Prenatal Health

Keeping You and Your Unborn Baby Healthy

Congratulations -- you're pregnant! Now that you have a new life growing within, you need to take special care of yourself to ensure a healthy mom and a healthy baby. Below are some important facts for pregnant moms.

Medical Care

As soon as you have a positive pregnancy test, you should choose an obstetrician. Find an experienced doctor who will take the time to listen to your concerns. Your doctor will require regular prenatal visits to be sure you and your baby stay healthy. He or she will recommend prenatal vitamins to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. Folic acid is especially important early in pregnancy. Your doctor will also recommend that you be tested for HIV. This is a good idea, because if you are infected, with proper medical care, you can avoid passing the virus on to your baby. 

Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

You need to eat about 300 more calories each day to help your baby grow. Don't waste calories on foods that are high in fat and sugar, like soda, fast foods, or candy bars. Select a variety of wholesome foods to ensure that you get enough of the proper nutrients for your baby. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, well-cooked meats, dairy products, and breads and cereals made of whole grains. Drink eight or more glasses each day. Water helps digest foods and flush waste products out of the body. It can also help provide great varicose vein relief.

 

Weight Gain

Your doctor will let you know how much weight gain is appropriate throughout your pregnancy. Total weight gain should be 25 to 30 pounds. If you're underweight, you might try to gain a little more, and if overweight, a little less. Here's where all that extra weight comes from:

4 to 6 lbs - extra fat, protein & nutrients
2 to 3 lbs - added fluid
3 to 4 lbs - added blood
1 to 2 lbs - breast enlargement
2 lbs - uterus enlargement
6 to 8 lbs - the baby
1.5 lbs - the placenta
2 lbs - amniotic fluid

It's a good idea to cut back on your caffeine while pregnant. Scientific evidence is unclear as to whether or not caffeine is harmful to the fetus. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas, and other products. Discuss with your doctor how much caffeine, if any, is sensible during your pregnancy.

Medications

Many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can harm your unborn child. Consult with your doctor before taking certain medications, like psychiatric medications, during pregnancy. Even aspirin is not considered safe for pregnant women. Immediately discuss with your doctor all medications you are taking. Your obstetrician can tell you which OTC's are safe. If you have any questions about a specific drug you can also consult with your pharmacist to find out which pregnancy category (A, B, C, D, or X -- where A is the safest) your medication falls under.

Drugs & Narcotics

Street drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and crack, can deprive developing babies of vital oxygen and nourishment and can cause babies to be born with addictions and birth defects. This is a preventable tragedy. If you are taking drugs and cannot stop, contact your local pregnancy resource center. They can refer you to a place where you can get help for yourself and your baby. More recently, authorities have been attempting to prosecute drug-abusing mothers for harm done to their new infants. Don't risk losing your baby, your life, or you health to drug abuse.

Other Warnings

Avoid hot tubs, saunas, or exposure to illness that could cause a fever. Exercise moderately, but never to the point where your temperature becomes elevated. Avoid contact with cats feces, which can lead to toxoplasmosis infection. Inform your doctor before having any x-rays taken during pregnancy.  If you smoke, quit now! Smoking is a major cause of low birth weight and prematurity. Don't let anyone else smoke around you. Avoid exposure to sexually transmitted disease. 

Exercise

Not so long ago, pregnant women were told to stay at home and refrain from exercise. No longer. We know now that regular exercise is especially good during your pregnancy for both you and your baby. Exercise promotes a feeling of well-being, relieves stress, and improves coordination. It also tones and strengthens the muscles, facilitating an easier labor, and lessens some of the discomforts of pregnancy. A few safe ways to exercise include swimming, walking, stretching, and low-impact aerobics. But before you start any exercise in pregnancy discuss it with your doctor first.

Chat with other women about the benefits of prenatal care in our pregnancy forum.

Worried about pregnancy? It can help to chat with other new mothers.

 

 

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