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Your Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy

Many soon to be mothers lack the knowledge on what it takes to carry a healthy baby. This topic is important so women can be educated on ways to improve their health and the baby's health. This post will give you 10 ways you can maximize your pregnancy and get the most benefits!

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#1 Beware of Teratogens

Teratogens are any harmful agents that can cause damage to the fetus.

Examples: illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol, pollution, radiation

Age is a major factor with how effective teratogens can be. They are most harmful during the organisms sensitive period. This is when they are most responsive to environmental influences. Effects of teratogens are not always physically apparent. They can sometimes be subtle or delayed, not showing up for decades (Berk, 2012, p.104). Ultimately, “No amount of alcohol is safe” (Berk, 2012, p.109).

#2 Take Prenatal Care Serious

Did you know that 8% of pregnant women wait too late to receive care or don’t at all (Berk, 2012, p.117)?

Inadequate care is more common among young, low income, minority women. They typically lack the access to prenatal care, or have the financial means to afford it. Maternal and infant health problems can be reduced with proper prenatal health care. A major predictor of newborn survival is their weight. Mothers who engage in proper prenatal care reduce the chance of “prematurity and low birth weight” in newborns (Berk, 2012, p.119).

Continue to get regular checkups during pregnancy!

#3 Nutrition is Important Too

The prenatal period is the most rapid growing stage for children. This is when children are most dependent on their mother for nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are beneficial to the mother and infant as well. Proper nutrition during pregnancy can help prevent miscarriages and avoid physical defects (Berk, 2012, p.113). Folic acid supplementation reduces the risk of spina bifida and anencephaly, which are neural tube abnormalities. Maintaining a healthy diet will improve the overall health of both the mother and child.

Examples: Fruits, dark leafy greens, whole grains, salmon

#4 Weight-gain Isn't All Bad

During pregnancy, it’s recommended for women to gain about 25-30 lbs (Berk, 2012, p.119). Women should do this by increasing their calorie intake every trimester. Gaining too much weight can lead to birthing complications. It’s important to understand that weight gain is often inevitable, and should be embraced. If you are already overweight upon conception, weight loss or weight maintenance is recommended.

#6 You Can Still Exercise

Moderate exercise is good for maternal health and the baby's health!

Walking, biking or swimming at a moderate pace is beneficial for pregnant women and the baby. Exercise of this kind actually promotes circulation, increases birth weight, and reduces pregnancy induced diabetes (Berk, 2012, p.113). It’s important to avoid jolting, bouncing and jogging of any kind. These behaviors may startle or shake the fetus. As pregnancy goes on, mothers should cut back on exercise due to their increase in size.

#7 Rest Up

Being pregnant is very straining on a women's body. Getting enough sleep is important for the overall health and sufficient growth of the fetus. Now that the women has to sleep for two, it’s important that she gets at least 8 hours of sleep a night (Nierenberg, 2015). During the first trimester is when a lot of women experience feelings of fatigue. Progesterone is a hormone that contributes to pregnant women feeling more tired, as it slows women down and makes them feel more mellow (Nierenberg, 2015). Taking naps throughout the day is highly recommenced!

#8 Birthing Classes Are Useful

Enrolling in a child-birthing class can actually make your pregnancy easier. Child birthing classes teach you techniques on how to relax during birth, give you tips on parenthood and increase your communication skills. These classes give you the opportunity to bond with your partner, and address any concerns about the birthing process. There are different classes and teaching methods to consider. By the time delivery date comes around, you'll be so prepared!

#9 Vaccines

Getting vaccinated before you are pregnant can help fight against infectious diseases (NHS, 2015). Rubella is a common contagious disease among unborn babies. This disease can cause stillborn births, hearing loss, brain damage, heart defects or cataracts.

It’s important to note that vaccines during pregnancy can be harmful and should be avoided.

#10 Ask You Doctor Questions

Everyone's pregnancy is different, so there may be different ways to abide by the "rules". Ask you doctor questions in terms of your symptoms and journey. This will keep you aware of what you need to do in order to stay on track!

Additional Resources

How Sleep Changes When You're Pregnant

http://www.livescience.com/50713-pregnancy-sleep.html

Harmful Effects of Rubella During Pregnancy

http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1104.aspx?CategoryID=54

How Birthing Classes Are Beneficial

http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/childbirth-education-classes/

http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/childbirth-classes

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