Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

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Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, you probably know some of the basic pregnancy advice about taking care of yourself and the baby do not smoke or be around secondhand smoke, do not drink, and get your rest. Here are more pregnancy tips, from taking vitamins to what to do with the kitty litter that can help ensure safe and healthy prenatal development.

Take a Prenatal Vitamin

Even when you are still trying to conceive, it's smart to start taking prenatal vitamins. Your baby neural cord, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops within the first month of pregnancy, so it's important you get essential nutrients, like folic acid, calcium, and iron, from the very start.
Prenatal vitamins are available over the counter at most drug stores, or you can get them by prescription from your doctor. If taking them makes you feel queasy, try taking them at night or with a light snack. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy afterward can help, too.

Exercise

Staying active is important for your general health and can help you reduce stress, control your weight, improve circulation, boost your mood, and sleep better. Take a pregnancy exercise class or walk at least 15-20 minutes every day at a moderate pace, in cool, shaded areas or indoors in order to prevent overheating. 
Pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking are also great activities for most pregnant women, but be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Listen to your body, though, and do not overdo it.

Change Up Chores 

Even everyday tasks like scrubbing the bathroom or cleaning up after pets can become risky when you are pregnant. Exposure to toxic chemicals, lifting heavy objects, or coming in contact with bacteria can harm you and your baby. Here are some things to (hooray) take off your to-do-list:
- Heavy lifting
- Climbing on step stools or ladders
Changing kitty litter (to avoid toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a parasite which cats can carry)
- Using harsh chemicals
- Standing for long periods of time, especially near a hot stove

Track Your Weight Gain

We know you are eating for two. But packing on too many extra pounds may make them hard to lose later. At the same time, not gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems. Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. Here is what the IOM recommends, based on a woman BMI (body mass index) before becoming pregnant with one baby:
- Underweight: Gain 28-40 pounds
- Normal weight: Gain 25-35 pounds
- Overweight: Gain 15-25 pounds
- Obese: Gain 11-20 pounds

Check in with your doctor frequently to make sure you are gaining at a healthy rate.

Eat Folate-Rich Foods

In addition to drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day, you should eat five or six well-balanced meals with plenty of folate-rich foods like fortified cereals, asparagus, lentils, wheat germ, oranges, and orange juice. Folic acid is crucial for the proper development of the baby neural tube (it covers the spinal cord), and it is vital for the creation of new red blood cells. 

Recharge with Fruit

Most doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy since it can have harmful effects on you and the baby. Cutting back can be tough, though, especially when you are used to your morning java. For a quick pick-me-up, try nibbling on some fruit. The natural sugars in fruits like bananas and apples can help lift energy levels.

Know When to Call the Doctor

Being pregnant can be confusing, especially if it's your first time. How do you know which twinge is normal and which one is not According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms
- The pain of any kind
- Strong cramps
- Contractions at 20-minute intervals
- Vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid
- Dizziness or fainting
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Constant nausea and vomiting
- Trouble walking, edema (swelling of joints)
- Decreased activity by the baby

Indulge Yourself 

You may think you are busy now, but once the baby comes you will have even fewer precious moments to yourself. Be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep a night, and if you are suffering from sleep disturbances, take naps during the day and see your physician if the situation does not improve.
Treating yourself, too A lunchtime manicure, a much-needed night out with the girls, or simply taking a quiet walk can help you relax and de-stress” and that is good for both you and the baby.

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