Wellness Tips

What to avoid and what to consider: Gynaecologists share tips for a healthy pregnancy


Photo: Anastasia Molotkova/Getty Images

  • While pregnant, there are certain things you may need to avoid. 
  • Gynaecologists suggest steering clear of runny eggs and sushi, to name a few.
  • But there are also certain things you should be doing, like remaining active and hydrated and developing a birthing plan.
  • “Pregnancy and the period leading up to conception sets the foundation for your child’s life,” says Dr Sunkaran Pillay.

Whether you are in the early stages of your pregnancy or still planning on falling pregnant, there are important steps that you can take to ensure the process is healthy and safe for you and your unborn baby.

“Pregnancy and the period leading up to conception sets the foundation for your child’s life, and there are some very important factors that parents-to-be should be aware of,” says Dr Sunkaran Pillay. 

The Netcare Parklands Hospital gynaecologist and obstetrician advises that when trying to conceive, it’s important to prep your body in the months prior by following a healthy lifestyle.

“It is recommended you visit your gynaecologist well before you plan to conceive to discuss any medication adjustments and lifestyle changes that may be needed, as well as folic acid supplements to prepare for pregnancy.”

Another gynaecologist and obstetrician, Dr Marise Subrayan, practising at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, adds: “It is also especially important to screen the mother for any chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, as well as anaemia or vitamin deficiencies, so that these can be diagnosed and controlled prior to pregnancy. If you are concerned you may have depression, talk to your doctor and seek help early.” 

READ MORE | Want to boost your chances of getting pregnant? Here’s how to get ‘fertility fit’

What to avoid during pregnancy? 

1. Excessive weight gain

Monitor your weight with your obstetrician throughout pregnancy.

2. Fumes

Such as generator smoke, car exhaust fumes, vapours, and strong cleaning detergents.

3. Lifting heavy items

4. Cat litter boxes

Contact with cat faeces can lead to toxoplasmosis, which can be very serious for mother and baby during pregnancy.

READ MORE | Not just the baby blues: Depression during pregnancy can harm both mother and child, expert warns

5. Sushi, rare, smoked or cured meats

Animal-based foods must be thoroughly cooked.

6. Runny, undercooked eggs

7. Alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, and drugs

These substances are unsafe, even in tiny amounts, and could lead to profound long-term consequences for your baby. 

8. Excessive stress

Get plenty of rest, and if needed, talk to your doctor about ways to help you cope.

What you should do:

1. Continue to exercise

Light to moderate exercise is now recommended three to four times a week, as well as pelvic floor-strengthening Kegel exercises. Make sure to consult your obstetrician.

2. Develop a birth plan

Decide where you want to have your baby and who will be there to support you, check what maternity cover your medical aid plan provides, and make an informed choice with your doctor on whether you will have a c-section or natural birth.

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3. Talk to your co-parent or support person openly

Chat about any concerns, cultural or religious norms or beliefs, and childcare expectations after the birth. 

4. Attend antenatal classes

5. Have regular scans to check the progress of your pregnancy

Make sure to stay in close contact with your obstetrician-gynaecologist and birthing team.

6. Stay hydrated

Reduce caffeinated drinks and drink plenty of water. 

“Pregnancy is a remarkable time that you will remember for the rest of your life and will set the scene for your child’s future. Take the best possible care of yourself, and try to relax and enjoy the experience,” Dr Pillay concludes. 

Source: Distributed by MNA on behalf of Parklands and Netcare St Augustine’s Hospitals

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