Dear Doctor: Why does pregnancy make it hard to feed normally? What are the possible consequences?
Dear Reader: Proper feeding is good for everybody, but especially for a pregnant woman and her unborn child. During the first three months of pregnancy, most women will experience conditions such as nausea and vomiting.
But if an expectant mother vomits excessively (a condition commonly known as hyperemesis gravidarum), it becomes difficult to eat or drink any fluids.
Failure to properly feed or drink can result in dehydration and malnutrition, putting the lives of the unborn child and mother at risk.
Sometimes, even without experiencing morning sickness, a pregnant woman may crave certain foods and fail to eat others. In the process, she may miss out on the proper nutrition that the body requires.
Because the portion of food that an expectant mother eats increases as the pregnancy aances, she may be prone to obesity or gestational diabetes, which can have a negative effect on the foetus later in life.
Inadequate nutrition, especially in the early stages of pregnancy may impair general foetal development, leading to abnormalities. What a woman eats may also impact on the hormonal function and utilisation of energy, leading to long-term health implications for the baby.
Foetal brain development effects will cause brain and spinal cord problems and also impact on intelligence. Problems in organ development may cause heart abnormalities among others. Abnormalities in hormonal function and utilisation of energy may increase the unborn child’s risk of developing hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Vitamin A (which includes supplements and liver)an also lead to abnormalities in the unborn child and should therefore be avoided.
It is important for a mother to eat a balanced diet, but in case she cannot, seeking help from an antenatal clinic is crucial.
Dear Doctor: I was tested and found to have no HIV in my blood. Can I stop taking ARVs now?
Dear Lebne: The fact that you were tested and found to have no HIV virus in your blood, after you religiously took anti-retroviral drugs means the medication has worked well in treating the disease.
However, the absence of the virus in your blood does not mean it has completely left your body. But rather, it may now be hiding in the sanctuary areas including having incorporated itself into your cell’s DNA, where the drugs cannot completely eliminate it.
This, therefore, means that if you stop taking your drugs, the virus may with a vengeance leave the sanctuaries and return to your body and render the drugs less helpful.
Please see your doctor for counselling because it is clear that you need more help about how to take your medication, which might be for life.
Dear Doctor: Whenever I am about to get my periods, I like eating soil. This eases after the period. I get ashamed because my husband thinks I get pregnant and remove the foetus in the name of eating soil. Why does this happen and how can I get rid of this habit?
Dear Edgar: Pica is a condition where a person craves for, and eats non-food things including soil. This behaviour is more common among young children, pregnant women or those with mental and intelligence challenges.
Because it is common in pregnancy could be the reason why your husband thinks you are always aborting after conceiving.
Though the cause of pica is unknown, it is suspected that the cravings are the body’s attempt to obtain vitamins or minerals that are missing through normal food consumption or may be related to an underlying physical or mental illness. Conditions such as iron, anaemia and zinc deficiencies are known to trigger such unusual cravings. Mineral deficiencies are common these days due to the mineral-depleted soils on which we grow our fruits and vegetables.
Once a person starts, this craving is likely to continue indefinitely as a learned behaviour. Women and young teenage girls may consume soil or clay shortly before or during their menstrual cycle as an attempt to supplement the low iron level in their bodies, given the fact that they are likely to lose more iron during periods.
Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name given to the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that can occur about two weeks before a woman’s monthly period. These symptoms usually improve when the period starts, or a few days after, just as your crave for soil. Typically, the symptoms include bloating, breast pain, mood swings and feelings of irritability.
The mood swings or stress related to the syndrome could lead one into eating soil. Though in most women the symptoms are not severe enough to stop them living normal lives, when it does, a doctor should be consulted. Eating soil can lead to infection with germs, worm infestation and heavy metal poisoning. So finding the associated cause such as mineral deficiency and then managing it is crucial.
Dear Doctor: I am losing weight and I do not know why? The clothes I used to wear are now too big for me. What can I do?
Dear Elsie: Unexplained weight loss has many causes which may be medical and non-medical. Often, a combination of things results in general decline in health and a related weight loss.
Sometimes, a specific cause may not be found and psychological problems such as stress and anxiety may lead to further stress and anxiety. You need to visit a doctor to take a full history and do tests to find out what is causing the weight loss.
Almost every disease causes ill health, lack of appetite and weight loss. Poor eating habits related to changing lifestyles, chronic vomiting, diarrhoea, diseases that affect the alimentary canal, chronic infections such as tuberculosis and HIV can all lead to loss of weight.
A disease that leads to increased appetite, and yet the person is experiencing loss of weight can be a sign of thyroid gland problems.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor