Below is a brief review of some key issues important for a healthy pregnancy. For answers to nearly all of your questions about you or your baby's health, a comprehensive library of health information, the latest news on pregnancy-related issues, you can visit the Pregnancy Health Page.
Life Style Changes
Prenatal care is very important during pregnancy. One important step a woman can take during her pregnancy is to keep her scheduled appointments with her doctor. Additional life-style changes include:
- Not smoking and avoiding alcohol, which can cause birth defects and increase the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome.
- Check with your OB provider before taking prescription and non-prescription medications or herbal supplements.
- Eating well and including lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet
Keeping yourself physically fit during pregnancy is always important. Moderate physical activity during pregnancy is now considered not only safe, but also extremely beneficial for most expectant mothers and their babies. Studies show that physically fit women have shorter labors and less risk of Cesearean delivery. In addition, exercise can also:
- Strengthen the muscles used in labor and delivery
- Improve your posture and relieve discomforts associated with pregnancy including back pain, constipation and leg cramps
- Prepare you for labor by increasing your endurance and building stamina
- Leave you in better shape after your baby is born
Be sure to check with your OB provider first to make sure that exercise is safe for your particular pregnancy. A variety of exercises that are beneficial include walking, swimming in shallow water, cycling on a stationary bike, calisthenics designed especially for pregnancy, golfing and relaxation routines.
Pregnancy is a special time in a woman's life. One of the best things you can do for you and your baby is to eat healthy nutritious foods. What you eat must supply enough protein, vitamins, minerals and calories for you and your developing baby. Even though you are "eating for two", that doesn't mean double the food.
Even when you eat a well-balanced diet and choose all of the servings from the food Pyramid-Guide, it is sometimes hard to get enough vitamins and minerals during your pregnancy. Your OB provider may ask you to take prenatal vitamins in addition to eating a well balanced diet.
Good nutrition and a steady, slow weight gain are a very important part of having a healthy baby. A normal weight gain during pregnancy is 25-35 pounds for most women. Weight gain is different for every woman. Your OB provider will help you determine how much weight gain is appropriate for you.
Nausea is more likely to happen when your stomach is empty. Eat something as soon as you wake up. Have small, frequent snacks (try crackers or fruit) and avoid hunger. Avoid taking liquids with meals. Instead, sip liquids slowly through the day (1/2 cup every hour between meals). An acupressure wristband may also help. You can buy this at a sporting goods store.
Constipation or Hemorrhoids
Eat plenty of fiber rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, bran flakes and legumes (beans, peas). Drink at least seven to eight glasses of liquid daily. Add high fiber foods to your diet slowly. Do some moderate exercise daily (check with your doctor first).
Bloating, Excess Gas or "Heartburn"
Avoid carbonated beverages (i.e. soda pop), gas-producing foods (cabbage, onions, beans), high fat and fried foods. Eat slowly with small, frequent meals and avoid eating 1 to 2 hours before going to bed or lying down. Ask your doctor about Tums or other calcium carbonate supplements.
Satisfy food cravings with crunchy foods like fruits and vegetables. If you crave non-food items (like starch, clay or ice) discuss this with your doctor.
Swelling or Water Retention
Avoid high salt foods, but do not eliminate salt from your diet. Put your feet up. Make sure your clothes are not too tight. If you are having these discomforts, talk to your doctor.