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How women can ease the pains of pregnancy with simple, holistic remedies

Dr. Dharini Krishnan

Dr. Dharini Krishnan
09 January 2021

This article is authored by Dr. Dharini Krishnan, an award-winning Consultant Dietitian, she believes that for a healthy body and mind, we must combine modern medicine with native Indian practices which are proven to benefit us.

Pregnancy can be a magical and blessed experience for many women. But no one can deny that it is also a time of great stress and discomfort for most. Not only does it place major physical demands on the body, but the mind is also stressed by all the worries and concerns that accompany the process.

One of the reasons pregnancies can be so stressful for many women is that each journey is unique. In broad strokes, doctors are able to outline the major changes that occur between conception and delivery. However, the experience can vary greatly among women in the same family and environment, and even among different pregnancies undergone by the same woman.

Common pregnancy challenges

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For many women, the first trimester is most challenging as they face intense bouts of nausea, vomiting and uneasiness. While they must begin to increase their nutritional intake to take care of the growing baby’s needs, they find it hard to eat or keep down the food they have eaten. Finding acceptable foods and appropriate meal timings can be great challenges in the early months of the pregnancy.

For others, the third trimester becomes challenging as the infant takes up most of the space in the abdomen, putting stress on the mother’s organs and making simple tasks such as digestion challenging. This stage of advanced pregnancy can bring on challenges such as water retention, high blood pressure, anaemia, and gestational diabetes. In some cases, serious challenges such as pre-eclampsia (organ damage due to high blood pressure), preterm labour, infections or breech positions (improper positioning of the baby for delivery) can also complicate the pregnancy.

Besides these physical stresses, women also undergo a lot of emotional stress due to the added responsibility for the child they are carrying, due to the hormonal changes in their body, and the body image concerns that develop during pregnancy.

Holistic measures for pregnancy challenges

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While it’s important to consult doctors for the more significant challenges of pregnancy, simple home remedies can help to tackle the simpler difficulties.

For nausea in the first trimester, eating sour foods or drinking cold water first thing in the morning can provide relief to some women.

Throughout the pregnancy, women should plan their meals carefully in consultation with a dietitian to ensure that they are getting all the necessary nutrition while also not stressing their digestive systems. As the infant grows, smaller and more frequent meals can help to relieve the pressure on the digestive system.

Importantly, women should not attempt any weight loss measures during pregnancy as this can result in serious deficiencies. Such measures should only be taken up after the first six months of breastfeeding.

In cases of water retention, drinking barley water and eating plenty of fruit can provide relief. Reducing the amount of salt in the diet goes a long way in reducing blood pressure during pregnancy.

Alongside proper diet, it is vital that women stay active and mobile during pregnancy, unless otherwise advised by doctors. Gentle exercise in the form of walking and yoga help keep the body strong enough to withstand the pressures of pregnancy on the body.

Finally, joining birthing classes and connecting with other pregnant women can improve emotional health by putting common worries to rest.

How spouses can help their partners

While women have to do the physical work of carrying the baby to term, their spouses can help share the burden in many ways. Attending doctor visits and keeping updated on pregnancy-related information can help spouses reassure pregnant women and reduce their stress levels. Simple activities such as accompanying women during walks and massaging their feet and legs when they experience cramps can help in easing the daily aches and pains of the process. Spouses can also play a role in ensuring that pregnant women eat right and keep up to their nutritional requirements. Attending birthing classes and practicing breathing routines also help in reassuring women during the delivery.

There is no doubt that pregnancy is an immensely stressful experience for women. But keeping the body and mind in balance through holistic measures can contribute significantly to easing the challenges and making the experience beautiful and magical.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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Diet, exercise and sunlight: Three factors women shouldn’t ignore for good bone health

Dr. Dharini Krishnan

Dr. Dharini Krishnan
11 January 2021

This article is authored by Dr. Dharini Krishnan, an award-winning Consultant Dietitian, she believes that for a healthy body and mind, we must combine modern medicine with native Indian practices which are proven to benefit us.

Barring a significant injury or fracture, we rarely tend to think about bone health. Yet, for women, particularly those who are middle-aged or older, this is a vital concern because of the risk of osteoporosis.

In 2013, it was estimated that there were 50 million Indians who were osteoporotic or having low bone mass. Some studies have found that the prevalence of osteoporosis could be as high as 42.5% in women over the age of 50.

Osteoporosis and health complications

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Osteoporosis comes from the Latin for “porous bone”, and is a condition where bone tissue loses its density, and becomes weaker and more fragile. Such bones are easily susceptible to breaks, resulting in pain, disability and loss of functionality in everyday life.

Bones, which form the primary supporting framework of the body, grow from birth till our early twenties, which is the period of peak bone mass. Bone is an active tissue that undergoes regular replacement in conditions of health.

In osteoporosis, however, bone formation is outpaced by bone loss, leading to porosity or thinness of bone tissue and brittle bones. Such bones could easily be fractured even in the absence of significant trauma. Such fractures tend to reduce mobility and lead to increased hospitalization and dependence on others.

Why osteoporosis affects women more

Women are particular at risk for osteoporosis because they have lesser bone mass to start with. The geometry and structure of bone have also been increasingly recognized as important risk factors for fracture.

The risk of osteoporosis significantly rises during menopause because of the hormonal changes women undergo at the time. This is because estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining bone health, and the secretion of this hormone falls drastically during menopause.

The importance of protein and calcium in the diet

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For some time now, awareness of the importance of calcium for bone health has been growing. Hence, women are advised to consume sufficient amounts of dairy, green leafy vegetables, soya products and nuts.

What many don’t realise is that sufficient levels of protein are just as important for strong bones. After all, protein makes up roughly 50% of bone volume and about one-third of its mass. Daily intake of protein is also necessary to provide the raw materials for bone formation. Unfortunately, research shows that the levels of dietary protein consumed by Indians are actually reducing.

For non-vegetarians chicken, fish and eggs are good sources of protein. For vegetarians, pulses are one of the primary sources of protein, along with dairy products. Daily intake of protein in at least two major meals of the day, particularly in healthy forms such as sambhar or dal is, therefore, vital.

The role of exercise and sunlight

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Bone health also requires good muscle health. This makes it necessary to undertake moderate exercise as often as possible. A 45-minute walk six days a week as well as resistance training using the body weight, such as surya namaskaras, can go a long way to building muscles. Importantly, the body also requires Vitamin D to mobilize calcium for bone health. Hence, exposure to peak sunlight between 11am and 3 pm at least twice a week is also vital for bone health.

Osteoporosis can be a serious health problem that disrupts life and limits mobility, particularly for women. However, a healthy diet, rich in calcium and protein, together with exercise, can go a long way in maintaining bone health.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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