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What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Your body goes through a miraculous transformation during pregnancy. Some women glow with health while others experience less than fabulous days. Here are some of the changes you may expect during pregnancy and helpful tips on how to manage them. Ready, steady, baby!

1. Morning Sickness
Although it is called as “morning sickness”, nausea can happen at any time of the day. Caused by changes in hormones during pregnancy, it usually goes away by the end of the third month into pregnancy.

What Can You Do?

  • Eat plain food and avoid foods that have strong odour or taste.
  • Limit fatty, spicy and fried foods.
  • Take more vitamin B6 as studies suggested it greatly improves nausea.
  • If nausea comes with vomiting, ensure your body is hydrated. Avoid large drinks and have frequent small drinks between meals.

2. Heartburn
As your baby grows bigger, it presses on your stomach, causing heartburn. It is a feeling around the top of your chest (behind your breastbone). Changes in hormone levels could also cause heartburn, leading to slower digestion process.

What Can You Do?

  • Have frequent small meals and eat slowly.
  • Avoid lying down shortly after eating as this will slow down digestion process and increase chances
    of heartburn.
  • Eat more liquid-form foods. Liquid moves through the stomach faster than solid food thus lowering the risk of heartburn.

3. Feeling tired
You may feel tired easily as your body works overtime to provide a conducive environment for your baby to grow. The growing baby also adds an extra weight that you’re carrying.

What Can You Do?

  • Take a nap during the day and go to bed early.
  • Reduce sweet food and carbohydrates that are high in glycemic index such as white rice, white bread and noodles.
  • Consume enough B vitamins, the key nutrients for energy production.
  • Eat adequate protein for sustainable energy throughout the day.

4. Constipation
Due to hormonal changes, you may experience slower digestion which resulted in constipation. Increased pressure from the pregnancy on the rectum and intestines can also interfere with digestion thus slowing down bowel movements.

What Can You Do?

  • Move regularly to keep your muscles toned – take a walk, swim, practice pilates or yoga.
  • Eat foods that are high in fibre such as wholemeal breads, wholegrain cereals, fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of water (at least 6-8 glasses a day) and avoid coffee, tea and carbonated drinks that may cause dehydration that worsen constipation.

5. Leg Cramp
Leg cramps usually occurs at night during the last half of pregnancy due to the extra weight you have to carry or aggravated by the pressure from your expanding uterus.

What Can You Do?

  • Avoid sitting or standing still in one position for long period of time.
  • Elevate your legs when possible; avoid crossing your legs.
  • Stretch your legs for 20 to 30 seconds before you sleep to keep your muscles relaxed.
  • Consume foods, drinks or supplements that are rich in calcium and magnesium.

6. Backache
As your baby grows, it puts a strain on your pelvis and spine. This can give you backache, which can get worse as your pregnancy progresses.

What Can You Do?

  • Apply heat or cold to your back to ease the pain.
  • Stand up or sit straight with the right posture so your back is well supported.
  • Avoid high heels and wear comfortable, lower heels shoes to even your weight distribution.
  • Do some light exercise that helps strengthen your muscle and joints to reduce the occurrence of back pain.

7. Swollen Ankles and Feet
Swelling is likely to happen later in your pregnancy due to fluid retention caused by pressure from your growing uterus on the blood vessels from the lower body.

What Can You Do?

  • Take regular breaks from sitting or standing.
  • Elevate your feet as often as you can to reduce water retention at your feet.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that can stretch to accommodate your swelling feet.
  • Limit salty foods and excessive salt in your diet.

8. Anaemia
Your body produces more blood to support the growth of your baby. You may experience anaemia when your body isn’t getting enough iron or certain nutrients to produce blood. As a result, you may have a reduced amount of oxygen and experience tiredness.

What Can You Do?

  • Make sure you get enough iron so that your body can produce enough amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
  • Include foods that are rich in vitamin C to help in iron absorption.

9. Overweight
Being overweight during pregnancy could cause health complications. Likewise, if you are overweight or obese when you are pregnant, you and your baby may be at higher risk of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.

What Can You Do?

  • Talk to your doctor and know how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
  • Eat a healthy, well balanced diet and avoid foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.
  • Choose foods with low glycemic index that will help you feel fuller longer. This should help control your appetite and may be useful if you are trying to manage your weight.
  • Do some light exercise to help you stay active.

10. Bleeding gums
Don’t be surprised when you experience bleeding gums. Increased blood circulation and changes in hormone levels may cause your gums to be tender and swollen more easily.

What Can You Do?

  • Get a dental check-up during your pregnancy to make sure your teeth and mouth are healthy.
  • Improve your eating habits and cut down foods high in sugar as much as possible.
  • Ensure that you are having the required amount of calcium that you need during this period.
  • Include vitamin C in your daily diet to strengthen gum tissues and manage inflammation.

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