- See an OBGYN – schedule a prenatal visit as soon as you suspect you may be pregnant (or before, if you are planning to become pregnant) and see your obstetrician regularly throughout pregnancy. This allows any health problems to be quickly identified and treat early for the best possible outcome
- Take prenatal vitamins – pregnant women have specific vitamin needs – including folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects, and iron, a nutrient that works to make blood for your baby
- Review ALL medications with your OBGYN– some prescription and even over-the-counter medicines are harmful to your baby. Take only medications approved by your obstetrician
- Make sleep a priority – changing hormones and a growing belly can cause sleep disturbances. Aim for 7-9 hours or enough sleep to feel rested. If you’re feeling tired, schedule short naps (up to one hour) during the day
- Eat a well–balanced diet—including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Focus on consuming foods that add nutritional value. You need only 300 extra calories a day – about the same as a baked potato with yogurt or a milk and berry smoothie
- Exercise daily – even if fitness wasn’t your thing before pregnancy, now is the time to get moving. If you’re new to exercise, start slowly and increase gradually. Aim for 30 minutes of daily activity. Walking, swimming or riding a stationary bike are great examples of low-impact activities for pregnant women
- Avoid shellfish & other fish high in mercury – Some fish offers health benefits during pregnancy (Salmon, tilapia, trout) but others contain large amounts of mercury that can be harmful to your baby’s developing nervous system. Fish to avoid include: king mackerel, shark, tile fish, swordfish and tuna steaks
- Alcohol – even moderate amounts of alcohol can be damaging to your baby’s developing nervous system and can lead to a condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome. The safest plan is to stop drinking altogether as soon as you become pregnant or begin trying to get pregnant
- Stay away from hazardous activities – it’s best to avoid activities that could lead to a serious fall such as skiing, snowboarding and horseback riding. Other activities to steer clear of during pregnancy include hot yoga and heavy weight lifting
- Avoid douching & scented feminine hygiene products – these increase the risk for inflammation and infection and douching can force air into the birth canal and may even raise the risk for premature delivery
- Steer clear of hazardous household chemicals – some paint thinners, oven cleaners, carpet cleaning products and other every day chemicals can be toxic to fetuses. Avoid when possible and replace with natural, non-toxic cleaners.
The choices you make during these important nine months can impact your pregnancy, labor and delivery as well as the health of your baby. Bottom line – enjoy your pregnancy, stay active and lead the healthiest lifestyle possible.