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10 tips for a healthy pregnancy

January 13, 2017

When you’re pregnant, taking good care of yourself means that you’re also taking good care of your baby. Here are 10 tips for a healthy pregnancy:

1. Get early, continuous prenatal care.
As soon as you get a positive pregnancy test, you should call your OBGYN or Midwife to schedule your first prenatal appointment. Your first prenatal visit should occur sometime between weeks 6 and 8 of your pregnancy, and you should continue with regularly scheduled appointments throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

2. Take a comprehensive prenatal vitamin.
Ensure that you’re taking a prenatal vitamin that contains most, if not all, of the vitamins and minerals that you’ll need whilst pregnant, especially folic acid. Ideally, you should be taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid per day before you get pregnant, and then 600 micrograms per day once pregnant. If you take folic acid prior to and during pregnancy, it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine (called neural tube defects), and some studies have shown it may also help prevent heart defects.

You also need to be getting enough iron. Iron helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, and to your baby. Getting enough iron can prevent anemia, which can cause your baby to be born underweight and/or too early. The amount of iron recommended during pregnancy is 30 mg/day, which is about double the amount you need when you’re not pregnant.

3. Do not drink alcohol. At all. 
Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that no amount of alcohol is safe during any trimester of pregnancy. Prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), which is an all-encompassing term that refers to a range of adverse effects related to prenatal alcohol exposure. These include physical, developmental and mental defects.

4. Also, don’t smoke. 
It should also go without saying that smoking is harmful whether you are pregnant or not. There is no safe amount of smoke exposure that is safe for children, inside or outside the womb. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. Consult with your doctor if you need help quitting, or need to make other lifestyle adjustments to improve the healthiness of your environment.

5. Eat nutritious meals.
What you eat can directly affect the health of your baby. Avoid items that are high in fats and sugars, and focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Increase your protein intake to 70 grams per day. Drink eight glasses of water per day as well, and limit caffeine consumption to less than 200 mg per day. For more ideas and tips on what foods are beneficial during pregnancy, check out the Fit for Two campaign from the National Institutes of Health.

6. Exercise. 
Exercise can provide you with the strength and endurance to carry the extra weight that you gain whilst pregnant, can improve circulation and also help to reduce stress. Consult with your doctor about your fitness plans to ensure that all of the exercises you do are appropriate for your pregnancy. This will help you create a plan that ensures you won’t overdo it. Here are some pregnancy exercise ideas to get you started.

7. Get some rest.
Getting rest can be difficult, especially if you work and/or have other children at home, but it’s still vital. You need to be getting at least eight hours of sleep per night. If this isn’t possible, try to nap or rest throughout the day. Even a 15-minute power nap can be effective. Getting a great pregnancy pillow can also be a big help. Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, stretching and massage are also great ways to help minimize stress and help you sleep better at night.

8. See your dentist.
Taking care of your oral health is very important while you’re pregnant because hormonal shifts can make you more susceptible to gum inflammation (gingivitis) and gum disease (periodontitis). Brush, floss and go to your 6-month dental appointments. Consult with your doctor and dentist to ensure that the products you are using are safe for baby, and schedule an appointment ASAP if you haven’t been to see the dentist in the past six months. (And remember, no x-rays.)

9. Consult with your doctor before taking any medications. 
This includes over-the-counter medication, herbal remedies and essential oils. Many common medications can harm your baby, so please consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that the medications you are taking are safe to use during pregnancy.

10. Wear a seat belt.
Frankly, this is something you should be doing anyway, but is especially important during pregnancy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the shoulder portion of the seat belt should be positioned over the collar bone, and the lap portion should be placed under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips and across the upper thighs. The belt should never stretch across your abdomen. Pregnant women should also sit as far away from the airbag as possible.

Bonus Tip: Take care of your emotional health! 
Being pregnant can be wonderful, but it also has a substantial effect on your hormones and cause mood swings. Take note of how you are feeling, and reach out immediately if your mood swings are extreme and cause intense depression or anxiety. Your health caregiver will be able to help you get the help you need.

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Avatar for Lauren Soderberg

Lauren Soderberg

Wife of one tall drink of water. Mama of two spunky kids. Lover of awkwardly long hashtags and unicorn emojis. And babies, obviously.

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