Healthy Pregnancy Tips
25 Tips for a Healthy (and Happy) Pregnancy
Feel good throughout your pregnancy with these helpful tips!
- 1. Adjust your eating habits to include a healthy variety of foods. Eat Folate-Rich Foods. Folic acid is crucial for the proper development of the baby's neural tube. Even before you find out you're pregnant, it's smart to start eating plenty of folate-rich foods like fortified cereals, asparagus, lentils, wheat germ, oranges, and orange juice.
- 2. Take a Prenatal Vitamin. Even when you're still trying to conceive, it's smart to start taking prenatal vitamins. Your baby's neural cord, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops within the first month of pregnancy, so it's important you get essential nutrients, like folic acid, calcium, and iron, from the very start.
- 3. Exercise. Starting now will help you stay in shape during pregnancy. Regular exercise will help you control your weight, improve circulation, boost your mood, help you sleep better, and has been proven to help reduce labor complications and length. Plus, getting into an exercise habit now will help you set a good example for your child after she's born. Pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking are all great activities for most pregnant women, but be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Listen to your body, though, and don't overdo it.
- 4. Educate Yourself. Read pregnancy books. If delivering with a midwife or doula, ask as many questions as you like. They are a great resource to tap into. If delivering in a hospital, attending a childbirth class will help you feel more prepared for delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, but you can ask specific questions and voice any concerns. You'll also become more acquainted with the facility and its staff.
- 5. Do Not Smoke.
- 6. Ask your partner to join you on your new healthy habit changes. Go for morning walks or take classes together after work. Find new recipes and cook meals together. It will help get you in a healthy routine and also give you quality time together before baby arrives.
- 7. Ask your friends and family about pregnancy. The changes you experience during pregnancy are so new, it often helps to get advice from experienced moms or share ideas with pregnant peers.
- 8. Do not drink alcohol.
- 9. Avoid unpasteurized cheeses and watch out for deli meats. Cheeses like feta, goat cheese, Brie, Camembert, blue cheese, and Mexican queso fresco or queso blanco are more likely to be made with unpasteurized milk than harder cheeses like Cheddar or Swiss. There's a chance these soft cheeses could contain listeria, a bacteria that would otherwise get killed during pasteurization. This infection can be harmful to your baby. As with soft cheeses, there's a small risk that harmful listeria bacteria may lurk in fresh-from-the-deli-counter meats like turkey and ham.
10. Change your chores.
Even everyday tasks like scrubbing the bathroom or cleaning up after pets can become risky when you're pregnant. Exposure to toxic chemicals, lifting heavy objects, or coming in contact with bacteria can harm you and your baby. Here are some things to take off your to-do-list:
- Heavy lifting
- Climbing on stepstools or ladders
- Changing kitty litter (to avoid toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a parasite which cats can carry)
- Using harsh chemicals when cleaning
- 11. Rest when you can. Nap! Take time for yourself each day to relax and clear your mind.
- 12. Start a journal or a pregnancy blog. Record your meals, exercise plan and other helpful tips to remember for your next pregnancy or to share with friends! Keep a food diary to ensure that you are keeping up with your daily requirements.
- 13. Drink 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water a day. Be sure to stay hydrated, especially in warmer climates and summer months.
- 14. Stick to your schedules. Keep your regular appointments with your doctor to monitor the progress of your pregnancy.
- 15. Track Your Weight Gain. Remember to add 300 - 500 calories a day while pregnant. Not gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems. At the same time, packing on too many extra pounds may make them hard to lose later. Talk to your doctor, midwife or doula about what is the appropriate weight gain for your current frame and weight.
- 16. Give in to cravings – sometimes! As long as you're eating an overall healthy diet, it's usually OK to give in to your cravings. Just be careful to limit portions and avoid raw and undercooked meat or eggs; brie, feta, and other types of unpasteurized cheese; herbal teas; and raw sprouts.
- 17. Avoid too much caffeine. Most doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy, since it can have harmful effects on you and the baby. Cutting back can be tough when you're used to your morning java. For a quick pick-me-up, try eating some fruit. The natural sugars in fruits can help lift energy levels.
- 18. Eat (safe) fish. Certain types of fish are high in omega 3s, which are a critical nutrient to brain development. There's just one catch: Some kinds of fish contain mercury, which can be toxic to both babies and adults. To be safe, the FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. Stick with canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollack, or catfish. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, which are all high in mercury. Be sure to consult with your doctor and do your research before working it into your regular diet.
- 19. Wear comfy shoes with good support. Your natural weight gain throws off your center of gravity, putting extra pressure on your feet. Many expectant moms find they need a larger shoe size even after they give birth, so go a size up if you need to.
- 20. Wear sunscreen. Being pregnant makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you're more prone to sunburn and melasma, those dark, blotchy spots that sometimes appear on the face. Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (try Mustela High Protection Sun Lotion, SPF 50) and wear a hat and sunglasses.
- 21. Change your spa routine. Avoid saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs, which can cause you to overheat. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it takes only 10 to 20 minutes of sitting in one for your body temperature to reach 102 degrees Fahrenheit -- nearly the limit of what's considered safe for pregnant women. Also, certain essential oils can cause uterine contractions, especially during the first and second trimester, so check with your massage therapist to make sure only safe ones are being used. On the list to avoid: juniper, rosemary, and clary sage.
- 22. If you are decorating your house or a nursery remember to avoid fumes often associated with paint and wall paper. Perhaps have friends or your partner do the hard work while you help make snacks for them. Keep the windows open!
23. Know when to call the doctor.
Being pregnant can be confusing, especially if it's your first time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- Pain of any kind
- Strong cramps
- Contractions at 20-minute intervals
- Vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid
- Dizziness or fainting
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Constant nausea and vomiting
- Trouble walking, edema (swelling of joints)
- Decreased activity of the baby
- 24. Travel Smart. Experts say around 14 to 28 weeks, is usually the best time to fly. Still, check with your doctor about any travel plans. On the plane, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and get up and walk around frequently. An aisle seat will give you more room and make trips to the bathroom easier.
- 25. Write a birth plan. Something to help you clarify what you want or need for your birth experience. Share this with your practitioners and those you have invited to your birth. The baby will be here before you know it!