Stay Healthy During Pregnancy

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Why is being healthy important in pregnancy?

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you must keep healthy for yourself and the baby. You must avoid alcoholic drinks, smoke, and exposure to a toxic environment. We need to be ready physically, spiritually, and mentally healthy during and a few months after our pregnancy. Because as a mother our priority is the health of our children so while they are developing, we must give full love, support, and proper care of ourselves. Everything we do during our journey gives an impact on our baby. But how can we make our pregnancy healthy? Here are some simple ways on how to:

How to Keep your Pregnancy Healthy

1. Get a balanced diet

Before our pregnancy, we love to eat sweets, fats, and junk foods especially our craving days. But during the stage of a baby’s development, we need to discipline our food intake. I remember I asked for my doctor’s advice if I can go for a diet because I am concerned with my figure and she told me to eat more vegetables and fruits as long as it is a balanced diet I do not have to worry. So, I made my healthy routine that can give good amount of nutrients such as dairy products like cheese and yogurt providing protein and calcium, natural folate like cabbage, legumes, and broccoli, also foods rich in Vitamin D like fish and red meat. And remember, vitamins and minerals are very important during your maternal journey.[1]Asking your doctor about the calorie intake and proper nutritious diet assures that you are doing the right way.

2. Take Vitamins

Besides planning a healthy diet routine, taking up some vitamins is also important for getting the right level of nutrients in our body. There are essential prenatal vitamins to support our pregnancy journey and this is also advised by our doctor. The vitamin intake will fill out the nutritional gap during our diet and saves the lacking vitamins for our little one. Some vitamins that I listed during my journey were folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin A, DHA, and Iodine.

Folate play an important role in red blood cells production that can help develop baby’s brain and spinal cord. Calcium is for development of teeth and bones. You need to pump up right amount of blood for preparation of delivery and half of your iron will absorbed by the fetus, iron supplements will support your low blood volume.

By having right supplementation of Vitamin A visual problems can prevent. While DHA helps for neuro development and Iodine for production of maternal and fetal thyroid hormones that also need for brain development. Pregnancy should be taken care of properly; it is the baby’s time of growth and development.

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3. Always get hydrated

There will be a change in the normal functions of body parts during pregnancy, one is the urination process and impacts the hydration adjustment. So, you need more fluid intake compared to when you are still not pregnant, water is important to form new tissue and build amniotic fluid, carry nutrients, help digestion, can remove waste, and toxins. The amniotic fluid is necessary for the maintenance of fetal well-being and is closely related to both mother and the fetus.[2] 

Be mindful, listen to what your body needs. Frequent urination is normal during pregnancy that is why do not let yourself dehydrate. Getting more water intake has lots of benefits like decreasing constipation, making your skin soft, keeping you refreshed, and decreasing the chance of having preterm labor. During pregnancy, the risk of getting a urinary tract infection was higher because pee presents more sugar, hormones, and proteins.

But how many glasses of water needed a day to balance my hydration level? As recommended, drink at least 8-12 glasses of water a day or 2.3 liters then colorless pee indicates good condition. In addition to keeping yourself hydrated during pregnancy fruits like lemons and limes were helpful, as much as possible avoid drinks with caffeine. Avoid heat exposure, and when you have an active level of activity increase your intake of water. Some suggest water with electrolytes is safe to be consumed by pregnant women because it does not have preservatives but for assurance ask your doctor first if you are planning to get drinks with electrolytes.

If you are feeling like your body is overheating, headaches and notice concentrated urine, then these are signs of dehydration; to avoid serious complications keep yourself hydrated every day. 

4. Regular Check-ups

The moment you suspected that you are pregnant because of its symptoms and getting a positive pregnancy test is the first indication that you need to consult a doctor. At this point, you will feel mixed emotions, excitement, overwhelmed, and nervous at the same time especially for the first-time moms. And the first thing you need to do is to find your obstetrician-gynaecologists, or OB-GYN that specializes with pregnant woman and reproductive health. Here’s a simple guide for a new mommy’s pregnancy stages:

  • During the first trimester (week 1 to week 12), you will learn the estimated due date and the fetal heartbeat. It will also see possible early problems for your baby. There will also be hormonal changes like period will stop, fatigue, swollen breasts, mood swings, heartburn, craving on certain food, and feeling an upset stomach. If you didn’t feel these discomforts then you’re a lucky mom because not all women had the same hormones.
  • Then in the second trimester (week 13 to week 28), you will likely feel the motherhood symptoms and adjust to the things compared to the first trimester. Some discomforts will lessen during this stage but frequent abdominal pain will feel due to expanding and moving of the fetus inside. There are also physical changes that may appear like stretch marks on the breast, abdomen, and thighs. Any usual or extreme discomfort calls your doctor right away.
  • Third trimester (week 29-week 40), discomforts from the second trimester continue as the baby grows and more movements. You will find yourself having a little breathing difficulty because the baby causes more pressure on organs. You will also feel contractions in the lower back and abdomen, difficulty in sleeping, milk will leak into your nipples, heartburn, and belly button pops out. At this stage, you are getting near to your due date and your cervix becomes thinner helps the baby’s passageway to open during the delivery. And, a consistent check-up is needed to examine your vagina.   

Having a regular check-up eases your pregnancy worries and health assurance to both of you and your baby.

5. Get More Sleep

The nine months of carrying your baby have so many challenges and the one that affects most was your sleeping pattern. During pregnancy, there are so many discomfort and unusual feelings you will experience like belly aches, abdomen, muscle cramps, getting hungry late at midnight, and heartburn, and this distracts your sleep schedule. When you always have no enough sleep or rest you may have a risk of getting preeclampsia or high blood pressure. And the feeling that you are exhausted throughout the day because of lack of sleep was very unproductive.

Getting medications without your doctor’s advice is not safe, but there are tips to get a good night’s sleep during pregnancy. Your chronic problem may increase, do not drink too much liquid before going to bed just the right amount because it may distract your feeling of sleepiness and makes you pee. Reading a book instead of spending time on electronic devices is a good mind-calming habit. When you’re lying in the side position, put a pillow on your bump and in your knees for support and comfortability.

During the day, try to be active, do additional chores, take a walk, a little exercise, and try yoga. Do not forget that caffeinated drinks are not good for pregnant women especially drinking them before bedtime. A little relaxation exercise before bed is also helpful and do not overthink and worry too much, as it destroys your peace of mind and makes sleeping at night. For serious matters regarding troubling sleep or severe discomfort call your doctor immediately.

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6. Educate yourself

There are lots of resources in books, friends, relatives, and the internet about pregnancy. Asking your support system strengthens your ideas on how the pregnancy journey goes. Moreover, internet research plays a helpful role in giving you lots of information about pregnancy and its mental, emotional, and physical changes. Build a partnership with your doctor, be honest and open about your life throughout pregnancy.

Empowering yourself during your maternal journey is also important, this means you are observing the changes in your body and prioritizing health between you and your baby. These will also help you to match up with your expectations, goals, and wants.  

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7. Exercise during pregnancy

Physical exercise for pregnant women is still important during pregnancy and not associated with risks for new born, it can also lead to long-term benefits for women.[3] After discussing your health with your doctor, and it seems everything is good about your health then it is safe to have an exercise. Here are simple exercises that are safe for you.

Swimming

it uses many muscle movements and the water supports your weight too. It also helps you to keep fit and refreshing.

Walking

30-minute walking sessions for five days a week will benefit your joints and muscles.

Indoor Bicycling

a better choice is a stationary bike; it is a device used as exercise equipment for indoor cycling because regular bikes can harm your belly.

Reformed Yoga

is a historical mind-body practice that originated from India and is becoming increasingly acknowledged and used in developed countries as a health practice for a variety of immunological, neuromuscular, psychological, and pain conditions. [4]During pregnancy, women undergo physiological changes and face stressors in life, these things are needed to manage throughout their maternal journey. Classes that modify yoga for pregnant women will align according to your preferences and comfort.

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8. Talk to a support system

Support systems include the healthcare family and your family. Your healthcare family includes your Obstetrician, midwife, or any health practitioner you may consult your plans with.  While, your family support system joins with parents, relatives, friends, and primarily husband. Because in some instances, we can get what we need in a single person so a support system is a big help to your journey. Just remember these people should be trusted.

You will face psychological adjustment during your journey that can trigger anxiety and stress and a lack of psychosocial and emotional adjustment can cause risk factors for you. [5]So, whatever struggles in your mind your support system holds you accountable for it. You can also ask or share your worries, thoughts, plans, and dreams with you as a new mom or becoming a parent again. Sharing a healthy lifestyle and making it a habit with your partner and parents is a great idea.

9. Avoid harmful substances

If you are pregnant or suspecting to be pregnant, it’s very important to avoid drugs, alcohol, smoke, cleaning, and toxic chemical products. A pregnant woman who uses drugs can have a long-lasting effect on their baby’s brain and function development. The chemicals from drugs pass from the mother’s bloodstream through the placenta to the baby.[6]

Just like drugs, smoking and drinking must avoid during pregnancy because it causes developmental problems. You are not putting your life in danger but also, risking your own baby’s health. Also, it will cause behavioral problems, affect the child’s memory, attentiveness, birth defects, prematurity, and underweight.

As a parent and mom, we are still usually doing the house chores even if we are pregnant and there will be close contact using chemicals for cleaning that can harm you and your baby. Some harmful products with toxic found as pesticides, products with mercury, bleach, and cleaning products (e.g., glycol ethers, phthalates, and parabens), better to read the label before using some products, stated that it is not suitable to use by a pregnant woman. Don’t panic if you are already exposed to household chemicals for a short period, only long-term exposure to large quantities can cause serious harm to the baby.

10. Pets in pregnancy

It is hard to avoid our furry babies considering they are part of the family. They can relieve our stress and bring joy by playing with them. But if you are having a new baby or planning to have a baby you must be aware of concerns to follow since pets have possible causes of health risks.

There are things to consider to keep pregnancy-safe while taking care of a pet in your home, check if the vaccine was updated and family members can take part in handling them. Pets can scratch and cause harm when playful to you especially when they imposed aggressive behavior when jealous, so avoid too much play with them.

The illness that animals can pass to humans is what you called zoonotic disease; it is a germ that causes sickness to humans. This is easily taken care of and cured but can harm if you have a low immune system.

Some of our common indoor pets were dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Here are a few reminders on how to keep safe with our pets:

  • Dogs- to keep safe with them make sure they had an updated check-up and vaccine. Some of them were playful so limit yourself to making fun they might jump and accidentally hurt your belly and also avoid being scratched.
  • Cats- I love cats and I can’t take them away during my maternal journey, but then as advised by a health practitioner I should be more careful and watch out for bites, scratches, and ticks from my lovely pets. And, animal feces are carrying parasites like in cats it is called toxoplasmosis especially when they eat raw foods, and these parasites can affect your pregnancy or baby. Good advice, ask a family member or your partner to watch out what your cats eat and avoid them getting along with stray cats outside because chances of getting the causes of parasites were there.
  • Fish and rabbits are petting that is easy to maintain. Just put them in their aquarium and cage, always make sure to use a glove and ask a family member to maintain the cleanliness.
  • While pets like turtles or snakes carry salmonella, commonly found in reptiles and amphibians. Salmonella causes harm to a pregnant woman that can make her sick. If possible, ask someone else to take care of the cleaning while you’re still on your journey. Same with your furry babies, reptiles and amphibians need health check-ups too.

Once everything goes well and a family member can handle taking care of your pets, you can certainly enjoy the pets you have. Any interaction with your pets, do not forget to wash your hands before and after. There are many choices to keep them just talk to the support system and have an animal health check.

11. DIY pregnancy journal

If you are a person who wants to make things on your own and simply choosing people with whom you only tell your thoughts, making a journal is perfect for you. And, if you are looking forward to your goals you can write it down and might also include photos for memories and fun. Creating journals relieves stress and calms your mind because of uncontrollable stress that can trigger our emotions.

Journals support your ideas and plans through your maternal journey. If you are having a hard time disciplining yourself about a healthy balanced diet, write down in a journal your goals, motivations and make an action plan. This is also helpful writing down before going to bed, it lessens your worries throughout the day.

Having a journal can bring back the memories of your maternal journey and by looking at it is a good family bonding with your kids. The photos will recall the challenges, happiness, and excitement of your journey. The written captions will remind you how excited you are the first time you found out that you are pregnant and the tears of joy seeing your baby out.

Some friends and relatives might also ask for a piece of advice about our journey and how it goes, you can show your journal and do a little sharing with them. Making a pregnancy journal is a good encouragement to mothers as it helps them to cherish and collect the memories of their unforgettable life journey. 

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12. Talk to your baby

Hearing your voice from your baby inside the womb has great importance for the baby’s development and also improves maternal-infant bonding. There are studies that babies respond to different sounds and vibrations by scientists and record the heart rate and pattern of movements.[7] The conclusion of this study is that babies learn to recognize the voice of their mother and remember it. Your voice shaping your baby’s social and emotional development as well as memory skills while inside your womb.

This is a good foundation to build from the second to the third trimester of pregnancy. Since it has a good effect on your baby try to sing a song, a lullaby, read a book or simply talk to your baby with your husband or partner to help the baby recognize his or her dad’s voice. Building this relationship with your baby and as a family makes your health improve mentally and emotionally.

Final Thoughts

Before your baby comes out prepare everything you need and your baby. Plan ahead of time to which clinic or hospital you’ll give birth to. And, of course, there are lots of information about healthy pregnancy we can get, we even feel bombarded by them but the only person you will rely on when regards your health during your maternal journey is yourself. You are the only one who can feel the changes of happiness and pain in your body listen to it carefully and prioritize the baby’s health always. Consider your age and choosing the healthy right time when to get pregnant.


[1] Grischke, E. M. “Nutrition during pregnancy–current aspects.” MMW Fortschritte der Medizin 146.11 (2004): 29-30.

[2] Ülker, Kahraman. “Maternal Hydration Therapy Improves the Quantity of Amniotic Fluid and the Pregnancy Outcome in Third‐Trimester Isolated Oligohydramnios.” Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine 33.5 (2014): 922-922.

[3] Nascimento, Simony L., Fernanda G. Surita, and José G. Cecatti. “Physical exercise during pregnancy: a systematic review.” Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology 24.6 (2012): 387-394.

[4] Curtis, Kathryn, Aliza Weinrib, and Joel Katz. “Systematic review of yoga for pregnant women: current status and future directions.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine 2012 (2012).

[5] O’Hara, Michael W. “Social support, life events, and depression during pregnancy and the puerperium.” Archives of general psychiatry 43.6 (1986): 569-573.

[6] Ross, Emily J., et al. “Developmental consequences of fetal exposure to drugs: what we know and what we still must learn.” Neuropsychopharmacology 40.1 (2015): 61-87.

[7] Marx, Viola, and Emese Nagy. “Fetal behavioural responses to maternal voice and touch.” PloS one 10.6 (2015): e0129118.

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Author

Tiffany Biondi

Tiffany Biondi

Mother of 4 kids, Tiffany is a certified childcarer and during her free time, she write posts in thebabychoice to share her hands on experience and knowledge.

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