Through countless studies and documented research, doctors have found there are many things women can do to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. You may not have always been the healthiest person you know, but maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle during pregnancy is very important. You might be surprised how small decisions can make a big difference towards a problem-free pregnancy.
Here are 12 steps that promote a healthy pregnancy:
- Receive proper care – Getting prenatal care is essential for both you and your baby. This involves going to the doctor frequently for checkups to make sure everything is going smoothly. Research shows us that babies of mothers who choose not to get prenatal care are 3 times more likely to be born underweight. Prenatal care is proven to reduce complications during pregnancy.
- Pay attention to your diet – Eating for two does requires some changes in your diet, but it’s not as much as you might expect. Soon-to-be mothers only need about 300 extra calories a day to stay at a healthy weight. Typically we need about 45 grams of protein each day, but during pregnancy women need about 70 grams each day. Maintaining sufficient calcium levels is also important. Most doctors recommend staying away from raw or undercook meat because it may contain bacteria that can be harmful to the baby.
- Take prenatal vitamins – Vitamins made for women during pregnancy give you the boost you need. It’s important to have the right levels of iron and folic acid throughout pregnancy to reduce the risks of birth defects and complications. Having too little or too much of certain supplements can be harmful so speak with your doctors about recommended prenatal vitamins.
- Develop an exercise routine – It’s natural for women to gain weight during pregnancy but it’s also important to stay healthy. Finding the balance can be tricky. Exercise is important during pregnancy because it’s a great stress reliever. Women who exercise during their pregnancy typically have an easier time getting back into shape after giving birth. Good exercise routines during pregnancy include walking, stretching and yoga.
- Get your beauty sleep – Women often experience fatigue when pregnant and it’s important to listen to your body. As you get closer to the end of your pregnancy, you’ll naturally feel more tired and have less energy. Don’t over work yourself and make sure to maintain good sleeping habits to help you feel rested.
- Avoid alcohol by all means – Countless studies indicate serious side effects of drinking while pregnant. Any alcohol that you have will reach your baby quickly through the bloodstream. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is associated with a lot of child complications, including low birth weight, learning and speech problems, poor attention span, and more.
- Say no to drugs – Nearly all drugs have been associated with birth and developmental defects and it is very important to avoid drugs at all times during pregnancy.
- Don’t smoke cigarettes – Smoking while pregnant is proven to increase the risk of miscarriage, growth problems, premature delivery, and more. Make the effort to stop smoking well before becoming pregnant.
- Consume less caffeine – In a 2008 study researchers found that women who had as much as 200 mg of caffeine per day doubled their risk of miscarriage. This much caffeine can be found in an 8-ounce cup of coffee. Caffeine is also responsible for making it difficult for your body to absorb iron.
- Manage your emotional health – Women who are pregnant often feel like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Feelings of tiredness, stress, depression, and irritability are common but it’s important to not let them get out of hand. Exercise is a great way to deal with these feelings. If you can’t manage such feelings on your own, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
Maintaining the health of your baby as well as yourself during pregnancy takes work and a conscious effort to adapt your lifestyle and diet. Speak with your doctor about all the ways you can promote good health and be sure to receive routine checkups.
This article is written on behalf of the Women’s Care Florida Ob & Gyn.