It can be tempting to pick up an extra cup of coffee or swirl a glass of rosé at the end of a tiring day. Especially when you have swollen feet and a big ol’ baby belly. But of course, you know better than that. Or do you?
While it’s common knowledge that alcohol and cigarettes, caffeine and meds are off the table when you’re pregnant, how much do you really know about these growth-arresters?
Not much? Not a problem. In this guide, we break it down.
Lifestyle Factors That Influence Fetal Growth
Oops, Factor 1. Caffeine
If you’re a compulsive coffee drinker, tea buff, chocolate maven or cola connoisseur, it’s time to rethink your quantities. All of these contain caffeine, which can promote water loss, hamper calcium absorption, increase the risk of miscarriage, trigger hypertension, cause low birth weight and premature labour. If you already have a history of high blood pressure, with caffeine, you’re even more at risk of these conditions. If you’re thinking about pregnancy, taper your caffeine intake gradually to give your body time to adjust to the change.
Caffeine withdrawals are real and can give rise to fatigue, headaches and irritability.
Replace your morning coffee with a decaf equivalent – green tea, hot chocolate and flavoured teas are equally delicious and way lower on the caffeine scale. Speak to your doctor to consider healthy options for your morning cuppa.
Oops, Factor 2. Smoking
Not a smoker? Don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. If you have a smoker in your vicinity, it’s likely that you’re a victim of passive smoking, and that’s bad news for your growing baby. Cigarette smoke is chock-full of harmful chemicals that enter the bloodstream and flow on to your baby. While the carbon monoxide can curtail oxygen circulation, the nicotine can restrict blood flow into your womb. By inhaling secondhand smoke, you are more at risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and preterm delivery. Request any smokers in your household to take their cigarettes outdoors, and invest in odour removers for your home.
Oops, Factor 3. Fatigue
If you’re used to being on your feet, following an elaborate exercise routine or having long work days, it’s time you considered the impact on your baby. Sleep deprivation and physical fatigue can put you at risk of preterm labour, a longer delivery and other problems. If your job has you being on your toes for long periods, make sure you take little breaks to give your body a much-needed recharge.
Oops, Factor 4. Processed Junk
A big belly can be a convenient excuse for a big bag of french fries. Or something equally unhealthy.
The truth is, many of the seemingly tempting options in the world come at a hefty price – your health.
While the occasional indulgence can be good for your senses and your soul, foods that are fried, processed or high in sugar can cause your weight to escalate quickly, making you a likely candidate for conditions like hypertension and gestational diabetes. Furthermore, research has shown that a regular pregnancy diet of foods with colouring and preservatives can lead to learning disabilities in children later.
Must read – Preconception nutrition to indulge yourself in
Oops, Factor 5. Hygiene
If you’re a hygiene ham, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re already safeguarding yourself against viral and bacterial infections. Pregnancy tends to compromise the immune system, making you more susceptible to bacteria and viruses. Pay particular attention to your oral hygiene as gum disease is a common outcome of elevated levels of progesterone. Left unchecked, dangerous microbes can transmit to your baby through the bloodstream. Also, take care of your physical hygiene – take regular baths, wear breathable clothing and thoroughly clean the folds of your body. This will get rid of any trapped germs and keep you safe against infections.
Taking a few extra precautions during pregnancy can go a long way in keeping your baby in the pink of health until her grand arrival. Remind yourself that it’s worth the wait. For when she’s finally here, you can reward yourself with a big cup of coffee.
Must read – The maternity lifestyle guide (during pregnancy)