From the moment you become pregnant, it’s common to have dozens of questions flood your mind. From what you can eat and what activities to avoid to how to sleep and how much weight you’ll gain, the thought of a nine-month pregnancy can be overwhelming.
We’re here to guide you through this process, providing you with tips on how to keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy.
Growing a baby is hard work, and there’s no need to make your pregnancy more difficult than it needs to be. By following some of these easy tips, you can position yourself for a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Your body is constantly burning through energy at all hours of the day. Feeling zapped of energy is common, and exercising is probably the last thing you want to do while pregnant.
But, you should incorporate exercise into your weekly routine as much as you can. Strive for 150 minutes per week. This sounds like a lot, but the activity can be as simple as walking in your neighborhood for 20 minutes or so each night.
Most activities are safe during pregnancy. However, avoid any type of contact sport that could put your abdomen at risk. Don’t skydive or do anything that could increase your risk of falling (gymnastics, cycling, surfing, skiing, etc.) and avoid hot yoga or hot pilates so you don’t overheat.
Take a daily prenatal vitamin to get the recommended nutrients your baby needs to grow and stay strong. Prenatal vitamins contain many beneficial nutrients, including folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects and iron to aid in placenta and fetus development.
There are many prenatal vitamins to choose from at your local pharmacy. Ask your doctor which prenatal vitamin they recommend. In addition to folic acid and iron, look for a prenatal vitamin with vitamin D to help with bone development. Vitamins A, B, C, and E, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial ingredients to look for.
Any alcohol you consume is passed on to your baby through the umbilical cord. Drinking alcohol before or during a pregnancy can lead to a litany of complications.
In more severe cases, you may put yourself at risk for a miscarriage or stillbirth. Your child may also develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) or have other birth defects or damage.
The same can be said for tobacco use, especially smoking during pregnancy. Smoking can cause premature birth, birth defects, or stillbirth. Talk to your doctor if you need assistance stopping drinking or smoking while e pregnant.
While you should eliminate alcohol and tobacco, you don’t have to entirely give up caffeine during pregnancy. Limit your intake to one 12-ounce cup of coffee per day. Caffeine is a stimulant and increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to birth defects.
Vaccines can help prevent or limit the severity of developing illnesses during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about receiving the flu vaccine and Tdap (tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis), which protects you against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). You can receive a flu shot at any point before or during your pregnancy. A Tdap vaccine can be administered during the third trimester.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant people have compromised immune systems and are more susceptible to becoming ill.
Pregnancy cravings are real. Whether it’s a midnight run to the store for ice cream or randomly snacking on a pickle in the middle of the day, it’s hard to predict what your brain will want you to eat next.
These cravings are largely a result of hormones and a heightened sense of smell. While treating yourself is fine in moderation, you should strive for an overall balanced diet during pregnancy.
You don’t need a diet, per say. Instead, focus on eating whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. Limit your intake of processed foods, fatty proteins, and added sugars. Limiting sugary and fatty foods will help keep you at a healthy weight.
Eating whole foods will give your baby the nutrients they need to grow. If you’re used to eating white pasta, white rice, and white bread, try swapping out these refined grains for whole-grain varieties.
For those with a sweet tooth, fruits such as strawberries, grapes, oranges, and pineapple can satisfy your cravings without having to venture into the cookie jar or ice cream container.
When choosing dairy products, opt for reduced-fat or low-fat options to save on the saturated fat. You’ll still receive the vitamins without the added fat and calories.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends pregnant women eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week. Seafood has fatty acids that help promote brain development. Avoid fish high in mercury though, as this metal can hinder your baby’s natural development. Fish high in mercury include bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, shark, swordfish, and tilefish.
The best choices for seafood include shrimp, tilapia, salmon, oysters, catfish, cod, and canned light tuna.
Your immune system becomes weaker while you’re pregnant, putting you and your baby at risk of foodborne illnesses. The following are food tips to keep you healthy:
- Ensure proteins, including meat, poultry, and eggs, are cooked to their recommended temperatures.
- Cook your steaks to 145 F and avoid eating them rare.
- Avoid raw milk, juices, and cheeses as they are unpasteurized and could contain harmful bacteria.
- Avoid raw fish such as sushi or raw oysters.
- Don’t eat deli meat or hot dogs unless they have been reheated to 165 F.
- Avoid raw sprouts. They could contain salmonella, listeria, and E. coli.
The words gaining weight and healthy aren’t typically viewed in a positive light. That is unless you’re pregnant.
Weight gain is normal during pregnancy — after all, you’re growing another human. Healthy weight gain will allow for a smoother delivery and a healthier baby. Not gaining enough weight could result in a small baby that is more likely to have illnesses or developmental delays. But gaining too much weight can lead to gestational diabetes, delivery problems, childhood obesity and, later down the road, heighten your risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
How much weight you should gain during your pregnancy depends on your starting body mass index (BMI). The following figures are recommended weight gain amounts, according to the CDC.
- Underweight (BMI less than 18.5): 28-40 pounds
- Normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9): 25-35 pounds
- Overweight (BMI 25-29.9): 15-25 pounds
- Obese (BMI over 30): 11-20 pounds
Typically, you should gain anywhere from 1 to 4 pounds during the first trimester, then 2 to 4 pounds each month after. The weight gain amounts to 340 additional calories per day during your second trimester and about 450 more calories per day during your third trimester.
Here are a few more common questions first-time mothers have about pregnancy. For more specific questions about various cosmetic and skin care dos and don’ts, read our blog on beauty myths for pregnant women.
Morning sickness, also known as nausea and vomiting during your pregnancy, typically begins before nine weeks. Although it can last for months or for the entire pregnancy, most women see morning sickness symptoms dwindle around 14 weeks.
The length and duration of symptoms also vary for each pregnancy. Some women only feel nauseous while others may vomit several times a day.
The more weight you gain, the more this topic becomes relevant. Sleeping on your stomach or back in the first trimester may not cause any problems, but you should avoid these positions during the second and third trimester. Instead, sleep on your side with a pillow in between your knees and under your belly for added support.
Sleeping on your back increases the risk of compressing blood vessels responsible for delivering blood to the uterus. It can also place unnecessary stress on your spine and back muscles. Weakness in your back muscles may place stress on the sciatic nerve, which is common during pregnancy. Here are some tips to help ease your sciatic pain.
As your baby grows, the weight of your uterus can decrease blood flow and cause varicose veins on your legs. These veins appear swollen and blue. While unsightly, varicose veins usually go away after birth.
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent varicose veins, but you ease the swelling and soreness by exercising and moving around to avoid long sedentary periods. When sitting, don’t cross your legs for an extended period and make sure to prop your legs up on a footstool or ottoman. You can also wear a support hose to increase the blood flow in your legs.
If you recently became pregnant or have future plans to become pregnant, now is the time to start thinking about lifestyle changes you should make to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Discuss any questions or concerns you have with your OBGYN. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.