Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

Most women are bombarded with a lot of do's and don'ts after their pregnancy is confirmed. The advice includes: Do this. Don't do that. Eat this. Don't eat that. Here is help to stay healthy during pregnancy.

Diet And Nutrition During Pregnancy

Eating healthy and nutritious foods is more important during pregnancy. You need more calories as well as more protein, iron, calcium, and folic acid than you did before pregnancy. Healthy and nutritious diet is important because the foods you eat are the main source of nutrients for your baby. Healthy, balanced food and regular activities and exercise are the best recipes for maintaining good health during your pregnancy.

Eating For Two

You should be eating for two. This does not mean eating twice as much food. You need about 300 extra calories a day. But, these extra calories should come from healthy food. If you eat sweets or junk food, you will get sufficient extra calories, but the extra calories do not provide the nutrients your baby needs. As a result, your growing baby will get the vitamins and minerals it needs from your own body. Your health could suffer.

You should eat foods that are:

  • High in protein
  • Rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and lower in trans fats and saturated fats
  • Low in sugar (sugar provides only empty calories) or refined carbohydrates high in fiber

Your baby also needs the following nutrients:

  • Calcium, for healthy growth.
  • Iron, for the baby's blood supply.
  • Folic acid, for reducing the risk for spina bifida (incomplete closing of the spinal column), anencephaly (defect of the brain), and other birth defects.

Calorie Requirement During Pregnancy

Most normal-weight pregnant women needs:

  • About 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester
  • About 2,200 calories per day during the second trimester
  • About 2,400 calories per day during the third trimester

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

You may wonder how much weight gain is optimum during pregnancy. The amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy depends on your body mass index (BMI) before you became pregnant. The usual recommendation of doctors is:

  • You should gain about 11-20 pounds if you were obese before pregnancy.
  • You should gain about 15-25 pounds if you were overweight before pregnancy.
  • You should gain about 25-30 pounds if you were at a normal weight before pregnancy.
  • You should gain about 28-40 pounds if you were underweight before pregnancy.

Doctors recommend that you should gain weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last trimester. The following are the recommendations:

  • 2 to 4 pounds during the entire first trimester
  • 3 to 4 pounds per month for the second and third trimesters

However, it is advised to check with your prenatal care doctor to find out how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy for you. It should a that each pregnancy is different.

Where Does The Extra Weight Go?

This is how the extra weight is distributed:

  • Baby – 6 to 9 pounds
  • Placenta – 1 to 2 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid – 1 to 2 pounds
  • Uterus expansion – 2 pounds
  • Breast tissue growth – 1 to 2 pounds
  • Blood and body fluids – 8 pounds
  • Your body's protein and fat – 7 pounds

Quit Smoking, Drinking Alcohol, & Using Illegal Drugs

Quit Smoking Right Away:  Quit smoking right away if you are pregnant. Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy is very harmful to your and your baby’s health. Apart from causing cancer and heart disease, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight. Low birth weight babies are at higher risk of health problems after birth. If you smoke during pregnancy, you are more likely than other women to have a miscarriage and to have a baby born with a birth defect of cleft lip or palate. If you smoke during or after pregnancy, your baby is likely to carry a greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Substance Abuse:  Using alcohol and illegal drugs during pregnancy is harmful to your unborn baby. Using legal drugs in an inappropriate way is equally harmful. When you use alcohol or drugs, the chemicals you ingest or breathe into your lungs cross the placenta and enter your baby. This puts your baby at risk for problems, such as stillbirth, low birth weight, birth defects, behavioral problems, and developmental delays.

Stop Drinking Alcohol:  Stop drinking alcohol right away if you are pregnant. If you drink alcohol, there is a chance of giving birth to a baby with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD involves a range of harmful effects that can occur when a fetus is exposed to alcohol. The effects can be mild to severe. Children born with a severe form of FASD can have abnormal facial features, severe learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and other problems.

Even occasionally drinking small amount of alcohol is also harmful. We don't know how much alcohol it takes to cause harm. We do know that the risk of FASD, and the likely severity, goes up with the amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy. Damage from alcohol can occur before you learn that you are pregnant.

Stop Using Illegal Drugs:  Many women who use illegal drugs also smoke and drink alcohol. So, it is not easy to tell the effects of one drug from that of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. What we certainly know is that using illegal drugs during pregnancy is very dangerous. Babies born to women who use drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are likely to be born with addiction and must go through withdrawal. Pregnant women who inject drugs are at higher risk of getting HIV, which can be passed to an unborn baby. Research suggests that the effects of drug use during pregnancy might not be seen until later in childhood.

Seek Professional Help To Help Quit Alcohol or Drugs

If you drink alcohol or use drugs and is unable to quit, talk to your doctor right away. The doctor might recommend a treatment program or a substance abuse treatment facility that can help you with addiction and abuse. Take professional help to quit alcohol and drugs and give your baby a good start to life.

When To Call Your Prenatal Care Doctor

During your pregnancy, do not hesitate to call your prenatal care doctor or midwife if any unusual physical change occurs or something is bothering you.

Call your doctor or midwife if you notice, feel, or experience:

  • Bleeding or leaking fluid from the vagina
  • Sudden or severe swelling in the face, hands, or fingers
  • Severe or long-lasting headaches
  • Discomfort, pain, or cramping in the lower abdomen
  • Fever or chills
  • Vomiting or have persistent nausea
  • Discomfort, pain, or burning with urination
  • Problems seeing or blurred vision
  • Dizzy
  • Your baby is moving less than normal after 28 weeks of pregnancy (if you count less than 10 movements within 2 hours)
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

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