10 Steps to a Healthy Pregnancy
Now that you know you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. One thing many women fear during pregnancy is that there will be unexpected complications; you can boost your chances of having a problem-free pregnancy and a healthy baby by following these simple guidelines.
1. Practice a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Now that you’re pregnant you can indulge in whatever types of foods you want, right? After all, you are eating for two. Wrong! When finding out they are pregnant, many women are surprised to discover that they actually only need to consume around 300 additional calories per day. Make sure to get plenty of protein, and meet your daily calcium requirement as it is more important while you are pregnant than ever. There are also certain foods pregnant women should avoid, and your healthcare provider can help you create a healthy diet plan.
2. Get Early Prenatal Care
Good and early prenatal care is essential for you and your baby. Call your healthcare provider right away once discovering you are pregnant to schedule your first prenatal visit. Additionally, finding a doctor or midwife to assist you during your pregnancy may take some time – continue to see your general practitioner during that time and let them know of any issues or complications.
3. Take Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins differ from normal multivitamins because they contain more folic acid and iron – which are essential in a healthy pregnancy. Ask your healthcare provider about the importance of folic acid and iron, how much to take and how they can improve your pregnancy.
4. Get Lots of Rest
Fatigue is something that many women feel throughout much of their pregnancy – especially in the first and third trimester. This is your body’s way of telling you to slow down! Listen to what your body is telling you and get as much rest as you can.
5. Eliminate ALL Alcohol
Do not drink while you are pregnant. Any alcohol that you consume will quickly reach the baby through your bloodstream, sometimes causing the baby to have a higher blood alcohol level than the mother has. As little as one drink a day can increase the chances of your baby having a low birthweight, and also contribute to possible complications such as learning, speech, hyperactivity and attention span. So we repeat – do not drink!
All women are encouraged to exercise during pregnancy, but the amount of exercise that is right for you will depend on your activity level before becoming pregnant. Your healthcare provider can discuss the benefits of exercising during pregnancy and help you create a regimen that is right for you and your baby. Remember – don’t push yourself too hard and never let yourself get overheated or dehydrated!
7. Eliminate ALL drugs
Is this a no brainer? We think so. Just like alcohol, any drug you use will get into your baby’s bloodstream. Tell your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you are currently taking and steer clear of any illicit drugs.
8. QUIT Smoking
It’s simple: just don’t do it. Smoking increases the risk of a plethora of pregnancy problems, including miscarriage, premature delivery, placental abruption, growth problems and more. It is never too late to quit or cut back. If you are not a smoker, stay away from secondhand smoke as much as possible.
9. Consume Less Caffeine
While it is okay to consume one 8 ounce cup of black coffee per day, caffeine has no nutritive value and actually makes it harder to absorb iron, something a pregnant woman is already lacking in. Caffeine is also a stimulant, and as pregnant women need as much rest as possible, consuming caffeine may make it harder for you to get a good night’s sleep. Besides coffee, check the caffeine content in other products such as tea, chocolate and over the counter drugs.
10. Take Care of Your Emotional Health
Being pregnant can seem like an emotional roller coaster. If you are feeling particularly low or your mood swings are interfering with daily life, you may be suffering from depression, a common theme among pregnancy. Always consult your doctor about any changes in mood or personality throughout your pregnancy.