Self-care for pregnant moms
By Mikaela G. Martinez-Bucu, M.D.
Pregnancy is truly one of the most life-changing events in a woman’s life. How wonderful it is to have been given the privilege to grow life in your womb! Mothers may feel overwhelmed by this daunting task and often they forget to take care of themselves during pregnancy. Here are some tips on self-care during these nine months.
1. Get enough rest
Pregnancy can be physically draining, especially during the first and third trimesters. Fatigue is a common complaint and it is no wonder for a mother-to-be to often feel exhausted…you are growing a human being inside of you! This makes your body work overtime. Don’t be too hard on yourself –– take a 15-minute power nap to recharge or perform breathing exercises during break time at work to relax both your body and mind.
2. Eat healthy
It is easy to indulge in unhealthy food when having pregnancy cravings. Try to keep such indulgences to a minimum and opt for healthier food choices instead. A nutritious diet during pregnancy will not only allow healthy weight gain for both mother and baby, but will also help prevent the feeling of sluggishness.
Make sure not to overeat. When a pregnant woman is said to be “eating for two,” it does NOT mean she needs to consume twice as much food as she normally eats. Only an additional 200 to 400 calories is required, depending on which trimester of pregnancy. It is important not to skip meals either. Remember, your body needs the extra calories for your growing baby. Lastly, drink lots of water to avoid dehydration, which can also cause fatigue and headache.
3. Stay active
To battle the feeling of fatigue, get your body moving! Enroll in a prenatal exercise class, do some brisk walking or go swimming to cool down after a long day. Engaging in physical activities is not only good for the body but improves overall mood as well by releasing endorphins.
4. Connect with others
Connecting with others doesn’t just mean via social media. It is actually better to put your gadgets down, go out and spend time with your friends and loved ones. You may also consider joining a birthing class so you can meet couples that are in the same situation as you and make new friends. Surrounding yourself with positive people can alleviate the stress and anxiety that goes with pregnancy and make the journey much more enjoyable.
5. Practice mindfulness
Studies show that anxiety and depression during pregnancy have been linked to preterm delivery, low birth weights and neonatal morbidity and mortality.
Mindfulness is a state of awareness; purposely being in the present and acknowledging what is happening without judgment. Mindfulness can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, thereby, making a big impact on maternal mental health. This, in turn, also improves the mother’s physical well-being, baby’s health and also improve birth outcomes. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as being in the moment. For example, acknowledging that you are brushing your teeth or washing the dishes and being aware of the movements rather than doing it out of force of habit.
During pregnancy, it can be easy to disregard everything else and focus on just the baby growing inside you. But don’t forget, YOU are important, too! Throughout pregnancy, we look for the health and happiness of the mother-baby dyad. We want what is best, not just for the baby, but for the mother as well.
About the writer: Mikaela G. MartinezBucu, MD, FPOGS, FPSRM is a Clinical Associate Professor at the UP College of Medicine-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and Active Consultant at Manila Doctors Hospital. She is a graduate of the UP-PGH where she also completed her OBGYN residency and her fellowship training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. As a new mother to a one-year old son, she is an advocate for breastfeeding and Early Intrapartum and Newborn Care/EINC (Unang Yakap).