Caring for your baby’s health starts long before you actually meet your bundle of joy. In fact, it can start before you’re even expecting! Following these tips to help ensure a healthy mama and a healthy baby.

  1. Get healthy before you conceive. Even before you get pregnant, it’s smart to take pre-natal vitamins and folic acid. Your baby’s 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.
  2. 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 pre-natal 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. Talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program if you’ve never worked out before, or it’s been more than a year since your last work out. 
  3. Do some research. Even if this isn’t your first baby, attending a childbirth class will help you feel more prepared for delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, but you can ask specific questions and voice any concerns. You’ll also become more acquainted with the facility and its staff. Now is also a good time to brush up on your family’s medical history. Talk to your doctor about problems with past pregnancies, and report any family incidences of birth defects.
  4. Check your medications. Check with your doctor or midwife before taking any over-the-counter medications, supplements, or “natural” remedies. Even non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen should be avoided—studies suggest they increase the risk of miscarriage and damage to fetal blood vessels.
  5. Check your weight gain. You might be surprised that you should gain less weight than you think. Recently the Institute of Medicine issued new guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. If you’re underweight, you might be advised to gain as many as 40 pounds — but if you’re overweight or obese, you could be advised to gain as little as 11 pounds. 
  6. Drink more water. During pregnancy, your blood is supplying oxygen and essential nutrients to your baby through the placenta and carrying waste and carbon dioxide away — which means your blood volume increases up to 50 percent to handle all this extra activity. So, you need to drink more to support that gain. Drinking water can also help prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, UTIs, fatigue, headaches, swelling, and other uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms. Aim for 8-10 glasses per day, and if you don’t enjoy the taste, try adding a squeeze of lime or a splash of fruit juice.
  7. Go fishing! In a 2007 study of more than 12,000 children, researchers found that youngsters whose moms ate the most fish during pregnancy had higher I.Q.s – plus better motor and communication skills – than those whose mothers did not eat fish. Scientists say that’s because fish is high in omega 3s, a nutrient critical to brain development. There’s just one catch (no pun intended): Some kinds of fish contain mercury, which can be toxic to both babies and adults. To be safe, the FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. Stick with canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollack, or catfish. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, which are all high in mercury.
  8. Protect your skin. Being pregnant makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you’re more prone to sunburn and chloasma, those dark, blotchy spots that sometimes appear on the face. Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (many brands now offer chemical-free formulas) and wear a hat and sunglasses. While no studies prove spending time in tanning beds can hurt your baby, the American Pregnancy Association recommends you avoid them while you’re pregnant.
  9. Educate yourself about postpartum depression. You’ve probably heard of postpartum depression, but you may not know that 10 percent to 20 percent of women experience symptoms of major depression during pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes. This could increase your risk for preterm labor. If you’re feeling unexplainably sad, angry, or guilty – or if you lose interest in activities you usually enjoy or sleep too much – tell your doctor. Medical therapy programs, a support group, an antidepressant medication, or a combination of the three will likely help. Not all antidepressants are safe for pregnant women, so be sure to work with a doctor who is familiar with pregnancy-related mental health issues. 
  10.  Relax! Find some time to pamper yourself, rest when you’re tired, occasionally give into your cravings, and enjoy this magical time. It will all be over too soon!
  11. Are you expecting and needing prenatal care? Call us today at 317-272-0708 to book an appointment with our caring clinicians.