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Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for healthy growth and development of babies. Good maternal nutrition helps sustain an adequate supply and quality of breast milk. Unnecessary introduction of bottle-feeding, partially or fully, or of other complementary foods and drinks may have a negative impact on breastfeeding, which may be irreversible. Consult your doctor and consider the social and financial implications before deciding to use breast milk substitutes or if you have difficulty breastfeeding. Follow usage, preparation and storage instructions of breast milk substitutes or of other complementary foods and drinks carefully as improper or unnecessary use may pose a health hazard.

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Twelve Good Habits for Pregnant Mums

Are there any tricks to nurturing a healthy child during pregnancy? Well, if you can stick to the following daily living habits, you can feel at ease throughout the journey of pregnancy and deliver a healthy and adorable child.

Don't try to lose weight and don't become overweight
Why?
The pregnancy period is not a time to lose weight. If expectant mums try to maintain their figure by eating less, the foetus will not get a balanced nutrition as it should. Besides, when mums' natural defence is not strong enough, you may catch the flu easily and harm your child's health.

How?
According to gynaecologists, the best way to control your body weight is to maintain your weight in the desired range before pregnancy. For mums who become overweight during pregnancy, try readjusting your diet by reducing foods with high calories and high fats, and increasing fruits and vegetables. Overweight leads to high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and other pregnancy-related complications. Nevertheless, pregnant mums are suggested to seek advice from professional nutritionists rather than try tolose weight using unsafe methods.1

Be more active
Why?
Without the appropriate amount of activity and exercise during pregnancy, your metabolism may slow down, your stamina weakened, and calories will not be burnt. This will eventually lead to weight gain. Gynaecologists believe appropriate exercise will enhance expectant mums' cardiovascular functioning and muscle strength, benefiting both mother and foetus.

How?
As long as you do not suffer from particular illnesses, it is best to do a bit of simple exercise every day, such as walking and stretching. You can also seek assistance from training coaches dedicated for pregnant women, or take part in more variable activities such as swimming, yoga or dance.

Do not overwork yourself
Why?
Overwork may cause bleeding or miscarriage in early pregnancy, and underweight foetus or premature birth in mid pregnancy. It can also damage the mother's health.

How?
If mums experience discomfort or tightness in the belly, rest in bed immediately. In case of any bleeding or uterine contractions, seek immediate medical attention. Apart from physical exhaustion, mums should also be aware of mental exhaustion (e.g. from work stress) during pregnancy. To tackle this, allow timely breaks for yourself and lower your demands and expectations during this period of time.

Maintaining a positive mood
Why?
According to physicians, peaceful and happy moods help pregnant mums to maintain a healthy and stable body state. In contrast, if mums get emotional and agitated, the heart races, and blood circulation fluctuates. Both situations will indirectly affect the foetus.

How?
As more and more people place greater weight on prenatal care, experts have advised us that maintaining a positive mood while anticipating your little one's arrival will help to ensure a smooth pregnancy and delivery. Your future child will also be healthy and develop a good temperament.

Refrain from smoking and drinking
Why?
Cigarettes and alcohol are "the big no-no" for pregnant mums. This is because inhaling smoke can lead to underweight babies, premature birth, stillbirth, and other adverse consequences. Alcohol, on the other hand, can cause delays in foetal growth, abnormal development of the central nervous system, and physical deformities.

How?
Mums who used to smoke or drink must quit during pregnancy. Second-hand smoke should also be avoided wherever possible. Many of us are fond of coffee or tea, which may also bring about negative consequences such as restlessness of the foetus. Therefore, it is best to avoid these beverages too.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to prevent constipation
Why?
Constipation is one of the most common problems faced by pregnant women. One of the main reasons is the pressure exerted by the expanded uterus on your bowels, limiting bowel movements. Besides, changes in hormonal secretion also lead to constipation. Finally, most pregnant women become less active during pregnancy, which worsens the problem.

How?
Physicians believe that sufficient fruits, vegetables and daily water intake are essential during pregnancy. Besides, the right amount of exercise helps to promote bowel movements. For those facing severe constipation, seek medical attention for the appropriate prescriptions rather than taking laxatives on your own devices. When passing motion, take great care and do not be too forceful. This is to avoid any danger of premature birth.

Wear suitable clothing
Why?
At the 4th or 5th month of pregnancy, it is time for mums to give their wardrobe a mini makeover. Maternity clothes or dresses are suitable choices because tight clothing may cause discomfort and limit your movements.

How?
Many pregnant women tend to perspire more, so absorbent and breathable material is your best choice. Apart from a wardrobe makeover for outer clothing, your underwear may also need to be updated with changes to your body shape. Since safety is your top priority, avoid wearing high-heeled shoes, and switch to low-heeled or flat shoes instead. This will also help to prevent backaches.

Read books about pregnancy and parenting
Why?
Becoming a mother is certainly not the easiest job, so it is only natural for expectant mums to worry about various problems as early as the start of pregnancy. Many first-time mums also experience fears about the arrival of a newborn, feeling at lost about how to raise a healthy child.

How?
The best you can do is to read as many relevant magazines and books as you can, or take part in preparatory classes for expectant mums. These should help you to pass the test of becoming a great mum.

Prenatal checkups on a regular basis
Why?
The most basic yet most important practice during pregnancy is to go for regular prenatal checkups at the doctor's. These checkups help to monitor foetal growth and changes, while identifying necessary precautions. Regular checkups also help with early detection of any abnormalities or problems that need to be addressed.

How?
If you have any doubts or questions about pregnancy and delivery, write it down beforehand and raise them during the doctor's appointment. The B-ultrasound examination, which is often carried out in prenatal checkups, is a good way for first-time parents to form a more intimate bond with the little one.

Maintain regular sleeping patterns and avoid staying up late
Why?
Staying up late negatively affects our natural defense, physical strength, and complexion. In order to maintain a healthy body to nurture a healthy foetus, pregnant mums should maintain regular sleep-wake patterns.

How?
Have sufficient sleep, don't stay up late, and maintain a balanced and healthy diet. These are all good daily living habits that should be upheld especially during pregnancy. More importantly, insomnia, headaches and other hiccups can also be avoided.

Note foetal movements
Why?
Pregnant mums can start feeling foetal movements at about 18 - 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is a useful reference index to monitor your child's wellbeing, development and progress. During the 28 - 38 weeks, foetal movements will be the most apparent. Therefore, mums should pay more attention to foetal movements from the 7th month onwards.

How?
In principle, the normal range of foetal movements is at least 3 times per hour, or 30 - 40 times every 12 hours. If you notice a drastic drop in foetal movements, or a prolonged period of inactivity, seek immediate medical attention.

Skin care
Why?
During pregnancy, due to various changes to the maternal body, sebum secretion on the skin becomes more active, and mums' facial skin will tend to be oilier, which leads to acne problems.

How?
In severe cases, you can change your skin care products, or even seek dermatologists' advice.

References:

1 http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/weight_loss/pregnancy/during.htm

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