I know, there’s a ton of advice online. And a lot of it is good. But it all boils down to these 5 steps.
Ready? Here we go.
Step 1: Eat and Drink Right
What goes into your body goes into your baby.
That goes for all the good things—like vitamins and minerals from healthy food—as well as the bad. When you remember that your baby’s body is developing at rapid speed, every ingredient you share with him becomes super important.
Your new filter: “Is it good for the baby?”
If you’ve been looking for motivation to drop some bad habits, pregnancy could be it. Begin now to cut out all these harmful inputs:
- Alcohol (Spare your baby from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other problems)
- Drugs (Read this to learn why)
- Smoking (We explain why in this short post)
Nourish both of you
Instead, feed yourself and your baby with balanced meals that include the following:
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products (or non-dairy soy, almond, rice, or other drinks with added calcium and vitamin D)
- protein from healthy sources, like beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood (8 to 12 ounces per week), and unsalted nuts and seeds
And, like usual, drink plenty of water: about 8-10 glasses a day.
Prenatal vitamins are a must
Ask your doctor for pre-natal (“before birth”) vitamins. These will contain folic acid, a B vitamin your baby needs early in his development to form his healthy brain, spinal cord, and nervous system.
Step 2: Exercise Wisely
Regular exercise helps you maintain your strength & endurance now, and eases the work of getting back in shape after delivery. And, as always, exercise improves your mood, helps you sleep better, and prevents aches and pains.
But not all exercises are recommended during pregnancy. Some good exercises for pregnant moms are described here.
Kegel exercises are often recommended to help strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor, the muscles between your hips that support your abdominal organs. The Mayo Clinic describes how to do them in this helpful article.
Step 3: Get Enough Rest
Are you surprised at how tired you feel during pregnancy—even in the first trimester? Remember that your body is changing a lot to help the baby growing inside your womb. Hormonal changes, stretching to create space, and channeling nutrients to your child all affect your energy levels.
So, in effect, you’re “sleeping for two.”
One scientific study said getting more than six hours of sleep a night not only helps you feel less tired, it also helps ease labor and delivery.
So try these ways to get more rest:
- Put your feet up and relax occasionally during the day. (This helps keep feet and legs from swelling, too.)
- Nap when you can.
- Go to bed early each night to give yourself at least 7 hours of sleep.
Step 4: Avoid Environmental Dangers
Dangerous things outside you may be entering your body without your even thinking about them.
So we’ll flag them here to catch your attention:
- Cleaning chemicals. Common cleaners can contain toxic chemicals. Make the switch to safer alternatives now. These will be better to have around when your baby starts crawling and putting everything in his mouth, too!
- Hot tub/sauna. As little as 10-20 minutes in a hot tub or sauna can raise your body temperature past 101 degrees, which can endanger your little one’s developing brain and spine, according to Catherine Lynch, professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Best choice? Avoid them altogether, especially in the first 7 weeks of pregnancy.
- “Protecting yourself from the sun’s bright rays is especially important during pregnancy when your skin tends to be more sensitive than usual,” according to these experts. If you can’t stay inside between 10am and 4pm, they recommend using a sunscreen powered by zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
Step 5: Protect Your Emotional Health
During pregnancy, your mood can swing like a pendulum. Your hormones are changing, you’re more tired than usual, you may be excited and happy, and you’re probably thinking about how you’re going to raise this child. So no wonder!
When you’re feeling down, you may need to go easy on yourself. But be sure to seek help if negative feelings start to interfere with your daily life.
Here are some ways to protect your emotional health:
- Get out of an abusive relationship. (See this post for tips and solutions.)
- Hang with friends who build you up.
- Fight fear or worry with information. Take pregnancy and parenting classes, like those at Choices Pregnancy Center.
- Get support from mentors you trust. At Choices Pregnancy Center, or another center near you (look here to find one), there are caring women who have been where you are now. They want to listen to your concerns and then equip and encourage you to complete your healthy pregnancy with success.
You Can Have a Healthy Pregnancy
These 5 steps are key in having a healthy pregnancy. By keeping up a healthy diet, exercising wisely, getting plenty of rest, avoiding environmental risks, and protecting your emotional health, you will be doing your very best for yourself and your coming baby.
Do you want some friends on your team for this nine-month adventure?
At Choices Pregnancy Center, we’d love to cheer you on.
Come on in and chat with us.
Let’s find out how we can help you
navigate the joys and challenges of a healthy pregnancy.