Category: Tips

The basics of self-care during pregnancy

PREPARING FOR PREGNANCY

The basics of self-care during pregnancy

Many couples conceive almost as soon as they start trying but some are not so fortunate. In fact, one out of five married couples in Singapore has problems trying to conceive.

Common Causes of Infertility

Medical Factors

For females, it may be problems with ovulation. Some do not ovulate or have irregular menstrual cycles where ovulation is unpredictable. Another common problem is endometriosis where there is a back flow of menstrual blood into the pelvis. This causes scarring of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, leading to impaired fertility. For men, the most common problem is sperm dysfunction with low sperm count. In cases where there is no sperm production or where the ducts are blocked, pregnancy will be difficult to achieve.

Age

Fertility declines with age. The optimal age for conception is between 22 and 26 years of age. The ability to conceive is reduced after the age of 30. It dips by half after the age of 35 and by another half every subsequent five years. Male fertility declines after the age of 40 as the quantity and quality of sperm deteriorate. Couples over 35 years of age who have had regular unprotected sex for six months without conceiving should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Body Weight

For women, being overweight or underweight may affect ovulation. Women who are overweight tend to have more complications during pregnancy and birth, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Underweight women, on the other hand, tend to deliver low birth weight babies.

Timing

The timing for the sperm and egg to meet is also critical. The best days to procreate are likely to be 12 to 16 days into a woman’s menstrual cycle when ovulation is expected to occur.

Lifestyle

Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs affect fertility. These toxic substances can cause the menstrual cycle to be irregular and can also affect the quality and quantity of sperm. The risk of miscarriages and having abnormal babies is also increased.

Stress

Stress can also lead to infertility. In women, the menstruation cycle can become irregular or absent. In men, it can lead to erectile dysfunction as well as low and malfunctioning sperm. Stress also suppresses sexual desire, thereby reducing the frequency of sexual intercourse.

Diet

Food and fertility are linked. A balanced diet with optimal amounts of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals will improve a couple’s chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby.

Enhance Your Fertility

Reduce stress. Rest and recreation are important when trying to conceive. Cut down on cigarettes and alcohol and avoid illicit drugs.

Maintain a healthy body weight with regular exercise and a well‐balanced diet.

 


Nutritional Tips During Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Nutritional Tips During Pregnancy

Reduce stress. Rest and recreation are important when trying to conceive. Cut down on cigarettes and alcohol and avoid illicit drugs.

Maintain a healthy body weight with regular exercise and a well‐balanced diet.

First Trimester

At this stage, your energy needs do not increase substantially. But the need for vitamins, minerals and protein increases to support rapid cell division and organ development. So, you really do not have to eat a lot more at this point but focus on selecting nutrient‐dense food including a maternal milk supplement to deliver valuable nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals.

Second and Third Trimesters

Your caloric needs increase in the second and third trimesters. In addition, your body changes to support the pregnancy. Your caloric needs will increase from an additional 370 kcal each day in the second trimester to 480 kcal per day in the third trimester. Aim to eat enough —not too little and not too much

—and enjoy a wide variety of nourishing food.

ADD VALUE

Eat a Well-balanced Diet

Include a variety of nutritious food such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, fruit, vegetables, legumes, lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese in your diet each day.

Choose Low Fat Food

While fat is an essential nutrient at this time, lower fat food choices will help you achieve appropriate weight gain, so you do not have to deal with losing the excessive weight gained.

Add DHA

DHA accumulates rapidly in the brain and eyes of your baby during the last trimester and through the first two years of life. Current recommendations support an intake of 200 mg per day throughout pregnancy. Anchovies, salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and maternal milk supplements are great sources of this beneficial nutrient.

Meet Your Folic Acid Needs

Folic acid helps cells multiply, a process critical to healthy development. Aim for an intake of 600 mcg per day. Folic acid is found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, melons, oranges and fortified food. Your doctor might recommend that you take supplements to meet the increased need for folic acid.

Include Choline

Another B‐vitamin, choline helps prevent Neural tube defects. Choline is involved in the development of the hippocampus, which is known to be the seat of memory in the brain. The goal is to aim for 450 mg per day. Choline is found in eggs, beef, chicken, turkey, salmon and baked beans.

Consume More B-Complex Vitamins

Working together, these water-soluble nutrients support metabolism, promote cell growth and division, maintain healthy skin and muscle tone, and enhance immune and nervous system functions. Wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk and legumes are excellent sources of many B‐ vitamins.

Vital Nutrients During Pregnancy