A woman’s good health is
essential to the good health of her baby. Women who eat well and exercise regularly along with regular prenatal care
are less likely to have complications during pregnancy. They’re also more
likely to give birth successfully to a healthy baby.
What you eat during pregnancy
could give your developing baby the healthiest possible start in life. A
nutritious diet is directly linked to a higher chance of a normal birth-weight,
improving fetal brain development, and reducing the risk of many birth defects.
A balanced diet will
also reduce the risks of pregnancy complications like anemia, and may
also minimize morning sickness, fatigue, and other
unpleasant pregnancy symptoms. Good nutrition is also thought to help balance
mood swings and may improve labor and delivery.
A well-balanced diet
to help ensure the health of mom and baby throughout the nine months of
- vitamin C
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- iron-rich foods
- adequate fat
A simple way to
satisfy your nutritional needs during pregnancy is to eat a variety of foods
from each of the food groups every day.
Many women are concerned about
how much weight they will gain during pregnancy. It’s important to maintain a
healthy weight gain. If your weight was in the normal range before you got
pregnant, a weight gain of 25-35 pounds is recommended. It’s important for a
woman to discuss and monitor her weight and nutritional needs with her doctor
throughout the pregnancy. Weight gain recommendations will vary for women who
are underweight before conceiving, for those who are obese, and for those with a multiple pregnancy (twins
What Not to Eat
To protect mom and baby from
bacteria or parasitic infection (Listeriosis), make sure that all
milk, cheese, and juice are pasteurized. Don’t eat meat from the deli counter
or hot dogs unless they are thoroughly heated. Also avoid refrigerated, smoked
seafood and undercooked meat, poultry, and seafood. If you have had a history
of allergies, speak to your doctor about any foods to avoid.
While most nutrients needed
during pregnancy should come from food, prenatal vitamin supplements do
play an important role. Pregnant women are often too busy to plan three
nutrient-filled meals every day, and a vitamin supplement can provide the extra
nutrition that the developing fetus needs.
Folic acid (folate) is a B vitamin
that has been found to be a very important supplement for
pregnant women. Folic acid supplements taken several weeks prior to pregnancy
and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy have been found to lower the risk of
having a child with a neural tube defect by approximately 75 percent.
Most prenatal vitamins
contain one milligram of folic acid and may be used as a source of folic acid.
It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking a prenatal supplement.
exercise is not only considered safe for pregnant women, it’s encouraged and
thought to benefit both mom and growing baby. Exercising 30 minutes a day is
proven to help circulation, strengthen muscles, and decrease stress. However,
it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise regime,
particularly if you are in a high-risk category. For women who were not
physically active before getting pregnant, talk with your doctor about what
exercise you can do during your pregnancy.
For the majority of normal
pregnancies, exercise can:
muscles and endurance
- relieve constipation
Aerobic exercises, such as
walking, jogging and swimming, stimulate the heart and lungs as well as muscle and joint activity, which help to
process and utilize oxygen. Aerobic activity also improves circulation, and
increases muscle tone and strength.
There are many exercise classes
designed specifically for pregnant women that help to build strength, improve
posture and alignment, and promote better circulation and respiration.
Squatting and Kegel exercises should be added to the exercise
routine. Kegel exercises focus on the vaginal and
perineal muscles. The exercise is done in the same way a woman stops and starts
the flow of urine. The perineal muscle is tightened for a count of three and
then the muscle is slowly relaxed. The period of time the muscle is contracted
can be increased over time as muscle control becomes easier. Relaxing the
perineal muscles can help during the birth of the baby. Kegel exercises are
thought to help women maintain good muscle tone and control in the perineal
area, which can aid in delivery and recovery after birth.
Cutting out Bad Habits
lifestyle choices will directly impact the health of a growing fetus. It’s
important to cut out bad habits like smoking and alcohol consumption. These
have been linked to serious complications and risks for both mother and baby.
Drinking alcohol during
pregnancy is associated with a wide range of problems in the developing baby.
Any alcohol that is consumed by the mother enters the fetal bloodstream in
approximately the same concentrations as in the mother’s bloodstream. Heavy
drinking throughout pregnancy can result in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS),
which produces infants that are:
high mortality rate
consumption during pregnancy can also lead to complications including:
labor and delivery
problems in childhood
While there’s no
evidence that any cigarette smoking done before a pregnancy has started will
harm a developing baby, there is plenty of proof that smoking during pregnancy
is hazardous. Smoking affects blood flow and oxygen delivery to a baby,
smoking is the single most common cause of low birth-weight babies, which in
turn is the most common cause of death and illness in the first few weeks of
life. Smoking is also linked to a wide variety of pregnancy complications,
labor and delivery
Getting Sick During Pregnancy
Besides all of the symptoms that
go along with pregnancy, pregnant women are more susceptible to certain
infections like the common cold or flu. A pregnant woman is more likely to become very ill if
she catches a cold or flu. Though such illnesses can make you feel very unwell,
most will not affect your developing baby.
Some of the more common illnesses include:
- stomach bug
to talk to your doctor about treatments that are safe to use for any illnesses
during pregnancy. Medications and supplements like aspirin and ibuprofen are
not recommended during pregnancy.
Prevention is the best way to
avoid getting sick. A healthy diet and exercise, as well as plenty of rest and
good hand washing or use of hand sanitizer should help to ensure good health. A
seasonal flu shot is the best line of defense during the flu season. It’s
recommended for those that will be in their second or third trimester during
this time. Pregnant women are at a much greater risk of developing
complications from both the seasonal flu virus, as well as from swine flu (H1N1).
There are some illnesses during
pregnancy that require more medical attention. Talk to your doctor if you have
a history of genital herpes, as there are
implications if you have an outbreak close to your due date.
Some women who have a history
of asthma may find that their symptoms worsen during
pregnancy. This is partly due to the increasing amounts of hormones in the
system, as well as the enlarging uterus, which presses up against the lungs and
restricts the amount of air left in your lungs after exhaling (residual capacity).
Pregnant women suffering with
asthma have a greater chance of developing preeclampsia. It may
cause premature delivery or birth defects to the baby. With good treatment,
asthma can be successfully controlled during pregnancy.