Pregnancy and the first few weeks of an infant’s life historically were once a dangerous time for mother and baby. Today, with the knowledge about how to have a healthy pregnancy, the risk of pregnancy-related deaths has decreased a staggering 99 percent, according to a report produced by National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion since 1900. For the most part, the standard healthy pregnancy guidelines followed by most doctors are simple, yet have a hugely positive impact on the health of the mother and the baby.
The moment you find out you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, call your doctor to start your prenatal care. Starting around 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy, your doctor will schedule you for multiple office visits to monitor your pregnancy right up until you give birth. These visits allow your doctor to monitor the growth and health of the baby as well as your health. Some visits will include blood tests and ultrasounds to help detect any health issues early, which often allows doctors to prevent serious complications.
Extra healthy calories–such as lean meats and veggies and prenatal vitamins are recommended for pregnant moms. You need about 300 more calories a day to provide for your growing fetus. The vitamins in formulated prenatal vitamins, in particular folic acid, have proven to prevent many deformities, such as spinal bifida, according to the Healthy Kids website. Good nutrition starts before you are pregnant and is just as vital in the first three months of pregnancy as in the second and third trimester.
Even if morning sickness has you dreading getting out of bed or off the couch in early pregnancy, and when moving becomes more cumbersome in late pregnancy, regular exercise is still important for a healthy pregnancy. Low-impact exercise, such as walking, water aerobics or yoga, helps you maintain a healthy weight and makes labor easier. Ask your doctor first what types of exercises are best for you during pregnancy.
What Not To Do
Several leading health organizations, such as the March of Dimes, recommend that you do not drink any alcohol, smoke or take illegal drugs as these can all lead to many serious problems for mom and baby. Advice about whether caffeine during pregnancy is OK differs. Large amounts of caffeine have been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage during early pregnancy, states the Healthy Kids website. Pregnant women are more susceptible to food-borne illnesses, making consumption of raw meats and unpasteurized foods risky and, therefore, should be avoided during pregnancy. Also, due to high levels of mercury that could affect baby’s brain development, do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish or tuna.
Risks of an Unhealthy Pregnancy
The healthy pregnancy guidelines established by the many pregnancy-related organizations have shown to improve your chances of delivering a healthy baby without serious complications. The March of Dimes states that women who get prenatal care are less likely to have a premature baby or any other pregnancy complications. Risks of not eating right or exercising, or consuming forbidden items, such as nicotine or alcohol, range from developing prenatal diabetes to birth defects.
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