Staying Healthy During Pregnancy
Published in Positively Superior magazine, April/May 2016
Staying Healthy During Pregnancy
Finding out you are pregnant can be both exciting, and nerve wracking—especially for first time moms. With all the advice available, both online and from well-meaning friends and family, figuring out what is best for you and your baby can be overwhelming.
As a family medicine physician, who works with obstetric patients, and who has three children of my own, I have experienced pregnancy from all angles. Some health changes you may notice are normal. These include:
- Stuffy nose: Blood flow is increased, resulting in feeling stuffed up from swollen vessels.
- Increased heart rate: Some expectant mothers notice an increase in their heart rate during physical activity. Although this can be normal, you should still mention it to your medical provider.
- Fatigue: You are growing another human inside of you! Feeling tired is normal.
- Food intolerance: Some expectant mothers develop food intolerances. Talk to your provider if these intolerances affect your ability to get necessary nutrients.
- Balance: As you get further along, your center of gravity changes. This may make it awkward or difficult to do things such as tying your shoes.
Even though your body is changing, there is still a lot you can do as an expectant mother.
Here are some tips for staying healthy:
Make a confirmation appointment one to two weeks after your first missed period. This will give you a chance to ask questions, talk about medications, and discuss your individual needs with your doctor.
- 10-32 weeks: see your doctor once every four weeks.
- 32-36 weeks: see your doctor once every two weeks.
- Last month-delivery: see your doctor once weekly
Expectant moms should consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products (calcium can reduce the risk for preeclampsia), and lean protein. Eating salmon twice a week, but no more, can benefit your baby’s brain development. Remember, don’t overeat! You only need an extra 300 calories of nutrition per day.
Avoid eating processed deli meat such as bologna, ham loaf, or turkey loaf; they may contain listeria. You should also avoid eating raw meat, and seafood high in mercury, such as swordfish, predatory fish, albacore tuna, and tuna steaks, drinking alcohol, and consuming over-the-counter medications like Sudafed.
Some expectant mothers experience nausea and vomiting. To avoid feeling sick:
- Do not let yourself have an empty stomach—keep snacks on hand.
- Eat smaller meals, spread throughout the day.
- Avoid consuming liquids and solid food at the same time.
- Take smaller sips when drinking liquids.
- Eat bland food.
- Settle your stomach with ginger, such as ginger ale, tea, and ginger snaps.
Keep in mind, not being able to keep anything down is not normal, nor is experiencing excessive nausea and vomiting after the first trimester. Talk to your provider if you experience these symptoms.
Expectant moms need around 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and may feel more tired than usual. Naps are a must if you feel fatigue!
Some expectant mothers have a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep. If this happens to you, try sleeping with a body pillow, or on your side with a pillow between your legs to increase blood flow.
Staying active is one of the best ways you can stay healthy during your pregnancy. Exercising not only helps reduce fatigue, but it also makes the delivery experience easier. Generally, you should be able to do the same activities you did before your pregnancy, as long as they do not put you at risk of falling.
During the first trimester, avoid extremely strenuous activities. If you experience any cramping, stop! Finally, make sure you stay hydrated.
Other ways to stay healthy include washing your hands, not smoking, making sure your immunizations are up to date, and avoiding kitty litter. If you, or a member of your household, do get sick, let your provider know.
Pregnancy can be an extremely exciting experience. Following these tips will increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a happy baby.