Even before you get pregnant, start taking prenatal vitamins. Cut out alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and consider cutting back on sodas and sugar. Once you think you are pregnant, a visit to your OB/GYN, obstetrician, family practitioner or certified midwife will confirm it and ensure you are getting adequate care. According to Kidshealth.org, your physician may screen for potential health issues that could complicate a pregnancy. If you are indeed pregnant, he or she will also schedule regular prenatal visits in order to keep tabs on your pregnancy’s progress.
Once you become pregnant, you need to eat around 300 extra calories per day (or more if you are carrying multiples). This is especially true as your pregnancy progresses. Your diet should contain lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, and dairy products that are low in fat. Some women may believe that because they are taking prenatal vitamins, they are exempt from needing to eat as many nutrient-packed foods. While the vitamins help ensure you are getting enough nutrients such iron and folic acid, they are not intended to replace healthy meals.<u>
Extra fluid intake is important because a woman’s blood volume increases a lot during pregnancy and requires more water to sustain hydration. Drinking plenty of water each day can help prevent common pregnancy-related problems such as dehydration and constipation.<u>
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Low-impact activities such as swimming and yoga are particularly beneficial because they may be more comfortable to a pregnant woman and because they carry less injury risks. After the first trimester it’s advised you refrain from abdominal exercises and floor exercises done on your back. Check with your health care provider what you can safely do.
Pregnant women should get plenty of sleep. Some doctors will tell pregnant women to sleep on their left side, as this is the best way to maintain the best blood flow to the placenta and keeps the fetus from lying on a large blood vessel on the right side of the body.<u>
What to Avoid</u>
Alcohol: No one has determined how much alcohol is “safe” to consume during pregnancy. It has been linked to mental and physical birth defects in a new baby, among other problems, and should be avoided.Drugs: Recreational drug use during pregnancy puts an unborn baby at risk for drug addiction, underdevelopment, premature birth, birth defects, and behavior and learning problems. Even some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can be harmful. Ask your health care provider which medicines and supplements should be avoided during pregnancy.
Nicotine: Smoking during pregnancy can lead to stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and other respiratory issues.
Caffeine: High caffeine consumption may be linked to a higher risk of miscarriage, so avoiding or limiting it as part of your diet can help reduce these risks. Certain foods: There is a long list of foods that pregnant women should avoid in order to prevent damage to the fetus, including soft cheeses, smoked seafood and raw eggs.