Written by Bianca Louw

10 – 16 February marks Pregnancy Awareness Week. The Department of Health uses this time to strengthen pregnancy education and stress important issues that promote a healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood. In support of this local initiative, we will share some information all pregnant women should know.

Antenatal care

Make an appointment at your local practitioner or local Midwife Obstetric Units (MOUs). MOUs are birthing units run by midwives in the community for primary healthcare patients. During Antenatal care you will be tested for HIV and various medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, infections and anaemia.

Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal Vitamins are available over the counter at most stores. It’s important you get essential nutrients, like folic acid, calcium, and iron. These nutrients help with the development of the brain and spinal cord of your baby.

Eating a Healthy diet

It is important to eat a healthy balanced diet during your pregnancy, try to eat 6 small healthy meals during the day. Do not skip breakfast, if you are feeling sick try eating whole wheat toast. Eat more food later in the morning.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that are high in fibre, like carrots, beans, bananas, corn, peas, pears, etc. Also choose healthy snacks such as yoghurt or whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese.

Do not eat uncooked or undercooked meats. Avoid soft cheeses like feta and goat cheese. You should also try to limit your caffeine intake.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water, 8 glasses a day.

Avoid unhealthy substances

No alcohol, smoking or drugs during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Exercise

Staying active is important for your health. It improves circulations, boost your mood and help you sleep better. You can join pregnancy exercise classes or walk for 15 – 20 minutes every day at a moderate pace. Talk to your healthcare practitioner for more information regarding safe exercise during your pregnancy.

Know when to call your doctor or go to the hospital

When you’re pregnant your body will go through many changes. You might feel small aches or cramps, and you might not know what is normal and what is not.

If you have the following symptoms you should contact your healthcare practitioner:

Pain of any kind, strong cramps, contractions at 20 minute intervals, vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid, dizziness or fainting, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, constant nausea and vomiting, trouble to walk or swelling of joints, decreased activity by the baby. Talk to your healthcare practitioner for more information.

Know your rights

  • You have the right to choose the companion who will provide you with support during pregnancy and childbirth, and who will accompany you to the antenatal care clinic as well as when you go into labour.
  • You have the right to be treated with respect, dignity and confidentiality.
  • You have the right to ask questions and also to get explanation about your health and pregnancy.

Magdalena Home is one of Badisa’s programmes who works tirelessly to educate, support and care for young mothers. Their program focusses on rendering a comprehensive service and establishing a care-, counselling- and developmental program for girls and women experiencing a crisis pregnancy, many of whom come from previously disadvantaged communities. Magdalena Home also endorses “The First Thousand Days”. This programme specifically aims to assist in the early developmental stages of a baby/ child, by empowering and supporting pregnant girls and women in need. For more information visit magdalena.org.za.

*Please note that you should always consult a medical professional if you have any questions about your health or pregnancy.

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