“Giving birth and being born brings us into the essence of creation, where the human spirit is courageous and bold and the body, a miracle of wisdom.”
This meaningful quote by Harriette Hartigan eloquently summarizes the beauty of being pregnant. Pregnancy brings a new meaning to your life and the feeling of carrying a little soul within you is magnificent.
During pregnancy, your every decision will impact your physical and emotional well-being as well as the baby growing inside you.
A woman’s health is essential to the good health of her baby. Women who eat well and exercise regularly along with regular prenatal care are less likely to have complications during pregnancy. They’re also more likely to successfully give birth to a healthy baby.
Take a Prenatal Vitamin
Even when you’re still trying to conceive, it’s smart to start taking prenatal vitamins. Your baby’s neural cord, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops within the first month of pregnancy, so it’s important you get essential nutrients, like folic acid, calcium, and iron, from the very start.
Prenatal vitamins are available over the counter at most drug stores, or you can get them by prescription from your doctor. If taking them makes you feel queasy, try taking them at night or with a light snack. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy afterward can help, too.
A simple way to satisfy your nutritional needs during pregnancy is to eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups every day.
Many women are concerned about how much weight they will gain during pregnancy. If your weight was in the normal range before you got pregnant, a weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds is recommended. It’s important to discuss and monitor your weight and nutritional needs with your doctor throughout the pregnancy. Weight gain recommendations will vary for women who are underweight before conceiving, for those who are obese, and for those with a multiple pregnancy, such as twins.
Regular exercise during pregnancy ensures proper health of the mother as well as the newborn. Exercise helps alleviate many common pregnancy problems, such as constipation, leg cramps, swelling of the ankles, back pain and poor sleep.
It also helps keep your energy level high to make it through the pregnancy period.
Plus, physical activity prepares new mothers for childbirth. A fit body can result in a shorter labor, fewer medical interventions and less exhaustion during labor. Another perk is that it makes it easier for you to get back into shape after your baby is born.
Write a Birth Plan
Determined to have a doula? Counting on that epidural? Write down your wishes and give a copy to everyone involved with the delivery. According to the American Pregnancy Association, here are some things to consider when writing your birth plan:
– Who you want present, including children or siblings of the baby
– Procedures you want to avoid
– What positions you prefer for labor and delivery
– Special clothing you’d like to wear
– Whether you want music or a special focal point
– Whether you want pain medications, and what kind
– What to do if complications arise
Cutting out bad habits
Making good lifestyle choices will directly impact the health of a growing fetus. It’s important to cut out smoking, drug use, and alcohol consumption. These have been linked to serious complications and risks for both mother and baby.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is linked with a wide range of problems in the developing baby. Any alcohol that is consumed by the mother enters the fetal bloodstream in approximately the same concentrations as in the mother’s bloodstream. Drinking throughout pregnancy can result in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that FAS can cause your baby to be underweight and have abnormalities in their central nervous system.
Even if this isn’t your first baby, attending a childbirth class will help you feel more prepared for delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, but you can ask specific questions and voice any concerns. You’ll also become more acquainted with the facility and its staff.
Now is also a good time to brush up on your family’s medical history. Talk to your doctor about problems with past pregnancies, and report any family incidences of birth defects.
Get Plenty of Rest and Sleep
Pregnancy is a time when you need to pay particular attention to a balanced diet and enough exercise, but at the same time getting enough rest and sleep is vital as well.
Pregnancy causes several hormonal changes in the body that can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. To help your body overcome this, it is important to listen to your body and get adequate rest.
A 2010 study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews sheds light on the importance of sufficient sleep during pregnancy.
Sleep is essential to nourish the development of the unborn baby and provide energy to the mother needed for labor and delivery.
Sleep deprivation during pregnancy can lead to longer labor, discomfort during labor, higher cesarean rates and preterm labor.
Change Up Chores
Even everyday tasks like scrubbing the bathroom or cleaning up after pets can become risky when you’re pregnant. Exposure to toxic chemicals, lifting heavy objects, or coming in contact with bacteria can harm you and your baby. Here are some things to (hooray!) take off your to-do-list:
– Heavy lifting
– Climbing on stepstools or ladders
– Changing kitty litter (to avoid toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a parasite which cats can carry)
– Using harsh chemicals
– Standing for long periods of time, especially near a hot stove
Also, wear gloves if you’re working in the yard where cats may have been, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.