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Health Things You Should Know in Pregnancy 

Being aware of key health considerations during pregnancy is vital for ensuring the well-being of both you and your baby. Here are important aspects to keep in mind: 

Balanced Diet 

A balanced diet is essential during pregnancy to provide both you and your growing baby with the nutrients needed for healthy development. A well-rounded diet includes a variety of food groups to ensure you get the necessary vitamins and minerals. Incorporate a mix of fruits, whole grains, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your meals. 

Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which aid digestion and prevent constipation, a common issue during pregnancy. Choose a colorful range to get a variety of nutrients. 

Whole grains provide essential B vitamins, iron, and fiber. Opt for brown rice, whole wheat bread, quinoa, and oats. These also help keep your energy levels stable throughout the day. 

Lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, beans, and nuts, are vital for the baby’s growth and the mother’s muscle maintenance. Fish like salmon are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for the baby’s brain development. 

Healthy fats, found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, support overall health and provide energy. Avoid trans fats and limit saturated fats found in processed foods. 

Avoid excessive caffeine as it can lead to dehydration and affect the baby’s heart rate. Aim for no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. Also, steer clear of foods high in sugar and salt, as they can lead to complications like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Food practices surrounding “hot” and “cold” properties can influence decisions during pregnancy. While these beliefs vary culturally, it’s important to consider them moderately and ensure nutritional balance. Additionally, avoiding haram substances like smoking, illegal drugs, and alcohol is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. 

Sunnah Foods 

Incorporating Sunnah foods into your diet provides nutritional benefits and spiritual comfort. Dates, honey, olives, pomegranate, and figs are highly recommended in Islamic tradition. 

Dates, especially in the final stages of pregnancy, are known to aid in labor. They are rich in fiber, potassium, and magnesium, which help maintain healthy muscles and reduce the risk of preeclampsia. They also provide a natural source of energy. 

Honey has antibacterial properties and can soothe common pregnancy discomforts like sore throats. It’s also a natural energy booster. 

Olives and olive oil are excellent sources of healthy fats, which support cardiovascular health and provide long-lasting energy without causing blood sugar spikes. 

Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, which help in maintaining overall health and preventing inflammation. They also aid in improving blood flow, which is beneficial during pregnancy. 

Figs are high in calcium, iron, and potassium, which support bone health and prevent anemia. They also contain dietary fiber, aiding in digestion. 

Using natural oils, such as olive oil, for perineal massage can help soften the skin and reduce the risk of tears during childbirth. This practice should be started from around 34 weeks of pregnancy after consulting your healthcare provider. 

Regular Exercise 

Engaging in regular, moderate exercise during pregnancy has numerous benefits for both you and your baby. Exercise helps maintain physical health, boosts mood, and improves energy levels. 

Activities like walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga are safe and beneficial. Walking is a simple and effective exercise that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. It helps improve cardiovascular health and maintain a healthy weight. 

Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise that relieves joint and back pain, often experienced during pregnancy. The buoyancy of water supports your body, making it a comfortable and relaxing activity. 

Prenatal yoga focuses on gentle stretching, breathing techniques, and relaxation, helping reduce stress and anxiety. It also improves flexibility and strength, which can be beneficial during labor. 

Before starting any exercise routine, consult your healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe for you and your baby. Regular physical activity, when done correctly, can contribute to a healthy pregnancy and facilitate normal delivery. 

Supplement Intake 

Prenatal vitamins are essential during pregnancy to ensure you and your baby get the necessary nutrients that may not be fully covered by diet alone. 

Folic acid is crucial in the first trimester as it helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing baby. The recommended dose is 400-800 mcg daily and should be started before conception and continued through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

Iron is important for increasing blood volume and preventing anemia. It also ensures that the baby has a sufficient supply of oxygen. The recommended dose during pregnancy is 27 mg daily. 

Calcium supports the development of your baby’s bones and teeth. It also helps maintain your bone density. A daily intake of 1000 mg is recommended. 

Consult your healthcare provider about the specific supplements you need and their dosages. They may also suggest additional supplements based on your individual health needs, such as Vitamin D for bone health or DHA for brain development. 

Hydration 

Staying well-hydrated is essential for maintaining your health and supporting the increased demands of pregnancy. 

Water plays a crucial role in forming amniotic fluid, producing extra blood, building new tissue, and carrying nutrients to your baby. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily. 

Hydration also helps prevent common pregnancy issues such as constipation, urinary tract infections, and swollen feet. It’s especially important if you are exercising or it’s hot weather, as your fluid needs will increase. 

To ensure you stay hydrated, carry a water bottle with you, drink water with each meal, and choose hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables. Listen to your body’s signals, and do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water. 

Mental Health 

Mental well-being is vital during pregnancy as it affects both you and your baby. Taking time for self-care can help manage stress and anxiety. 

Mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and prenatal yoga can help you stay calm and centered. They can also improve sleep and reduce stress hormones, which is beneficial for fetal development. 

Seeking support from loved ones, joining pregnancy support groups, or consulting a professional counselor can provide emotional support. Open communication about your feelings and concerns can make a significant difference in your mental well-being. 

Many Muslim women find solace and strength in their faith. Recitation of the Quran, daily supplications, and engaging in prayer can provide comfort and peace. Incorporating these spiritual practices can help manage anxiety and emotional fluctuations during pregnancy. 

Medicines 

While some medications are safe during pregnancy, others can harm you or your baby. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medicines or supplements. 

Over-the-counter drugs should be used cautiously. Ensure they are pregnancy-safe before consumption. It’s important to discuss all medications, including herbal remedies, with your healthcare provider. 

Some common medications, such as acetaminophen, are generally considered safe, while others like ibuprofen are not recommended during pregnancy. Always follow the guidance of your healthcare provider to avoid any potential risks. 

Sex 

Sex during pregnancy is typically safe unless your healthcare provider advises otherwise due to specific medical conditions or complications. 

Open communication with your partner about any discomfort or concerns is essential. As your pregnancy progresses, you may need to try different positions to ensure comfort. 

If you experience any unusual symptoms, such as pain or bleeding, contact your healthcare provider immediately. They can provide guidance and reassurance regarding sexual activity during pregnancy. 

Salah 

In Islam, the well-being of the mother and her unborn children is of paramount importance. When a woman is experiencing a difficult pregnancy or facing significant hardship, such as severe fatigue or medical complications, certain concessions are made to ensure her health and spiritual obligations are balanced.  In such cases, it is permissible to combine two prayers (i.e. Dhuhr with Asr and Maghrib with Isha).

This concession is based on the hadith where the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) allowed the combining of prayers during times of difficulty:

وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، أَنَّهُ بَلَغَهُ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ حُسَيْنٍ، أَنَّهُ كَانَ يَقُولُ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا أَرَادَ أَنْ يَسِيرَ يَوْمَهُ جَمَعَ بَيْنَ الظُّهْرِ وَالْعَصْرِ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ أَنْ يَسِيرَ لَيْلَهُ جَمَعَ بَيْنَ الْمَغْرِبِ وَالْعِشَاءِ ‏.‏

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that AIi ibn Husain used to say, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, would join dhuhr and asr if he wished to travel the same day, and he would join maghrib and isha if he wished to travel the same night.”

Muwatta Malik
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Book 9, Hadith 7
Arabic reference : Book 9, Hadith 335

Obligatory Ramadan Fasts 

The Ramadan fasts are obligatory whether you’re pregnant or not. But, pregnant women are granted certain concessions when it comes to fasting. If a pregnant woman fears that fasting may harm her health or the health of her baby, she is permitted to break her fast. Islamic scholars have elaborated on the conditions under which a pregnant woman may be excused from fasting. If a woman experiences severe nausea, weakness, or any other health issues that could be exacerbated by fasting, she is allowed to abstain from fasting. Additionally, if medical professionals advise against fasting due to potential risks to the foetus, this advice should be heeded. It is always recommended to consult a healthcare provider to make an informed decision.

For pregnant women who are unable to fast during Ramadan, there are alternative ways to fulfil this obligation. One common practice is to make up the missed fasts at a later time when the woman is physically able to do so. Another option is to provide a fidyah, which is a form of compensation by feeding a needy person for each day of fasting missed.

حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامُ بْنُ عَمَّارٍ الدِّمَشْقِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا الرَّبِيعُ بْنُ بَدْرٍ، عَنِ الْجُرَيْرِيِّ، عَنِ الْحَسَنِ، عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ رَخَّصَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ لِلْحُبْلَى الَّتِي تَخَافُ عَلَى نَفْسِهَا أَنْ تُفْطِرَ وَلِلْمُرْضِعِ الَّتِي تَخَافُ عَلَى وَلَدِهَا ‏.‏

It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) granted a concession to pregnant women who fear for themselves, allowing them not to fast, and to nursing mothers who fear for their infants.”

Sunan Ibn Majah 1668

Traveling 

Traveling during pregnancy is generally safe, especially during the second trimester, when you are likely to feel your best and the risk of complications is lower. 

When planning your travel, consult your healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe for you and your baby. They can provide recommendations based on your health condition and stage of pregnancy. 

Consider travel insurance that covers pregnancy-related issues. When traveling, stay hydrated, move regularly to prevent blood clots, and avoid areas with Zika virus or other travel advisories. 

If traveling by air, most airlines allow pregnant women to fly up to 36 weeks of gestation, but it’s best to check their policies. Be sure to take your prenatal records with you in case you need medical assistance during your travels. 

Work 

Most women can continue working during pregnancy, but it’s essential to make necessary adjustments to ensure a safe work environment. 

Avoid heavy lifting and prolonged standing. If your job involves sitting for extended periods, take regular breaks to move around and improve circulation. 

Discuss any necessary accommodations with your employer, such as flexible hours or modified duties, to support your health and well-being. Knowing your rights and options about maternity leave and workplace safety regulations can help you plan accordingly. 

Baby Movements 

Monitoring your baby’s movements is crucial to ensure their well-being. Typically, you will start feeling movements around the 18th to 20th week of pregnancy. 

These movements are a good indicator of your baby’s health. Once you start feeling them, aim to notice a regular pattern. Any significant changes or reduction in movements should be reported to your healthcare provider immediately. 

As your baby grows, the types of movements you feel will change, from gentle flutters to more pronounced kicks. Keeping a daily log or using an app to track movements can help you stay attuned to your baby’s activity levels. 

Reducing Stillbirth Risks 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, attending all antenatal appointments, and avoiding harmful substances can reduce the risk of stillbirth. 

Follow your healthcare provider’s advice on diet, exercise, and supplement intake. Prioritize regular prenatal checkups to monitor your baby’s development and catch any potential complications early on. 

Recognize and avoid known risk factors such as smoking, excessive caffeine, and alcohol consumption. Maintain a balanced diet, stay active, and manage stress levels through mindfulness and relaxation techniques. 

If you have any concerns or notice changes in your baby’s movements, seek medical immediate guidance to ensure prompt intervention if needed. 

Vaccinations 

Getting vaccinated during pregnancy protects both you and your baby from preventable diseases. Key vaccinations include the flu jab and whooping cough vaccine. 

The flu vaccine is recommended because pregnant women are more susceptible to severe illness from influenza, which can also affect the baby. 

The whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) is typically given during the third trimester. It protects newborns from whooping cough, as they cannot receive the vaccine until they are two months old. 

Consult with your healthcare provider about the necessary vaccinations and their timings. Vaccinations are a crucial part of prenatal care to ensure the health and safety of both mother and baby. 

Infections 

Avoiding infections during pregnancy is paramount as some can affect your health and your baby’s development. 

Practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom, handling raw food, or being in public places. Avoid contact with individuals who are sick to prevent the spread of infections. 

Be cautious with food hygiene. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked meat, unpasteurized dairy products, and raw eggs, as they can harbor harmful bacteria. 

Seek prompt medical attention if you believe you have an infection. Early treatment can help prevent complications and ensure a healthy pregnancy. 

Body Care 

Taking care of your skin and body can alleviate some of the physical changes during pregnancy. 

Applying oils or creams on your belly can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Look for products that contain ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, or vitamin E, which provide deep hydration and improve skin elasticity. 

From around 34 weeks of pregnancy, using natural oils like olive oil for perineal massage can help soften the skin and prepare for childbirth. This practice can reduce the risk of perineal tears during labor. 

Avoid excessive exposure to the sun and always use sunscreen to protect your skin from damage. Drink plenty of water and maintain a balanced diet to keep your skin healthy from the inside out. 

By paying attention to these health essentials and incorporating them into your daily routine, you can foster a healthier and more enjoyable pregnancy journey. 

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