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Pregnant women used to be asked to rest and stay at home for the whole duration of the pregnancy. Not anymore.

 

• Pregnant women are advised to go for exercises that carry little risk of injury and avoid those which require too much balance or coordination. By staying active, expectant mothers can build up their body fitness to prepare for labour and delivery.

 

• Avoid activities that involve bouncing, jarring movements, leaping, a sudden change of direction or any risk of abdominal injury.

 

• Typically, contact sports, downhill skiing, in-line skating, scuba diving, gymnastics and horseback riding should be avoided due to the risk of injury they pose.

 

• Try walking as a fuss-free activity that can fit easily into your daily schedule. Brisk-walking half an hour or more a day will get your heart pumping and improve overall blood circulation.

 

• Stretching exercises can be done anywhere and anytime. A simple leg stretch can be done sitting comfortably on a chair. Lift one leg and turn your ankle five times clockwise and five times anti-clockwise. Flex and point your foot five times. Spread the toes and relax for five times. Then repeat with the other leg.

 

• Do not exercise till the point of exhaustion where breathlessness and giddiness sets in. Avoid high temperatures because temperatures greater than 39°C can cause problems to the developing foetus.

 

• Stop exercising immediately if you encounter any of these symptoms: vaginal bleeding; nausea, dizziness or light-headedness; unusual shortness of breath; heart palpitations, racing heartbeat or chest pains; uterine contractions; fatigue; pain in back or pelvis and blurred vision.

 

Most experts agree that a healthy, balanced diet will help expecting mums to better cope with the demands of pregnancy. Here are some tips on what to look out for during pregnancy:

 

• Avoid alcohol

 

Regular drinking can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, pre-matured birth, delivery complications, stillbirth, and abnormal growth and developmental problems in baby.

 

• Keep caffeine to a minimum

 

Although light coffee drinking is not likely to affect the baby, drinking four or five cups a day may result in an overdose of caffeine in the baby’s bloodstream. Besides coffee, caffeine can be found in tea, caffeinated soft drinks, chocolate, coffee-flavoured desserts.

 

• Maintain a balanced diet

 

A balanced diet, with a moderate intake of carbohydrates will help in avoiding too much weight gain. Too much sugar or carbohydrates may cause fungal/ thrush infections of the vagina and trigger gestational diabetes.

 

• Double up on nutrition, not calories

 

Select foods that have quality, nutrient-rich calories rather than empty ones. For example, 200 calories in a whole-grain raisin-bran muffin is better than 200 calories in a packet of potato chips. Choose your calorie intake wisely.

 

• Avoid raw foods

 

Don’t take risks with raw foods like sashimi and uncooked eggs. These may contain a variety of harmful bacteria such as salmonella that may harm mother and baby.

 

• Drink plenty of water

 

Besides just eating for two, pregnant women are drinking for two as the baby also requires sufficient fluids. Extra fluids combat constipation, reduce swelling and rid the body of toxins.

 

• Take salty foods in moderation

 

It can cause water retention and bloating, and even high blood pressure.

 

• Take supplements

 

Folate is crucial during the first trimester for your baby’s formation. Most doctors will also prescribe supplements like iron, calcium and DHA.

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