10 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be scary and confusing. What are you supposed to avoid? What are you supposed to absolutely do? It can all be a bit overwhelming. There are entire books about pregnancy, so we definitely can’t cover it all in a blog post. But let’s scale it back and look at 10 very basic tips to help you have a healthy pregnancy.
- Go to a healthcare professional. Prenatal care is important for a healthy mama and a healthy baby. In a normal pregnancy, you’ll see your doctor once a month for the first six months, then every other week for the seventh and eighth months, then once a week for that final stretch. Your medical provider will monitor your health and the baby’s health at each visit. Those regular visits are also a good time to ask all the questions that pop up throughout your pregnancy.
- Take prenatal vitamins. You can get these over the counter at your local pharmacy, or your doctor can prescribe them. Sometimes, prenatal vitamins can upset your stomach, so you may want to take the vitamin at night or with a light snack.
- Eat several small meals. For a lot of pregnant women, an empty stomach equals morning sickness and a too-full stomach equals heartburn. You may find that eating five or six small meals each day works best for you. Because your food is fueling your own body and sustaining a developing baby, you’ll want to choose healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals, especially folic acid. There are also certain foods you need to avoid during pregnancy – soft cheeses, undercooked meats, too much caffeine, fish with high levels of mercury. Your doctor can give you the full list of what to avoid.
- Exercise. Remaining active during pregnancy can help you have an easier delivery and a faster recovery from childbirth. Walking and swimming can all be simple ways to exercise during pregnancy. Ask your doctor what exercise and activity is safe for you.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking. As soon as you find out you’re pregnant (or as soon as you decide to start trying to become pregnant), avoid drinking and smoking. There are no known safe levels of alcohol or cigarette smoke during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, and smoking during pregnancy reduces the amount of oxygen your baby gets and can affect his or her development. It can also cause premature labor or increase the chance of complications during labor and delivery.
- Let someone else change the kitty’s litter. Your cat’s poop may contain a parasite which can cause an infection in you that you might pass on to your baby. If you must change the litter, wear gloves; but it’s best to let someone else do that chore.
- Before taking any supplements, ask your doctor. Before you take any supplements or use any essential oils, ask your doctor. Some essential oils or homeopathic supplements may not be safe to use during pregnancy, so it’s best to ask your doctor before you use any of them.
- Do Kegels. Kegels are exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These simple exercises can prevent incontinence during and after pregnancy. (And who doesn’t want to reduce the chance that you’ll accidentally pee yourself when you cough or laugh?) The best part of Kegels is that you can do them anywhere and nobody even knows! Simply squeeze the muscles in your pelvic floor as if you are holding in pee or trying not to pass gas, hold for a few seconds and then release. You don’t want to pull in your stomach or squeeze your legs together, and you don’t want to tighten your butt or hold your breath. Only your pelvic muscles should be working when you do Kegels.
- Drink water. Water helps your body absorb nutrients and transport those nutrients to your baby so it’s important that you drink enough water each day. As an added bonus, water can also help prevent hemorrhoids and other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms. Most doctors recommend that you drink 8 – 10 glasses of water each day (totaling 64 – 80 ounces of water). Because having a too-full stomach can be unpleasant when you also have a growing baby inside you, you probably want to sip on water throughout the day rather than gulp large amounts all at once.
- Sleep. You need extra sleep during pregnancy because your body is working harder now – your heart is working harder to pump blood through your own body and your baby’s body, and your kidneys are working harder too. Your hormones are also fluctuating, which can make you feel more sleepy. Speaking of hormones, sleep affects the production of some hormones which help your baby grow and develop, so getting enough sleep also helps your baby grow like he or she needs to.
With all the pregnancy information in books and on the Internet, it can be exhausting and overwhelming to sort it all out. If we can help answer any of your questions about having a healthy pregnancy, please call us.