A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen—it’s an amazing collaboration between you, Mother Nature, and your doctor. And while every pregnancy is unique, here are some general tips that can help both you and your baby stay healthy:
- Control pre-existing conditions. Looking at your family history, chronic conditions and pre-existing conditions is step one: Lupus, diabetes and weight issues are among the most significant. In fact, being either overweight or underweight can impact conception and a healthy pregnancy
- Watch what you eat. A balanced diet is the Rx for everyone, but women who are pregnant or are planning to be have specific dietary needs. First, add a multivitamin with folic acid to your daily routine. Consider a folic acid supplement of 400 to 800 micrograms, starting at least three months before conception, if possible. Pregnant women should also shy away from certain foods, or at least eat them in strict moderation, experts say, including lunch meats, raw milk, and fish with high potential levels of mercury. Caffeine is also on the “to avoid” list. Two cups of coffee a day appears to increase the risk of miscarriage in the first trimester.
- Get moving. Again, exercise is essentials for anyone looking to improve health, not just aspiring new moms. Typically, you can continue any exercise program you regularly did pre-pregnancy. But if you were sedentary before conceiving, you should begin exercise gradually, under your physician’s supervision.
- Think about mental health. There is a strong movement to recognize the risk of postpartum depression, and the disease occurs in as many as 10 to 15 percent of deliveries. A history of depression or postpartum depression can be a risk factor, but if you already take antidepressants, don’t automatically assume you will need to suspend treatment during your pregnancy. Some antidepressant medications are considered safe during pregnancy. Women with strong support systems seem to weather postpartum depression better. Start thinking now about who you can lean on in the initial adjustment to life with a baby.
- Get Vaccinated. The flu shot gets the most attention, but it is essential to be up-to-date with other vaccinations such as hepatitis, chicken pox, German measles and rubella. Generally, pregnant women are discouraged from receiving live vaccines, which is why some vaccinations need to be administered before conception.