Are you expecting?

Dr Alaa Younus Mohammed
Filed on March 18, 2021

It is important for women to recognise gynaecological symptoms on time and receive medical attention before the underlying conditions lead to further complications

Pregnancy is a wonderful phase in a woman's life. Nothing comes close to the happiness a woman feels when she is expecting. But if care is not taken, complications can arise during your pregnancy and post-natal phase. We all know that prevention is better than cure. While some women may be knowledgeable of factors that affect our gynaecological health, there are many who are unaware and it's best to have professionals to guide them on this.

Two gynaecological issues that have long-term effects on overall health are:

Menstrual bleeding abnormalities: Abnormalities like menstrual irregularity, heavy bleeding with clots, intermenstrual bleeding and more can all have a significant impact on health and quality of life.
These can be symptoms of several disorders including uterine growths, endometriosis, blood clotting, some reproductive cancers and conditions that affect fertility. Ignoring symptoms eventually leads to surgery.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
This condition can affect menstruation, fertility, hormones and aspects of your appearance and long-term health. Symptoms include:

? Irregular periods or no periods at all
? An extreme increase or loss of facial or body hair
? Experiencing a rapid increase in weight or having difficulty losing weight
? Oily skin and acne
? Reduced fertility
? Psychological problems, mood swings 

Many women with PCOS successfully manage their symptoms and long-term health risks by maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.

Pre-conception checklist
Women and their partners are encouraged to prepare actively for pregnancy and be as healthy as possible.

1 Folic acid: Women should take at least 400 microgrammes per day whilst trying to become pregnant and for at least the first three months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of infections.

2 Cervical screening: Women are encouraged ?to get a cervical or pap smear done before conception.

3 Bodyweight: Women who are overweight are advised to lose weight before becoming pregnant. A healthy weight reduces the risk of preterm delivery, gestational diabetes, caesarean delivery, hypertension and thromboembolic disease and is also more likely to promote conception. Similarly, women who are underweight can find getting pregnant difficult.

4 Medication review: All regular medication is reviewed by your doctor for the safety of ?the foetus.

5 Exercise: Women who exercise regularly should continue to do so. Those who are inactive should start a gentle exercise programme.

6 Vaccination: Immune status should be checked for certain infections, and if required vaccination is advised for rubella and the Covid-19 infection.

7 Previous obstetrics history: If there is a history of a miscarriage, women are reassured that there is a good chance of a subsequent successful pregnancy. But those with three or more consecutive miscarriages are advised to investigate further.

The month after birth
The first month of having a newborn at home can be quite overwhelming. Focus on your baby and your own health.
? Sleep or rest when your baby sleeps.
? Do not lift anything heavier than your baby, especially if you have had a cesarean section.
? Wash your hands often, especially after each visit to the bathroom, after diaper changes, and before feeding your baby.
? Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you feel anxious most of the time, can't sleep or have been feeling "blue" for more than two weeks, call for professional help.
? Continue to do perineal care, as advised by your healthcare provider until you see them at your first check-up.
? Continue taking prenatal vitamins and eating healthy meals every day.
? Take a walk and get out of the house for a break. Consult your doctor to know when you can safely restart exercising.
? Drink eight large glasses of fluid each day.

Dr Alaa Younus Mohammed is a Specialist Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Fakeeh Hospital University

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