Physical care refers to the bodily care given to the pregnant mother. The components of physical care include the following:

Nutritional care:

A number of physiological changes occur during pregnancy. One of the important changes is in maternal metabolism. The nutritional requirements increase to meet this need. The body of the pregnant mother has to provide for the growth of the fetus and other accessory parts like placenta. Various studies in the physiology of pregnant women show that, as pregnancy advances, there is a growing need for protein and calories in the diet. Inadequate nutrition leads to low birth rate of babies which in turn causes neonatal mortality.

In the fetus, brain growth is maximal during the later part of pregnancy. It is therefore highly likely the brain growth gets affected, if there is under nutrition in the later half of pregnancy. It is estimated that a healthy mother’s weight increases by 16 to 20 pounds during the entire period of pregnancy. During the last three months of pregnancy, the baby puts on nearly three seventy five percent of its total weight at birth. To meet all these needs. A good nutritious diet in adequate quantities must be given. Also the mother needs food to build reserves to meet the stress of delivery and lactation.

Recommended dietary allowances and diet:

The nutrients needed by the mother include carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, and water. The daily allowance of nutrients recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research is as follows:


Energy (kcal)












B2 (mg)

Vit. B3


Folic acid







Non -pregnant women











Pregnant women











The following are the general dietary principles recommended in choosing an adequate diet:

v The diet should be mixed and generous

v At least half of the protein should come from animal sources such as milk, meat, and eggs

v Milk is the best source of calcium and phosphorus.

Food cravings:

Many pregnant women have special food cravings during the period of pregnancy. Generally, women crave for ash, mango and sour foods. This is due to the deficiency of certain vitamin and minerals in the diet. Thus, taking of foods rich in deficient nutrients is highly recommended. It is good to remember that overfeeding should be discouraged and salt must be restricted in the later half of pregnancy.

Medical care:

Antenatal medical supervision should begin as early as possible. This gives the doctor an opportunity to make a general medical examination and to give advice on diet and many other factors in maintenance of health. Regular medical supervision will help the mother to have a comfortable period of pregnancy and child birth. Complications can be averted under continuous medical supervision. The mother may regain good health, if she has lost it during the beginning of pregnancy; due to nausea etc. Women should go to the physician every four weeks until thirty week, fortnightly until the thirty sixth week and weekly until delivery.

Care of the breast:

Breast milk is definitely superior to any other milk for the baby. Proper care of the breasts is essential to ensure satisfactory breast feeding. Gentle massaging of the breasts will function well. Some women have inverted or retracted nipples. Such conditions lead to difficult feeding. Corrections can be done in these conditions by proper breast care. There is some kind of secretion in breast and this dries and forms a crust. This crust must be removed regularly by the use of warm water and soap.

Exercise, rest and sleep:

Enough exercise to the body is essential for the preparation of muscles for labor. Household work, good walk or some other gentle exercise must be done. More strenuous form of exercise like cycling should be avoided and afternoon nap is good. At least eight hours of sleep should be obtained. If the woman is not able to sleep, a glass of hot milk will induce good sleep.


Clothing should be warm; all constrictions at the waist should be avoided. In last month when the womb is reaching its full size some form of support is necessary. Maternity corset that supports the lower part of the abdomen is recommended.


A daily bath in warm water is essential. Besides keeping the body clean it also makes the mother feel fresh. Bath taken in the night will induce good sleep.

Care of the bowels:

Constipation is a common complaint. Due to various reasons, bowel movements may get affected during pregnancy. It is important that there should be free action of bowels at least once a day. Proper exercise, cultivation of regular habits and suitable diet are important. The diet should include green vegetables, fresh fruits and salads. Fluid intake must also be increased.

Marital relationship:

Marital intercourse is a cause for miscarriage during early months. If there is a tendency in the women to miscarriage and so it should be avoided. During the last two or three months also it should not take place because it may give rise to certain complications.

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