Having a baby opens up a completely new world of joy, concerns and responsibilities. Your goal as you embark on the journey to parenthood is to have a happy, healthy baby while staying happy and healthy yourself.
One thing that rings true for every mom-to-be is that taking care of yourself before and during pregnancy can make for a much happier and healthier experience.
Conception typically occurs in the middle of your cycle, so you may not even suspect you are pregnant until you are three weeks along. Because the baby is most susceptible to harm two to eight weeks after conception—when facial features and major organs begin to develop—it's wise for women trying to conceive to act pregnant even before they are.
The following suggestions can help you set the stage for a healthy pregnancy:
- See your physician for a pre-conception visit. Discuss any health concerns you may have. The visit may include checking for blood pressure problems and making sure your vaccinations are up-to-date.
- Get enough folic acid. Include 400 micrograms of folic acid in your daily diet to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Some foods are naturally rich in folate, such as leafy greens, kidney beans, citrus fruits, broccoli, peas and lentils, and others may be fortified with folic acid. Your doctor may recommend a folic acid supplement to take before and during your pregnancy since it can be difficult to judge whether you consume enough folic acid.
- Eat healthy foods. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Opt for lean, low-fat food when possible. You may also need to increase your iron and calcium consumption. Aim for at least 30 mg of iron and 1,000 to 1,300 mg of calcium per day.
- Quit smoking, drinking alcohol and doing drugs. All of these can cause serious birth defects. Ask your partner to support you by following healthful practices, too.
- Get enough sleep. Try to sleep seven to nine hours every night.
- Maintain your pre-pregnancy exercise level. Once you conceive, most experts recommend maintaining your pre-pregnancy exercise level. Use the time before pregnancy to establish a regular workout schedule, preferably at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Many women find that pre-pregnancy fitness translates to a more comfortable pregnancy and easier delivery.
- Get chronic conditions under control. Diabetes and high blood pressure can complicate a pregnancy, but your doctor may be able to help you manage them. Being overweight may contribute to these conditions as well as lead to greater discomfort and longer labor.
Once you find out you are pregnant, you'll want to schedule an appointment with your physician or nurse midwife. He or she will want to see you at regular intervals to check on the health of you and your baby.
Having a care provider you can trust is an essential part of your overall health and well-being. That's why it's important to surround yourself with the right support so you feel confident and ready for anything.
The physicians and staff of The Christ Hospital Birthing Centers are here to help make your birthing experience unforgettable.
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