Baby yourself: How to prepare for a healthy pregnancy, By Happy Everett, clinical manager of Labor & Delivery
Pregnancy is a time of joy, excitement and nervousness for many women. Want to ensure your pregnancy is the healthiest it can be? Here are some tips to help you on this wonderful journey!
The best thing you can do for you and your baby is to get good prenatal care. Your doctor will give you guidance on your body changes that will occur. He/she can also answer questions so you will know what is normal and what is not.
Eat a healthy diet and take daily prenatal vitamins. A growing baby requires certain nutrients. Calcium, folic acid and iron are the three must-have nutrients during pregnancy, especially during the time of conception. Your baby's brain and spinal cord develops within the first month of pregnancy so proper vitamin intake is essential. Also, be sure to speak to your doctor for guidance on foods that are not to be eaten while pregnant but do try new things – you may discover that your taste for certain foods has changed. Pregnant women should also add 300-500 calories a day to their diet.
Stay physically fit. Physical activity helps to keep the heart, bones and mind healthy. You should get up to 30 minutes a day of physical activity. Try a prenatal yoga class – it will help you learn how to breathe deeply and relax, which will help you during the labor and delivery process, and keeps you limber and flexible. You may even make some new friends and create a sense of community with other moms-to-be. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Do not smoke or drink alcohol while pregnant. This may sound like common sense, but many women think it's okay to “sneak” one or two here and there. There have been some studies that show a glass of wine or a beer during pregnancy is okay but we encourage you to err on the side of caution. A cigarette is not only harmful to your health, it could also affect the health of your baby. Second-hand smoke is equally as dangerous. If you live with a smoker or your family members smoke indoors, be sure to avoid that environment. Remember, when you drink alcohol or inhale smoke, so does your baby so be sure to keep your baby safe from the effects.
Register for baby-preparation classes. There are many classes available to help families prepare for the arrival of the little one. Classes include topics such as baby CPR, diaper changing, breastfeeding and introducing pets to newborns. Most classes are free of charge or are available for a small fee at Roper St. Francis Healthcare. Take advantage of these opportunities so you are trained and prepared when your baby arrives.
If worried, call. When you are pregnant, do not hesitate to call your doctor or midwife if something is bothering or worrying you. Hair loss, weight loss, excessive weight gain… these are a few things that worry moms-to-be but can easily be addressed. Remember, your doctor is there to help you so if you have any questions, be sure to call him/her. Sometimes physical changes can be signs of a problem.
Becoming a first-time parent – or welcoming a new addition to your family – can be overwhelming. The best tip of all is to rely on your doctor and his/her guidance. The advice and direction they can provide will help you through the transition, help to keep your baby healthy and safe, and help to keep you healthy, too.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare