Embracing motherhood is the greatest gift, and, yet, the greatest challenge, too. In this modern era, motherhood has been redefined. The huge amount of physical work that people used to do earlier has been replaced by technology today. And, because today’s lifestyle involves very little physical activity, it is showing its dark side and various side-effects and impact on our health. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep one’s health-related problems at a minimum level.
Let’s take a look at how today’s modern, sedentary lifestyle has an adverse effect on those who want to experience motherhood.
1) Obesity: If you are obese, it could be one of the biggest hurdles for your pregnancy plan. So, before planning a family, work on shedding some excess weight. And this is not restricted to women. Even the male partner’s weight matters. So, regular exercising and eating a balanced diet should be your Plan A. With obesity, the chances of becoming pregnant decrease. Even if you become pregnant, it can be fraught with complications. Obesity also increases the risk of Type-II diabetes, which further reduces the chance of conceiving and also complicates pregnancy. Even if you lose just 5% of your total body fat, the chances of getting pregnant are restored back to near-normal.
2) Thyroid: If your thyroid level is abnormal, it can cause weight loss or weight gain, resulting in a lack of ovulation. Thyroid imbalance can be managed through proper medication. Thyroid hormone imbalance is not only associated with infertility, but it also increases the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery and, when controlled poorly, can produce a baby with inherited thyroid disease.
3) Irregular periods: If you experience irregular periods, it is always advisable to consult a gynaecologist. Irregular periods are a mark of improper ovulation and are seen at two extremes of the spectrum — in women who suffer PCOS and also in women with poor ovarian reserves. PCOS can be managed with a good diet, exercise and specific vitamins and micro-nutrient supplements.
4) Fallopian tube infertility: This basically means damage to the tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. As fertilisation takes places in these tubes, any damage here causes problems in pregnancy. This damage can be caused by STDs, pelvic tuberculosis, pelvic surgeries and so on.
5) Regular use of birth-control pills: Return to fertility after stopping the pill is variable. Some women become pregnant immediately after stopping the pill because of reflex ovulation, while others find it harder to do so. Once you make up your mind to conceive, it is best to come off the pill as soon as possible.
6) Presence of anti-sperm antibodies: It rarely happens, but a body sometimes produces antibodies that attack the sperm, thus damaging it and hampering its potential to fertilise an egg. Thus, the chances of conceiving fall.
7) No exercise and over-exercising: Exercise helps at many levels. It keeps one’s weight under control, regulates metabolism, releases endorphins, or feel-good chemicals and tones the body. This not only helps in conceiving, but also helps with the pregnancy and labour. As with everything, too little or too much should be avoided. Always keep your body hydrated. Proper intake of water flushes out toxins from your body and enhances the metabolism level.
Follow these pointers while planning for a baby:
1) Monitor your menstrual cycles so that you know when you will ovulate. This will set the timing right for intercourse. The fertile period for a 28-30-day cycle is around the 14th day. Doctors recommend trying on alternate days from the 10th to the 18th day.
2) Maintain a healthy lifestyle by regularly exercising and eating a balanced diet.
3) Sleep for at least 6-8 hours as the body needs rest physically and mentally for the hormones to work properly.
4) Be calm and meditate, or do relaxation exercises. This will not only help handle day-to-day stress, but also deal with the stress of infertility.
5) Do not smoke if you are planning to start a family because this will have a huge impact on the quality of the sperms and eggs.
6) Avoid alcohol and minimize your coffee and tea intake to one cup a day because of their caffeine content.
7) Avoid excess exposure to electromagnetic radiation; avoid excess use of computer screens, phones, laptops and so on.
Modernisation and technology are needed. They make life easier, but can also have a detrimental effect on conception and pregnancy. Simple precautions are all that are needed for a positive outcome.
(Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar is a senior gynaecologist and IVF specialist at Cocoon Fertility)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the organisation itself.