ACCORDING to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), each year more than half a million women die of pregnancy related courses.  In addition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) notes that annually more than 60 million women suffer acute complications from pregnancy and that nearly a third of these sustain lifelong injuries or infections.  In developing countries, many women are trapped in a cycle of pregnancies, deliveries, and self-neglect, leaving them worn out and ill. Yes, pregnancy can be harmful – even dangerous.  Is there anything a woman can do to make her pregnancy safer?
Health Care Before Pregnancy
1-    Family Planning practice: According to the book “Offering Cycle Beads:  A Toolkit for Training Community Health Workers”, It is healthier for a woman and her children if the births are spaced at least two years apart.  Benefits of child spacing include an increased chance that:
(a)    Babies will be born strong and healthy. (b) Mothers will have a healthy pregnancy, more time to care for all their children, and more time to prepare physically, emotionally and financially for a future pregnancy.
(b)    Mother’s health will not be harmed by too many births.
Family planning is each person’s right to freely decide the number and spacing of their children and to make an informed decision about how to plan their family.
There are many family planning methods couples can use to space or prevent pregnancy.  These safe and effective methods include the contraceptive pills, implant, injectables, IUD, tuba ligation, vasectomy, condoms, spermicides, and methods based on woman’s fertility like cycle beads.  When deciding which method to use, women and couples should know about the different choices they have.
Women and couples should understand what the method is how it works, how to use, how effective it is, important facts about the method, when the method may not be advised, possible side effects, and when to return to the clinic or health center.
2-Nutrition: According to the coalition for Positive Outcomes in Pregnancy, before becoming pregnant, a woman needs at least four months to recover from exposure to harmful substances and to build a good nutritional supply. For example, the risk of spin bifida, caused by a defective closing of the neural tube, is greatly reduced when the expectant mother has an ample supply of folic acid.  Since the embryo’s neural tube closes between the 24th and 28th day after conception –long before many women realize that they are pregnant take folic acid.
Another crucial nutrient is iron. Indeed, a woman’s iron requirement doubles during pregnancy if her serve is low – which is true of many women in developing countries – she can come to have iron deficiency anemia. This condition can be worsened by repeated pregnancies as the woman may not have time between them to replenish her iron reserve.
According to the Awakeof January 8, 2003, “the recommended gain for a woman who begins pregnancy with a health weight is between 9 and 12 kilograms by the end of gestation. Nevertheless adolescents or undernourished women shall gain between 12 and 15 kilograms, hile those who are overweight should gain only between 7 and 9 kilograms”.
Age: Risk of death in pregnant girls under 16 is 60 percent greater than in those in their 20’s. On the other hand, women over 35 are more likely to give birth to babies with congenital abnormalities, such as down’s syndrome. Mothers who are very young or are in their later child bearing years are more prone to preeclampsia. This disorder, characterized by high blood pressure after the 20th week of gestation along with the presence of edema and an increased amount of protein in the urine, increases the risk of mortality in both baby and mother.
Infections: Urinary, cervicovaginal, and gastrointestinal infections can increase the risk of premature birth and preeclampsia. Any infection is best treated before pregnancy.
Health care during pregnancy
Prenatal care: Regular visits to a doctor throughout pregnancy lower the risk of maternal death. Even in countries where regular access to clinics and hospitals is limited, properly by trained midwives may be available.
Prenatal card can alert trained personnel to situations that could make special care necessary. These include multiple gestation, hypertension, heart and kidney problems, and diabetes. In some countries, pregnant women can receive tetanus toxoid vaccine to prevent neonatal tetanus. She may also be tested for group B streptococcus between the 26th and the 28th week of gestation. These bacteria, if present in the lower intestinal tract, can infect the baby during delivery.
The mother-to-be should be prepared to provide health professionals with all the information she can include her medical history. She should also freely ask questions. Immediate medical assistance should be sought if there is vaginal bleeding sudden inflammation of the face, strong or continuous headaches or pain in the fingers, sudden impaired or blurred vision, strong abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, chills or fever, changes in frequency or intensity of fetal movements loss of liquid through the vaginal, pain while urinating, or abnormal lack of urine.
Alcohol and drugs: Incessant use of alcohol and drugs (including tobacco) by a pregnant woman increases her child’s risk of mental retardation, physical abnormalities, and even behavioural disorders. Research shows that babies of drug addicted mothers have been known to show signs of withdrawal.
Experts advise pregnant women to abstine from wine and should avoid second hand smoke.
Medicines: No medicine should be taken unless specifically prescribed by a doctor who is aware of the pregnancy and who has carefully weight the risks. Some vitamins supplements can also be harmful. An excess of vitamin A, for instance, can cause deformities.
Weight gain: A pregnant woman should avoid extremes. According to Krause’s food nutrition and diet therapy, a low-birth-weight baby’s risk of death is 40 times greater than that of a normal weight newborn. On the other hand, eating for two only promotes obesity. Proper weight gain – more evident from the second trimester on-indicates that the expectant mother is eating the right amount for her increased demands.
Hygiene and other considerations
Baths and showers can be taken normally but vaginal douches should not be used. A pregnant woman should avoid contact with anyone who suffers from a viral infection, such as rubella, also called German measles. Basic hygiene procedures, such as the washing of hands and of raw foods, are essential. Sexual relations do not usually pose a risk, except during the last weeks of pregnancy or in the case of hemorrhage, cramps, or previous miscarriage.