As you wait for that little bundle of joy to appear, remember that he needs you as much during the pregnancy as he will after the birth. Use common sense, practice a healthy lifestyle, and listen to your doctor during your pregnancy to help ensure that your healthy pregnancy produces a healthy baby.
Practice Healthy Eating
What you consume and how much of it is important during your pregnancy, as your baby’s sole source of nutrition comes from the foods that you eat. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends you consume an additional 300 calories per day during your pregnancy. Consult your physician if you are pregnant with multiples.
Your daily diet should consist of seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables, six to nine servings of whole-grains or cereals, four or more servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy items and 60 grams (g) of protein. Avoid eating undercooked meats or fish, and do not eat fish that contain high levels of mercury, such as shark or swordfish.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking water helps to carry the nutrients from the foods that you eat to your baby and helps to prevent other medical conditions, such as excessive swelling or urinary tract infections. Pregnant women need six 8-oz. glasses of water per day, plus an additional 8-oz. glass of water for each hour of exercise or other activity.
Several studies have had conflicting results in what a safe amount of caffeine is, so you may want to avoid it altogether. Always avoid alcohol, as it can slow down your baby’s growth, cause a number of birth defects and even lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Take Your Vitamins
Even if you eat a healthy diet during your pregnancy, you may fall short on certain vitamins and nutrients. Prenatal vitamins are a sure-fire way to fill any gaps, as they contain additional amounts of much-needed folic acids, calcium and iron. Folic acids help to prevent neural tube defects, calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth for both you and your baby, and iron helps the development of blood and muscle cells. The Mayo Clinic suggests that prenatal vitamins may also reduce the risk of low birth weight.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises that regular exercise of 30 minutes per day may help to alleviate some of the more undesirable side effects of pregnancy. In addition to promoting muscle tone, strength and endurance, regular exercise may help to reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling. It also increases your energy, promotes better sleep and improves your overall mood and posture. As you gain weight during the pregnancy, your body has to work harder to produce a sufficient flow of blood and oxygen. Doctors recommend participating in moderate exercise, like walking, swimming or yoga.
See Your Doctor Regularly
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends beginning prenatal medical care before you conceive or as soon as you know you are pregnant. Your doctor will assess any pregnancy up-front pregnancy risks, based on your medical history and order blood tests to screen for a variety of conditions. Visit your doctor once a month for the first four months and then once every two to three weeks until week 37. From week 38 until you deliver, plan to see your doctor once a week.
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