It is a blissful feeling when you get pregnant. Thus naturally, you want to ensure the baby is healthy and happy throughout the pregnancy. However, it does not mean you can take a back seat and wait for everything to happen naturally. Proper prenatal care is important if you want your baby to be born healthy and happy.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that maternal-related deaths increased in 2020 to reach 861 deaths from 754 deaths in 2019. Also, there were 23.8 post-delivery infant deaths per 100,000 in 2020 from 20.1 deaths in 2019. The main reason behind this could be established as negligence during the prenatal period.
Here are some tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy:
1. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Prenatal nutrition is of the utmost importance. During this time, the baby’s body, brain, and organ systems are developing and preparing for life outside the womb.
Avoiding a healthy diet during pregnancy can lead to complications, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia. It’s important to have a balanced diet with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, iron-rich foods like spinach, calcium-rich dairy products, fatty fish such as salmon, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken breast.
It is also important not to eat junk food (soda, cookies), fast food (burgers), fried food, or processed meat products. They contain too much fat, which may cause complications during labor or delivery if you have gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.
The ideal amount of prenatal nutrition helps to prevent premature birth, low birth weight, and other problems related to undernutrition in pregnant women.
2. Do Not Smoke During Your Pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby. It may cause premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, or stillbirth. According to the National Institutes of Health, smoking during the prenatal period can cause severe pregnancy issues:
- Preterm births and often underweight babies
- Placental issues
- Improper head growth of babies
- High risk of stillbirth
- High risk of miscarriage
Smokeless tobacco products are also harmful to unborn babies. Dipping and chewing tobacco contain nicotine which is very addictive and can affect brain development in the womb. It can also lead to other health problems for the mother, such as infertility, heart disease, and cancer later in life.
3. Get Enough Rest
You need to get enough rest. It may sound like an obvious statement, but it’s too easy to get caught up in life’s daily hustle and bustle with a new baby that you forget to sleep. A lack of proper rest can negatively affect you and your unborn child, which is why you must ensure that you are getting enough rest each night.
While there is no magic number for how much sleep should be getting at night, most doctors recommend between 7-9 hours per night as a good goal for most adults. Of course, how many hours per night depends on several factors, including age and health conditions.
If possible, try taking naps during the day if this helps increase your overall sleeping time by over 16 hours per day. However, remember that these naps should be taken only after consulting with your doctor first, so they do not interfere with nighttime sleep requirements.
According to MedicineNet, women get around 7.5 hours of sleep during their second trimesters. However, this number usually declines when they reach the third trimester. Hence, you should make sufficient energy reserves and ensure proper rest timings during this time.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body and mind. In addition, exercise will help you stay fit and reduce the chances of developing any complications during pregnancy.
Start exercising as soon as your doctor allows it before your baby bump gets in the way. Do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, on most days of the week. Alternate between different types of aerobic activity, such as swimming or cycling, so that you don’t overuse any one muscle group.
If your doctor has permitted you to do so, try strength training exercises at least twice a week by using free weights or resistance bands with light weights ranging from 2–5 pounds. It can help relieve back pain caused by extra weight gain and strengthen joints and muscles throughout the body, including those in the pelvic girdle area (hips).
Such weight exercises help support:
- your growing baby’s weight during the delivery process;
- increase bone density which is important for maintaining healthy bones after menopause;
- improve balance which is especially important during recovery from childbirth;
- improve posture;
- reduce stress levels;
- boost energy levels;
- improves mental health.
It has been proven that regular exercise helps fight depression symptoms by releasing endorphins into the bloodstream, which produce feelings of euphoria. Similar effects were found during sex, thus boosting self-esteem & confidence levels too.
Do Not Consume Alcohol
While enjoying a glass of wine with your friends or family is tempting, you should know that alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause birth defects in your baby. It can also increase the risk of low birth weight and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is a condition that causes physical, behavioral, and mental problems in children whose mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy.
In some cases, these conditions can be irreversible. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid consuming any amount of alcohol while they’re expecting their babies because even one drink can lead to negative health effects on their developing child.
Take Care of Your Health When Expecting a Baby
When you are pregnant, it is important to take care of your health properly to deliver a healthy and happy baby. For this, it is essential to have an antenatal checkup after every month during the pregnancy period.
It is important that during the prenatal care period, you meet with your doctor regularly for regular checkups. Also, get other tests done like blood pressure or blood sugar level tests. However, these should be done before checking for any disease signs, such as pre-diabetes or gestational diabetes.
If any problem arises during pregnancy, it must be discussed with your doctor immediately so that he/she can find some remedies for those problems.
If you want to ensure that your pregnancy is smooth and healthy, consider the above prenatal care tips. These will help ensure successful and easy labor with minimal complications.