Congratulations on the positive pregnancy test! You’re about to embark on a beautiful journey. Growing a human being is no small feat, but you’ve got this, mommy.
But before you can take care of your child (yet to be born), you must take care of yourself. Whether in terms of physical fitness, mental well-being, or a healthy diet, a healthy and happy pregnancy starts with a healthy you.
Some advice on being healthy may seem like common sense, but a few are often overlooked. And when it’s about you and your child, there is nothing like being too cautious.
So, here are a few ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy:
1. Educate Yourself:
Knowledge is power, and this could not be truer than when you’re pregnant. So, learn about pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. It will help you feel less anxious about the changes happening to your body and the new responsibility you’re about to undertake.
It’ll also help protect yourself and your child from injuries and complications. For example, you’ll know to avoid hot tubs and saunas, which can raise your body temperature to unsafe levels for the baby. You will also learn about how low oxygen levels may cause developmental problems, like different types of cerebral palsy, and which fish to avoid because of their mercury content.
2. Stay Active:
Pregnancy indeed wins you a Get Out of the Gym Free card. But you shouldn’t spend the next nine months on the couch. Moderate exercise is essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Staying active will help you manage your weight, improve your mood, and increase your energy levels. It can also help reduce pregnancy discomforts like constipation, fatigue, and swelling.
Remember to double-check with your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise routine and listen to your body. If something hurts or feels off, stop immediately.
3. Eat Right:
They say you’re eating for two, but that doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Pregnant women only need approximately 300 extra calories daily during the second and third trimesters.
What’s more important than quantity is quality.
Make sure you’re getting plenty of nutrient-rich foods. You already know fruits and vegetables are essential, but you should also focus on lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats.
Folic acid, iron, and calcium are some pregnancy-specific nutrients to keep in mind. Folic acid helps prevent congenital disabilities of the brain and spine, while iron is essential for carrying oxygen to the baby and preventing fatigue. Calcium helps form your baby’s bones and teeth and can also help prevent pregnancy complications like preeclampsia.
4. Focus on Your Mental Health:
Pregnancy can be a stressful time. You’re dealing with a lot of physical and emotional changes, and on top of that, you’re probably worried about becoming a parent. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, but it’s essential to focus on your mental health.
If you’re feeling down, talk to your doctor or a therapist. Pregnancy can trigger depression and anxiety, so don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it.
You can also try relaxation techniques like deep breathing or prenatal yoga. If you don’t know whether or not you’re suffering mentally, look for the following signs:
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Drastic changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability or anger
- Constant worry or fear
- Isolation from friends
5. Rethink Your Spa Style:
It may be tempting to get a relaxing massage or pedicure during pregnancy. After all, pampering yourself is important. But there are some spa treatments you should steer clear of while pregnant, at least during the first trimester.
That’s because your first trimester is when your baby’s neural tube is forming. You want to avoid anything that could raise your body temperature or put you at risk for infection.
That means no hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, or body wraps. You should also avoid treatments like specific massages that could put pressure on your abdomen.
A few essential oils should also be avoided during pregnancy, including rosemary, clary sage, and juniper. These may cause contractions or stimulate blood flow, neither of which is good for you or your baby.
6. The Essential Don’ts of a Healthy Pregnancy:
During pregnancy, much emphasis is placed on things you should do. But there are some crucial don’ts, too. Here are a few to remember:
Don’t Lift Too Much:
As your belly grows, you may find it challenging to do things you used to do without a second thought, like picking up your toddler or reaching for a jar on a high shelf.
You must listen to your body and not lift anything that feels too heavy. Lifting heavy objects can lead to hernias, back pain, and preterm labor. If you must lift something heavy, make sure to do it slowly and carefully, using your legs, not your back.
Don’t Change Cat Litter:
One task you can safely delegate during pregnancy is cat litter duty. Feline feces may contain a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis, an infection that can lead to congenital disabilities, miscarriage, or even stillbirth.
If you must change the litter, wear gloves and a mask, and have someone else clean it out at least once a week.
Don’t Smoke or Drink:
It should go without saying, but smoking and drinking are big no-nos during pregnancy. Smoking increases your risk of miscarrying, having a low-birth-weight baby, and developing placenta previa. It’s a condition where the placenta covers the cervix.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
Don’t Take Herbal Medications:
Herbal supplements and teas may seem harmless, but they can be dangerous during pregnancy. Many of them haven’t been studied in pregnant women, so their effects are unknown.
Some herbs can also trigger contractions or interact with other medications you’re taking. Take your doctor’s prescription if you want something for a cold or other ailments.
Don’t Fly After 36 Weeks:
After 36 weeks, the risks of flying, including blood clots, premature labor, and placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall), are just too high.
If you’re 36 weeks or more and must fly, get up and move around every few hours, drink plenty of fluids, and wear comfortable shoes. You must also get a green light from your doctor first.
Pregnancy changes your life in many ways, some big and some small. To keep you and your baby safe, it’s important to be aware of what you should and shouldn’t do during pregnancy. From avoiding certain foods to getting enough rest, these tips will help you enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy. And, yes, you can also indulge in your cravings every once in a while!