By Dr Anuradha Sadashivamurthy
Diwali is here and this is the most auspicious time of the year when you look forward to the celebration, family, sweets, food and lots of shopping. But if you are apprehensive that pregnancy can limit your enjoyment, don’t worry. From cleaning your house to putting up decorations to snacking and munching good food – you need to ensure that this Diwali is happy and safe not just for you but also for your baby! It is very important for expecting mothers to know that festivals helps in building social interaction with family and friends and in return also helps them to cope up any kind of psychological stress. All this also brings positive energy which is healthy for the growth of the baby.
Some tips to follow during pregnancy
Decorating the house: Diwali is the time when most people choose to redecorate, remodel and clean their homes. But there are some chores that aren’t safe for expecting mums. And you are likely to tire more easily now that you are pregnant. So it’s fine to say ‘no’ when you don’t have the energy to take on extra chores – even if you do have the time. Pregnancy can make you clumsier. As your bump grows, your centre of gravity shifts and your ligaments loosen in preparation of birth. This can make you more prone to falls or injuries. So this is not the time to try any balancing acts such as cleaning ceiling fans. For this same reason, avoid chores that involve lifting, carrying or moving heavy loads. It is easier for you to hurt your back or other part of your body.
Pollution caused by cleaning products at home: Be cautious when using chemical cleaning products, some are not safe for pregnant mums. During pregnancy a woman’s oxygen-carrying capacity is reduced, so it’s important to stay in well ventilated areas away from air pollution. Pollution levels rise considerably during Diwali. In case you feel breathless dizzy or uncomfortable or experience nausea in reaction to the firework smoke, please contact your doctor immediately.
Do not expose yourself to smoke of the crackers: While there is a larger community awareness about Diwali and busting crackers yet there is a spike in the pollution levels on the day of Diwali. It’s important for expecting mothers to know that chemicals are burnt through crackers and all sorts of infectious smoke is released which is not good goof for the health of the mother and the growing foetus. Pregnant women should stay away from the people burning crackers. They should try and avoid synthetic materials in their clothing as they catch fire easily. They should instead try and wear cotton clothes.
Taking the right nutrition: Make sure that with all the running around, you do not forget to eat well and drink enough fluids. Try to have a healthy snack every few hours. And if you can, squeeze in a daytime nap, it will help to regenerate your energy levels. Try and keep the sweet intake to a minimal. This is because there is a high chance of them developing gestational diabetes.
Wearing simple clothes: Wearing of traditional heavy dresses during family gatherings should be avoided for safety by would be mothers as they are difficult to handle and causes uneasiness in movement due to heaviness. Dress up in loose, comfortable clothes that allow you enough breathing space.
Therefore, it is generally advised that the expecting mothers should remain indoors and enjoy an eco-safe Diwali. Always be prepared. Always keep a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and checklist of emergency numbers.
Potential dangers of being exposed to pollution during pregnancy
During pregnancy the increased consumption of dust pollutants and particles from the air itself causes chronic irritation of the respiratory tract thereby leading to inflammation and causing chronic cough, wheezing, congestion, eye and sinus irritation, asthma and chronic fatigue. Medication during pregnancy are restricted to avoid complications.
Low birth weight: Babies who weigh less than 2500 grams at birth are called low birth weight. There can be many reasons for the low birth weight. In India, more common reasons are malnutrition, anaemia and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Although it is unclear as to which pollutant is responsible, it is clear that in less polluting weather the birth weights are higher.
Preterm birth: According to a study published in British medical journal in the year 2012 it was concluded that increased ozone exposure in the first trimester is linked to increased chances of preterm birth and development of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Hence air pollution is detrimental to the health of the pregnant women as well as the unborn babies.
Autism: According to the recent study published in the JAMA journal of paediatrics on air pollution during pregnancy, the researches have the studied the effect of increased particulate matter, nitrous oxide and nitric oxide gas on the babies born. It has been found that an increase in nitrous oxide was directly associated with the increase in the number of babies having autism spectrum disorders.
It is advisable to avoid crowded public places for long hours. Again at these places, there is a high chance of inhaling smoke, paints and dust. If there is any such activity happening around you allow the fresh air to pass through the windows.
Keeping the area around you dust free and clean can reduce the particle count around you. It is advisable during pregnancy, air purifiers are installed in our houses and tree plantation should be encouraged. The society needs to take the ownership of reducing pollution. Pregnancy is wellness and not an illness and while many things can influence the health of you and your baby, air pollution is something that needs to be avoided for the healthy growth of the baby.
(The author is consultant – gynaecologist and obesetriction, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Malleshwaram, Bengaluru)