Healthy moms have healthy babies. If you plan to, or become pregnant, take the following steps to be sure your pregnancy is a healthy one and that your baby gets off to a good start. Consider genetic tests or counseling if you or your husband have a family history of genetic disorders, if you are 35 or older or if your husband is 60 or older.
Have a complete medical exam, including a gynecological exam. A number of medical conditions can jeopardize the health of mother and child:
High blood pressure.
German measles (Rubella).
RH negative blood factor (after the first pregnancy).
Sexually transmitted disease (STDs) and AIDS or having the AIDS virus (HIV).
Take measures to control and/or treat all medical conditions and take care of your health before you get pregnant and when you are pregnant. If you have a chronic medical condition, ask your doctor how it may affect your pregnancy.
Consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Start prenatal vitamins while trying to get pregnant. This may prevent certain birth defects, such as neural tube defects like spina bifida. Continue to take vitamin-mineral supplements as prescribed by your doctor throughout your pregnancy.
Ask your doctor or a dietitian to outline a meal plan that meets the special nutritional needs created by pregnancy.
Avoid alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, as they can harm you and your unborn baby.
Limit your intake of caffeine each day to no more than that contained in 2-3 cups of coffee, or about 400 milligrams.
Follow your doctor’s advice about weight gain. The amount of weight you gain should depend on your pre-pregnancy weight and health status, as well as your ethnic background. If you’re markedly overweight, plan to lose excess pounds before becoming pregnant.
Exercise in moderation, three times a week with your doctor’s okay. Some activities considered safe during pregnancy are walking, golf, swimming, bicycling and low impact aerobics.
Practice relaxation and other stress control techniques. Doctors think emotional stress may constrict the blood supply to the uterus and placenta, the baby’s sole source of oxygen and nutrients.
Enroll in childbirth preparation classes.
If you own a cat, arrange for someone else to empty the litter box. Cat excrement can transmit a disease called toxoplasmosis. If you’re infected while pregnant, your baby may be stillborn, born prematurely or suffer serious damage to the brain, eyes or other parts of the body. It is safe, however, to handle or pet the cat.
Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
As mothers tend to sacrifice during their lives to meet their children’s needs, a mother’s body will give up its own essential nutrients to provide health and growth for her developing baby. Unfortunately, the Diet is often so nutritionally deficient that even this sacrifice does not guarantee adequate nutrition for the unborn baby.
Fortunately, there are a number of tips that if followed during pregnancy, can help both baby and mother stay healthy and vital.
It includes recommendations on nutrition, vitamins, minerals and other common sense tips that can lead to a happier, healthier and more vital pregnancy. Powdered vitamin formulas are available that can markedly decrease the number of supplement tablets needed.
Inadequate zinc is the most common and problematic deficiency during pregnancy. Zinc is critical for two reasons: proper growth and for developing a healthy immune system for the baby. Studies suggest that inadequate zinc may even cause immune deficiency in the next generation (i.e. your grandchild) as well. Be sure to get at least 15 milligrams per day of zinc in your diet, which can be found in high protein foods such as meat and beans.
Getting enough folic acid is critical both before and during pregnancy to help assure proper growth and to prevent birth defects. It is present in deep green, leafy vegetables. Women should get at least 400 to 800 micrograms per day.
Magnesium deficiency is routine in the diet and can increase the possibility of high blood pressure and seizures during pregnancy, a condition known as eclampsia. To prevent this deficiency, take 200 milligrams of magnesium in the glycinate form daily. Whole grains, green leafy and other vegetables and nuts are good sources of magnesium. Taking the proper amount of magnesium a day also helps to decrease the leg cramps and constipation often experienced during pregnancy. In addition, magnesium is critical for more than 300 other body functions and will generally help you to feel a lot healthier.
These are critical for energy, mental clarity and to prevent depression. B vitamins have also been found to improve pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes. Taking 200 milligrams a day of vitamin B6 can improve the health of those women suffering from this form of diabetes. But please note that only women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy should take this high level of B vitamins, and should drop the level of consumption to 100 milligrams per day during the last month. For all other soon-to-be moms, take approximately 25 to 50 milligrams a day of B vitamins and plenty of vitamin B12 for normal nerve function.
The human brain is made predominantly of DHA, an essential fatty acid found in fish oils.Perhaps this is why there is an old wives' tale about fish being brain food. Regardless, DHA deficiency is very common and it is critical that pregnant women get adequate fish oils so that their baby can develop healthy and optimal brain tissue. DHA may also decrease the risk of postpartum depression.Unfortunately, though, the FDA has raised concerns about high mercury levels in the same deep sea fish (salmon and tuna) that have the highest levels of these oils. An excellent alternative for those who'd rather not risk it is to take one half to one tablespoon of Eskimo 3 fish oil. This is a special form of fish oil that actually tastes good (most do not), and has been tested to make sure that it does not have mercury or other problematic compounds.
Ideally, pregnant women should ingest 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day plus 400-600 units of Vitamin D. It is best to take Calcium at night (it helps with sleep) in the liquid, powdered or chewable form. Many calcium tablets are simply chalk and do not dissolve in the stomach, and therefore are not absorbed properly. Each cup of milk or yogurt contains 400 milligrams of calcium.
Approximately 18 to 36 milligrams of iron per day can be helpful. Interestingly, iron deficiency can sometimes cause infertility. And pregnant women who don't get enough iron are at risk for anemia, fatigue, poor memory and decreased immune function.
Be sure to drink plenty of water. When pregnant, blood volume can increase about 30 percent and it is easy to become dehydrated. If your mouth or lips are dry, drink more! Adequate salt is also helpful in preventing dehydration (less so if you have problems with fluid retention).
Check your Thyroid
Millions of women have undiagnosed hypothyroidism, which accounts for over 6% of miscarriages, and is associated with learning disabilities when the child is born. Treating a low thyroid is both safe and easy during pregnancy. The earlier it is treated the better. As soon as you know you’re pregnant (or trying to get pregnant), check a TSH blood test to check your thyroid.
Things to Avoid
A few cautions for pregnant women:
avoid taking more than 8,000 units of vitamin A per day. And don't partake in anything that can raise your body temperature too high (hot tubs, saunas or steam rooms). These have been implicated as possibly increasing the risk for birth defects. Most pregnant women are also, of course, aware that smoking, drugs and alcohol should all be avoided during pregnancy. Exercise, on the other hand, has been shown to be very beneficial and results in babies and moms that are quite healthy.