12 Steps to a Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a source of joy especially for a woman who has been anticipating it. However, a positive pregnancy test does not mean you will definitely get a healthy baby. Pregnant woman should learn to take good care of themselves. How you take care of yourself during this time will determine the outcome. The care should be emotional, spiritual, physical and even psychological. Read on to know more about what you should do the moment you realize you are pregnant.
1. Prenatal care
The care is meant for you and the baby. You have to go to prenatal clinics at least once before the first trimester ends. You will undergo screening for various conditions. It is easier for people who have identified health care providers to schedule a visit. If you are yet to choose the clinic you will be getting the care from, you need to choose during this period.
Finding a health care provider who meets your needs might not be that easy. Nevertheless, do not make rush decision because you are under stress. Remember you will be working hand-in-hand with the person during the pregnancy. Apart from this, they are most likely to be the ones giving you postnatal care after the delivery. You have to consider all your options before you finally make a decision. It might be tiresome and demanding but it will be a joy if you make the right choice.
2. Eat healthy
You may have come across pregnant women who claim to be eating for two. Well, that does not mean you have to exaggerate on the amount of food you eat. You just need about 300 calories more. Proteins should be taken in plenty. The growing fetus requires proteins in the manufacture of new cells. Additionally, minerals like calcium and vitamins like Folic acid are needed in plenty too.
Since growth during the first trimester takes place at high rates, deficiencies will have serious consequences. You should work with a nutritionist immediately you realize that you are pregnant. Dairy products, which are not pasteurized, should be avoided. Also, raw seafood, underscored meat and eggs are a bad idea for you. They contain a lot of bacteria, which could be harmful to your baby. Eating fish that has high mercury content will result in congenital defects or even death of the fetus. Since there might be some degree of vomiting or nausea, just eat what you can tolerate. However, you need to visit a doctor if the problem is persistent.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercises will increase the muscle endurance and give you strength. You require this to carry the pregnancy to term. In addition, it helps in preventing pains and eases aches. The legs might have sluggish circulation because of muscle relaxation. Exercising regularly will improve circulation on the legs to avoid deep venous thrombosis. Apart from this, if you follow through with exercising until the last trimester, you will not have much difficulty with delivery.
Exercise is a great way to boost moods. During pregnancy, you will have a lot of hormones surging throughout your body. This predisposes you to mood swings. That is why you need serotonin in plenty to avoid extreme mood swings, which can be a nuisance. Besides this, you will be able to shed off the excess weight gained during pregnancy after delivery. To note is that pushing too hard can cause problems. Remember not to do this. Saunas and hot tubs are a not good idea for pregnant women.
4. Get enough rest
You might experience much fatigue in the first trimester and also the last. It is a message from your body for you to ease up. You have to take this seriously. If you are working, remember to nap at least during the lunch break. If this is not possible, just take several breaks throughout the day. It is better to let the responsibilities pile up a bit that to end up in the hospital. Another good alternative is to delegate some tasks to ensure that they do not pile up too much.
Finding relaxation techniques to channel your fatigue is a good option. Deep breathing can be performed anywhere. The results are wonderful. Additionally, you can book into yoga classes or practice at home. Massage and stretching are good relaxation methods. You will be able to combat stress. Consequently, you will be well rested by the time you go to bed.
5. Stay away from alcohol
Drinking alcoholic beverages while pregnant is a discouraged. Alcohol crosses the placenta to reach the growing fetus. In fact, the baby will get much alcohol content than you. Babies born to alcoholic mothers usually have low birth weight. Also, they suffer from alcoholic syndrome if they were used to alcohol while in the womb.
While growing up, the babies will have difficulties in being attentive. Others will take a longer time to learn speech, language and in schooling. Hyperactivity is a possible outcome if you were drinking a lot during the pregnancy. Even one drink a day can cause the child to display delinquent and aggressive behavior. You have to make the right choice for you and for the baby. Nine months are not such a long time to stay away from alcohol. Once you wean the baby off breastfeeding you can go back to enjoying the drinks.
There are some medications, which contain alcohol too. You should let the pharmacists know that you are expecting before they dispense any medication. If you are not sure consult with your obstetrician or gynecologist. Besides affecting the baby, alcohol can lead to stillbirths and miscarriages. If you find it hard to quit drinking on your own then you can get help from the care provider.
6. Stay away from hard drugs
Many of the drugs taken during pregnancy will cross the placenta to get into the baby’s system. Hard drugs are not an exception. Bhang will cause intrauterine growth retardation. Also, once the bay is born it will have tremors. They are withdrawal symptoms because the baby is no longer getting marijuana.
Cocaine decreases the amount of blood getting to the placenta. Problems associated with this include growth problems, miscarriages and abruption of the placenta. Premature delivery is a possible outcome too. The baby might have behavioral problems or birth defects. Some of the babies will be late in achieving developmental milestones or even die in the uterus. Heroine, amphetamines or addictive painkillers should be avoided too.
7. Quit smoking
Smoking will lead to premature delivery, miscarriages and growth restriction. It is also associated with growth problems. A recent research has shown that smokers most often give birth to babies with cleft palate or lip. The baby may be a stillbirth or die in its early childhood.
You can quit smoking as long as you have the determination to maintain the good habit. It might be a problem for long-term smokers to do this on their own. That is why the care provider is always at your service. If you find it hard to let go, join a program for smoking cessation. Every cigarette you throw away gives your baby a chance to survive. You will have a very great time during the pregnancy. Secondhand smoking is as dangerous as the real act of smoking. Ensure that you are breathing fresh air.
8. Limit caffeine intake
Caffeine does not have nutritional value. Why would want to continue taking a beverage that does not do anything good to your body? In fact, it will interfere with iron absorption in the body. Iron is a very important mineral because it is used in manufacture of red blood cells. If the body is not getting enough of this mineral then you will have a low hemoglobin level.
Being a stimulant, caffeine will give you insomnia. Also, it can result to heartburn and headache. If you cannot stay without coffee, just limit the amount you take to 200mg. Soft drinks and tea have caffeine too. Check the content to ensure you are not getting too much. Other products which contain caffeine include ice cream, chocolate and energy drinks. Some drugs used in treating allergy, common cold and headache also contain caffeine. You should go for those which do not have caffeine.
9. Avoid environmental hazards
Hazards in the environment can be dangerous for you and the baby. If you are working in a place that is toxic or a high-pressure zone, you ought to quit. You can ask your boss to transfer you to a more friendly environment. Heavy metals and chemical can cause birth defects or miscarriages. Radiation and biologic agents will put your immunity in a compromising state. The change in environment should be done within the shortest time possible.
Also, remember that solvents, cleaning products and even pesticides are harmful. Old pipes usually contain lead. The element can find its way in drinking water. The consequences will be profound not only to your baby but also to you. You should explain your daily schedule to your midwife. He or she will be in a better position to advise you on the changes to make. The first priority should be you and your baby during this time.
10. Get in touch with your emotions
The surge in hormones during pregnancy will make you a roll coaster when it comes to emotions. The swings may not be too pronounced to affect your daily routine. However, if they are interfering with your life extremely, it is time to seek help. Depression is very common in pregnant women. Abusive relationships should be discussed with the care provider. They will make the situation very difficult to cope with.
If the midwife is not in a position to help, he or she will refer you to a therapist. Once you are in touch with our emotions, you can decide on the right course of action to take. It will enable you to decide when the emotions are genuine and when you are just being difficult. Emotional awareness is something you cannot take lightly during pregnancy.
11. See the dentist
Oral health has an effect on all the other systems in the body. Thus, do not push it to the end during pregnancy. You should remember to floss and brush the teeth often time. Regular dental check-ups are important too. Changes in hormones during pregnancy will predispose you to gum diseases. An increase in estrogen or progesterone makes the gums to bleed, swell or even become tender.
Bacteria in the dental system might find their way to the other body systems where they cause serious illnesses. Infections of the gums or teeth are very difficult to treat if they are diagnosed late. If you have been postponing visits to the dentist, it is time to take action should you be pregnant.
12. Ask questions
If it is your first pregnancy then you will be having a lot of questions. Do not hold back. The anxiety will make the time very uncomfortable too. Besides this, you might find yourself panicking because of very small issues. Most of the time, the midwives are eager to answer your question. Also, remember that there is no such a thing as a stupid question. It is better to appear like a fool but to get the right information.
When you are asked to undergo certain procedures or tests, you have the right to question their importance. If the test is not that necessary then you can as well as turn it down. You also have a right to seek second medical opinion from a person more qualified that you doctor. No one should make you feel bad about this. You should make an initiative to learn new things about pregnancy on your own. Use the Internet or sign up for classes.
In conclusion, the best time to learn about taking care of yourself during pregnancy is before you become pregnant. Planned pregnancies are usually enjoyable to carry because you will have time to make the adequate preparations. However, at times it happens as a surprise. Do not be discouraged should this happen to you. Nonetheless, it means that you have to do things at an accelerated speed that the rest of the population.
Now that you have all the information you need to have a healthy pregnancy, you only have to implement it. Having a partner to support you all through the journey is a bonus. In case you are not married, you can join a group of pregnant women to get the emotional support.