Pregnancy is a magical time, and not just because your swelling belly (and feet) give you the excuse to buy new clothes and shoes! Of course, you can only have a magical pregnancy keeping yourself and your baby safe & hale-and-hearty. Try the following to help keep your pregnancy heathy:
The idea of giving birth can be scary, especially if you're a first time mom. Not only don't you know what to expect, but you feel powerless. Take your power back by being proactive and planning your baby’s birth. Write down things you can control when you give birth, like what clothes you want to wear, what pain medicines you would like (if any), and any special requests such as what music you want it to be played in the delivery room. Pass this plan out to your family and friends so that they know what you want if they are with you when you go into labor. While you can’t count on everything going according to plan (you might go into labor anywhere), creating a plan will make you feel proactive and relieve some of the stress associated with giving birth.
Take prenatal vitamins
If possible, you should start taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant because your baby’s brain begins to develop during the first month after conception-before you even know you are pregnant. Prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, which reduces the likelihood of your baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. They also contain Vitamin D, which is critical to your baby developing healthy bones. Vitamin D is also good for your bones-which will need become stronger to carry the extra weight you will gain as your baby develops.
Learn about your pregnancy
Your body is going to go through a lot of changes, and the best way to deal with these changes is to learn about them. Take a birthing class to get the details about your pregnancy. You will also learn about what happens during birth, so you have an idea of what to expect. Not only will this reduce stress associated with pregnancy, it will also teach you safe practices for dealing with issues associated with pregnancy.
Say yes to cravings
Doctors don’t know what causes cravings: it could be your body’s way of telling you that you need additional nutrients or it could be an emotional reaction caused by your changing hormones. Either way, it’s ok to give in to these cravings (at least some of the time)-as long you are sure you're eating an otherwise healthy diet.
It’s natural to be nervous about giving birth and raising a child. It’s a life changing event! Despite this, it’s important to engage in breathing exercises and meditation in order to reduce stress. After all, stress is bad for your body and your mind.
Avoid dangerous foods
Some foods can have the listeria bacteria, which causes Listeriosis, a normally harmless infection. The listeria bacteria is rare, even in risky foods, but when you're pregnant, it’s best not to take the chance; even though Listeriosis usually can’t hurt you, it can do serious harm to you you and your baby. According to momooze you should avoid mould ripened cheeses like brie, uncooked TV dinners, and unpasteurized milk.
Things that you used to do without thinking may be hazardous to your baby’s health. After handling raw poultry or red meat, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands. Make sure that you wash your fruits and vegetables before you eat them and always wash your hands before you eat. When handling things with the potential to have a lot of bacteria, such as cat litter or garden soil, make sure to wear gloves and wash your hands when you are finished handling them.
Cut down on your vices
Most people know that you shouldn't smoke or do drugs when you're pregnant, but it’s also important to keep your alcohol use to a minimum. Alcohol can cross the brain-blood barrier, meaning when you drink alcohol, so does your baby. Since all alcohol functions as a minor brain poison (that’s why you feel drunk), it also poisons your baby’s mind. And since their mind is still developing, this could have long term effects on your child.
Carrying a baby is hard work, and your muscles are going to need to get stronger to accommodate the weight gain associated with pregnancy. Exercise also improves circulation, which reduces stress on your heart and gives your baby more oxygen. Finally, exercise helps your mood and reduces the likelihood of depression.
Get the inside scope
Learning about pregnancy and taking care of a baby from a class is important, as it will cover scientific changes to your body and give you expert advice about birth, but these classes may not cover everything about the birthing process. Get the information straight from the horse’s mouth by asking your family and friend’s about their own pregnancy experiences. Asking your mother is especially helpful, because she can give you insight onto any issues or problems that might run in your family.
Dr Aviva Hill Romm, Board Certified Family Physician, freelance editor and writer.