If this is your first pregnancy, you are likely on a rollercoaster of emotions as you prepare to bring your first child into the world. It can be exciting, shocking and overwhelming. It is totally normal to feel like your head is overflowing with questions as you pour over countless blog posts, books and pamphlets about how to prepare, how to care and what to expect while pregnant.
Dr. Michael Bradfield, MD, Banner Health family medicine physician at Banner North Colorado Family Medicine in Greely, CO, provides five tips to help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.
1. Fuel Your Body and Baby
“Taking prenatal vitamins and eating a healthy diet should cover all of the vitamins and nutrients you need daily,” Dr. Bradfield says. “Your baby needs healthy food too – not just sugar and fat.”
Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods and foods low in saturated fat. Dr. Bradfield says it’s important to supplement your diet with prenatal vitamins that are high in folic acid and calcium too.
“Pregnant women need folic acid daily,” he says. “Although there is plenty of folic acid and other nutrients in food, it’s important to take a prenatal vitamin to ensure you get the right amount each day.”
If you are unsure what to take, ask your doctor for recommendations at your first prenatal appointment.
2. Stay Hydrated
Pregnant women need 50 percent more water—about 12 eight-ounce glasses a day—no matter the temperature outside. Drinking water not only lowers your core body temperature, but it also helps reduce nausea.
Dr. Bradfield suggests keeping bottled water by your bed as a reminder to drink and set an alarm on your phone to take a break and drink.
3. Get Moving
“Continue what you were doing before pregnancy for fitness, unless told otherwise by your doctor, and try to walk daily,” Dr. Bradfield says.
Staying active is important to your general health and can help you reduce stress and boost your overall mood and sleep. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, such as swimming, walking, Pilates or yoga. But, listen to your body. If it is uncomfortable, however, don’t do it.
Exercise is also good for weight management. We know you are eating for two, but Dr. Bradfield says packing on too much extra weight can make you more prone to gestational diabetes and not gaining enough can put you and your baby at risk too.
Dr. Bradfield says to check in with your doctor frequently to make sure you’re gaining at a healthy rate.
4. Rest and Relax
Ample sleep is important for you and your baby. “Your body has a lot of increased metabolic demands on it, so sleep meditation and relaxation are vital to you and your baby,” Dr. Bradfield says. He encourages patients to sleep on their left side to improve blood flow to the baby.
Reducing stress is also crucial for improving birth outcomes. Pregnant women should avoid, as much as they can, stressful situations. Recruit your spouse, friends and loved ones to help you stay relaxed.
5. Keep Up with Prenatal Care
Preconception and prenatal care can help prevent complications and protect you and your baby.
“Make sure you are receiving regular prenatal care from a licensed healthcare provider,” Dr. Bradfield says. “Studies have shown that women who don’t are much more likely to have a child with a preterm birth and low birth weight.”
Staying healthy during your pregnancy can come with specific challenges. As you embark on your own pregnancy, schedule an appointment with a physician to discuss your plan for baby bump well-being. To find a pregnancy doctor, visit Banner Health.