Now that you know you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally.
You can increase your chances of having a problem-free pregnancy and a healthy baby by following a few simple guidelines. Most importantly, you need to receive healthcare from a doctor or healthcare provider during your pregnancy (this kind of healthcare is called antenatal care). Many health problems in pregnant women can be prevented, detected and treated during antenatal care visits with trained health workers. Read on below to learn about other ways to keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy.
Exercise during pregnancy
Exercise will make you feel better and give you more energy. It can help to make you stronger and better able to handle delivery. If you do not exercise now, talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to start. Many women enjoy walking, swimming, yoga, and other moderate exercise while pregnant. And most women can continue moderate exercise throughout their pregnancy. Talk to a healthcare provider about what type of exercise is right for you.
Nutrition & diet during pregnancy
Once you become pregnant, you will need to eat about 100–300 more calories per day. Changing your eating habits during pregnancy can be made easier by first adding more healthy foods into your diet. Start by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. This will put you on the right track toward a more balanced diet that contains:
- A little more than half of what you eat should be carbohydrates (carbs). Try to get most of your carbs from whole grains, like whole grain bread and brown rice.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks like candy and soda.
- Protein helps the baby grow. Protein is found in meat and dairy products as well as tofu and beans.
- Fats help your body absorb vitamins. Most of us get enough fat in our diet. It is important during pregnancy to get fat from fish and vegetable sources.
- You can get fiber through fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Have at least 3–5 servings per day. Many women experience constipation when they are pregnant. Eating fiber can help you avoid constipation.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
Most healthcare providers tell women not to drink at all during pregnancy. There is no known safe amount you can drink during pregnancy. There is also no safe time to drink during pregnancy.
Women who drink put their babies at risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which can cause serious physical and developmental harm.
It is a good idea to cut down or stop drinking alcohol around the time you are trying to get pregnant. This is because you will not know right away that you are pregnant.
Smoking during pregnancy
Quitting smoking is a lifestyle change that can help everyone —women and men — improve their health.
Women who smoke:
- Take longer to get pregnant than nonsmokers.
- Have higher rates of miscarriage than nonsmokers.
- Expose the growing fetus to dangerous chemicals.
- Are more likely to have low birth weight babies with serious health problems.
Remember, “passive smoking,” or breathing secondhand smoke, can also have negative effects on pregnancy. If you live with someone who smokes, ask him or her to smoke outside.
Your iron requirements go up significantly when you’re pregnant. Unfortunately, most women start pregnancy without sufficient stores of iron to meet their body’s increased demands, particularly in the second and third trimesters. If you get to the point where you no longer have enough iron, you become anemic.
If you do become anemic, you might not have any symptoms at all, especially if your condition is mild. Or you might feel tired, weak, and dizzy. (Of course, these are symptoms that many women experience during pregnancy, anemic or not.) You might also notice that you’re paler (especially in your fingernails, the underside of your eyelids, and your lips). Other symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, irritability, and trouble concentrating.
Eating or drinking something rich in vitamin C, like orange or tomato juice, a handful of strawberries, sliced bell peppers, or half a grapefruit can help. Also, eating meat and fish is great! Most doctors will give women iron supplement vitamins during pregnancy. Visit a healthcare provider to receive supplementation and other care.