1. Stay away from harmful chemicals: There are many substances that are not normally dangerous in small amounts, but which can complicate pregnancy and possibly lead to health issues for your baby. These can include, but are not limited to mercury, paint, pesticides and herbicides. You also should avoid strong chemical fumes such as those from cleaning supplies whenever possible.
2. Stay on top of your prenatal care: From the minute that you discover you are pregnant, it is important to stay on top of your prenatal care. This includes attending all of your scheduled appointments and any tests requested by your doctor. Studies have proven that women who receive adequate medical care during pregnancy have less problems and healthier babies.
3. Don’t smoke: Smoking is connected to many different pregnancy related problems and developmental issues in babies and young children. If you smoke you need to talk with your doctor about quitting as soon as possible. You should also make every ttempt to avoid being exposed to secondhand smoke. Even in small amounts it can be harmful to your unborn child.
4. Stay hydrated: It is always important to ensure that you are drinking enough fluids throughout the day; however it is even more critical to stay hydrated during pregnancy. Dehydration can lead to premature labor and other problems. Water is the best option so be sure to drink at least 6 cups. Milk and natural fruit juices are also good choices and can help ensure that you and your baby are getting the vitamins you both need.
5. Take folic acid: From the time you first start trying to conceive, until your little ones born, you should be getting 400 micrograms of Folic Acid a day. Folic Acid has been shown to reduce the chances of your baby developing spinal problems by as much as 70%. Prenatal vitamins contain Folic Acid, or you can add foods rich in the nutrient to your diet such as oranges, peas, asparagus, broccoli, nuts and green vegetables.
6. Make healthy eating choices: Remember that in order to deliver a healthy baby, you must maintain your own health. Avoid eating foods which cause you discomfort, and try to make healthy meal choices throughout your pregnancy. Foods that are high in fiber and protein and low in fat are the best options. Be sure to eat on a regular schedule, as it is dangerous and uncomfortable to wait too long between meals when you are pregnant due to the increased nutritional requirements of your body.
7. Know your history: If there is any possibility that a genetic disorder may be passed on to your baby, be sure to alert your doctor as soon as possible. In order to know whether your child might be at risk, become as familiar as possible with your family’s medical history. If there is a risk, be sure to request and insist on genetic testing.
8. Keep it clean: In order to avoid becoming ill with the flu, a common cold or another possible ailment, it is critical that you wash your hands several times throughout the day. In addition to washing your hands after using the bathroom, you should be cautious about touching raw meat or seafood, animals and items such as shopping carts.
9. Be sure to get enough iron: Anemia, or a lack of iron in the blood, is common during pregnancy. Therefore, you should ensure that you are getting enough iron in the foods you eat, and possibly through a supplement. Red meat is an excellent source of iron, as are enriched breakfast cereals, cooked beans and lentils, black strap molasses and pumpkin seeds. If you are concerned that you may be anemic, talk to your doctor immediately.
10. Know the signs of a problem: If something just does not seem right to you, take the time to call your doctor. If you experience heavy bleeding or other serious medical problems you should probably head to the emergency room, just to be safe.Swelling of the hands or face should never be ignored, along with a racing heartbeat, continuous vomiting, fainting or shortness of breath.
11. Avoid caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that is best limited or avoided completely during pregnancy. Caffeine is present in many foods, including chocolate, and beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks. In addition, never take any medication without first consulting your doctor. Many over the counter cold medicines and some painkillers contain caffeine.
12. Manage your medical conditions: If you have an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, epilepsy or any other condition requiring medical care, it is critical to maintain a successful treatment plan throughout your entire pregnancy. Other wise, you could experience problems related to your condition that may complicate your pregnancy and possibly put your child’s life at risk. Work with your doctor to formulate a plan that works for both you and your baby.
13. Find a partner: As you make changes for a healthier lifestyle for yourself and your baby, get a partner to help you out! This could be your spouse, a close friend or a family member, as long as it’s someone who will be supportive. Having a partner can be an excellent way to make lasting changes that will benefit you during your pregnancy and after the baby is born.
14. Try homeopathic remedies: Whenever possible, try to avoid taking medication throughout your pregnancy unless it is recommended by your doctor. Instead, explore alternative methods for treating headaches, nausea and heartburn. Ginger ale can help to calm your upset tummy, as can simply eating a few crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
15. Get someone else to change the kitty litter: Pregnant women should never change the litter in their cat’s litter box. There is a risk that contact with cat feces could lead to a condition known as toxoplasmosis. The condition can cause a miscarriage, or brain damage in the fetus. If you have spent a lot of time around cats there is a chance you have already had it. Ask your doctor to do a test to see if you’re immune.
16. Read the books, but take them with a grain of salt: There are many different schools of thought about pregnancy and child rearing. Spend some time reading with your feet up, but remember that not every technique will work for every woman. The same approach should be considered when you get unsolicited advice about your pregnancy from others. Ultimately you know what is best for your child. Listen to your gut and use trusted resources such as your doctor when you have questions.
17. Eat extra calories, but not necessarily enough for two: The old adage that you are “eating for two” is not necessarily true. Most doctors will encourage you to add about 500 extra calories to your daily intake while you are pregnant. Be sure to select those extra calories carefully in order to keep your diet as healthy as possible. Most women find that drinking a couple of glasses of milk or calcium-enriched orange juice quickly makes up the extra calories required.
18. Consider taking a yoga class: Yoga throughout your pregnancy can help you to get your joints in optimal condition and to increase your flexibility in preparation for labor. Studies have shown that the effects of yoga and stretching can lead to a faster and easier delivery.
19. Know what symptoms are expected, and which can indicate a problem: At your earliest doctor’s appointments, most likely you will hear a list of warning signs that warrant a phone call or trip to the emergency room. If you notice any of the serious symptoms, seek help immediately. And keep in mind that the symptoms that indicate a problem will change throughout the course of your pregnancy. When in doubt, ASK someone.
20. Keep a food journal: By writing down everything that you eat during the day, you will have a better idea of how many calories you are consuming and whether you are making the healthiest food choices. Doing this can also help you to pinpoint times during the day when you may want to consider adding a snack in order to decrease nausea, hunger or heartburn.