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Updated: May 9, 2011 18:41 IST

Pregnant with meaning!

Subha J Rao
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HANDS UP: For a healthy pregnancy. Photo: Special Arrangement
The Hindu HANDS UP: For a healthy pregnancy. Photo: Special Arrangement

A workshop for mothers-to-be on nutrition and fitness

“If you're pregnant, must you eat for two?” “Does eating lots of ghee help during labour?” “Will exercising during pregnancy harm the baby?” There are any number of myths related to pregnancy and child-bearing. And, debunking them was a ‘Pregnancy Care Forum' organised by Rao Hospital and CARE to commemorate Mother's Day.

The event helped mothers-to-be and their spouses make sense of pregnancy and its unique demands. Helping them in that process was Sonali Shivlani, internationally-certified childbirth and lactation educator from Mumbai.

Stay nourished

Sonali started off with a talk on nutrition and moved on to exercises and an interactive session. But, before that, it was time to sort out truth from fiction.

“Yes, you should eat for two, but proportionately. You don't multiply what you eat by two. Instead, include an additional 500 calories to your daily diet,” said Sonali. And those calories can come from as little as a glass of milk, a sandwich and a fruit.

As for ghee, not more than two teaspoons a day, she sad. “You must include fat in your diet, but don't overdo it,” she advised.

And exercise is a must to keep women in good shape during pregnancy; it also helps during labour.

Sonali likened pregnancy to the foundation of a building. She said that only if you nourished yourself and the baby well would it aid in brain development and give the child a head-start in life. For, only a healthy baby handles a vaginal birth better.

“The contractions are like warm bear hugs, provided the child is healthy. Else, it will feel squeezed on it way to the world.”

Another advantage is that a healthy woman handles the hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy better. “So, if you want your pregnant wife to also be cheerful, ensure she eats well,” Sonali told the husbands present.

Look at pregnancy as a nine-month-long preparation period to welcome your baby, said Sonali. “Use it well. And, in this period, nutrition is the first thing you should focus on.”

So, go in for six servings a day of carbs. Avoid refined flour. Ensure your vegetable basket resembles a rainbow — include as many colours as you can when buying vegetables and fruits — and consume 500 to 900 grams of them every day. Opt for walnuts, almonds and roasted channa over fried snacks. And, drink 600 ml of milk a day.

“Do this, and when your children are 70, they will thank you for leaving them with a healthy heart,” she said.

Next was the turn of exercises — comfort exercises and labour exercises. From the butterfly asana of yoga to gentle stretches, Sonali took the participants through a range of moves all designed to make their bodies more supple, and ready for the momentous occasion of childbirth.

Gynaecologist Asha Rao and paediatrician Sellakumaran interacted as well with the audience.

The topics discussed included nutrition, child rearing, breastfeeding, handling twins, and how early women could start exercising after delivery.

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