Now that you’re pregnant, taking care of yourself has never been more important. You’ll probably get advice from everyone about what you should and shouldn’t be doing, and it can be very overwhelming. But staying healthy during pregnancy depends on you, so it’s also up to you to be proactive and do what you can to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.
See your doctor or midwife regularly: A key to protecting the health of you and your child is making sure to get regular prenatal care. Make an appointment to see your doctor or midwife as soon as you suspect you are pregnant, and be sure to keep regular appointments throughout the pregnancy. *Eat a balanced diet: Healthy eating is always important, but especially when you’re pregnant. Make sure your calories come from nutritious foods that will contribute to your baby’s growth and development. By eating a healthy, balanced diet you’re more likely to get the nutrients you need. But you will need more of the essential nutrients (especially calcium, iron, and folic acid) than you did before you became pregnant. Talk to your healthcare provider about taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements, even before planning to become pregnant. Foods you’ll want to steer clear of include: anything unpasteurized (unpasteurized cheeses, milks, etc.), raw eggs or anything containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meats, cold processed meats like deli meat. Avoid eating certain fish (swordfish, mackerel, tuna steak, shark), since these may contain high levels of mercury.
Be active: Exercise during pregnancy has been shown to be extremely beneficial. Women who have uncomplicated pregnancies are encouraged to get regular aerobic and strengthening exercise. Swimming, walking, and even yoga are great choices. Don’t exercise if you are not feeling well or if the weather is very hot, and don’t participate in dangerous sports that post a risk of falling or abdominal injury, such as horseback riding, contact sports and skiing.
Fluids: It’s important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, during pregnancy. A woman’s blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy, and drinking enough water each day can help prevent common problems such as dehydration and constipation. *Get plenty of rest: It’s important to get enough sleep during your pregnancy. Your body is working hard to accommodate a new life, so you’ll probably feel more tired than usual. Put your feet up and rest as often as you can during the day. As your pregnancy advances, it is best to lie on your left side. Placing a small pillow under your belly, lower back and between your knees for support may increase your comfort.
Medicines: Be sure to talk to your doctor about medicines you use, including prescription, over-the-counter and natural remedies. Even common over-the-counter medications that are generally safe may be considered off-limits during pregnancy because of their potential effects on the baby.
No smoking, alcohol, or recreational drugs: No amount of these substances is considered safe during pregnancy, and they are easily passed along to the baby. Prematurity, birth defects, low birth weight, learning & behavior problems, breathing problems, miscarriage and stillbirth, and SIDS are at an increased risk when the mom ingests harmful substances. You wouldn’t light a cigarette, put it in your baby’s mouth, and encourage your little one to puff away. As ridiculous as that seems, pregnant women who continue to smoke are allowing their fetus to smoke, too. The smoking mother passes nicotine and carbon monoxide to her growing baby. If you smoke, drink, or use drugs, having a baby might be the motivation you need to quit.
Caffeine: High caffeine consumption has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage, so it’s probably wise to limit or even avoid caffeine altogether if you can. And remember that caffeine is not limited to coffee. Many teas, colas, and other soft drinks contain caffeine.
Changing the Litter Box: Pregnancy is the prime time to get out of cleaning kitty’s litter box. Why? Because toxoplasmosis can be spread through soiled cat litter boxes and can cause serious problems, including prematurity, poor growth, and severe eye and brain damage.
From the first week of your pregnancy to the fortieth, it’s important to take care of yourself so you can take
Juli Simpson works for the Meigs County Health Department.