Here's why women should stay healthy before and after pregnancy explains Dr Anu Vij

Dr Anu Vij, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist explains why women need to take care of themselves even before and after the pregnancy. Check it out
Here's why women should stay healthy before and after pregnancy explains Dr Anu VijHere's why women should stay healthy before and after pregnancy explains Dr Anu Vij
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The woman is always set to witness a new exciting journey of her life ahead. At every age, the body undergoes a transition that you will not be able to prevent. From switching careers to taking care of your children or caring for the ageing parents, you will see that a lot of things around you are changing, including you and your body as well. Follow these vital tips to stay in top shape and lead a healthy life before and post-pregnancy. Read on to know more about this…

Women, your body is bound to change, as time passes on. The changes are subjected to lots of different factors such as genetics, chance, and the lifestyle choices we make impact our lives in the long run. Factors such as family's medical history, accidents, injuries, and genetically unforeseen conditions can give you a tough time. Ageing, a decline in fertility, fluctuation in estrogen levels, and difficulties in conceiving are some of the problems that women may face.

Moreover, many women move through perimenopause, the years leading to menopause. These hormonal shifts can induce menopause-related symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep difficulties, mood swings, irritability, stress, and even depression.  As estrogen dips, heart disease risk can increase, due to a rise in bad cholesterol, diminished elasticity of arteries, and accumulation of belly fat. 

Why it is essential to stay healthy before and after pregnancy?

There are many problems such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Urinary tract infection (UTI) and many more that can rob their peace of mind.

It is important to visit the gynaecologist at least once a year starting from teens and throughout life to care for the health of the reproductive system. The conditions that a woman must discuss with her gynaecologist include issues relating to menstruation, fertility and pregnancy. Throughout a woman’s life, menstruation changes periodically, depending on the health of the body and various stages, including pregnancy. 

Discussing issues like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), fibroids, breast disorders and abnormalities of the female reproductive tract with the gynecologist is important. Discuss family planning, contraception, sterilization and other reproductive issues, once a woman is sexually active.

Why is it necessary to stay healthy during and after pregnancy?

A commonly occurring condition in pregnancy is known as gestational hypertension. It can be high-risk for both, the baby and the mother. If your readings are higher than 140/90 mm Hg and had normal blood pressure before 20 weeks and have proteinuria (excess protein in the urine) then you may be diagnosed with this grave condition. It may start in the second half of pregnancy.

Women who are pregnant or in doubt of being pregnant should consult the doctor. A doctor will monitor your and your baby’s health throughout your pregnancy. Regular screening for diabetes, blood pressure and care against miscarriages is something the doctor will check for. Other conditions like irritable bowels, thyroid conditions and anaemia will be monitored. 

The growth of the foetus will be monitored and certain issues that may result in a preterm delivery or an incompetent cervix can be taken care of. Women with high-risk pregnancies who might experience bleeding or an infection, those with gestational diabetes or kidney infections are also monitored and cared for by doctors throughout their pregnancy. 

Problems of conceiving and menstrual issues including amenorrhea are something you need to get sorted.

Women need to be screened for various disorders and problems as well as get regular advice from the gynecologist for various issues. These include screening for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) as well. A gynaecologist will also advise you on the best methods of contraception for your body. Get screened regularly for reproductive organ cancers and learn about HPV vaccines. 

Tips to stay healthy and hearty:

- Check your blood pressure, thyroid, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels from time to time. Go for regular eye exams, skin check, dental check-up, mammograms, pelvic exam, and Pap smear test for prevention and early detection of cancer.

- Women may also suffer from osteoporosis (a condition that causes bones to become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, and can lead to fractures) should be careful. Opt for high in calcium and vitamin D, and do regular weight-bearing exercise, including strength training to keep osteoporosis at bay.

- Practice relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation that can de-stress you.

- Know about the diseases and conditions prevailing in your family. This can be a precautionary step that can help you keep many fatal conditions at bay.

- Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Avoid eating spicy, oily, junk, and processed foods. Limit your smoking and alcohol consumption.

- Stay physically active by exercising daily.  

Case study:

I am Anju, aged 36 years and currently embarking on the most beautiful journey of my life – pregnancy. I am 33 weeks pregnant and eagerly waiting to enter motherhood.

Pregnancies above 35 years are usually considered high risk and are susceptible to conditions like Gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, high BP etc. However, I have been able to keep all these conditions at bay owing to my healthy lifestyle and have had a great pregnancy journey so far.

A little bit about my lifestyle prior to pregnancy – As a child, I was always athletic and played multiple sports which ensured my physical activity levels were quite high. However as I graduated from college and settled into an IT job, my lifestyle changed drastically and physical activity hardly had any place in it. Considering my childhood and the fact that I was putting on a lot of unnecessary stress on my body, I decided to change my lifestyle and started off with aerobics and Zumba. Though these forms of exercises did help me watch my weight, I did not feel a sense of accomplishment and decided to try something new. That is how I stumbled upon functional and weight training 3 years back. This decision changed my life completely, and within a year of training, I saw results and felt stronger than I ever had in my entire life. As the years passed by, I grew younger and much fitter. I would say at my oldest, I have been the fittest than I ever have been in my entire life.

While I made changes to my form of training, I also ensure that my food habits underwent changes as well. My daily diet wasn’t very fancy but was very balanced in terms of taking the right amount of carbs, proteins, fats, greens and staying away from processed food, refined sugar, carbonated drinks etc.

Today I truly believe my healthy and uneventful pregnancy is the result of my healthy lifestyle that I have been following over the years.  We as women, usually tend to overlook the fact that we need to take care of ourselves and compromise our health which in the long run would have an impact in our lives.

Every woman dreams of having a beautiful pregnancy, and this is definitely in our control provided we lead a lifestyle that helps us have this beautiful pregnancy

- Inputs by: Dr Anu Vij, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar

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