Pregnancy is a perfectly normal state of affairs. When you come right down to it, it is one of the most normal things a woman can do. Once a pregnancy gets started in the tight direction, it is all but impossible to upset its development. Regardless of what the moiler does. the pregnancy will continue to develop normally. But if things do not get started right within the first few days and the subsequent development of the pregnancy is faulty, then a miscarriage will almost certainly occur, in spite of all the patient and her doctor may do to prevent it.
Most young women look forward eagerly to having a baby and find that pregnancy is one of the best times of life. It is a disservice to tell a pregnant woman that because of her “delicate condition” she should
drastically curtail her activities. The woman who is pregnant but does not want to he is not likely to heed advice to limit her activity, but somehow even she rarely seems to be lucky enough (in her view) to have a miscarriage. However, there is no question that pregnancy puts quite an added burden on the entire female organism.
Most women find that at certain stages they tire easily and require more rest. It is wise to lead a normal life in pregnancy, but it is not prudent to get overly tired, If a rest in the middle of the day can be arranged, it will make life a good deal more enjoyable. Birth and death-the ultimate events of our existence-have always stirred man’s imagination. In every culture a large body of folklore about pregnancy has arisen to explain this phenomenal event and its complications. Our culture is no exception. The popular superstitions seem ridiculous to the sophisticated scientific community, but so firmly are some of these ideas established that many otherwise well-informed women accept them as fact.
Not many people today believe that if you are frightened by a one-legged man your baby will be deformed, but many women are quite convinced that lifting heavy objects will produce a miscarriage, or that pail • g or inhaling paint fumes will be harmful to a mother with child. Lifting the hands above the head is supposed to wrap the cord around the baby’s neck, while. on the blissful side of superstition, plenty of Bach and Beethoven is supposed to inculcate a love of good music in the baby from the very moment of birth. There is no truth to these beliefs.
COMMON QUESTIONS DURING PREGNANCY
There are a number of common questions that come up at some point during practically every pregnancy.
dangerous. On the other hand, the, mother and her unborn child obviously need proper nutrition. At first glance, those two statements may seem contradictory, but in fact they are not. Everyone who has made a study of nutrition in relation to childbirth has concluded that, on the average, women who are well nourished have fewer complications in pregnancy than poorly nourished women, and produce healthier babies.
After much investigation the consensus is that the ideal diet for pregnancy is one rich in protein. A good pregnancy diet will contain a serving of meat or of fish or fowl a couple of times a day, a glass or two of milk daily, and an egg at least three or four times a week, in addition to a variety of fruits and vegetables and some cereals.
Meat, eggs. and dairy products are our main source of protein. but vegetables and cereals do contain it in some amount. The pregnant woman’s serving of lean meat should be not less than three or four ounces at a meal. Liver is an excellent food for the expectant mother because in addition to its protein it has vitamins and minerals. If weight is a problem for her, seafood—because the fat content is relatively low—makes a good source of protein. The pregnant woman should not skimp on her meals. She should eat three times a day and should have enough at each meal to carry her over to the next. She should not be driven to snacking between meals. Foods prepared with oil should be kept to a minimum.
There is a tendency in all pregnancies to retain sodium and water, and since excessive retention of fluid and sodium is in some way connected with toxemia of pregnancy, it is wise to cut down on salt. While many persons (male and female, the nonpregnant along with the pregnant) du take vitamin supplements, there is no good evidence that extra vitamins will benefit women who are on a well-balanced diet. People who are well nourished do not suffer from vitamin deficiencies, and the only ailments vitamins can be expected to cure are vitamin deficiencies.
Further, no study with adequate controls has proved that either mothers or their infants at birth do better with vitamin supple-menu if the diet has been a good one to start with. For those who do not have a well-balanced diet, vitamins may be necessary. The diets of busy, though well•to.do, women are not always much better than those of the poor. Most physicians will review the patient’s diet and will then recommend on an individual basis. The average woman will lose fifteen to twenty pounds in the fint couple of weeks following delivery. Consequently, your weight gain in rc anc should not exceed this amount. Moreover, an extra we’ l t
gained in pregnancy is likely to stay with you for the rest of your life.
The gynecologist’s world seems to be full of rotund ladies who wistfully tell him, “You wouldn’t believe it, but I weighed tug pounds when I was married.” While the ideal weight gain averages out to about half a pound per week, this rate does not remain constant in each of the nine months of pregnancy. In the last few months it will be greater, because the baby himself is gaining almost an ounce a clay. Also, toward the end of pregnancy, there is more of a tendency to retain fluids. To keep the weight gain in pregnancy under twenty pounds is a struggle for most women, but it is a necessary one. You should be continually conscious of your caloric intake. In spite of what a popular book asserted a few ran back, calories definitely do count. but there is a large variation in the caloric requirements of different individuals.
One person could lose weight on the same diet on which another gains. For pregnancy, nutritionists usually advise diets yielding 2500 to 3000 calories per day. Many women would gain excessively if they had a caloric intake that large. “They have to restrict their calories to some-thing like woo a day to keep from putting on too much weight. A few must go even lower. It is not wise to go below 15oo calories per day in pregnancy because it then becomes hard to prepare a balanced diet containing all the essential fond. For the many women who have trouble controlling their weight gain in pregnancy. here are a few bits of advice.
Keep a count of the number of calories eaten each day. Most stores selling paperback hooks carry a little booklet that gives the exact number of calories in different foods. Try to skimp and save calories every way possible. Drink skim milk or buttermilk instead of homogenized milk: use vinegar or lemon juice on salads instead of mayonnaise. Make a sandwich with one slice of bread instead of two. With little tricks like these, you can easily save a couple of hundred calories a day. This skimping could make the difference of a pound or two a month, since a pound of fat is equivalent to about a000 calories. Many women struggling to control their weight will try to fill up on vegetables or fruits, since they are not satisfied with only a salad. Put some protein, like a hard-boiled egg. sliced chicken. or cheese, on the salad and it will stick with you a lot longer. Hot foods arc more satisfying than cold ones.