Top tips on staying healthy during pregnancy in the UAE

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Top tips on staying healthy during pregnancy in the UAE

Dr Sejal Devendra Surti, Specialist Gynecologist at Aster Hospital, Mankhool, gives us the lowdown on how to keep yourself healthy, what to expect during pregnancy and when it comes to labour.

Will my skin change? Will it get oilier or drier?
The body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy, and hormonal changes will also cause differences in your skin. Not all women experience the same, as acne, glowing skin and breakouts are all common during pregnancy. The skin does tend to get oilier, although this doesn’t mean that your skin type has changed, and mild cleansers recommended by a specialist can be used to keep such issues under control.

Will there be a lot of injections during pregnancy?
There are no specific injections that are given during pregnancy. A few vaccinations for preventable diseases like flu, tetanus
and so on, are recommended though.

What can I do to make sure I am in the best possible condition for conceiving?
If you are trying to get pregnant you can help get your body ready for the baby by eating healthily and keeping physically fit to maintain a healthy weight – which can affect fertility. You should also reduce smoking and drinking.

What supplements do I need to take?
Folic acid is generally recommended and some women begin taking it as soon as they plan on conceiving, while in other cases it is suggested by the doctor.

What are the most important tests during pregnancy to make sure the baby is healthy?
Pregnant woman are recommended a Nuchal Translucency Scan at 11 to 14 weeks. This is the first detailed scan in which the foetus is assessed in detail. It checks the risks of Down’s Syndrome and is to diagnose certain major foetal abnormalities. Another scan recommended is between 18 and 22 weeks where the baby has developed and growing to a size where the anatomy can be screened. Also recommended is the marker test, which screens for trisomy. You will undergo regular blood tests to check for hemoglobin, thyroid, blood sugar levels and rubella, too.

Should I avoid being outside in the Dubai heat?
It’s best for pregnant woman to avoid staying outdoors in the scorching heat for too long, and it’s recommended to stay indoors during peak hours. It’s very important to avoid dehydration, particularly during pregnancy, so keep a water bottle handy at all times. Take care not to rush around either – make sure you keep cool and don’t exhaust yourself. If you feel dizzy, sit down with your legs raised and be inside in the air-conditioning where possible.

What about sun cream? Should I wear a certain type?
Continue using the same sunscreen that you have been using if it works for you. The only thing to keep in mind when using
sunscreens in pregnancy is to avoid using products with zinc oxide. It would also be a good idea to avoid using very oily
sunscreens, as some women tend to get oily skin due to hormonal changes.

How can I avoid varicose veins?
Varicose veins cause bulge in the vein, which is mostly seen in the legs and feet. It may not be possible to avoid varicose veins during pregnancy, although it can be reduced to a great extent by doing some form of physical activity. Also, try not to gain excess weight during pregnancy by eating a balanced diet and drinking lots of water. It helps to elevate your feet and legs whenever possible in order to improve blood flow and to avoid sitting continuously for prolonged periods.

What should I do with my cat?
You can continue to keep having a pet during your pregnancy and after. But don’t change the cat litterbox as that can potentially lead to an infection called toxoplasmosis, which can cause problems in the developing foetus.

Will my feet swell up?
It’s common to have some swelling in the feet during pregnancy, this is very normal and is called edema. Water retention is the main cause for swelling in ankles and feet. It may also be happen in the hands, face and neck sometimes. The swelling will disappear soon after your delivery though. However, if you feel anything unusual, such as excessive swelling on the face and neck, it is best to consult your doctor to be on the safe side.

Why does my inny belly button become an outy?
The popping out of your belly button is one indication that your baby is developing and growing. This usually occurs in women
in their second or third trimester. This happens because your baby is growing inside the uterus, as your uterus expands it puts pressure on the abdomen, hence pushing the belly button outwards. It doesn’t cause any harm to the mother or the baby and the belly button returns to its normal position after delivery.

What medication do I have to avoid?
Over the counter medications and antibiotics are generally not recommended during pregnancy. It is always best to consult with your specialist and then take necessary medications.

What can I do to ease morning sickness?
Morning sickness during pregnancy is extremely common yet varied. Some women may experience nausea and vomiting while some may not. It usually starts in the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy and may go on until the 12th week. To manage morning sickness keep a diary of when you feel nauseous – is it during the day, is it triggered by any particular smell, does it get worse in the evening? These may help you understand the causes of your issues and work towards easing it. If you are working, it would be better to take some rest and manage the condition than stressing yourself at work. It’s important to eat
sensibly. This may not be the first thing you want to do when you have morning sickness, however it is important to eat small and frequent meals. Having an empty stomach can increase the feeling of nausea, and avoid caffeinated drinks, fried and fatty foods as it increases the release of stomach acids and irritates the stomach. Drink plenty of water, too.

When do I have to stop flying?
Air travel during pregnancy is generally safe in the absence of any complications during the course of pregnancy. The recommended time to travel during pregnancy is between 13 and 28 weeks. Doctors may suggest avoiding taking any long flights during your first and third trimester. The first trimester is an extremely crucial phase when a woman needs to take very good care of her health, moreover you may experience morning sickness and fatigue, which gets better during the second trimester. The second trimester is the best and safest time for air travel. Post-32 weeks of pregnancy a woman is generally not permitted to take long international flights because there are chances of developing uneasiness and complications. Travel can put considerable amounts of stress on a pregnant woman, so always consult with your gynecologist to ensure that you have approval from a medical professional stating that it is safe for you to travel. Additionally some airlines also do not allow women to travel if their belly size is more than what is permitted.

What do I do when my water breaks?
When your water breaks, the amniotic sac with fluid that cushions your baby for nine months, will rupture. This usually only
happens once a woman is in labour and the contractions have started, although in some cases this might happen earlier. If your water breaks before you reach the hospital, call your doctor immediately and keep them informed. Keep some maternity pads handy and wear them on your way to the hospital. This will also help the medical team in assessing the fluid at the hospital.

Does spicy food bring on labour?
There is no clinical evidence that eating spicy food will induce labour. Some theories state that having too much spicy food could induce contractions by causing changes in the digestive system and as per others eating a lot of chocolate or sweets will do the same. There really is no food that will help bring on labour, the baby will send signals once it’s ready to come out.

How much weight should I gain while pregnant?
This is actually one of the most frequently asked question. Weight gain during your pregnancy will always depend on your
body mass index (BMI). This should definitely not be a matter of concern unless your doctor says it is. Pregnancy shouldn’t be an excuse for you to binge on unhealthy food nor should you be counting the calories you intake on a daily basis. A pregnant woman’s body needs more food and energy, first to ensure that the baby growing inside is healthy, secondly to build additional tissues, in the growing breasts and uterus. In average cases women gain up to 12kgs of weight by the end of their pregnancy. What is important is it to gain weight the healthy way by eating well, avoiding unhealthy fried, oily, fatty and sugary foods and doing mild forms of exercise.

Will breastfeeding make me lose weight?
This is rather subjective and does not work the same for all women. Breastfeeding does help burn a lot of calories, although it depends on the woman. The amount of weight you lose while breastfeeding will depend on factors including the amount of
weight you gain during the course of your pregnancy and the overall state of your health. Breastfeeding needs to be coupled
with eating healthy, staying hydrated and working out in a sensible way in order to have the desired results.

How quickly should I lose the weight after having my baby?
Weight loss should not be a task if the extra pounds you gain is within recommended guidelines. Your body has already gone through a lot during pregnancy and birth, post-delivery do not rush into losing the weight that you have gained. Be patient with your body and give it the rest it needs. Your goal now should not be to lose all the extra weight but to get back into a healthier shape by the right means. Take your time and lose the extra pounds the healthy way.

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