The news of a pregnancy always brings on powerful emotions. And especially if you are a first-time mom, you might be feeling pretty anxious about what you need to do during the pregnancy to make sure that you have a safe delivery and a healthy baby to enjoy at the end of the next nine months. Here is a basic guide to make sure that your pregnancy is a healthy one.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that the single best predictor for a healthy pregnancy is regular prenatal check-ups. Once you find out you are pregnant, make an appointment with your ob-gyn. The first pre-natal visit is important as the doctor will:
- confirm the pregnancy with an in-office test
- often perform some blood work and do a physical exam to establish a baseline for your health at the beginning of the pregnancy
- review your medications and make sure that all of them are safe for pregnancy
- talk with you about any special dietary or lifestyle changes you should make during the pregnancy
- come up with a schedule of future visits and coordinate dates for ultrasounds; sometimes ultrasounds will be done at your clinic, but smaller clinics will refer you to a local hospital or imaging center
Diet and Nutrition
Needless to say, following a healthy diet is incredibly important when you are pregnant. You may want to discuss with your ob-gyn if there are any specific recommendations for you but in general, a baby-friendly diet will include:
- Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables - These provide you and your baby with the vitamins and minerals that you need to both be healthy
- Whole grains - Whole grain products provide more nutrients as well as fiber which can help decrease your chances of developing constipation, a common problem during pregnancy
- Dairy products - Lean dairy products are a great choice, since your calcium needs are higher when you are pregnant
- Lean proteins - Lean meats and legumes (beans, peas or lentils) provide you with the protein that you need without the unhealthy fats.
- Healthy fats - Fats like those found in avocados and olive oil, to support heart health, which is very important during pregnancy.
Nutrition During Pregnancy
- Taking a good prenatal vitamin with folic acid to help prevent birth defects
- Staying hydrated with at least 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day
- Finding products with ginger or eating dry crackers in bed to help with morning sickness
It is always best to talk to your doctor about what exercise program would best suit your individual needs during the course of the pregnancy. However, generally speaking, two of the best choices are:
- Walking - This low-impact activity can help to keep your heart, lungs, bones and muscles strong during the pregnancy and can also help to keep stress levels low.
- Prenatal yoga - These special yoga positions help to strengthen the muscles you will need for both pregnancy and delivery. Prenatal yoga has been associated with less stress during pregnancy and less pain during childbirth.