How to have a healthy pregnancy

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  • How to Have a

  • How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy

    Staying healthy while pregnant is important not only

    for your physical and mental well being, but also for

    your growing baby's. Health is a combination of a

    number of making lifestyle changes, getting proper

    nutrition, exercising regularly, and avoiding

    unhealthy/dangerous activities. By making changes

    to be the healthiest you possible, you'll significantly

    improve the health of your future child.

  • Lifestyle Changes

    1 Get regular prenatal care. The most important first

    step in your pregnancy is choosing a prenatal care

    physician, and seeing them on a regular basis.

    Frequent and consistent appointments with an

  • OB/GYN, a family doctor or a certified midwife can

    ensure both your safety and your growing childs

    throughout the pregnancy process. Begin prenatal

    care as soon as you know that youre pregnant, or

    when you suspect you might be. You can start by

    seeing your regular doctor, but will likely want to

    transfer to a specialized prenatal care doctor as your

    pregnancy progresses. So long as you are

    undergoing a normal pregnancy (according to your

    doctor), your scheduled prenatal appointments

    should be along this timeline:

    See your physician every four weeks until you are 28

    weeks pregnant

    See your physician every two weeks from the time

    you are 28 weeks to 36 weeks pregnant

    See your physician once a week (or more often, as

    per your doctors instructions) after the 36th week of

    pregnancy[1]

  • 2 Keep active by exercising regularly. Lugging

    around extra belly weight, morning sickness, and

    aching muscles can all combine to make exercise

    sound incredibly unappealing. However, keeping

    active while your pregnant will ensure not only your

  • health, but your babys as well. Regular exercise can

    make delivery less difficult, make losing your baby

    weight easier, aid in post-birth physical recovery,

    and encourage healthy fetal growth. Aim to do thirty

    minutes of low-impact exercise such as swimming,

    riding a bicycle, lifting weights, and yoga a day.

    Dont participate in any high-impact exercises

    (workout classes, long runs) or contact sports

    (soccer, football), as these put you at a high risk for

    injury.

    Always stretch before you exercise while pregnant; a

    hormone called relaxin is released to prepare your

    body for labor, but this can weaken your muscles

    and joints. Without stretching, you increase your risk

    for muscle or joint injury.

    Avoid activities or stretches that require you to lie

    down on your back, because this puts pressure on a

  • major vein that reduces blood flow to the uterus,

    which may make you feel dizzy and lightheaded.

    Overheating can be dangerous to your baby, so

    make sure you always keep cool by having a fan

    and cold water at the ready.[2

    3

  • Get plenty of sleep. Not only are you eating for two,

    youre resting for two as well. Getting lots of good

    sleep while pregnant will give your body the time it

    needs to help your growing baby, making you feel

    better in the process. Aim for eight hours of sleep

    minimum a night, and try to snatch a mid-afternoon

    nap as well. Going to bed at a consistent time every

    night (preferably before midnight) will also help to

    regulate your sleep schedule, making your sleep

    more restful and deep.

    Sleeping on your left side is recommended for

    pregnant women, as this relieves pressure from your

    back and prevents a major vein connected to your

    uterus from having the circulation cut off.

    Waking up for a short (5-10 minute) walk in the

    middle of the night may help to reduce or remove

    any morning sickness you experience.

  • Dont take any sleeping pills while pregnant, unless

    prescribed and approved by your doctor.

    4 Take prenatal supplements. Although a daily

    regimen of pills, supplements, and vitamins may be

    difficult to keep track of, it can be incredibly helpful in

  • reducing the risk of a series of birth defects. To start,

    women should consume prenatal vitamins

    (advertised as such) in 600 micrograms per day after

    becoming pregnant. Prenatal vitamins contain a

    combination of high levels of folic acid and iron

    among other things, both of which are responsible

    for early development of the baby and reducing the

    risk of complications and defects such as spina

    bifida and premature birth. Talk to your doctor about

    what supplements to take, but keep in mind that

    most pregnant women need to consume extra:

    Folic acid (folate) - between 400-600 micrograms

    daily

    Iron - 30 milligrams daily

    Calcium - 1200 milligrams daily

    DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid) - 200 milligrams

    daily[3]

  • 5 Keep an eye on your weight. Its true that you

    should be gaining weight while pregnant, but the

    amount you gain can have a big impact on both your

    childs health and your own. Individual weight gain

    will be dependent on your weight and BMI prior to

  • pregnancy, meaning that each woman will need to

    gain a different amount to be in a healthy range. To

    determine your ideal weight gain, start by calculating

    your BMI. Then, use that and your weight to locate

    yourself on the following weight gain chart:

    Underweight women (BMI less than 18.5) should

    gain 28-40 pounds.

    Women at a healthy weight (BMI between 18.5-24.9)

    should gain 25-35 pounds.

    Overweight women (BMI between 25-29.9) should

    gain 15-25 pounds.

    Obese women (BMI higher than 30) should gain 11-

    20 pounds.[4]

  • 6 Visit your dentist regularly. Strange as it may

    seem, dental care is particularly important during

    pregnancy. This is because your body is producing

    higher than normal levels of estrogen and

    progesterone, both of which (in high levels) can be

  • responsible for causing gingivitis and gum disease,

    leading to bleeding, gum sensitivity, and swollen

    gums on a regular basis. You should try to visit your

    dentist every 3-4 months while pregnant to make

    sure youre keeping a healthy mouth. In between

    visits, make sure that you brush and floss your teeth

    regularly.

  • Dietary Changes

    1 Make sure youre eating enough. The phrase

    eating for two conjures up images of vast platters of

    food and multiple meals throughout the day. The

    truth of the matter is though, that on average you

  • should only be consuming about 300 calories more

    per child, per day. Therefore, if youre pregnant with

    a single baby you should eat 300 extra calories, for

    twins you should eat 600 extra calories, and for

    triplets you should eat 900 extra calories per day.

    These numbers will vary slightly depending on your

    starting weight before pregnancy (see weight gain

    list above), but will remain close to 300 calories.[5]

    The calories you consume should be healthy

    calories - not those from junk food and fast food.

    One of the primary goals of eating more is to

    supplement your body and the child with the

    vitamins and minerals necessary for development

    (you cant get them all from supplements).

  • 2 Do not diet while pregnant. Weight gain during

    pregnancy is expected, so you are doing yourself

    and your baby a disfavor by attempting to diet to

    keep off weight. While you should avoid eating huge

    amounts of food (beyond the extra 300 calories a

  • day), you should not cut down your eating at all, or

    remove major meals or food groups from your

    regular diet. Further, regular eating supplies your

    body with vital vitamins and minerals you cant

    receive elsewhere. Other than potentially dangerous

    foods (listed below), do not cut out food from your

    diet. This means that diets like paleo/atkins (no

    carbs), juicing (no solid foods), and weight

    watchers/nutrisystem (low calorie) should not be

    started during your pregnancy unless prescribed by

    a licensed medical doctor.[6]

    By depriving your body of nutrients through dieting,

    your child may suffer from malnutrition and certain

    birth defects.

    Diets held for medical/religious/moral reasons can

    be maintained in pregnancy.

  • Avoid trying to lose weight or maintain your pre-

    pregnancy weight through food restriction, at any

    point during your pregnancy.

    3

  • Dont rely on prenatal vitamins and supplements

    for all your nutrients. Taking prenatal vitamins is

    important for supplying your body with the extra folic

    acid, iron, and calcium you need. However, there are

    lots of other nutrients and vitamins you can only get

    through consumption in food, meaning that you cant

    rely on supplements for your vitamins and continue

    to eat junk food and unhealthy alternatives.

    Supplements are intended to be just that - to

    supplement you with the extras you many not be

    able to consume enough of. This means you should

    be eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and

    protein every day.

    If you eat fast food regularly, aim to cut down your

    consumption to once or twice a week at the most.

    Fast food is notoriously nutrient-deprived, filling you

    with empty calories.

  • If youve got a strong craving for unhealthy foods

    that lack vitamins, try eating something healthy first

    (like a piece of fruit) and following it up with a small

    bit of cheat food. This will help you transition away

    from a diet of unhealthy junk food.

    Dont exceed the recommended daily dosage of

    prenatal supplements in an effort to reduce the

    amount of food you need to eat.

  • 4 Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables high in

    vitamin C. The recommended amount of vitamin C

    for pregnant women is 70mg per day. However, it is

    best to get this from natural foods rather than pills

    and supplements. You can get lots of vitamin C from

  • citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, broccoli,

    cauliflower, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and red

    peppers (among other foods). Aim to eat 3-4

    servings of these foods per day.

    5

  • Consume more protein. Eating protein is always

    important, but when youre pregnant you should aim

    to eat 2-3 servings of protein a day. Protein is

    primarily responsible for blood production and cell

    growth, both your own and your babys. Great

    sources of healthy proteins include eggs, Greek

    yogurt, legumes (beans), tofu, peanut butter, and

    lean meats.

  • 6 Get plenty of calcium. Calcium is vital to pregnant

    women, and many dont get nearly as much as they

    need. Although there is normally some calcium in

    prenatal supplements, you should try to consume an

    additional 1000 milligrams of calcium per day. Great

  • sources of calcium include yogurt, hard cheeses,

    milk, and spinach. By consuming more calcium,

    youll be aiding in your childs bone and nerve

    development.

    Vitamin D is important to consume as well, as it is

    required for your body to absorb calcium. It is found

    in most of the same foods as calcium is, as well as

    in cereals and breads.

  • 7 Eat foods that contain folic acid. Yes, youll be

    getting folic acid in a prenatal supplement. However,

    you should try to eat folic acid that occurs naturally

    in foods for the best results. Folic acid is responsible

    for enzyme functioning and blood production in your

  • baby. Foods that contain folic acid include kale,

    chard, spinach, squash, beans, nuts, and peas. All

    of these foods contain other helpful nutrients, so try

    to eat 1-2 servings of them per day.

    8

  • Make sure you get enough iron. Iron is used in the

    body for blood cell production, both in your own

    body and your developing childs. Most prenatal

    supplements contain iron, but as per most nutrients,

    it is best that you consume iron in a natural form

    from food rather than a supplement. Foods that

    contain high levels of iron include red meats,

    spinach, and iron-fortified whole grains (like certain

    breads and cereals). Get at least one serving of

    these iron-filled foods per day.[7]

  • Staying Healthy

    1 Never drink alcohol while pregnant. Alcohol is a

    big no-no for pregnant women, as its consumption is

    responsible for an array of birth defects and

  • complications. Drinking alcohol significantly

    increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, makes

    it more likely that your child will have developmental

    disabilities later in life, and runs your baby the risk of

    fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Cut alcohol out of

    your diet completely while pregnant, to avoid risking

    these complications. If necessary, seek help from a

    therapist specialized in drug and alcohol use.[8]

    If you happened to consume alcohol prior to

    knowledge of your pregnancy, dont fret - so long as

    you cease your drinking habits, it is unlikely youll

    experience alcohol-related complications.

    Non-alcoholic beer and wine do actually contain a

    small amount of alcohol, making them inappropriate

    substitutes for regular beer and wine.

  • 2 Avoid smoking. Its generally recommended that

    smoking of any sort be avoided, as it is very

    damaging to the lungs. This is especially true for

    pregnant women, because whatever you smoke,

    your baby smokes as well. Nicotine and tobacco in

  • the blood stream is absorbed by the child, increasing

    the likelihood of stillbirth, miscarriage, and a low birth

    weight. Some studies have also shown that babies

    whose mothers smoked while pregnant, grow up to

    be chronic smokers themselves. Cut out all smoking

    in your life, including cigarettes, e-cigs, cigars, and

    marijuana.

  • 3 Stay away from all illicit drugs. Drugs of any sort -

    particularly street drugs - are incredibly dangerous

    for a developing child. Recreational drugs almost

    guarantee your child will suffer from a birth defect or

    complication, because they have such a significant

    impact on your body and brain function, and

    therefore your childs. Further, mothers who are

    addicted to drugs and continue to use them while

    pregnant can actually pass on their addiction to their

    child. The newborn baby is then addicted to drugs,

    and suffers withdrawal symptoms just like an adult

    does. If youre a user of recreational drugs or are

    addicted, get help from a psychologist or group

    therapy, to protect the health of your growing baby.[9]

    When at all possible, maintain a drug-free lifestyle

    beyond the birth of your child for your own health.

  • 4 Dont spend time in hot tubs, saunas, or steam

    rooms. Raising your body temperature too high can

    be dangerous for your offspring, as studies have

    correlated high body temperature to developmental

    complications and birth defects. While warm

  • showers and baths are fine, spending extended

    periods of time in very hot environments can cause

    serious problems, especially in the first trimester.

    Avoid any environment where the temperature is

    above 101 F (38 C), and if you absolutely must be

    in such an environment, limit your time spent there

    to less than ten minutes.[10]

  • 5 Cut out caffeine from your diet. Although coffee,

    tea, and soda may be favorite drinks, if they contain

    caffeine they can be harmful to your little one.

    Studies have shown that caffeine consumption while

    pregnant is linked to higher rates of miscarriage and

    birth complications. It is best to cut out caffeine from

    your lifestyle altogether, but some doctors believe up

    to 200 milligrams (equal to one 10oz cup of coffee)

    per day is safe....