Taking care of yourself is important but during pregnancy it is vital for you and your unborn child. If you’re completely new to the whole pregnancy thing, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. There is so much information available, it can be confusing to know the best advice to follow. The most basic advice you probably already know. For example, no smoking, no alcohol or drugs, a healthy diet and as much rest as possible. Good prenatal care is also a must. However, you should start getting healthy before you become pregnant, for the best possible outcome.
There follows a list of things you should do as soon as you can.
Cut Out the Bad Habits
The most obvious of these are smoking, alcohol consumption and drug use. All of which have been linked to serious complications for baby and mother as well. For example, the consumption of alcohol has been linked with premature labor and delivery, miscarriage and stillbirth. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is also a possibility.
Smoking affects the unborn child because it impacts of blood flow and the baby’s oxygen delivery. This, in turn, affects the baby’s growth. A number of pregnancy complications are also linked with smoking. These include ectopic pregnancy, vaginal bleeding, premature placental detachment, labor and delivery.
Avoid Getting Sick if Possible
During pregnancy, your immune system is low which means you’re more susceptible to certain illnesses such as colds, flu, upset stomach and a runny nose. These types of infection will not affect your baby but will make you feel very unwell. Many of the medications you might want to take are not recommended for pregnant women. You should check with your doctor before taking anything. The best course of action is to try and avoid getting sick. This requires plenty of exercise, a healthy diet, lots of rest and regularly washing your hands.
This applies equally, whether you are pregnant or not. However, now that you’re pregnant this doesn’t mean you have to eat for two. You will have to make every calorie count though. Don’t forget your five a day. At least five portions of fruit and vegetables are important as part of your balanced diet. Carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and rice should make up a little over a third of your daily intake. Choosing wholegrain alternatives will ensure plenty of fiber is in your diet. Protein, in the form of cooked fish, eggs, lean meat, beans, pulses and nuts should be included. Along with dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. Fish plays an important part in your diet because it is full of protein, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals. All these will help in the development of your baby’s nervous system. There is plenty of help online if you want an idea for a pregnancy diet.
Food Hygiene is Important
It is important that you wash utensils carefully and wash your hands regularly, especially after handling raw meat. Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove soil or dirt. Wear gloves when handling garden soil or cat litter. As well as practicing good food hygiene, there are also certain foods you should avoid. The risk of bacteria or parasites in such foods is high and therefore there is a health risk for your baby. The foods you should avoid include:
- Unpasteurized milk
- Soft cheese such as brie
- Blue-veined cheese such as Roquefort
- Undercooked ready meals
- Raw or undercooked meat
- Raw shellfish
- Cold cured meat
There are many benefits to regular exercise, for you and your baby. Good examples of gentle exercise include:
You should exercise regularly because it will help you maintain a healthy weight and make it easier to get back your shape when your baby is born. Exercise also helps you deal with the changes your body will undergo. These include the strain on your joints and the changes in your posture. You will be less at risk of any complications, and it will also help to boost your mood.
Pelvic floor exercises should form part of your regime. Your pelvic floor muscles are put under a lot of extra pressure during pregnancy and are likely to become weak. Strengthening your muscles will reduce the risk of developing stress incontinence.
Make Sure You Get Your Beauty Sleep
Pregnancy is likely to make you feel more tired than usual. As your baby grows inside you, it will become increasingly difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. A good way to sleep is with a pillow or two propped between your legs, behind your back, and under your belly. Some experts recommend lying on your left side as this helps blood flow to the placenta. However, it is advisable to check with your health care provider to see what they suggest.
Delegate the Chores
Hoorah, we hear many of you cheering. Certain everyday tasks may not be risky normally, but when you are pregnant, you should avoid exposing yourself to toxic chemicals, lifting heavy objects and contact with bacteria. Cross the following off your chores list.
- Using toxic chemicals such as cleaning products.
- Changing the kitty litter, as this exposes you to a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis.
- Climbing ladders or step stools
- Lifting heavy objects
Recognize the Symptoms of Labor
It can be confusing, trying to listen to and understand your body. Are there twinges you shouldn’t worry about? When is it time to get in the car and sign in at the local hospital? Some of the symptoms you should be looking out for are: strong cramps, any kind of pain, dizziness or fainting, contractions at 20-minute intervals, vaginal bleeding, nausea or vomiting and trouble walking.
It’s important you take care of yourself, from the moment you realize you’re pregnant until delivery day and beyond. If you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to take care of your baby. There are some women that say they have never felt better than when they are pregnant. However, for most, certain steps have to be taken in order to feel as healthy as possible.