steps to healthy pregnancy

If you are pregnant it is more important than ever to stay informed, aware and educated.

It is an ideal time to start taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally cause it’s not just you anymore, you have another beautiful being living inside of you 🙂

You should give yourself the best chance of having a hitch-free pregnancy and a healthy baby by following a few simple guidelines below.

1. Get early prenatal care

As soon as you discover that you’re pregnant, call your doctor or a midwife to organize your antenatal care.

Good prenatal care is essential for you and your baby.

During that visit, you’ll be screened for certain conditions that could lead to complications.

If you haven’t yet chosen a provider, get started now. Finding the right person — whether you’re looking for a doctor or a midwife — can take a while.

2. Good Nutrition

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Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet whenever you can. Try to have:  At least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

Now that you’re eating for two, you may be surprised to learn that you only need about 300 additional calories per day in the last trimester. Make sure you get plenty of protein.

You now need 70 grams a day compared to 45 grams before you got pregnant.

And while your calcium requirement remains the same, it’s more important than ever that you meet it, which is a challenge for many women.

You’ll want to steer clear of undercooked eggs and meat, unpasteurized dairy products and juices, raw seafood, and cold deli meats to avoid ingesting bacteria that could harm your baby.

Also, avoid certain fish that may contain high levels of mercury or other contaminants.

Also read: 10 best foods for pregnancy

3. Take a supplement

Pregnancy vitamin supplements aren’t a substitute for a balanced diet. But they can help if you’re worried you’re not eating well, or you’re too sick to eat much.

Most prenatal supplements contain more folic acid and iron than you’ll find in a standard multivitamin.

It’s important to get enough folic acid before conception and during early pregnancy. Folic acid greatly reduces your baby’s risk of developing neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.

Ideally, you should start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid at least one month before becoming pregnant. Once you are confirmed pregnant, up your daily dose to 600 mcg.

You also need to make sure you’re getting enough iron. Your iron requirement increases significantly during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters.

But more is not necessarily better — taking too much of certain things can actually be harmful. Avoid mega doses of any vitamin, and don’t take any additional supplements or herbal preparations without your caregiver’s okay.

4. Get quality rest

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The fatigue you feel in the first and third trimesters is your body’s way of telling you to slow down.

Take a nap in the middle of the day, give yourself a break and let your other responsibilities slide a little or rather delegate it to other people.

If you can’t sleep, at least put your feet up and read a book or leaf through a magazine.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, stretching, deep breathing, and massage are all great ways to combat stress and get a better night’s sleep.

5. Quit alcohol consumption

Any alcohol you drink reaches your baby rapidly through your bloodstream, crossing the placenta, and your baby can end up with higher levels of blood alcohol than you have.

As little as one drink, a day can increase your odds of having a low-birthweight baby and increase your child’s risk for problems with learning, speech, attention span, language, and hyperactivity.

And some research has shown that expectant moms who have as little as one drink a week are more likely than nondrinkers to have children who later exhibit aggressive and delinquent behavior.

Mums-to-be who have more than two drinks a day are at greater risk of giving birth to a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD). Children born with this condition suffer from mental and growth retardation, behavioral problems, and facial and heart defects.

Drinking also increases your risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. So play it safe — avoid alcohol completely and have a non-alcoholic drink instead.

6. Regular Exercise

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A good exercise program can build up your strength and endurance you’ll need to carry the weight you gain during pregnancy.

It will also help prevent or ease aches and pains, improve sluggish circulation in your legs, and help you handle the physical stress of labor. It will also make getting back into shape after your baby’s born much easier.

What’s more, exercise is a great way to reduce stress, and some research suggests that staying active can boost your level of serotonin, a brain chemical linked to mood.

Just remember not to push yourself too hard or let yourself get overheated or dehydrated. (You’ll also need to avoid hot tubs and saunas while you’re pregnant).

Good exercise choices for pregnancy include; brisk walking, swimming, aqua natal classes, yoga, and pilates.

Read: Why you Should Stretch Your Body

7. Stop smoking

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, growth problems, placental abruption, and premature delivery.

Some research has even linked smoking to an increased risk of having a baby with a cleft lip or palate.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the chance that a baby will be stillborn or die in infancy. It’s never too late to quit or cut back.

Every cigarette you don’t light gives your baby a better chance of being healthy.

If you’re unable to quit on your own, ask your caregiver for a referral to a smoking cessation program. Even if you’re not a smoker, stay away from secondhand smoke.

Read: Reasons to Quit Smoking

8. Cut back on caffeine

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Image: CNN

Coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks are mild stimulants

A 2008 study shows that women who consumed more than 200mg of caffeine a day are much at a doubled risk of miscarriage compared to those who had no caffeine.

What’s more, caffeine has no nutritive value and makes it harder for your body to absorb iron, something pregnant women are already low on. It’s also a stimulant, so it can make it even harder for you to get a good night’s sleep, give you headaches, and contribute to heartburn.

Limit your coffee drinking or consider switching to decaf. And check the caffeine content of other products you consume, like tea, soft drinks, “energy” drinks, chocolate, and coffee ice cream, as well as over-the-counter drugs, such as a headache, cold, and allergy remedies.

9. Eliminate environmental hazards

Some jobs can be hazardous to you and your developing baby.

If you’re routinely exposed to chemicals, heavy metals (like lead or mercury), certain biologic agents, or radiation, you’ll need to make some changes as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that some cleaning products, pesticides, solvents, and lead in drinking water from old pipes can also be harmful.

Talk to your doctor or midwife about what your daily routine involves, so you can come up with ways to avoid or eliminate hazards in your home and workplace.

10. Take care of your emotional health

steps to healthier pregnancy

Many women feel like they’re on an emotional roller coaster at one time or another during pregnancy.

But if your mood swings are extreme or interfering with your daily life, you may be suffering from depression, a relatively common condition.

If you’ve been feeling low for more than two weeks and nothing seems to lift your spirits — or if you’re feeling particularly anxious — share your feelings with your caregiver so you can get a referral for professional help.

Also, let your caregiver know if you’re in an abusive relationship.

Pregnancy can cause stress in any relationship, and it’s a common trigger of domestic violence, which puts your health and your baby at risk.

With this tips, expectant mothers should be able to Stay Healthy During Pregnancy.

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