about 50% water and is very high in coconut fat.

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Is it safe to drink coconut water during pregnancy?

Coconut water helps a pregnant woman to get refreshed as she often suffers from dehydration and exhaustion. These occur due to rapid physical changes, increased fluid requirement and the additional needs of the developing baby in the womb.

As a healthy oral rehydrating fluid, it is safe for pregnant women. It is recommended that it be had in moderation so that you gain all the nutritional benefits. Fresh and tender coconut water could be the perfect alternative to sodas or caffeinated fluids. Even though drinking coconut water is safe during pregnancy, consulting your doctor/nutritionist is always advisable.

 

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Benefits of coconut water during pregnancy

  • Keeps you energised: Rich in electrolytic content, coconut water helps refuel your body with essential nutrients keeping you energised when you feel exhausted or suffer from diarrhoea.
  • Boosts immunity: The presence of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants strengthens the immunity of the Mom-to-be. So, consuming coconut water during pregnancy can help both mother and baby be healthy.
  • Prevents constipation and heartburn: As digestive problems are common during pregnancy, consuming coconut water helps in preventing acidity, maintaining pH levels and relieves nausea. It also helps in soothing and preventing heartburn during pregnancy.
  • Maintains blood sugar level: Coconut water contains sugars which can help raise your blood sugar level when you’re hypoglycemic, and reenergise you. It is a natural isotonic fluid.
  • Prevents urinary tract infection: It has been found that consumption of tender coconut water helps during urinary tract infection which occurs in most pregnant women.


Conclusion:

Though there are numerous health benefits of coconut water during pregnancy, it doesn’t act as a medicinal cure for severe and chronic diseases. Take your doctor’s/nutritionist advice about the quantity of water to be consumed.


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Morning Sickness and How to Cope With It!

What is morning sickness?

Most pregnant women suffer from morning sickness which occurs in the first three months of pregnancy. Also known as nausea, pregnancy sickness or vomiting in pregnancy, it is caused due to the high level of pregnancy hormones that are produced in your body. Though morning sickness makes you feel lousy, it doesn’t have any effect on the baby.

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In the early weeks of pregnancy, human chorionic hormone (HCH) provides the nutrients required for the foetus. When the placenta starts nourishing the foetus with the required nutrients, the level of these hormones drops resulting in elimination of morning sickness. During the first trimester, most women are susceptible to smells that leads to vomiting. In some cases, morning sickness is mild, but this not the same for all. By the end of the first trimester, morning sickness settles down, though in some women, it continues a little bit longer.

How to tackle morning sickness?

Though it is difficult to prevent morning sickness completely, following these tips might help minimise the effects.

  • Take rest: Taking rest as much as possible helps in reducing morning sickness. Ensure proper sleep at night and keep yourself relaxed and stress free. Tiredness and stress may worsen morning sickness.
  • Eat little but frequently: It is very essential to keep your stomach full. And for that you have to eat in small amounts but frequently. It will also help in keeping your sugar level controlled and lower the chances of experiencing morning sickness. If your stomach remains empty, the acids will work on the stomach lining resulting in vomiting.
  • Remain active: During pregnancy, it is very important to keep yourself fit and active. Even if you feel lousy, you should try to keep yourself physically active. This helps in lowering nausea to a great level.
  • Get up slowly: If you are pregnant, you should always remember to get up slowly from sleeping or sitting positions. Always take your time to get up.
  • Eat healthy food: You should include protein rich food. Food containing vitamin B and other healthy options is good for both the mother and baby. Try to avoid junk and unhealthy food as these may trigger nausea and vomiting.
  • Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated with fluid intake is one of the best options to keep you healthy during pregnancy. Your nausea may worsen if you stay dehydrated.
  • Ginger tea: Having a cup of ginger tea is found to be helpful in minimising nausea. Ginger helps in soothing your stomach.
  • Lemon: The aroma of cut lemon can help in reducing nausea. You can even add slices of lemon to tea or water to get relief from nausea.

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Seek your doctor’s advice if morning sickness is severe

If you are pregnant and suffering from mild morning sickness, you can adopt the above tips to minimise it. But if it worsens, it is better to consult your doctor. Normally, nausea goes away at the end of the first trimester. Taking good care of yourself is a key to healthy pregnancy.

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Role of Folic Acid during Pregnancy

Folic acid is very important for all women during pregnancy. Also known as folate, folic acid is a B vitamin and plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells. There are lots of folic acid rich foods but only dietary source of folic acid is not sufficient during pregnancy. So, folic acid supplement is necessary along with folate rich foods for a healthy pregnancy. In fact, it should be taken before you are pregnant, though on the recommendation of your doctor who will know better how much folic acid your body needs before, during and after pregnancy.

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Dietary sources of folic acid include:

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  • Green leafy vegetables – Rich sources are amaranth, ambat chukka, spinach, mint
  • Oilseeds like gingelly (til) and soya bean
  • Orange Juice
  • Chickpeas
  • Other legumes like green gram and red gram
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Black-eyed beans
  • Okra
  • Cluster beans
  • Enriched grains

Since, folates get dissolved in water, boiling the vegetables and draining off the water will destroy all the folates they contain. So, it is better that the vegetables are steamed or cooked in a microwave to help you to get all the nutrients.

Benefits of folic acid during pregnancy:

  • Produces red blood cells
  • Protects your baby from neural tube defects like spina bifida
  • Prevents your baby from birth defects like cleft palate
  • Protects you from suffering from anaemia
  • Prevents your baby from brain defects like anencephaly

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Most of the defects occur during the first month of pregnancy when most women don’t even realize that they are pregnant. It is better to plan your pregnancy and have the required amount of folic acid before getting pregnant or during the childbearing age. But consuming more than recommended may be harmful to you and your baby’s health. So, take folic acid supplements as recommended and have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

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Skin Care During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a phase in a woman’s life during which your body undergoes different type of changes. These changes occur as your body produces hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. Changes on your skin also occur as a part of pregnancy. If you are lucky enough, you will look luscious and beautiful. But in some, the effect is just the opposite resulting in varied types of skin problems.

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During pregnancy, the area around your chin and mouth are the most common areas affected. Due to the baby bump, stretch marks also occur on your skin. So, it becomes very essential that you take care of your skin during pregnancy. From the foods you eat to products you use on your skin, all have effects on your baby. Though most of the skin products are safe, there are some which may be harmful to your developing baby.

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You can combat stretch marks by using cocoa butter which is safe to use during pregnancy. It helps in diminishing blemishes, as well. You may also notice darker skin in certain areas, especially around the areolas due to hyper pigmentation. In order to make the dark patches fairer, you can use lotions which are safe to use during pregnancy.

You can also opt for natural and oil-free skin products during the gestation period. Such products don’t contain harmful chemicals which are not good for the baby in the womb. There are some products especially made for pregnant women. Otherwise, you can consult an experienced dermatologist to treat different types of skin problems that occur during pregnancy.

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You should avoid using skin products that contain the following ingredients:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Any type of Retinoid

Make pregnancy the most beautiful phase of your life by eating well and taking care of your skin. You will definitely like playing the role of mom-to-be. Stay happy, and your pregnancy will definitely be beautiful!

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Amniocentesis

The foetus is surrounded by a water-like fluid known as amniotic fluid. This fluid contains the live cells of the foetus and other substances which are helpful in determining the health of the baby before birth.

Amniocentesis is a specialised medical procedure in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is taken out from the womb to perform a laboratory test. Usually, it is done between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy. When done before 15th week of pregnancy, the chances of miscarriages or other complications increase. It is performed on those women who have the risk of genetic disorders.

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Need for amniocentesis

With the help of amniocentesis, the following things could be determined:

  • Genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormality: Genetic disorders like Down’s syndrome and sickle cell anaemia can be detected. Down’s syndrome has adverse effect on the mental and physical appearance of the baby and  in sickle cell anaemia the red cells are abnormally developed and lyse(break )easily.
  • Infection: It also helps to detect any kind of bacterial or viral infection in suspected cases

How is amniocentesis  done?

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Prior to amniocentesis, an ultrasound is performed which helps in detecting the position  and condition of the unborn baby .

Then under ultrasound guidance, a thin needle which is inserted into the uterus through the abdomen. And approximately 15 to 20 ml of amniotic fluid is withdrawn

The sample of the amniotic fluid is then tested in the laboratory.

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Risks of amniocentesis

Though amniocentesis is helpful in detecting the health of the unborn baby, it includes some risks to the mother. Following are some of the complications which may occur in pregnant women or in the baby:

  • Miscarriage: If amniocentesis is performed before 15 weeks of your pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage is higher.
  • Amniotic fluid leakage: It is very rare that the amniotic fluid leaks. And if it so happens, normally it stops within a week without having any effect on your pregnancy.
  • Injury during needle insertion: While performing amniocentesis, the unborn baby might move its leg or arm and get a little hurt. But it doesn’t cause any serious injury to the baby.
  • Transmission of infection: If you are suffering from any kind of infection like toxoplasmosis, hepatitis C or HIV, these infections may get transmitted to the foetus during amniocentesis.

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Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

Carrying a baby in the womb and giving birth is a beautiful feeling that women get to experience. During pregnancy, it is quite natural that the blood pressure of women may fluctuate.

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Blood Pressure

The pressure at which blood is pumped throughout the body is known as blood pressure. Usually, blood pressure is measured in terms of the maximum pressure over the minimum pressure. In an adult, the normal resting blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg (millimetres of Mercury) approximately.

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Pregnancy and Blood Pressure

When a woman conceives, there are changes in her body due to hormonal influence. Due to this, the blood pressure of the pregnant woman fluctuates. During the first and second trimester of pregnancy, blood pressure may be lower than normal.  And in some cases, blood pressure becomes higher than normal. And as time progresses, after delivery, blood pressure may return to normal.

So, it is very necessary that special attention should be given if you are suffering from high or low blood pressure during pregnancy.

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Types of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

  • Gestational Hypertension: When a pregnant woman develops hypertension after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and no other organs are affected, it is referred to as gestational hypertension.
  • Chronic Hypertension: When a woman has blood pressure before being pregnant or before the 20th week of pregnancy, then it is known as chronic hypertension (Pre-existing Hypertension).
  • Preeclampsia: Sometimes, gestational hypertension or chronic hypertension can lead to preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition during pregnancy which is also known as toxaemia. It occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy which is characterized by high blood pressure along with signs of other organ system damage. Preeclampsia when left untreated may cause severe complications including death of the foetus.

Problems Caused Due to High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure during pregnancy, causes different types of health problems, including :

  • Fetal Growth Restriction: High blood pressure may result in slow growth of the baby, leading to low birth weight.
  • Premature Delivery: In order to prevent further complications due to high blood pressure, premature delivery may be necessitated.
  • Separation of Placenta: Due to preeclampsia, the placenta may get separated from the uterus before the baby is born. And when the placenta prematurely separates from the uterus heavy bleeding may occur which may be seen coming through the vagina. In some cases, separation of the placenta from the uterine wall may be life threatening for both the mother and the baby.
  • Eclampsia : Preeclampsia can lead to mother having seizures (fits / convulsions) that is called Eclampsia. This is life threatening for both the mother and the baby.
  • Multi-Organ Damage: Preeclampsia can affect all the organs of the mother – leading to multi-organ damage. Sometimes, any one organ like the kidney, liver or blood cell may be affected, and this may lead to premature delivery. The mother is also at risk of developing HELLP Syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, Low platelets).


What are the Symptoms of Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia, many times, may occur without any warning symptoms. It may be detected by your doctor during routine check-ups.

The symptoms of severe preeclampsia include:

  • Severe headache that doesn’t go away with simple painkillers
  • Problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before the eyes
  • Severe pain just below the ribs
  • Heartburn that doesn’t go away with antacids
  • Rapidly increasing swelling of the face, hands or feet
  • Feeling very unwell.

Who is Likely to Get Preeclampsia? How to Prevent High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy:

Preeclampsia can occur in any pregnancy but you are at higher risk if:

  • Your blood pressure was high before you became pregnant
  • Your blood pressure was high in a previous pregnancy
  • You have a medical problem such as kidney problems or diabetes or a condition that affects the immune system, such as lupus.

If any of these apply to you, you should be advised to take low-dose aspirin (75 mg) once a day in pregnancy, to reduce your risk.

The importance of other factors is less clear-cut, but you are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia if more than one of the following applies:

  • This is your first pregnancy
  • You are aged 40 or over
  • Your last pregnancy was more than 10 years ago
  • You are very overweight – a BMI (body mass index) of 35 or more
  • Your mother or sister had preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • You are carrying more than one baby.

If you have more than one of these risk factors, you may also be advised to take low-dose aspirin once a day in pregnancy.

Treatment for High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant and suffering from high blood pressure, it is very necessary to seek your doctor’s advice.  Normally, a doctor may suggest the following in order to make your blood pressure normal and keep you and your baby safe.

  • Advise admission
  • Medications to lower high blood pressure
  • Offer frequent tests of your blood and urine
  • Monitor the health of the baby

So, it becomes very necessary to have regular check-ups during the gestation period. It will help you to know your health status and that of your baby. And if you are suffering from high blood pressure, your doctor will recommend certain things that you need to do.

Check-Ups and Tests to Get During Pregnancy

It is very important for women who are pregnant to have regular check-ups either with a doctor or a midwife. There are certain types of tests and scans which are needed to be done during pregnancy. All these help in keeping track of your baby whether it is developing in a healthy way or not. Moreover, you also get to know about your health.

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For some women, pregnancy turns out to be well with no complications. But that doesn’t mean that you can skip those check-ups and tests. These procedures are not to be missed during pregnancy.

These are some of the prenatal tests and check-ups :

  • Routine Check-ups: During pregnancy, you have to visit your doctor many times for routine check-ups where certain types of urine and blood tests will be done. Your blood pressure will be checked and it will be determined through the blood and urine tests if you are suffering from gestational diabetes. All these tests are done to see if there are any problems which may create complications during pregnancy or during labour and to check the health of the baby, as well.

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  • Ultrasound: Every pregnant woman needs to do an ultrasound between 18 weeks and 21 weeks of pregnancy. This scan is known as Anomaly Scan which lets the doctor know if there is any structural deformity in the foetus. Ultrasound also helps in detecting :
  • If you are carrying a single baby or twins or more
  • The size of the baby
  • The health status of the baby
  • Position of the baby
  • Neural tube defects
  • Amniocentesis: It is a specialised procedure in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is taken from the mother’s womb. Normally, it is done between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy and is performed on those women who have the risk of genetic disorders. It helps in assessing whether your baby has any chances of developing any birth defects or  has already developed some.

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  • Down’s Syndrome Screening: This test helps in assessing whether your baby has the risk of suffering from Down’s Syndrome.
  • CVS or Chorionic Villus Sampling: This is done for those pregnancies where the risk of the baby suffering from serious inherited disorders is higher. It is an alternative test to Amniocentesis and is done by taking a sample of cells from the placenta.

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Diabetes During Pregnancy

One of the most common complications during pregnancy is diabetes. The diabetes which occurs during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes. It happens to pregnant women when their body does not produce the required quantity of hormone called insulin. However, every pregnant woman doesn’t suffer from gestational diabetes.

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Reasons for gestational diabetes:

When a woman gets pregnant, the sugar level in the body automatically goes up. So, the body requires extra insulin during pregnancy. And if the extra insulin is not produced by the pancreas to reduce the level of sugar build-up in your blood, gestational diabetes may develop. Having a high sugar level during pregnancy is not only harmful to you but also to your baby.

Symptoms of gestational diabetes:

Though there are no proper symptoms for gestational diabetes, those who suffer may experience the following. However, some of these occur in normal pregnancy, so it is very difficult to differentiate if you are suffering from gestational diabetes.

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Frequent urination
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Feeling constantly hungry
  • Snoring more than usual

Complications of gestational diabetes:

If gestational diabetes is left untreated, the following complications may occur.

  • Health risk to the baby
  • Baby grows much bigger than normal size making delivery complicated
  • Breathing difficulty for the baby
  • Jaundice may occur in the baby
  • Low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia may occur in the baby later

How to prevent gestational diabetes?

In order to prevent gestational diabetes, the following may be helpful for the pregnant women.

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Staying active by doing light work, walking or exercising
  • Maintaining a weight essential for normal pregnancy

 

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Diagnosis:

As part of the regular check-up during pregnancy, doctors do a urine test every time to check the sugar level in your blood. If the level is high then they will do a glucose tolerance test which will confirm if you are suffering from gestational diabetes or not.

 

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Treatment:

The risk associated with diabetes during pregnancy can be treated by controlling the blood sugar level. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, doctors normally recommend the following :

  • Monitoring the level of sugar various times a day
  • Doing urine test frequently
  • Making a healthy food plan as per your doctor’s advice
  • Moving around, especially after taking meals
  • Doing exercises

 

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Diabetes Before Pregnancy

Introduction:

When a woman gets pregnant, it is very essential that she is healthy and free of disease. This is one of the main factors in giving birth to a healthy baby. And, if you have diabetes before getting pregnant, then special care should be taken to control it. You should consult your doctor before getting pregnant. Otherwise, there is a possibility of the baby being born with health defects.

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Complications of diabetes before pregnancy:

Due to poor control of diabetes, some women even have miscarriages or lose their baby during childbirth. In order to prevent these complications, there is need for proper treatment to control diabetes before you get pregnant.  High glucose levels and Ketones, which are very dangerous, present in the mother pass through the baby’s placenta leading to various type of complications.

High glucose level before pregnancy, if not controlled, may result in the following complications during childbirth :

  • Miscarriage
  • Health risks to the baby
  • Premature delivery
  • Different types of birth defects
  • Low glucose level at the time of birth
  • Prolonged jaundice in the baby
  • Respiratory problems in the baby
  • Difficulty during delivery necessitating caesarean section
  • Infections in the vaginal area and urinary bladder
  • Kidney problems
  • Eye problems

How to prevent and control blood sugar level?

Babies born to mothers having diabetes are at the risk of having diabetes in later stages. The complete organs of a baby are formed within a period of 7 weeks from the date of your last menstrual period. And when you realise that you have conceived, it becomes too late to control diabetes. Since the early weeks play a crucial part in the development of the baby, controlling your blood sugar level is very important. So, it is better to get your glucose level lowered if you are planning a baby.

Proper treatment and regular check-ups reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and after childbirth. When a woman conceives, the level of blood sugar automatically goes up.  Doing exercises, light work, taking meals and medications as prescribed by your doctor will help you balance your blood sugar levels.

Tips for women suffering with diabetes before pregnancy:

  • Plan your pregnancy
  • Control the level of blood sugar before and during pregnancy
  • Follow a proper diet chart recommended by your doctor
  • Exercise
  • Control your weight
  • Do urine and blood tests frequently
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol

Conclusion:

Treating diabetes before getting pregnant will let you and your baby enjoy good health. Make your pregnancy safe and enjoy this beautiful phase of life rather than being tense with complications.

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