Anemia, UTIs, diabetes, mental health problems, hypertension, and obesity are common problems women may experience during pregnancy. In the US, for instance, around 6% to 9% of women develop gestational diabetes, which can increase a baby’s risk of birth defects, preterm birth, and stillbirth. Other complications are related to the baby’s positioning in the womb. If you have been diagnosed with a condition that can make your pregnancy challenging, it is vital to protect your health and adopt protective (and preventive) strategies. The following steps may help you reduce the chances of further complications.
Communication With Your Physician Is Key
It is important to talk to your doctor about any health problems you have now or have experienced in the past since specific conditions can up your risk for a complicated pregnancy. An abnormal fetal position (any position other than the fetus being in the ‘cephalic’ position, with the head down and facing the spine, and the chin tucked into the chest) can increase the risks associated with childbirth. Your doctor may recommend specific exercises, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment or other methods that can be put into practice if your due date approaches and your baby does present an abnormal position. Informing yourself as soon as possible of different options is key to reduce stress and enable you to feel more in control. You should also inform your doctor of any medication you are taking to ensure that none are harmful to your baby.
Stress can exacerbate complications like gestational diabetes, since it causes blood glucose levels to rise and can result in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating, smoking, and not getting enough physical activity. Some of the most effective yet completely natural ways of bringing stress hormone levels down include yoga and mindfulness meditation. One study published in the Journal of Depression and Anxiety showed that pregnant women who completed an eight-week yoga course experienced significantly less stress than those who did not do yoga. Just one session of yoga reduced self-reported anxiety by one-third, and cortisol levels by 14%.
Embracing A Healthy Diet And Exercise
Embracing a healthy diet and staying active (once you have obtained your doctor’s approval) can help to stave off obesity – a condition that is associated with various risks for a baby, as it is linked to high blood pressure and a higher risk of miscarriages, stillbirths, and other problems. It is important to avoid specific foods (such as raw eggs, shellfish, meat, some types of fish, and mold-ripened soft cheeses) but otherwise, there is a wide gamut of foods you can enjoy. Try to stick to a Mediterranean diet, comprising fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, pulses, and healthy fats. Try to exercise daily, enjoying a swim, brisk walk, or other activities approved by your doctor.
Some pregnancy complications – such as gestational diabetes – can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight, but others can arise unexpectedly. From the time you discover you are pregnant, it is important to discuss your lifestyle, medications, and health history with your doctor so that they can determine whether or not you are at risk for any specific complications. Your doctor can help formulate a plan to keep risks down and develop a strategy for dealing with a complicated birth. Keeping stress levels low will also help you make reasoned decisions and feel more confident about choosing approaches to increase the chances of a positive birthing experience.