Pregnancy marks the onset of parenthood. We often think that we only become a parent after the birth, but it really starts at conception. During the phase of pregnancy, everything we eat, drink, breathe, say, think… becomes relevant in a whole new way altogether.
You probably know some of the basics about taking care of yourself and the baby. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Get your rest. The list goes on and on…There are do’s and don’ts for everything. But, instead of following a set rulebook, and stressing yourself out even more, just keep in mind that staying healthy comprises of simple efforts carried out every day. Here are some handy tips, that can help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Take prenatal vitamins daily
Even when you’re still trying to conceive, it is the right time to start taking prenatal vitamins. 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.
Plan an exercise chart
Staying active is a must for most moms to be. Regular exercise will help you control your weight, improve circulation, boost your mood, and help you sleep better. Pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking are all great activities for most pregnant women, but be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Listen to your body, though, and don’t overdo it.
Know about latest trends
Even if this is not your first child, attending a childbirth/prenatal class will 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 ask specific questions and voice any concerns. You’ll also become more acquainted with the facility and its staff. This 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 strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. When done correctly, this simple exercise can help make your delivery easier and prevent problems later with urinary incontinence. It is a very convenient and easy exercise and can be done daily.
Practice squeezing as though you’re stopping the flow of urine when you use the bathroom.
– Hold for three seconds, then relax for three.
– Repeat 10 times.
Track your weight gain
In pregnancy, the common notion is to eat for two people. But packing on too many extra kilos may make them hard to lose later. At the same time, not can gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems.
Go shoe shopping
As your body grows, so may your feet. This happens due to natural weight gain throwing off your center of gravity, putting extra pressure on your feet. Over time this added pressure can cause painful over-pronation, or flatten out the feet. You may retain fluids, too, which can make your feet and ankles swell. To prevent these problems, wear comfortable shoes with good support.
Folate-rich foods are a must
Folic acid is crucial for the baby’s neurological development and vital for the creation of new red blood cells. It is a smart choice to start eating plenty of folate-rich foods like fortified cereals, asparagus, lentils, wheat germ, oranges, and orange juice.
Recharge with fruits
Most doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy since it can have harmful effects on you and the baby. Cutting down can be tough, though, especially when you’re used to your morning cup. For a quick boost up, try nibbling on some fruit. “The natural sugars in fruits like bananas and apples can help lift energy levels.
According to clinical experts, mid-pregnancy, around 14 to 28 weeks, is usually the best time to fly. By this time you’re probably over morning sickness, and the risk of miscarriage or early delivery is low. Still, check with your doctor about any travel plans, and make sure the airline has no restrictions for pregnant women. While on the plane, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and get up and walk around every half hour to reduce the risk of blood clots. An aisle seat will give you more room and make trips to the bathroom easier.
Know when to call the doctor
Being pregnant can be confusing, especially if it is your first time. How do you know which twinge is normal and which one isn’t? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
– Pain of any kind
– Strong cramps
– Contractions at 20-minute intervals
– Vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid
– Dizziness or fainting
– Shortness of breath
– Heart palpitations
– Constant nausea and vomiting
– Trouble walking, edema (swelling of joints)
– Decreased activity by the baby
Get regular prenatal care
Begin prenatal care as soon as your pregnancy test result is positive, when you decide you want to conceive or when you suspect you might be pregnant. You can start by seeing your regular doctor, but will likely want to transfer to a specialized prenatal care doctor as your pregnancy progresses. As long as you are undergoing a normal pregnancy (according to your doctor), your scheduled prenatal appointments should follow this timeline:
- See your physician every four weeks until you are 28 weeks pregnant
- See your physician every two weeks from the time you are 28 weeks to 36 weeks pregnant
- See your physician once a week (or more often, as per your doctor’s instructions) after the 36th week of pregnancy
You may think you’re busy now, but once the baby is born, you will have even fewer precious moments to yourself. Treating yourself to a pedicure/manicure, spending time with friends, or simply taking a quiet walk can help you relax and de-stress, and that’s good for both you and the baby.