Pregnancy can be a very joyous, emotional and beautiful experience as you prepare to welcome a new life into the world. At South Lake OB-GYN, we are here to make sure you have the best pregnancy possible.
Staying healthy before, during and after pregnancy will ensure a better pregnancy for you and your baby. As your baby grows, it requires proper nutrition and care in the womb. Here are some great, simple tips for a healthy pregnancy.
Preparing for conception
If you’re still in the planning stages of pregnancy, consider a mild pre-pregnancy detox. Think of it as preparing a guest room before a visitor arrives. Cleansing should involve simple and non-drastic changes, such as cutting out processed foods. Shifting to a healthier lifestyle before pregnancy can help rid your body of toxins and optimize your chances of conceiving. This will also help you solidify healthier habits for a healthy lifestyle even after your baby is born.
If you aren’t already active, adding just half an hour of exercise into your daily routine can help your baby develop a healthy heart and have healthier blood vessels in adult life.
Your diet is the primary source of nutrition for your unborn child, so now is the best time to evaluate your eating habits and optimize them for baby. Stock up on nutrient-rich foods such as bananas for vitamin B6 to encourage red blood cell formation, sweet potatoes for vitamin A, and spinach and salmon for calcium to help prevent bone loss during pregnancy and encourage the formation of healthy bones in your baby.
Other essential nutrients for health include omega-3 – which can be found in hemp seed, flax seeds and chia seeds – and omega 6 found in olive oil, whole grains avocados and fatty fish like sardines.
A daily dose of folic acid (400mg per day) and vitamin B12 (2.5mcg per day) is also recommended for women who are trying to conceive.
Schedule a preconception check-up
If possible, make an appointment to see your OB-GYN or doctor before you get pregnant to discuss any concerns you may have. During a preconception check-up, your health professional will talk to you about your personal and your family’s medical history and about your health and lifestyle, including your emotional and mental well-being. This is to assess whether you have any current or past conditions that could affect your ability to get pregnant or your baby’s health once you are pregnant.
Habits to quit
Everybody knows that smoking while pregnant is harmful to you and your child. Nicotine stems the flow of oxygen to your baby by narrowing blood vessels in your body including the umbilical cord. The effect is the same as forcing your baby to breathe through a narrow straw. Your doctor can offer options to help you quit smoking, but you should also steer clear of others who smoke both before and during your pregnancy.
It’s the same story for alcohol and caffeine – all these substances cause harm to your baby when they enter your bloodstream and cross the placenta.
Other lifestyle changes to consider: if you live with a cat, you’ll need to hand over litter tray duties to someone else. This is to guard against a parasite in cat faeces that can cause toxoplasmosis – an infection that can be life-threatening to developing babies.
Foods to avoid
There is often confusion about whether it is safe to eat fish while pregnant. Low-mercury fish contains essential nutrients that positively impact the growth and development of the fetal brain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend eating two to three servings of low-mercury fish per week for pregnant and breastfeeding women. These include: salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, trout, cooked shrimp, Pollock, catfish and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel.
Fish containing high levels of mercury can harm growing babies and should be avoided along with shellfish. which can contain harmful bacteria and viruses. Reduce your exposure to both by skipping on servings of shark, tilefish or king mackerel and of course, sushi.
Diet sodas and artificial sweeteners should also be avoided as they contain aspartame, which some research has linked with an increased risk of premature birth.