Stay healthy throughout your pregnancy by following these simple tips
Check out these important—and sometimes surprising—tips to help ensure your safe and healthy pregnancy.
Take a prenatal vitamin
It’s smart to start taking prenatal vitamins as early as possible—even when you’re still trying to conceive. 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.
Low-impact activities like swimming and walking are great types of exercise for most pregnant women. Be sure to avoid any activities that involve a risk of falling or being hit by a ball. And be sure to talk with your doctor first before starting any exercise program. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week—if you’re not there yet, you can build up to it slowly. Above all, listen to your body and don’t overdo it.
Write a birth plan
Determined to have a doula? Counting on that epidural? Write down your wishes and give a copy to everyone involved with the delivery.
Even if this isn’t your first baby, attending a childbirth class can 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 also ask specific questions and voice any concerns. Now is also a good time to brush up on your family’s medical history. Talk to your doctor about problems with past pregnancies, and report any family incidences of birth defects.
Kegels are exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. Done correctly, this simple exercise can help make your delivery easier and prevent problems later with incontinence. Simply tighten your pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds, then relax them and repeat. If you’re having trouble figuring out which muscles to tighten, talk with your doctor or midwife.
Track your weight gain
We know—you’re eating for two. But packing on too many extra pounds may make them hard to lose later. At the same time, not gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems. Check in with your doctor frequently to make sure you’re gaining pounds at a healthy rate.
Eat folate-rich foods
Folate (aka folic acid, the supplemental form of this B vitamin) is crucial for the proper development of your baby. It’s smart to start eating plenty of folate-rich foods like asparagus, lentils, wheat germ, oranges, and orange juice. Fortified cereals and your prenatal vitamins are also good sources of folic acid.
Most experts recommend that pregnant women eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish per week. Stick with canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollock, or catfish. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, which are all high in mercury.
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