Great Tips For A Healthy Pregnancy
You want to be the perfect pregnant mother, doing everything in your power to keep yourself safe and healthy so that your baby develops perfectly.
1. Folic Acid/Folate Supplementation – Folic Acid is the human-made version of folate, a nutrient naturally found in foods like broccoli, spinach, and liver (yum!). It serves many useful functions in the human body, but for pregnant women it is recommended because it helps prevent some serious birth defects, especially those surrounding the neural tube.
Early supplementation with folic acid, especially during the first month or so of pregnancy is needed to prevent these serious birth defects (including spina bifida). For this reason, women who are actively trying to get pregnant should start folic acid supplementation during the weeks that they are trying to conceive.
In 1996, the US government mandated the enrichment of commercially available grain products (cereal, bread, etc.) with folic acid. Orange juice is also a popular source of folic acid. There are many ways to get your daily amount of folate, including prenatal vitamins, which many doctors prescribe.
2. Avoid Processed Foods – Processed foods are often nutritionally void and calorically dense. They offer your body (and more importantly, your baby’s developing body) nothing that it needs, and may come with a whole host of artificial colors and chemicals. Processed meats like hot dogs can be especially dangerous, as they sometimes carry bacteria that can result is a serious infection or even miscarriage.
Stick to healthy food that you make yourself (or maybe your partner makes!). Use a food thermometer to ensure that all meats are thoroughly cooked. Don’t reheat leftovers more than once. Don’t ever refreeze food that has been defrosted.
3. Exercise – Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean that your whole body goes on vacation. The health benefits of exercise can continue well into pregnancy. Low intensity exercises like walking and swimming help keep your cardiovascular system active. Pregnant women can even do many different weightlifitng exercises.
You should, however, avoid any activity with a high chance of falling or impacts to your body. Also be aware of the effects of intense weightlifting moves like deadlifting or squatting on the pelvic regions. Don’t do moves like lunges, which can risk damaging connective tissue.
4. Get Regular Sleep – This is just a tip for good health in general. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per day. If your schedule allows it, go to sleep when it gets dark, and wake up naturally when you are rested and refreshed. If you are exercising regularly, that can also help aid you in going to sleep.
This is all easier said than done, however, as pregnant women experience a wide variety of sleep disturbances. Excess liquid can send you to the bathroom several times per night. The fetus can also switch positions and place pressure on the bladder. If you budget yourself ample time to sleep every night, you can try to fight the sleepiness that can come from a lack of deep, restful sleep.
5. See Your Doctor Regularly – This should also go without saying. If you are serious about your health and the health of your child, then partner up with a good doctor as soon as you are ready to start conceiving. They can help you figure out your best ovulation schedule, get you on prenatal vitamins, and monitor your health and the health of your baby throughout the pregnancy.
6. Stop Smoking/Drinking Alcohol – This should all go without saying, but there is no safe level of smoking or drinking to do during pregnancy. Smoking and drinking rob the fetus of oxygen that it needs too develop properly. Additionally, exposure to the various substances contained in cigarettes can cause damage to your baby while it is still in the womb. Pregnant women should even avoid second hand smoke. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a very serious condition caused by maternal drinking during pregnancy.
7. Avoid Environmental Pollutants – Much like second hand smoke and its detrimental effect on the fetus, other environmental pollutants can be dangerous to your baby. Fumes from paint or solvents, lead (usually found in paint in old buildings), and mercury, just to name a few, can all cause birth defects and other complications. Mercury can be found in some varieties of commercially available fish. For this reason, many pregnant women abstain from fish altogether or keep their intakes very low. Keep the environment around you as pure as possible so that your baby can develop in a safe, healthy manner.