PART 1: PREGNANCY, CHILDBIRTH AND THE NEWBORN
PLANNING A BABY
While the term ‘safe motherhood’ is now used to
suggest measures to safeguard the health of the pregnant woman and her baby, ideally, care for a woman’s health should be
a concern right from her infancy. A girl who is well
looked after in her childhood and teenage years has fewer problems in pregnancy and childbirth, and is more likely to deliver
a healthy baby.
Take Folic Acid
The regular intake of leafy vegetables and a vitamin
called folic acid during the first six weeks of pregnancy
greatly reduces the chances of your baby being born with spina
bifida (a developmental anomaly affecting the spinal cord).
Conceive At The Right Age
Research has shown that the best time to have a child is
when you are 23 to 27 years old. It is better to avoid
getting pregnant before the age of 18 or after you cross 35.
Babies born to younger mothers are more likely to be premature. The risks associated with pregnancy and delivery
increase again after the age of 35 years.
Don’t despair, however, if you are below 18 years or
over 35 years and do get pregnant. Your chances of delivering
a normal baby can be increased considerably by carefully following your doctor’s orders and looking after
Space Your Babies
A gap of 2 years is advisable between babies; for the
mother’s health, I would strongly recommend a gap of 3 years. It
takes 2 years for a mother to fully recover from each
pregnancy and delivery.
There is also a risk for both the babies if the space between their births is less than 2 years —children
born too close together do not usually develop as well, physically and mentally, as those born at least 2 years
Planning for 1 or 2 children is a healthy trend.
A gap of 2 to 3 years is advisable between the two
Paradoxically, however, the opposite could also hold true. A study by the US Centre for Disease Control
(CDC) found that those who waited 10 years to have another child were twice as likely to have an unusually
small baby and 50% were likely to deliver prematurely.
Plan Your Family
Many parents in cities today plan for 1 or 2 children; this is a healthy trend.
Seek proper advice on family planning at the first postnatal check-up. It is true that, before the baby is 6 months
old, less than 2% of mothers who breastfeed exclusively are likely
to conceive before they menstruate. But it is a misconception that a nursing mother will never get pregnant.
Also remember that if you already have twins, your chances of having them again are higher compared to
other couples that did not have them.
7 March, 2016