The Golden Rules of Prenatal Health Care

If you’re expecting, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information that’s out there about what you can and can’t do. What food should you eat? Can you still exercise? What about prenatal vitamins? Take a long, deep breath and read these ten basic tips. They’ll get you started on the right track.

10 Ways to Ensure a Healthy Pregnancy

By Laura Childers

#1. Talk to your doctor.

One of the most important things you can do right off the bat is discuss any medical conditions with your health care provider, as well as any medications (prescription or over-the-counter) that may need to be changed or adjusted.

#2. Quit smoking & drinking.

It is never, ever safe to drink, smoke, or take drugs while pregnant—these can cause long-term harm or even death to your baby. If you need help quitting, contact a doctor to help you set up a program.

#3. Take prenatal vitamins.

You can get these over-the-counter or they may be prescribed by your practitioner. Be sure to get calcium, about 30 milligrams of iron, and about 400-800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid a day.

#4. Be faithful about getting check-ups.

Most experts suggest you see your doctor about once each month for weeks 4 through 28, twice a month for weeks 28 through 36, and weekly for weeks 36 to birth.

#5. Do your research.

Read books, watch videos, take a childbirth class, join a support group, and talk with moms you know, including your own!

#6. Wash your hands.

And do it regularly. Pregnant women are more susceptible to common illnesses and infections because the immune system is naturally suppressed in pregnancy.

#7. Monitor your diet.

Do some planning to ensure that you’re consuming balanced meals, including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Most women will need to consume about 300 more calories per day than they did before becoming pregnant.

#8. Get your zzzzzz’s.

This can be difficult, especially during the second and third trimesters, but do your best to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Also, don’t be afraid to nap!

#9. Stay active.

Keep up your exercise regimen, even if you have to slow down. Unless your doctor tells you not to, try to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of light to moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.

#10. Avoid stuff.

Educate yourself on the things you’ll need to avoid when pregnant. For starters, these will include chemicals, cat or rodent feces, paint fumes, X-rays, vaccines, saunas, and fish with high mercury content.

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