Staying healthy during pregnancy is a big concern for many women. Here, we’ve listed ten of the best tips to have a smooth and happy pregnancy.
1. Preconception Care
Preconception care is an essential aspect of having a healthy pregnancy. Preconception care focuses on a women’s health, identifying and reducing any risks to the women or the baby before a woman becomes pregnant. Healthcare providers can help identify specific issues that may be necessary to address before a woman begins conceiving.
One key aspect of preconception care is having a nutritional assessment done. Dietary changes are most beneficial to the women and baby when they are done before she becomes pregnant. Some aspects of the nutrition assessment include determining if women are getting enough vitamins and nutrition, which can have an effect on a baby. One nutrient is folic acid. Women are recommended to start taking adequate amounts of folic acid several months before pregnancy. Neural tube defects found in infants can be reduced if women increase the amount of folic acid months before attempting to become pregnant. The pregnancy folic acid requirement for an uncomplicated pregnancy is 600 mcg/day. Major sources of folic acid include eggs, leafy green vegetables, strawberries, oranges, beans, particularly black and kidney beans, sunflower seeds, and fortified breads.
2. Prenatal Visits
Going to your prenatal visits is a major aspect of having a healthy pregnancy as these visits are to ensure a healthy baby and mother. During these visits, your healthcare provider will determine your estimated due date which may be different based on your own calculations. Your healthcare provider will also monitor and screen for any complications and manage them accordingly. Generally, all first-time mothers need instruction related to discomforts. Here, you will receive education on your pregnancy and baby.
3. Prenatal Vitamins
Taking prenatal vitamins is highly recommended. Prenatal vitamins contain enough vitamins and minerals to meet the needs of your growing baby and the health changes you will experience. There are many different prenatal vitamins and discussing this with your healthcare provider is essential. Some of the prenatal vitamins can contain additional iron needed for you and your growing baby while some generic vitamins may contain too much of a specific vitamin which can be harmful to a growing baby, such as Vitamin A. In doses greater than 10,000 IU a day, Vitamin A can be harmful to the growing baby. In many cases, you should discuss with your healthcare provider the best prenatal vitamin for you.
4. Eating Healthy
Eating healthy during pregnancy is a crucial. You need to consume the right amounts and types of calories and foods to support yourself and the growing human inside of you. The benefits of eating healthy will help keep you feeling good during pregnancy and help promote your baby’s growth and development. Eating healthy has also shown to decrease the chance of birth defects and chronic health problem throughout the baby’s life. During pregnancy, you want to avoid eating empty calories from food high in added sugars and fats that add little nutritional value to your diet.
It is important to eat a variety of foods so you get the most out of different vitamins and nutrients. Remember the foods you eat also feed your baby.
- 3 servings of milk or dairy products
- 4 servings of vegetables
- 3 servings of fruit, fresh fruit is best
- 9 servings of whole grain breads, cereals, rice, or pasta
- 2-3 servings of lean meat, fish, poultry, dried beans, eggs, or nuts
- 6-8 glasses of water
Try your best to also include these foods also:
- 2-3 servings of iron rich food
- 1 serving of food rich in folic acid
- 1 serving of foods rich in vitamin C
Exercising during pregnancy is recommended for both the health of the mother and the baby. It is recommended that healthy women with an uncomplicated pregnancy continue to exercise during pregnancy. As long as there are no obstetrical of medical conditions, women can maintain a healthy exercise routine of at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. Walking is an excellent form of exercise for pregnant women. Keep in mind that some exercise activities may need to be adjusted, such as soccer or baseball where the women are at risk of an object hitting the growing belly. Other activities that change atmospheric pressure, such as skydiving and scuba diving should also be avoided to minimize harm the growing baby
6. Avoiding Environmental Hazards
There can be many unknown environmental exposures at home or in the workplace that can have an effect on reproduction. Limiting and avoiding these exposures is essential to maximizing a healthy pregnancy. Known substance that are harmful include metals (lead, mercury), solvents (trichloroethylene, chloroform, benzene, carbon disulfide), vinyl monomers, pollutants (polychlorinated biphenyl PCB, polybrominated biphenyl, pesticides, gases (carbon monoxide, anesthetic gases), radiation (x-rays) and antineoplastic drugs (cefalo, chemotherapy & Moos)
7. Teeth Cleanings
Getting your teeth clean is extremely important in pregnancy. It is safe and highly recommended, especially during the first trimester. Moms who have bad dental diseases have been shown to be at risk for having babies who are preterm and who delivery too early.
8. Vaccines and Avoiding Illness
The flu is more likely to cause severe illness and complications in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Some immunizations, such as Influenza (flu) and Pertussis, can and should be given during pregnancy to prevent severe complications of this illness. It is recommended that pregnant women get their anti-flu and anti-pertussis vaccine at any stage of the pregnancy in order to maintain their health.
9. Healthy Weight Gain
It is expected that women will gain weight during pregnancy, however; too much or not enough weight gain will have a negative effect on the baby. The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine recommends that women gain between 25 and 35 lbs during pregnancy, for women that are carrying a single baby. Weight gain requirements are different for women that are carrying twins or multiple babies. Health studies have shown that women who do not gain sufficient weight during the pregnancy period will have babies of a low birth weight and are at risk for preterm birth. Women that experience excessive weight gain will have larger gestational babies. Gaining too much weight can also lead to other medical complication during and after the delivery, such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
The institute of medicine has made specific recommendations for weight gain in pregnant women, according to the Body mass index pre-pregnancy
• BMI <18.5 kg/m2 (underweight) – weight gain 28 to 40 lbs (12.5 to 18.0 kg)
• BMI 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 (normal weight) – weight gain 25 to 35 lbs (11.5 to 16.0 kg)
• BMI 25.0 to 29.9 kg/m2 (overweight) – weight gain 15 to 25 lbs (7.0 to 11.5 kg)
• BMI ≥30. 0 kg/m2 (obese) – weight gain 11 to 20 lbs (5 to 9.0 kg)
10. Personal Hygiene
It is very important to maintain your personal hygiene while pregnant. During pregnancy, your body goes into an immunocompromised state, which means that you can easily catch diseases and illness. You should practice good hand washing frequently to reduce the chance of having something infectious spread to you. Keeping up with staying healthy and looking good will have you feeling better!
If you have any more pregnancy concerns or feel like you need a doctor’s expertise, you can ask any medical question for free on www.askthedoctor.com where our team of physicians are ready to help!
For general information, see www.newenglandpregnancycenter.com.