5 Lifestyle Choices That Affects Feotal Growth
Created by Neetu Ralhan Updated on Apr 30, 2018
Pregnancy is a time of great joy. An expecting mother gears up to consciously make healthy lifestyle choices, to have a healthy baby. There is more awareness now about the impact of alcohol consumption and smoking on the physical and cognitive development of an unborn baby. It is no surprise, then, to see a pregnant woman refuse even a small glass of wine, to be safe.
However, while consciously avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, some common everyday habits are missed out. These things, too, can affect the development of the fetus, and it helps to be aware of them.
What Are Some Lifestyle Choices That Affect The Fetus?
Caffeine: That first cup of coffee in the morning seems like a lifesaver, doesn't it? A wakeup tonic, and a much needed start to the day. When your day is packed with so many things to do, you need to keep going, regardless of a sore back or tender feet. Coffee is the go to solution many a time. It helps to keep these points in mind about caffeine intake-
- If you're a regular coffee-drinker, watch your intake during pregnancy. In fact, it is easy to go overboard, simply because coffee isn't the only thing that contains caffeine. Tea, chocolate, soft drinks, some pain killers, cold and allergy medicines contain a considerable amount of caffeine, too
- Caffeine can increase urination and cause excessive water loss from the body. It also affects the absorption of calcium by your body. Several studies have linked caffeine to premature delivery, risk of miscarriage and low weight babies. If one has a preexisting condition of high blood pressure or are at a risk of developing pregnancy-induced- hypertension, caffeine may be avoided
- If you are planning to conceive, you may want to gradually reduce your daily consumption of caffeine, because giving it up suddenly can cause fatigue, sleepiness and headaches. You could try replacing your morning cuppa(containing approximately 100-200 mg caffeine) with alternatives such as green tea, herbal tea or Decaf (decaffeinated coffee). These drinks do contain caffeine, but in significantly lower amounts. Please seek your gynecologist's advice before taking any caffeinated drink during pregnancy
Involuntary smoking/secondhand tobacco smoke: Unfortunately, being a non-smoker doesn't entirely guarantee protection, if you are surrounded by people who smoke, or are otherwise often exposed to cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke contains hundreds of poisonous chemicals that reach the fetus through the mother's bloodstream. Here's how it affects the foetal growth-
- The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke hampers delivery of oxygen to the fetus
- Nicotine crosses the placenta, and reduces blood flow to the placenta and the uterus
- Non-smoking pregnant women who inhale tobacco smoke might be at a higher risk of miscarriage, premature labor and stillbirth
- To avoid unwanted exposure to second-hand smoke, you may want to request that your immediate environment be kept smoke free, both at home and at work
- Long working hours:Physical work can leave a mum-to-be really exhausted, whether you work at home or outside. A research published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that long periods of standing and longer than usual working hours can negatively impact fetal development. Experts have found that when an expectant mother deprives herself of adequate sleep and rest, she exposes herself to the risk of preterm labor and other complications and may even spend longer hours in the labor room. To ensure a happy and healthy pregnancy, it is advisable to take regular breaks and steal moments where you can simply sit back and do nothing at all!
Junk food or convenience food:Prenatal hormonal changes can bring about unusual food cravings in a woman. Hunger pangs strike at the oddest hour, and healthy snacks are not always handy. The inevitable outcome – junk snacking. Go right ahead, indulge yourself and dig into your favorite cheese laden pizza once in a while, keeping these points in mind-
- Eating fatty and sugary food causes the mother to gain excess weight which puts her at a higher risk of developing hypertension and gestational diabetes. Being overweight has also been known to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and still birth
- It has been found in several cases that exposure to artificial food coloring and chemical additives in the womb could lead to learning disabilities in children
- Some studies have also shown that a pregnant woman's preference for junk foods may be passed on to the baby, which would surface as an innate liking for unhealthy foods in the child's early years
- One study suggested that the amniotic fluid transfers flavors from the mother's food to the fetus, which may result in the fetus developing a familiarity with certain tastes
Poor oral and physical hygiene:If you are pregnant, it may be normal for you to feel lazy and sluggish on some days, not wanting to even get out of bed for a shower. However, pregnancy tends to lower natural immunity, and makes one prone to viral and bacterial infections. So take extra care with personal hygiene.
- Pregnant women are more susceptible to gum disease due to high levels of the hormone progesterone which enhances growth of microbes in the body. Not brushing regularly, ignoring dental problems such as cavities and gum bleeds - can result in gingivitis or gum infection
- Untreated infections can potentially cause harmful microbes to travel through the bloodstream and reach the fetus. Gingivitis is also known to trigger an increase in bodily fluids that induce labor
- Keeping the pubic area clean is important, and avoid using scented products during your shower
- Choose well-fitting clothes, and change out of sweaty clothes as soon as possible
- Taking a shower every day, thorough cleaning of private parts and maintaining good oral hygiene can help protect the health of both, mother and baby
While your gynecologist will help you with any medical care required through your pregnancy, simple, yet effective, lifestyle changes are in your hands. Start with small steps right from the time your partner and you decide to have a baby. This will go a long way in ensuring that you have a healthy baby when the time comes!
Hope you found this information helpful. While you do everything you possibly can to protect your baby, don't forget to enjoy your pregnancy! Tell us about the lifestyle changes you made during your pregnancy in the comments section.