How to have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a happy little one? Here are 17 ways to ensure the normal course of pregnancy.
Stay in perfect health during the gestation period with the help of these simple tips.
If you’re planning a pregnancy, trying to conceive, or are already pregnant, you most probably know the basics of looking after yourself at this time: no smoking, no alcohol, lots of rest. There are a few other things which help you to have a healthy pregnancy.
#1. Take prenatal vitamins
It’d be a wise decision to start taking prenatal vitamins when you’re still trying to conceive. The baby’s brain and spinal cord begin their development since the first days of pregnancy, that’s why it’s important that your body receives the necessary vitamins and trace elements, such as folic acid, calcium, and iron.
You can buy prenatal vitamins in any drugstore. Don’t forget to consult a doctor first: they’ll consider all the options of vitamin complexes and recommend you the best one. Remember that vitamin excess is sometimes more dangerous than its deficiency. That’s why it’s important that a medical expert monitors vitamins intake during pregnancy. If you feel slightly nauseous after taking vitamins, try to take them before going to bed or after a snack. You can also try to ease the feeling of sickness with chewing gum or a peppermint.
#2. Do sports
Most future mothers should stay active. Regular physical exercises will help you control your weight, improve blood circulation, bring you good mood and sound sleep. Besides, if doing exercises becomes your habit, you’ll be a good example for your child after you give birth.
Pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking are among the best choices of physical activities for pregnant women. However, you should consult a doctor before establishing any training schedule. Attempt to exercise for at least half an hour as many times a week as possible. Pay attention to your body, do only those exercises you are able to do. Don’t overexert yourself.
#3. Make a childbirth plan
Do you want a doula to help you in childbirth? Are you planning to use epidural anesthesia? Make a list of your requests and give everyone who is going to take part in the delivery of the baby a copy. Here are a few things you should mention in your childbirth plan:
- Who is going to be there for your childbirth? Include your partner, family, close friends who you’d like to see;
- A list of procedures you’d like to avoid;
- The clothes you want to wear during childbirth;
- Do you want to make a certain atmosphere? Choose the music and lighting;
- Will you need anesthetics? And, if so, which ones?
#4. Study useful information
Even if it’s not your first pregnancy, attend the courses for future mothers – it’ll help you to feel ready for childbirth. You’ll be able to not only learn a lot about childbirth and breastfeeding, but also ask any question you’re currently interested in and share all of your concerns. The courses will make it possible for you to connect with other future moms and medical staff.
You should have a look at your family’s medical history as well. Talk to your doctor about any problems you had during your previous pregnancies and tell them if there were cases of birth defects in your family.
#5. Do Kegel exercise
This exercise strengthens pelvic floor muscles which support your bladder, intestine, and uterus. Doing this simple intimate gymnastics will make labor pains more tolerable and prevent enuresis. You can perform Kegel exercise everywhere – no one will notice. Try doing it while standing in a queue, reading a book or sitting at your desk at work. The method isn’t complicated:
- Clench your intimate muscles as if you’re trying to hold a stream of urine. Wait for three seconds, then relax;
- Do the exercise 10 times.
#6. Change some of your household habits
Even the simplest of your usual house chores can be risky during pregnancy: for example, cleaning the bathroom or cat litter box. The influence of toxic chemicals, lifting heavy objects or contact with bacteria can be harmful to you and your baby. Here are some chores you shouldn’t be doing during pregnancy (oh, yeah!):
- Heavy lifting;
- Climbing up the stairs;
- Cleaning cat litter box (if possible);
- Usage of aggressive detergents;
- Standing for a long period of time (so, let your partner help you cooking).
Besides, don’t forget to wear rubber gloves while cleaning and wash your hands thoroughly after dealing with pets or cooking raw meat.
#7. Monitor your weight gain
Of course, now you need more food than before pregnancy. However, you may have a hard time getting rid of excess pounds after childbirth. At the same time, insufficient weight gain can lead to your baby being underweight – and this is one of the main causes of developmental problems. Your doctor should inform you about healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
#8. Buy new footwear
Pregnancy is a great time for shopping! The bigger your belly becomes, the more weight is pressing on your feet. It happens because pregnancy weight gain changes your center of gravity. It can lead to foot ache, edema, and sometimes to flatfoot. In order to prevent such problems, wear comfortable shoes which provide your feet with necessary support. Give preference to footwear with orthopedic insoles. The outsoles shouldn’t slide. A lot of future mothers find out that their foot size has changed – so, don’t be surprised if your usual size has become too small.
#9. Change some of your favorite beauty procedures
You shouldn’t forget to pamper yourself with beauty procedures during pregnancy, but be careful: avoid hot baths and saunas because they can lead to overheating. Besides, some essential oils cause contractions, especially during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. Consult an expert to make sure your beauty salon uses only safe products.
The taboos list includes:
- Clary cage.
#10. Eat food rich in folic acid
Folic acid is vital for the development of your baby’s neural tube which covers the spinal cord and is necessary for the production of red blood cells. At the stage of planning a pregnancy, you should include the products which contain folic acid in your diet: cereals, asparagus, lentils, oranges and orange juice.
#11. Replace junk food with fruit
Doctors usually recommend limiting the amount of caffeine during pregnancy because it can have a negative influence on you and your unborn child. Some of the mothers-to-be face a real challenge following this particular piece of advice, especially those who can’t imagine their morning without a cup of coffee. It’s also necessary to limit the consumption of sugar and baked food. To make it easier for you to abandon your favorite treats for a time, try to replace them with fruit. There are not only lots of vitamins but also natural sugar which helps to replenish your energy during the day.
#12. Eat fish
Scientists have proved that the kids whose mothers ate a lot of fish during pregnancy have higher IQ, motoric and communicative skills than their peers whose mothers didn’t eat fish. This curious fact can be explained by the high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids in fish – these nutritious substances are necessary for brain development. However, you should take into consideration that some kinds of fish contain quicksilver which is dangerous for the mother and her child.
It’s best to give preference to:
It’s better to avoid:
- King mackerel;
There is a high amount of quicksilver in these species.
#13. Use sunscreen
Your skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight during pregnancy, so you’re more prone to sunburn and pigmentation. Use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). Don’t also forget to wear a hat and sunglasses when you’re exposed to sunlight.
#14. Be cautious about flying while pregnant
Book the tickets if you need, but make sure to take some reasonable precautions. Experts say that the best time for flying while pregnant is the middle of pregnancy (weeks 14-28). By this time your morning sickness will have ceased, and the risk of a miscarriage or premature birth is not high at this stage. However, consult a doctor before going on a journey and check if the airline company has any restrictions considering pregnant women. Drink lots of water onboard in order to maintain normal water balance, and walk the aisle from time to time. It’ll help to minimize the possibility of thrombosis.
#15. Say “yes” to delicacies sometimes
Frankly speaking, no one knows why pregnant women crave strange things. Some experts claim that this is the way of your body to “tell” you about the particular nutrients deficiency. For example, if you desperately want ice-cream it is possible that your calcium is low. Other experts think it depends on the emotional state of a future mom. Even if you follow a healthy pregnancy diet, you may have a treat from time to time – there will be no harm done. But be careful – don’t overeat and learn which snacks are strictly forbidden.
Here are some of the products you’d better avoid:
- Insufficiently prepared meat and eggs;
- Unpasteurized cheese;
- Herbal teas.
#16. Know when to call your doctor
You’re often confused by what you feel during pregnancy, especially if it’s your first child. How do you know which unpleasant sensations are normal and which of them mean you are in need of medical attention? Health professionals advise calling your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Severe pain of any nature;
- Contractions with 20-minute intervals;
- Vaginal bleeding;
- Strong dizziness, fainting;
- Difficulties breathing;
- Increased heartbeat;
- Constant vomiting;
- Severe edema;
- Your baby has stopped moving.
#17. Pamper yourself
It seems that you have a lot of things to do at the time, but when the baby is born you won’t have much time to yourself. So, use your free time wisely. A manicure, a nice long walk or a slumber party – whatever makes you happy and helps you deal with stress is great for you and your baby right now.