This may or may not concern more than just a few of the people reading this, and that’s either because majority of us are yet to come to terms with the fact that we’ll soon be mothers or we have simply chosen to ignored it for now. Regardless, it’s important to know that the process of bringing a life to the world is a purely physiological one and should not at any point in time be a threat to the health or general well being of the mother. Little wonder one of the sustainable development goals (Goal 3) is aimed at “Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well being for all at all ages”. And one of its target is that by 2030, the global maternal mortality ratio should have been reduced to less than 70 per 100, 000 live births. In light of this, we are going to be enlightening ourselves on the things we need to know, do and most importantly avoid as intending mothers or mothers-to-be.
AS AN INTENDING MOTHER
Blood group and Genotype: Knowing your blood group will help prevent the different complications arising from Rhesus factor incompatibility which occurs when Rhesus-negative mothers bear Rhesus-positive children. Also, knowledge about you and your partners genotype will help to prevent sickle cell disease in your children.
Infections as health risks: Infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B should be screened for to prevent mother to child transmission. Also, other non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes should be screened for as well to reduce their risk in pregnancy.
Contraception and family planning services: Knowledge and utilization of family planning services is essential because a child is not something that should be unplanned for.
Good nutrition and physical exercise: Staying healthy cuts across all areas and as an intending mother you must learn to eat right and engage in physical activity as much as possible. This will help during the period of pregnancy and after. Avoid excess alcohol, tobacco and hard drugs. They all contribute negatively to the health of a mother.
AS AN EXPECTANT MOTHER
Antenatal care: It is necessary to register in a hospital to receive proper antenatal care. Most pregnancies progress without complications however there is need to go through screening procedures to ensure that the foetus is growing well.
Labour and Delivery: Nowadays, child delivery can take place at any location of choice provided there is a skilled birth attendant (a doctor, midwife or nurse who has learned the skills necessary to manage normal deliveries and diagnose or refer obstetric complications). Labour pains are excruciating from what I have heard but thanks to medical advancements, you can now opt for an epidural anaesthesia or any other suitable methods to help alleviate the pain.
Breast feeding: Breast feeding is the most healthy and sure way of ensuring the nutrition and well being of a child. Breast milk provides all the essential nutrients your baby needs for development all round. Medical professionals prescribe six months of exclusive breast feeding after which complementary feeding is commenced. Although most women would rather avoid breast feeding but it is still very important and should not be overlooked. Babies of working mothers especially can now also enjoy the limitless benefits of exclusive breastfeeding as breast milk can now be expressed and stored in the fridge or freezer for later consumption.
Post-partum depression: The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. However, for some, it can also result in something you might not expect — depression. Many new moms experience the “postpartum baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly includes mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty in sleeping. But for others, they experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s just a complication of childbirth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms — and enjoy your baby.
Whether voluntary or involuntary, abortion is simply the termination of a pregnancy before it is due. When this occurs involuntarily, it is called a miscarriage and it can occur due to a number of reasons. A health professional should be consulted immediately if you start experiencing symptoms such as bleeding or severe abdominal pain while pregnant.
Motherhood is an opportunity that everyone should enjoy. Save yourself undue stress by planning towards a safe motherhood!