"I would continue to do normal things as everybody else because that's what it is," actress Kareena Kapoor Khan had said during her pregnancy. Like her, several new-age mothers now continue to work during their last trimester of pregnancy and medical experts are giving it a thumbs-up.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, has given pregnant women an opportunity to avail an extended paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, but some would-be mothers are more keen to spend that time after the baby arrives.
Says Richa Gupta, a public relations professional: "Being an independent media professional, I had the liberty to work from my own office. My work includes a lot of travelling to meet clients, events, media rounds and much more which I did and continue to do so till today. I am ready to deliver in the next 10-15 days."
According to medical experts, there'a a definite change in the mindset of expectant mothers.
Witty Raina, Medical Director and Gynecologist and Obstetrician, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Gurgaon, told IANS: "Some women choose to continue working because it keeps them calm and helps them balance their day-to-day work. Most women these days take time off after their pregnancy to take care of themselves and their newborn."
For Mumbai-based celebrity gynaecologist Shantala Vadeyar, who has clients like couples Deepak Dobriyal and Smita Bhalla and Manish Paul and Sanyukta Paul, working during pregnancy has become more common now because of the increase in the flexibility offered at workplaces.
"Many mothers look forward to stress-free pregnancy and, most importantly, they want to take care of themselves during this phase. All this gives them the confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances. Therefore, this kind of a balance is helpful," Vadeyar told IANS.
Is there any risk involved?
"It's actually good as bed rest is not at all advisable in most cases of healthy pregnancy; it is advisable only in a few cases. So it's very good for a woman who keeps herself active till the time of delivery," Manika Khanna, a gynecologist with Gaudium IVF, told IANS.
Pregnancy is a very normal physiological process, says Kaberi Banerjee, IVF and Infertility Specialist, Clinical Director at Advance Fertility & Gynecological Centre. So, one should opt for home or bed rest in only "complicated cases like hypertension, threatened pre-term labour".
Complications may occur if the mother does not keep herself comfortable, is not careful while travelling or is not having proper diet which may lead to premature labour pain, say experts.
So what kind of movements or exercises should one keep in mind while working during the last month of pregnancy?
"Light to moderate exercise strengthens the abdominal and back muscles, which help improve posture and decrease aches and pains. Practising yoga, Pilates, walking, swimming and cycling on a stationary bike are safe for pregnant women. It is best to exercise at least 30 minutes each day, drink plenty of water when exercising and rest after," said Vadeyar.
Nidhi Khera, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Apollo Cradle, emphasised on mental and emotional health as well.
"The idea is to go through this journey in a happy way, connecting with the little bundle of joy developing within you. It is now known that the babies even inside the womb can feel, hear, have a sense of taste, smell and can learn. How we develop these is up to us," Khera told IANS.
Eating right is important too.
"Increase intake of proteins, include plenty of fruits and veggies in your diet, include MUFA -rich oils like canola oil which is good for foetus development. Incorporate healthy snacks like handful of nuts, sprouts, cheela, yogurt smoothie, etc. Include an iron-rich diet which will make you more energetic and healthy," nutritionist Ritika Samaddar told IANS.