Self Care During Pregnancy

Be sure to ask:

  1. The caller has any fears for their safety (experiencing abuse or maltreatment)  refer them to the health center for help/support
  2. Whether they have any symptoms of severe depression or intent to self-harm: are they voicing a desire to “end it all,” or hurt themselves or others, do they report feelings of hopelessness or despair? If so  refer them to the health facility right away

It is important to take good care of yourself during pregnancy. Your body is working very hard to nurture and support your growing baby and it is important to take care of your physical and emotional health during this important time.

Tips for Self-Care

  • Take lots of rest! Take a break when you are tired. Ask neighbors or family members for help (with chores or watching other children) from time to time, so that you can rest and recover
  • Talk with staff at the health center about how to talk about your pregnancy and whether you feel comfortable telling people that you are pregnant
  • Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities: this is important so you do not over-stress your body, and very heavy lifting during pregnancy can result in miscarriage or early labor
  • Sex is safe and normal during pregnancy and can be helpful to make you feel more connected with your partner. If you (or your primary partner) are at risk for HIV or STI’s ensure you use a condom during sex. Safe sex is a normal and healthy thing to do during pregnancy and will not harm the baby!
  • Spend time with other expectant mothers, trusted friends or family members and share your feelings to reduce any stress or anxiety. Seek emotional support from your partner and trusted friends and family.
  • Visit a health center for ANC at least eight times during pregnancy, even if you are not having any problems
  • Avoid alcohol or smoking during pregnancy
  • Take iron tablets as recommended, to support your body and to avoid anemia
  • Sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net to avoid becoming sick with malaria
  • Do not take medications unless prescribed by your health provider
  • Know the signs of labor, danger signs and when to seek care at the health center

Address myths/traditions:

  • In some communities it is considered bad luck to talk about the pregnancy, so many women do not tell their friends or family that they are pregnant. This can cause isolation and a lack of support. Discuss with the woman about whether she would like to tell friends and family about her pregnancy, and discuss ways to talk about being pregnant and asking for support.
  • Some pregnant women fear that sex will harm the baby or that semen will deposit on baby’s head – address this misunderstanding and make sure they understand that (safe/protected) sex is a safe and healthy practice during pregnancy
  • Some pregnant women are forbidden by cultural practice to avoid foods (like eggs) because they will have bald headed babies. Address this misconception and provide teaching on the safety and nutritional benefit of protein rich foods like eggs – but do not try to encourage eating eggs or forbidden foods if it will cause social stigma or anxiety
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