11 Top Guidelines for a Healthy Pregnancy

A Healthy Pregnancy

Every expecting mum wants a hitch-free pregnancy and healthy baby. To foster these, find a detailed list of top things you need to do…

1. Prenatal Care

Registering for pre-natal care at a reputable hospital or maternity care clinic as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed ensures you get the vital care and professional advice you need right from the start. Ensure all medical advice is followed to the letter and attend prenatal classes regularly throughout your pregnancy. Feel free to voice out your concerns or questions to your doctor during routine visits.

At such visits, your doctor will check your height, weight, blood pressure, urine (for glucose and protein), the baby’s heart rate, and growth (usually after 12 weeks). As the pregnancy progresses, he’ll also check for signs of bleeding, leakage, and other complications.

2. Hydration

A pregnant woman needs lots of water to keep up with the wide variety of activities going on in her body. Her body needs water to form the amniotic fluid, produce extra blood volume, build new tissue, transport nutrients, aid digestion, and flush out wastes and toxins from her body and the baby.

Lots of fluid intake during pregnancy can ease constipation, give the skin a more vibrant look, reduce edema (swelling), and decrease the risk of urinary tract infections and preterm labor.

If it’s hot or if you’ve been exercising, you’d probably need to aim for more than 8 – 12 glasses per day. In addition to water, drink milk, natural fruit juice, soups, and eat lots of fruits and veggies. Always make sure to keep a bottle of safe drinking water handy whenever you’re stepping out.

3. Nutrition

Eating a well-balanced diet during pregnancy helps you meet your nutritional needs, ensuring you and the fetus get all you need to stay healthy.

Folic acid, Omega-3 essential fatty acids, iron, choline, vitamin C, are major nutrients you really need.

Your doctor will advise you further on how to make healthy food choices to get optimal nutrients and probably prescribe supplement(s) to meet your additional needs, especially for folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamins D, C, B₁₂, and omega 3 fatty acids.

You should talk to your doctor if you have special diet needs for the following reasons:

  • Diabetes. Review your meal plan and insulin needs with your doctor, as high blood glucose levels can be harmful to the fetus.

  • Lactose intolerance. Inquire from your doctor about low-lactose or reduced lactose products and calcium supplements to ensure you are getting the required amount of calcium.

  • If you are a vegetarian, ask your doctor how to ensure you’re getting enough protein, iron, vitamin B₁₂, and vitamin D from your diet.

4. Regular Exercise

Staying active throughout pregnancy will help put your weight in check, ease your aches and pains, and may help boost your mood. Exercising regularly is also a good way to equip yourself with the energy you need for a healthier pregnancy and delivery.

If you’re new to exercise altogether, consult with your doctor before starting any rigorous regimen to ensure it’s safe. Physical activities like walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics, yoga, and participating in prenatal exercise classes are ideal.

Note that it’s important to exercise at a level that feels comfortable. Stop exercising if you feel any discomfort, pain, dizziness, faintness, shortness of breath, contractions, or experience any vaginal bleeding or fluid loss. Don’t forget to take lots of fluids and avoid exercising in hot weather.

5. Hygiene

If you’ve been particularly carefree about personal hygiene or how healthy your environment is, now is the time to stop. Stay clear of any kind of pollution, including secondhand smoke, as this could be of grave danger to your health and your baby’s.

In addition, take the hand-washing habit a lot more seriously, as that could help you keep lots of germs that cause flus and colds at bay. You should also avoid infections from food and animals by ensuring whatever you eat or drink is well cooked or preserved. Always re-heat cold meals thoroughly before consumption, wash your fruits and vegetables properly, and avoid unpasteurized milk to steer clear of listeria. If you have pests in your home, handle them with extra care, and wear gloves while gardening.

6. Get Loads Of Rest

Try to rest as much as possible. You may often feel very tired, particularly in the first and third trimesters. This is natural because your body is transforming a cell into a baby. Increased levels may, however, be your body’s way of telling you to slow down. You already know you can’t do as much as you used to, especially with the speed that surprises everyone around, so, do the bit you can at the pace you can to minimize stress and fatigue. Get adequate sleep, relax, and have fun!

Also, try to put your feet up whenever you can. If backache disturbs your sleep at night, try lying on your left side with your knees bent. Placing a wedge-shaped pillow under your bump may also help ease the strain on your back.

To aid better sleep at night, try relaxation techniques certified safe during pregnancy, such as yoga, deep breathing, visualization, or massage a couple of hours before bedtime.

7. Weight Gain

Weight gain is an important part of supporting your growing baby and placenta, which transports nutrients from you to the fetus. However, you should ask your doctor for advice to ensure you gain weight within the appropriate range for you.

Women who gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy have fewer complications that may lead to Caesarean section, pre-eclampsia, pre-term labor and baby low or high birth weight.

8. Prevent Malaria

Malaria in pregnancy portends danger for both mother and the fetus. It increases the risk of low birth weight, stillbirth, neonatal death, spontaneous abortion, and maternal anemia.

Sleep in a properly screened air-conditioned room or under an insecticide-treated net (ITN) and ensure the net is not broken. You could also ask your doctor about using a mosquito repellent that’s specifically recommended for use during pregnancy on your skin. In the interim, wear protective clothing, especially after sunset.

It’s best to see your doctor as soon as you observe malaria symptoms. Remember, indulging in self-medication is never a safe option, as some drugs are unsafe for use during pregnancy and could lead to further complications.

9. Avoid Smoking

Quit smoking altogether during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy has been associated with increased nausea and vomiting, risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature birth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), low-birth weight, and placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus wall before the fetus is born.

You could talk to your doctor about devising effective ways to quit if you smoke.

10. Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol rapidly reaches the fetus through your bloodstream. Pregnant women who drink heavily are more likely to give birth to a baby with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). These include problems ranging from learning difficulties to more serious birth defects. The quantity of alcohol that’s safe during pregnancy has not been ascertained. It’s, therefore, best to stay off it so you don’t risk drinking too much.

11. And Caffeine Too

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, and energy/fizzy drinks. Excessive intake of caffeine has been linked to increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. If cutting out its intake completely is too much to do, talk to your doctor about restricted intake, and stick to recommendations. Decaffeinated tea, fruit teas, and juices are alternatives you should consider.

Overall, talk to your doctor whenever you suspect there’s a problem or just need explanations.

If you were on any prescription drugs before getting pregnant, it’s important that you check with your doctor if it’s safe to continue taking them or not. Do not take over-the-counter medications, including supplements, arbitrarily. Always consult your doctor.


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