The essence of a woman is by itself is a gift from God… to bear a child and become a mother… that is the essence of a woman– Sushmita Sen, 1994 Miss Universe.
During pregnancy, a woman is at her most vulnerable stage of life. The life inside her is starting the journey towards forming into a child ready to see the real world. The embryo is also in its highest peak of vulnerability. The perfect development of all parts of the unborn child is dependent on how the mother manages her lifestyle.
But do you know that in the stage of development of the unborn child, the baby’s heart is the most highly at risk? The day-to-day activities and lifestyle practices of a pregnant woman can affect the development of the embryo inside the womb.
The month of September is the celebration of World Heart Day. It is an opportunity to increase the awareness of pregnant mothers about cardiovascular diseases. The fetal heart development usually commences during the first trimester of a pregnant woman. Ensuring to have perfect heart development for the baby is not difficult. Proper diet and appropriate activities is a vital life routine of an expectant mother.
However, heart defects may be a rare phenomenon. There are only around 8 in 1,000 pregnancies that have heart abnormalities. But you never want your baby to suffer heart ailment throughout his life in the real world.
Factors affecting your baby’s heart development
- The occurrence of chromosomal abnormalities that may happen accidentally when the egg or the sperm is forming during the early development stage of the fetus. One factor of the occurrence is the age of the mother and some environmental factors. That is why prenatal screening and testing is essential that mothers shouldn’t miss. But not all chromosomal abnormalities can be determined by prenatal tests. Most chromosomal abnormalities result in Down syndrome cases of a child.
- Genetic defects can also lead to the development of congenital heart defect
- When a woman has diabetes, she can experience unstable blood sugar control that can increase the risk of heart problems of her baby. In every 10 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) rising of a woman’s blood sugar, there is an 8% increase of risk for the baby to have a congenital heart defect. The detection of the rise of blood sugar during the early stage of pregnancy is associated with the development of heart defects to the baby. Typically, a test is given 24-28 weeks of pregnancy.
- Although Rubella (German Measles) is already rare nowadays, the obstetricians still recommend undergoing Rubella tests. It is a way to confirm and ensure that the mother is protected against German measles during the early stage of the pregnancy.
- If you smoke, drink alcohol, use marijuana, or crystal meth during pregnancy, then expect that congenital disabilities will happen. You are entirely putting your unborn baby at risk. The use of cocaine can ultimately develop heart disease, respiratory ailment, and seizure to the unborn baby. Also, there are findings that women that use cocaine, alcohol, and tobacco during their pregnancy made the brain structure changes, and early detection is during the adolescence stage.
- The exposure to pollutants, pesticides, toxic materials, and chemicals can be the cause of defects of the baby’s heart.
Food to take during pregnancy good for baby’s heart
A pregnant woman must keep watch on her daily diet. Remember, there two lives that are at risk during pregnancy—the mother and her baby.
- Eat more of whole grains. Put away those white bread and flour-based foods and grab some wheat and grain-based alternatives. These are not difficult to find. Everything is available in any grocery and food shops in town. Be creative in preparing them as they are delicious when you mix and pair them with spices and fruits.
- Legumes are the source of fiber, protein, iron, folate (B9) and calcium which are necessary during the trimester of pregnancy. Broccoli, dark and green vegetables like kale and spinach contain high in fiber, vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, folate and potassium. These are rich in antioxidants. You don’t need to be monotonous when eating these greens. You can always have side dishes like Swiss shard and mustard green or pair with pan-grilled white-meat fish.
- Taking meat is a way of taking healthy protein. However, not all flesh is significant for eating. Avoid those meats that are high in fat and high in cholesterol. You can opt to buy and cook turkey, breast, chicken, or fish. You may also purchase beef and pork but make sure there is only 20-30% of fat content. Lean meat is rich in iron, choline, and B vitamins. Iron is essential for the hemoglobin to supply your baby’s heart with good red blood cells and oxygen. Intake of high protein is important during the third trimester of the pregnant mother.
- Choose to take low-fat dairy products like milk and Greek yogurt. Dairy products are sources of calcium, protein, Vitamin D, Phosphorus, and other essential vitamins and minerals. The elements found in the dairy products are vital for baby’s developing bones, teeth, muscles, heart, and nerves. It also prevents blood clotting. Before buying an taking, make sure that the dairy product is pasteurized to keep your unborn child safe.
- Do not miss the table without the nuts and beans that are rich in vitamin B and E. Essential elements are also found like phosphorous, potassium, zinc, selenium, copper is essential for the development of the fetus. There are several nuts you can choose in the market—cashews, almonds, and legumes. You can mix the nuts with your green salad recipe.
Exercise to take during pregnancy
Do you know that a pregnant mom must take moderate exercise? Perform fitness exercise that can help improve health, reduce risks of weight gaining and back pains. The exercises must be low-impact activities.
- A simple brisk walk every morning can provide a cardiovascular workout. However, you need to be careful because you can lose your sense of balance and coordination while walking. Never forget to wear proper supportive footwear.
- Swimming can strengthen your joints without putting full pressure on your body as the water give a good range of motion. But, choose a comfortable stroke that does not strain your neck, shoulders, or back.
- Yoga can strengthen your muscles, stimulates blood circulation, and make you feel relax. Yoga can help you prepare to stay calm, and you can control your body during labor. But never do positions that can cause you to outbalance.
- Aerobics can strengthen your heart and lungs. You can do simple aerobics but avoid tedious sessions like jumping, high kicks, leaps, and fast running. It can limit the stress of your muscles, maintain balance, reduce the potential weakening of pelvic muscles
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