The right balance during pregnancy
Despite the fact that pregnancy comes with a new surge of hormones and heightened senses (smell and taste), we have to be mindful of how we manage these cravings (Photo: Pexels)

PREGNANCY complications can be very worrying for expecting mothers. Amongst the most common pregnancy complications are hypertension and diabetes mellitus type 2 (informally known as pressure and sugar, respectively). Regardless of how common these conditions are, too many women are unaware of these risks.

All women should be knowledgeable about the steps involved in preparing their bodies for a safe, low-risk pregnancy. A healthy mother with excellent nutritional status will grow healthy babies and avoid certain pregnancy complications, so we have to focus on the mothers.

When a lot of people hear the word “pregnancy”, late night cravings, massive weight gain and binge eating come to mind. Pregnancy is not an excuse to eat an excessive amount of food, especially foods high in refined sugar and trans fats. Despite the fact that pregnancy comes with a new surge of hormones and heightened senses (smell and taste), we have to be mindful of how we manage these cravings.

Let’s talk facts! A woman should only gain around 25-30 pounds during the 40 weeks of pregnancy, and that’s including the baby. Controlling weight gain during pregnancy is like controlling your weight gain after any other medical diagnosis. Pregnancy causes significant stress on the body so don’t stress it out even further by overloading it with food it does not need.

Of course, that amount of food differs from woman to woman, depending on activity level (how many steps you take every day plus exercise), height and weight; it isn’t one size fits all. The average pregnant woman only needs 500 extra calories during her pregnancy, mostly in the second trimester. That’s literally having one patty in addition to a normal diet. Eating the right amount during pregnancy can prevent a large baby at labour, gestational diabetes — which sometimes does not go away, low birth weight for the baby, and premature delivery.

In addition to eating right, clinic attendance for many expecting mothers is poor. Again, pregnancy is a high-stress state and women need help to monitor the baby and its growth and health. You are just as important as the child you are carrying. Doctor’s visits, whether private or public, should be regular — every four weeks up until the seventh month of pregnancy, every two weeks from 28-36 weeks, and weekly until birth. Far too often have I been on the maternity ward at Victoria Jubilee Hospital and heard about mothers visiting the doctor only once or twice during the pregnancy, sometimes with no ultrasound or blood results. It is unacceptable on the mom’s part and on our health system.

I want Jamaican women to focus on our health, and those nine months can be the best time to take back our lives. Thirty-three per cent of Jamaican women have hypertension for life, and 30 per cent of us are obese. We need to be here to take care of our children as they will be left with the legacy that we built. We need healthy babies with healthy brains to lead us.

I implore the Government to invest more in the health of its women; we are the workforce and the backbone of this society. Without our health, what happens? Where do we go from here?

This article was contributed by MonkFit. Follow them on Instagram @monkfitintl

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