THE 10 ESSENTIAL STEPS TO A HEALTHY PREGNANCY THE 10 ESSENTIAL STEPS TO A HEALTHY PREGNANCY
1) PLAN AHEAD “Start getting healthy even before you become pregnant,” advises Siobhan Dolan, M.D., M.P.H., medical adviser to the March of Dimes and... THE 10 ESSENTIAL STEPS TO A HEALTHY PREGNANCY

1) PLAN AHEAD

“Start getting healthy even before you become pregnant,” advises Siobhan Dolan, M.D., M.P.H., medical adviser to the March of Dimes and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in New York. (Already pregnant? Just do all these things as early as possible, and don’t worry.) On your must-do-first list: Begin taking a daily multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida; quit smoking, drinking alcohol and/or using recreational drugs.

Schedule a pre-conception checkup, too. Have your doctor review your medications for pregnancy safety; ask your doctor to test you for sexually transmitted infections; make sure your immunizations are up to date; and have any infections or health problems properly treated.

2) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORT

Practical and emotional support can be crucial in helping you stay healthy and avoid prenatal anxiety and depression. Your circle could include your partner, family members, friends and coworkers, a childbirth instructor or your doctor or midwife.

Continuous support during labor has been shown to lower a mother’s need for pain medication and her risk for interventions, including Cesarean sections, and to lead to a more satisfying delivery. It’s important to have a sympathetic caregiver, but also to seek the support of family and friends. According to a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, getting lots of emotional support from your family while you’re expecting helps prevent postpartum depression (PPD).

3) FIND THE RIGHT PRACTITIONER

“Choose someone who respects you and sees birth as a healthy process and not a disease,” says Raymond De Vries, Ph.D., a member of the Center for Bioethics and the Social Sciences at the University of Michigan Medical School and author of A Pleasing Birth (Temple University Press).

Your best choice is an OB-GYN or midwife with excellent credentials who also respects your opinions and choices. If your pregnancy is considered high-risk because you’re expecting multiples, you’ve experienced previous pregnancy or delivery complications, or you’ve been diagnosed with certain medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure, it’s important that your primary-care caregiver have a collaborative relationship with a specialist in maternal fetal medicine.

4) KNOW THE RED FLAGS

During pregnancy, seemingly mild symptoms may signal something serious; signs include dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, trouble walking, pain or burning during urination, blurry vision, pronounced swelling or decreased fetal activity for more than 24 hours.

“About 1 in every 8 babies is born prematurely, so contact your care provider immediately if you have such symptoms as uterine cramping that gets stronger, gripping backache, leaking amniotic fluid and vaginal bleeding,” says Nancy Green, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics, division of hematology, at Columbia University Center for Bioethics in New York.

Also get a flu shot and regular dental checkups (skip the X-rays, though); untreated gum infections have been linked to premature births. If you get sick, don’t take anything that hasn’t been OK’d by your doctor or midwife.

5) EAT WELL (BUT NOT FOR TWO)

Pregnancy is the time to make every calorie count. Foods rich in essential nutrients such as protein, folate and iron will nourish you and your baby, and high-fiber foods can help prevent constipation. So can drinking plenty of water, which you also need to support your increased blood volume. Eating four or five mini-meals a day can help prevent heartburn and keep your blood-sugar levels steady and prevent binging.

Avoid foods that can be dangerous during pregnancy, including undercooked meats and cold cuts; raw seafood; raw or undercooked eggs; unpasteurized soft cheeses; and large fish, such as swordfish, which can contain high levels of mercury and other toxins. Also, limit your caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams daily, the equivalent of about 12 ounces of coffee.

6) GET MOVING

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women should exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day, six or seven days a week, unless they have medical reasons not to do so. Regular stretching and exercise can relieve backaches, constipation and morning sickness. Plus, having a strong heart and lungs will help you get through your upcoming marathon: giving birth.

7) STAY SAFE

“Injuries are the leading cause of maternal death during pregnancy,” says Andrea Gielen, Sc.D., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death and injury for pregnant women. In a crash, those who aren’t wearing seat belts are three times as likely to lose their baby as those who are buckled up.

Be sure to adjust the lap belt across your hip-pelvis area and below your belly.

The second most common source of traumatic injury in pregnancy is domestic violence, Gielen says. Women who are being abused can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help (800-799-SAFE, or visit thehotline.org).

8) GO GREEN

Minimize your exposure to chemicals, including those in commonly used household cleaners, solvents, paints and beauty products. Avoid lead dust, which can be generated during renovations in older homes. And steer clear of bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen found in countless products, including plastic containers and thermal cash register receipts.

Avoid secondhand smoke, stay away from cat litter and gardening soil, and buy organic foods as often as you can to minimize exposure to pesticides, growth hormones and other chemicals. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables before eating: Studies have linked prenatal exposure to pesticides to an increased risk in obesity, infertility, attention deficit disorders and cognitive problems in children.

9) WATCH THE WEIGHT GAIN

Current guidelines call for women of normal weight to gain 25 to 35 pounds, underweight women up to 40 pounds and overweight women 15 to 25 pounds. But in light of the obesity epidemic, some experts are questioning the latter recommendation.

Research is showing that most women gain too much weight during pregnancy,” says Raul Artal, M.D., professor and chairman of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Overweight moms are at greater risk for pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. They’re also more likely to give birth to larger babies, go through more complicated labors and have Cesarean sections.

However, pregnancy is not the time to diet, either, so don’t stop eating or start skipping meals.

10) SEEK OUT HELP FOR STRESS

Some studies suggest that experiencing severe or chronic stress may affect the fetus.

“One out of 10 women experiences depression during pregnancy,” says Janet Rich-Edwards, Sc.D., M.P.H., director of developmental epidemiology at Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Many suffer without seeking the treatment that could help.”

Intimacy is a great stress reliever, and research from the Ohio State University Medical Center confirms that unless you have risk factors for premature labor or other complications, you can enjoy a healthy sex life until you give birth.

3 Things Not to Worry About

1) The drink you had before you missed your period. It takes about seven days for the fertilized egg to implant in your uterus. The placenta begins to develop about 12 days after conception, which is just before your period is due. Before then, there’s no exchange of blood between mother and baby.

2) That morning sickness will rob your baby of nutrients. Generally, nausea and vomiting taper off by the end of the first trimester. During much of that time, the embryo and, later, the fetus will leech what it needs (which isn’t a lot) from your body. Be sure to take a prenatal vitamin.

3) That something you do will cause a miscarriage. Most early miscarriages are the result of chromosomal abnormalities within the developing embryo. Smoking, alcohol and drug use may increase miscarriage risk, but normal everyday activities, including exercise and sexual intercourse, do not.

Henry Okafor

  • Alexis

    2017-06-16 #1 Author

    These are very helpful tips for a good pregnancy

    Reply

    • Dazjah

      2017-06-18 #2 Author

      Really great tips. A couple I wasn’t aware of

      Reply

  • Nakisha

    2017-06-16 #3 Author

    These are excellent steps to use especially for those that are first time mother’s and have a million questions are those who have a big gap in between their kids.

    Reply

  • Kendra king

    2017-06-16 #4 Author

    Lots of rest and keeping yourself relaxed.

    Reply

  • Tatianna fahie

    2017-06-16 #5 Author

    This is very helpful information .

    Reply

  • Sheena

    2017-06-16 #6 Author

    These are great steps to a healthy pregnancy

    Reply

  • Summy stevenson

    2017-06-16 #7 Author

    I think these tips are very helpful for people who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. I have a 4 month old baby now but I deff used some of these tips when I was pregnant and trust me it helps a lot! I mean everyone doesn’t use these tips but they are helpful that’s all I’m saying.

    Reply

  • Shakea

    2017-06-16 #8 Author

    Marvelous Tips Thank You So Mucg For These!

    Reply

  • Kiarra

    2017-06-16 #9 Author

    Very helpful tips

    Reply

  • Joy purham

    2017-06-16 #10 Author

    These steps are perfect I’ll no what to next time

    Reply

  • Keilani

    2017-06-16 #11 Author

    Don’t forget to stay moisturized keep the skin from getting major stretch marks 👍🏽

    Reply

  • Mieasha Wright

    2017-06-16 #12 Author

    Great tips , alot of things I didn’t know lol.

    Reply

  • Quita Denise

    2017-06-16 #13 Author

    Be happy and enjoy your pregnancy.

    Reply

  • Jenelle Steele

    2017-06-16 #14 Author

    A lot of these steps I followed during my pregnancy. These are very helpful steps especially for first time mothers.

    Reply

  • Tyketria

    2017-06-16 #15 Author

    Try not reaching up for things that are too high…let someone help you! Also try not to stress, especially in the beginning it can put even more stress on the baby 👶. These are some great tips for first time moms.. trust they helped me out a lot!!

    Reply

  • Angela Yarbery

    2017-06-16 #16 Author

    Wish I Could of Know some of this stuff it seems very helpful

    Reply

  • Sierra Garrett

    2017-06-16 #17 Author

    First time Moms,.

    Reply

  • Melanie Alozie

    2017-06-16 #18 Author

    Great tips for new expecting moms ! Motherhood is beautiful & god creations !

    Reply

  • Brittany

    2017-06-16 #19 Author

    This article is great for moms who are planning to concieve and who are pregnant. There are good points, I wish I would have read this while pregnant. I experienced a high risk pregnancy that had me on bedresr 30+ weeks.

    Reply

  • JazaBelle

    2017-06-16 #20 Author

    –I had low iron throughout my pregnancy to the point that I had to get iron infusions every week for the last 3 months of my pregnancy! While I was getting the infusions the doctors recommended that I eat a lot of red meat as well as a lot of green veggies to help boost my iron!. Just thought I’d share a little tip to new expecting mothers

    Reply

  • Frances rice

    2017-06-16 #21 Author

    My son is now 3 and I wish somebody would have have told me this information before

    Reply

  • Tamara

    2017-06-16 #22 Author

    It’s so important to have a strong support system during and AFTER pregnancy. Accept the help from friends and family…..they really do want to help!

    Reply

  • Fantavia Brown

    2017-06-16 #23 Author

    Where were these steps doing my first pregnancy. These are some great steps & great advice I really recommend all of this.

    Reply

  • Latasha

    2017-06-16 #24 Author

    These are good steps

    Reply

  • Key

    2017-06-16 #25 Author

    I wish I had saw this when I was still carrying my daughter, it would’ve helped a lot. Thanks for the info.

    Reply

  • Linda Pedro

    2017-06-16 #26 Author

    Really informative. I would also consider taking folic acid suppliments, they aid in the early stages of the baby’s development

    Reply

  • Maia McCullough

    2017-06-16 #27 Author

    Great tips for first time moms !

    Reply

  • Trisha

    2017-06-16 #28 Author

    Very helpful tips

    Reply

  • Jazmond

    2017-06-16 #29 Author

    Wish I I would’ve read these tips before I had my son. Such great tips!

    Reply

  • Brenda Robinson

    2017-06-16 #30 Author

    These are all really reliable steps to take! Definitely taking them into consideration, knowing the red flags is a good one.

    Reply

  • Treveta

    2017-06-16 #31 Author

    These steps are great advice. Wish I would’ve known about them when I was pregnant . I’ll be sure to use this website more if I ever get pregnant again. Very interesting articles

    Reply

  • Ashley

    2017-06-17 #32 Author

    I love these tips , helps a lot.

    Reply

  • Brandi

    2017-06-17 #33 Author

    great tips. Having a good support system behind you as well will make things better when having to face different obstacles throughout pregnacy.

    Reply

  • Jessica ditto

    2017-06-17 #34 Author

    I loved my 1st pregnancy , my 2nd I wished I could have used some of these steps .

    Reply

  • Lexy

    2017-06-17 #35 Author

    The last tip was my biggest worry 💯

    Reply

  • Azia

    2017-06-17 #36 Author

    Great tips for first time moms!!!

    Reply

  • Dulshani

    2017-06-17 #37 Author

    This is so helpful for pregnant women

    Reply

  • Quitta Ja’morii

    2017-06-17 #38 Author

    I feel got any rest when I was pregnant but after my morning sickness i had a good appetite for a big bowl of salad and that’s all I wanted .

    Reply

  • Jayy

    2017-06-17 #40 Author

    Being a FTM this takes all the worries away.

    Reply

  • Aly jiraud

    2017-06-17 #41 Author

    Great tips !!!!

    Reply

  • Phenice Sargent

    2017-06-17 #42 Author

    Lots of great tips on preparing for baby. I especially love the one abt healthy eating it replinishes the nutrients your baby recipe from you and helps you feel better overall

    Reply

  • Jasmine

    2017-06-17 #43 Author

    Oh how I remember those days! Very helpful tips.

    Reply

  • Nahja Wray

    2017-06-17 #44 Author

    These are excellent steps to use especially for those that are first time mother’s and have a million questions are those who have a big ga

    Reply

  • Jessica

    2017-06-17 #45 Author

    Very helpful steps 💖

    Reply

  • O’Tasia

    2017-06-18 #46 Author

    Beautiful, Very Helpful ❤️❤️

    Reply

  • Tat

    2017-06-19 #47 Author

    This is very intresring wow

    Reply

  • Alesia

    2017-06-19 #48 Author

    Wow! Great tips that I’ll be utilizing this go round! Second baby coming soon.. Nov. 25th 😍

    Reply

  • Claire

    2017-06-19 #49 Author

    I actually had a smooth pregnancy after I lost my 1st to pre eclamsia because I followed some of these steps although I missed some lol… Really helpful tips

    Reply

  • Vitumbiko Munthali

    2017-06-20 #50 Author

    wow … Good tips for expectant women ..

    Reply

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