Thursday, 27 May 2021

Selalu SIGAP Episode #3: Having a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a stressful time. There seems to be an endless list of things to avoid, and the to do list is not much shorter either.

Yes, pregnancy can be overwhelming, but it can also be a time filled with joyous moments, reflection and a chance to reconsider one’s well-being.

In the third episode of Selalu SIGAP, our host Jill van Diest chats with Dr Lucy Widasari, M.Si of the Acceleration Team of Stunting Prevention (TP2AK) and Arnoldus Paut, Specialist ECED at Tanoto Foundation, about what you need to know and do during pregnancy.

This episode covers:

a. Nutrition requirements during pregnancy
b. Dietary and consumption habits
c. The importance of having a support system

Nourishment for Mother and Baby

During pregnancy, nutritional intake is crucial for both the mother and the developing fetus. Macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats are essential for supplying energy, while micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals play an important role in supporting your health and that of the baby.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet will help to provide what the mother and the baby need. As the baby’s main source of nourishment is what the mother eats, this requires getting the right nutrients. Along with the daily eating plan of three big meals and two light snacks, Dr Lucy highly recommended varied and balanced food sources.

Good sources of protein include lean beef, chicken, salmon and peanut butter, while healthy carbohydrates include brown rice, sweet potato and wholegrain bread. Some vitamins and minerals to consume during pregnancy are vitamin D (can be found in oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, eggs and red meat), vitamin C (strawberries, broccoli), calcium (yoghurt, tofu, milk) and iron (lean red meat, poultry).

Insufficient nutrition can result in stunted growth, and through its Early Childhood Education and Development program, Tanoto Foundation is working with the government to prevent and reduce stunting. Its efforts include interventions and guidance to parents in the earliest years of life, from pregnancy to age three.

Arnoldus emphasized the importance of nutrition fulfillment in the first thousand days, which spans roughly between conception and a child’s second birthday, as it is the most rapid period of brain growth and development.

“Another thing we urge parents to do during pregnancy is to give stimulations to the baby, as it is considered a critical phase,” he said.

Exciting babies’ senses can include reading books or playing music for their hearing, eating varied and nutritious diet for flavors, and exposure to sunlight for visual development.

What and How to Eat

The body of an expectant mother has increased nutritional needs, which means it requires more micronutrients and macronutrients. For instance, you will need to increase 180 calories daily to your eating plan in the first trimester and 300 calories in the second and third trimester.

Dr Lucy also noted how some expectant mothers might turn into picky eaters or experience morning sickness, due to hormonal changes.

Dr Lucy suggested expectant mothers always think about how crucial it is consume a healthy and balanced diet. “Be aware and understand that essential nutrients are very important for the baby in the womb,” she said.

When you feel queasy and nauseated, the trick is to eat smaller but more frequent meals. Dr Lucy also recommended foods with a strong smell of ginger or orange to dismiss any nausea. It may also help to stay away from fatty and oily foods.

“The most important thing, however, is having support from the husband and family,” she said. “Try having meals together with the expectant mother’s favorite menu. The husband can even add comments such as ‘Hmm, this is so good!’ to stimulate her appetite.”

A Source of Strength

Going through a challenging time such as a pregnancy can have its ups and downs.

Both speakers emphasized the significance of having a strong support system to protect and help expectant mothers during pregnancy.

Arnoldus said that husbands hold the most critical role as they need to provide a safe, comfortable and pleasant pregnancy for expectant mothers.

“Communication is key. Always try to have open communication, because we need to support them,” he said.

“And since we live in Indonesia, husband and wife may find themselves living with their parents or relatives,” Arnoldus added. “As they are relatively older and have more experience in raising a child, they might have opinions and can influence the parents-to-be on these things.”

Howver that doesn’t mean that parents-to-be will always agree with their older relatives. Arnoldus recommends that parents-to-be discuss their views on parenting, so that they can choose to accept the offered suggestions or go with their own views without unnecessary tension.

To ensure the comfort of expectant mothers, Dr. Lucy underlined keeping healthy living habits such as washing your hands with soap and running water before eating, preparing and serving foods, as well as making sure the food preparation areas and its utensils are clean. Last but not least, looking after expectant mothers’ emotional health and well-being will help to provide them ease and contentment.

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