Pregnancy is a crucial time in any woman’s life. Even if you’re not the type of person to be all that concerned about your health, you’re likely to develop a newfound interest in caring for yourself once you’re carrying a baby who relies on you. Your physical and emotional health is of the utmost importance during these nine months. Follow these steps to safeguard yourself and your baby against complications and discomfort.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Prenatal care is vital to a healthy pregnancy, and this care should start as early on as possible for the best results. Visit your doctor as soon as you suspect you might be pregnant and make regular appointments from then on. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable with your healthcare provider, look elsewhere until you find someone you can trust.
- Take prenatal vitamins. Seek out a good quality, food-based prenatal vitamin and take it daily to cover any vitamins that may be missed in your diet. This is particularly important in the first trimester, when morning sickness may prevent you from eating well and the baby is developing rapidly. You should also take a folic acid supplement through the first trimester to protect your baby from certain defects.
- Avoid dangerous foods. It can be hard to keep up with the list of foods deemed unsafe for pregnancy, but it is important to be aware of what could potentially cause harm. Avoid shellfish, sushi, unpasteurized dairy products, undercooked eggs, cold deli meats and fish that contain substantial amounts of mercury.
- Boost your diet. Feed your body the correct nutrients and your baby will feel the benefits! Pregnancy is no excuse to overeat, but you will need to increase your food intake by around 300 calories as your baby grows. Try to add more protein in- around 70 grams a day, and make sure that you’re getting enough calcium. Although your baby will probably be just fine either way, you will quickly feel drained and exhausted if you don’t eat well while pregnant.
- Stay active. Moving around may feel like the last thing on your list, especially during the tiring first trimester and downright uncomfortable third trimester. Believe it or not, pregnancy-friendly exercise like walking, swimming and yoga will make you feel energized and strong and may make the labor process less taxing on your body. Steer clear of activities that will put too much strain on your body, but keep active as much as you can.
- Rest and relax. If you feel fatigued during your pregnancy, give yourself the chance to rest and unwind as much as possible. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, go for regular prenatal massages and stretch every evening before you go to bed.
- Steer clear of smoke and booze. We all know this, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Alcohol and cigarettes will do nothing but harm to yourself and your baby, so swear off those vices for the time being.
- Cut back on coffee. If you tend to have more than one cup of coffee every day, aim to cut back to just one morning cup. Replace your usual coffee with a non-caffeinated alternative like herbal tea. Caffeine can increase your risk of miscarriage, prevent your body from absorbing iron effectively and worsen those pregnancy headaches.