It is the strong desire of every couple wanting to have a child that the pregnancy be problem-free to be assured that their baby will be strong and healthy.
If you are already conceiving, here are 10 tips that you need to follow to ensure a healthy pregnancy…
1) Set an appointment with your doctor
The very first step that you need to do once you find out that you are pregnant is to set an appointment with your doctor. He/she will set up your antenatal care, which includes advice on diet, exercise and scheduling of subsequent pre-natal checkups. These checkups will include ultrasound scans to check your baby’s growth and development inside the womb. This will also be the time wherein the doctor will give the necessary vitamins that you and your baby will need for the duration of your pregnancy.
2) Eat a healthy, balanced diet
The best diet during pregnancy has greater portions of fruits and vegetables that will provide nutrients needed by the baby, such as folic acid (to prevent birth defects). Carbohydrates are needed to provide energy for the mother throughout the pregnancy. Proteins and essential amino acids obtained from lean meat, eggs, nuts, fish, milk and other dairy products are needed for the baby’s development. Omega 3-fatty acids obtained from FDA-approved fish, such as salmon, are important for the development of the baby’s nervous system.
3) Take supplements when required
A healthy diet should be sufficient to meet all of the mother and baby’s nutritional needs. However, if the doctor determines deficiencies in the diet, he/she may prescribe supplements. Iron is given as a supplement for mothers to prepare her body for the blood loss during delivery. Folic acid is given during the first trimester to prevent the development of neural tube defects in the baby. Vitamin D may also be prescribed for the baby’s bone health. While Vitamin B complex is usually prescribed to ease nerves during the pregnancy.
4) Have regular exercise
If you are worried about gaining weight during pregnancy or if you want to build strength and endurance for the delivery ahead, you will need to observe a regular exercise regimen. This doesn’t mean that you will hit the gym and lift weights. The best exercises during pregnancy are low impact ones, such as brisk walking, yoga, Pilates, and swimming.
5) Exercise your pelvic floor
One thing that your doctor will teach you is how to exercise your pelvic floor. The muscles in your pelvic floor provide support to your back passage, bladder and vagina. Hormones and increased pressure from the uterus and baby may cause your pelvic floor to weaken and feel slack. Because of this, you may develop stress incontinence, wherein you dribble urine whenever you sneeze, cough, laugh or exercise. Pelvic floor exercises will not only prevent stress incontinence; keeping it toned will aid in the smooth delivery of the baby.
6) Observe proper food hygiene
There are certain foods that you should not eat during pregnancy because of the risk of infection. These include pate, undercooked ready-to-eat meals, mould-ripened cheeses like brie, blue-veined cheeses like Roquefort, and unpasteurized milk which may contain the bacteria Listeria (one of the causes of miscarriage). There is a risk of Salmonella infection when you eat raw shellfish, raw or soft-boiled eggs, and raw or undercooked meat.
7) Observe good personal hygiene
You should observe good personal hygiene to avoid Toxoplasmosis infection that may cause harm to the baby. Always make sure to thoroughly wash all kitchen utensils, especially those that you used to prepare raw meat, poultry or fish. Don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling dirty things, like after doing some gardening and cleaning up the cat’s litter box.
8) Quit smoking and drinking
Both smoking and drinking have detrimental effects on the baby’s growth and development. Smoking in particular is a significant risk factor of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Drinking alcohol during pregnancy will lead to the development of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders.
9) Reduce or stop caffeine intake
Drinking too much caffeine poses an increased risk for miscarriages, so it is not advisable to drink coffee and other caffeinated drinks during the first trimester. It may also increase your baby’s risk of being born with a low birth weight.
10) Get lots of rest
Although fatigue is a common symptom during pregnancy, it is a feeling that you should do best to heed by taking naps and longer sleep times. It takes a lot more energy to go around doing even the most normal things when you have a baby inside of you (added weight and strain on your body), it would be best to get as much rest as you can. You will also need the extra sleep time now in preparation for the days and weeks after your baby’s birth.