Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it is also a time to be focused on staying healthy—not only for you, but also for the child who is growing within you. It is possible to take care of both yourself and your baby while also keeping the costs down.
Before the baby comes—and if possible, before you become pregnant—talk to your doctor about your health status, and get information on how to stay healthy during your pregnancy. Your health care provider may suggest vaccines. Some of the common vaccines for pregnant women are pertussis (whooping cough) and the common flu shot. You may also need to get a vaccine for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or meningococcal disease. Talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you.
Another area of health to focus on is your diet, as this is how you and your baby get nutrients. Make sure that you properly clean your food and cook it thoroughly to remove any harmful bacteria. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the normal weight gain for a healthy pregnant woman is about 25 to 35 pounds, and pregnant women typically need only an extra 300 calories per day. Instead of junk food, eat foods that are high in protein and low in fat and sugar.
In addition, be sure to take prenatal vitamins, such as copper, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and zinc. DHA is thought to assist with your baby’s brain development, though it is not necessary. Your doctor may offer you a prescription prenatal, but it may be more expensive.
There is also a free app available for both Android devices and iPhone, called MyPlate Calorie Tracker, which provides a personalized nutrition plan. You can also create a SuperTracker profile. Just enter a few details about you and your pregnancy, and SuperTracker will not only tell you how many calories to eat, but also how much fruit, vegetables, grains, and protein are recommended for your diet.
Exercise is also crucial to having a healthy and successful pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before you start any workout regimen, and consider your previous workout regimen before becoming pregnant. Some benefits of exercising include easing back pain, boosting mood and energy, and preventing excess weight gain. It is recommended that you do about 30 minutes of moderate exercise almost every day of the week, if possible. If you didn’t work out frequently before your pregnancy, start out slowly. Both cardio and strength training are good, but be careful to not lift weights that are too heavy.
While pregnant, it is wise to abstain from certain exercise activities. Avoid activities where falling is more likely and anything that might cause abdominal trauma including: jarring motions, contact sports, rapid changes in direction, extensive jumping, hopping, skipping or bounding, anything that involves bouncing while stretching, waist-twisting movements while standing, intense bursts of exercise followed by long periods of no activity, or exercise in hot weather. Check with your doctor before you begin working out to create a workout plan that is safe and healthy for you and your baby.
Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking while pregnant. If you drink alcohol during your pregnancy, you run the risk of disabilities known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). These include physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. Smoking is not only a risk to the mother’s health, but to the baby’s as well. Smoking during your pregnancy could lead to premature birth, certain birth defects, and infant death. It can also cause problems with the placenta and can lead to a low birth weight.
If you want to stay on track during your pregnancy, apps such as My Pregnancy & Baby Today (Android, iPhone) and I’m Expecting – Pregnancy (Android, iPhone) will guide you throughout your nine-month journey. You can use these apps as a resource for any questions you may have and have fun seeing how your child is growing!
By Ingrid Skop, M.D.