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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

Eat Breakfast

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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Your baby’s first solids: How your infant can shift smoothly from breastmilk to other foods

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.

Every step of raising an infant is fraught with stress, as parents agonize over whether they are making the right decisions. One of the biggest transitions parents worry over is the shift from breast milk to solid foods.

Fortunately, the process can be easy and comfortably managed if parents follow a few simple strategies.

Infant growth and nutrition

Eat Breakfast

The first year of a baby’s life is a time of rapid and intense growth. Usually, the baby doubles its birth weight at about six months and triples it at about one year. All of the physiological systems of the infant body undergo rapid growth. The baby’s height also increases by about 10-12 inches in the first year after birth.

Brain development is another crucial area of rapid growth. Infants are born with 100-200 billion neurons or nerve cells, but these are not fully mature. During infancy and toddlerhood, the brain forms thousands of connections between its nerve cells.

Infants also develop several sensory and motor reflexes, as well as motor skills related to crawling, standing and walking.

All of these developments require large amounts of energy, as well as a range of nutrients. While breast milk forms a necessary part of the infant diet, therefore, it is not sufficient by itself.

Transitioning from breastmilk to solid foods

Skin Care

Shifting to solid foods is a gradual and progressive process that can be carried out in a series of well-planned steps. The first food infants can be introduced to are grains in the form of porridge, since they provide energy in the form of carbohydrates to fuel the infant’s growth. In south India, ragi is often preferred because it is a rich source of calcium, iron and protein, besides providing carbohydrates. These grains have to be dehusked by soaking, grinding and straining to make them easy to digest.

Next, infants can be introduced to a new vegetable every week. Parents can begin with carrots and watery vegetables, followed by beans, and finally leading up to cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. With fruits, parents can start with stewed apple, followed by mashed ripe bananas, and then other soft fruits. Harder fruits should be blended before being fed to infants.

With proteins, green gram dal is the best to start with, while some proteins like chana dal should preferably be given only after one year. Non-vegetarian proteins like egg, fish and chicken can also be started after the first year.

If breastfeeding is stopped after the first year for any reason, cow’s milk or curd can be given. Once the child reaches the age of one, he or she can eat most of the foods that the rest of the family eats, provided nothing is too oily or spicy.

In terms of preparation, parents should start with pureed or mashed foods, followed by food cut into very tiny pieces. Eventually, they can move to finger foods and then hard foods such as small apple pieces or boiled beans.

Feeding fussy children

For many parents, children growing fussy about eating is a major cause for concern. However, many children become fussy when parents focus too much attention on the feeding process in some way. When children start sitting up, they should be encouraged to pick up pieces of their food and eat it themselves. They should also be encouraged to sit and eat with the rest of the family from the first year onwards. If they learn from other members of the family to eat different varieties of foods, they are likely to develop healthy eating habits. On the other hand, if parents try to only feed children particular foods that they initially develop a liking for, they are more likely to grow fussy.

Transitioning from breastmilk to solid foods can seem a complex and difficult task for many parents. However, there are a few simple strategies that parents can follow to simply things for themselves and their babies. Done right, introducing children to solid foods can be a joyous experience of discovery for parent and child.



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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