Motherhood is a beautiful thing, but the journey towards it can be difficult for a lot of women. Fortunately, we have taken huge strides in ensuring safer pregnancies, and maternal mortality rates have been declining since 2000. This is largely thanks to the support and advice that pregnant women get that help manage causes of maternal deaths, such as infection and hypertensive disorders. As an expectant mother, there are also things you can do to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy. Below are a few tips to keep you and your unborn child in good condition:
Be diligent with your checkups
Prenatal checkups help to ensure that your risk for complications remains low throughout the process, and that your baby is healthy and able to be delivered safely. You’ll undergo an extensive review of your medical history, as well as various physical exams such as blood tests and DNA testing. The succeeding checkups, which include ultrasound testing, will allow you and your care provider to keep track of your health and the baby's as the pregnancy progresses.
In terms of who to see for prenatal care, women typically choose to see either a midwife or an OB-GYN; both are care providers who are specifically trained in matters of fertility, pregnancy, and birth. For many women, making sure that their provider is licensed and covered by their health insurance is enough when choosing who to see. Some women are considered high-risk during their pregnancy and because of that they have a limited number of providers to choose from. However, if you are low-risk and are able to choose between a midwife or an OB, it is a good idea to do some research about your options. Listen to the opinions and experiences of local moms, and consider interviewing the more highly-recommended providers if you can. Midwives and OBs practice differently so this will give you a better idea of who will be the best fit for you and your needs. (If you’re interested in learning more about midwifery, Celebrate Birth is a great place to start!)
Have a healthy diet During pregnancy, you will go through a lot of physical and hormonal changes to accommodate your growing baby. Because of this, prenatal nutrition prioritizes minerals such as calcium, folate, iron, and macronutrients like protein. Taking a prenatal vitamin, especially with folic acid, everyday can also help you easily meet these requirements. But make sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting on the vitamins. Stick to a balanced diet too, since multivitamins should only supplement what you’re already eating. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and foods that are low in saturated fat. You may get the occasional cravings, but steer clear of alcohol, rare meats, and too much sugar, since these can be harmful for your baby. Don’t forget to stay hydrated as well.
For more help with your nutrition goals, consider taking our free Prenatal Nutrition class!
Stay active and gain a healthy amount of weight
It may be difficult to move around when your center of gravity is shifting. However, exercise can help strengthen muscles to support the extra weight. This also helps you manage your weight, as women who gain too much while pregnant (more than 35 pounds) have an increased risk for complications.
If you’re not sure which workouts are good for pregnant women, there are many prenatal fitness trainers who stream online classes, from yoga to Pilates. For example, Hollie Grant, the instructor and personal trainer behind Pilates PT, has trimester-specific classes. But before starting anything, check with your doctor first how much physical activity is right for you.
Manage your stress and anxiety Pregnancy stress and anxiety can hit any expectant mother, especially first-timers. You can talk to your healthcare provider about it, but you can take steps to manage it yourself too. For one, practice self care and go easy on yourself — after all, you’re carrying a human being inside you. And taking care of yourself means you’re also taking care of the baby. You can also shop for baby supplies, such as nursing pads and swaddling blankets, to focus your attention elsewhere. Being physically prepared for your baby can help in making you emotionally and mentally ready too.
Ultimately, prenatal care depends on every expectant mother. But in general, you need to go to your prenatal appointments, eat well, exercise, and look after your mental health. When in doubt, the best course of action is to consult your healthcare provider. We also have a selection of educational classes that can help.
Guest post by: Allie Cooper
Photo credit: Pexels