There’s no more critical time to take your health seriously than during pregnancy as its successful completion is largely influenced by how healthy the lifestyle choices you make are. Find a list of top dos and don’ts to use as guidelines to foster having a healthy pregnancy.
- See your doctor regularly. Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy as well as detect problems early.
- All intending pregnant women should get 400 to 600 micrograms of folic acid every day. Getting enough folic acid lowers the risk of some birth defects such as spina bifida. Taking a vitamin with folic acid every day ensures you are getting enough.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and lean meats.
- Get all essential nutrients, including iron, every day. Getting enough iron prevents anemia, which is linked to preterm birth and low-birth weight babies. Ask your doctor about taking a daily prenatal vitamin or iron supplement.
- Drink extra fluids, especially water.
- Get moving! Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, physical activity is good for you and your baby.
- Join childbirth or parenting class.
- Gain a healthy amount of weight. Gaining more than the recommended amount during pregnancy increases a woman’s risk for pregnancy complications. It also makes it harder to lose the extra pounds after childbirth.
- Check with your doctor to find out how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
- Wash hands, especially after handling raw meat or using the bathroom.
- Get enough sleep. Aim for 7 to 9 hours every night. Resting on your left side helps blood flow to you and your baby and prevents swelling. Using pillows between your legs and under your belly will help you get comfortable.
- Get a flu shot if your baby’s due date is between March and July. Pregnant women can get very sick from the flu and may need hospital care. Ask your doctor about the flu vaccine.
- Make sure health problems are treated and kept under control. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels. If you have high blood pressure, monitor it closely. Ask your doctor before stopping any medications you take or taking on any new ones. Note that some over-the-counter and herbal medications can harm your baby.
- Have a birth plan to decide on the type of birth you want. This could be either normal delivery, caesarean section or even a pool birth. Also, you can decide whether you want to use a hospital or deliver at home.
- Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals, such as cleaning solvents, lead and mercury, some insecticides, and paint. Pregnant women should avoid exposure to paint fumes.
- Protect yourself and your baby from food-borne illness, which can cause serious health problems and even death. Handle, clean, cook, eat, and store food properly.
- Don’t eat fish with lots of mercury, including swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish.
- Don’t drink alcohol. There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant. Both drinking every day and drinking a lot of alcohol once in a while during pregnancy may harm the baby.
- Don’t use illegal drugs and tell your doctor if you are currently on any prescription. Note that marijuana, cocaine, heroin, speed (amphetamines), barbiturates, and LSD are very dangerous for you and your baby.
- Don’t clean or change a cat’s litter box. This could put you at risk for toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be very harmful to the foetus.
- Avoid contact with rodents’ urine, droppings, or nesting material. This includes household pests and pet rodents, such as guinea pigs and hamsters. Rodents can carry a virus that can be harmful or even deadly to your unborn baby.
- Don’t take very hot baths or use hot tubs or saunas. High temperatures can be harmful to the f0etus, or cause you to faint.
- Don’t use scented feminine hygiene products. Pregnant women should avoid scented sprays, sanitary napkins, and bubble bath. These products might irritate your vaginal area, and increase your risk of a urinary tract or yeast infection.
- Don’t douche. Douching can irritate the vagina, force air into the birth canal and increase the risk of infection.
- If you must have dental work or diagnostic tests, tell your dentist or physician that you are pregnant so that extra care can be taken with x-rays.