It’s International Prenatal Infection Prevention Awareness month, so we’re here with a very important PSA! A healthy mama is a healthy baby. Caring for yourself during pregnancy is actually one of the best things you can do for your growing baby. At a time where taking care of ourselves often takes the backseat, whether it’s that dreaded maternal guilt or we’re stuck in survival mode, we think it’s all the more important to remind pregnant women that your health counts!
Here’s how to keep yourself healthy during pregnancy so that you can keep baby healthy, too.
Healthy Prenatal Care Habits for Pregnancy
Take your prenatal vitamin daily.This is always our top tip because it’s packed with so many nutrients to keep you and baby healthy, notably folate, which is crucial to early fetal development. “Folate is a B vitamin that is particularly important during pregnancy. It helps prevent fetal defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord (collectively referred to as neural tube defects)” says Dr. Stephanie Liu. While our prenatal is no replacement to a healthy diet, it’s reassuring to know that all the key nutrients your baby needs to grow are covered.
Eat as well as you can.We’d be lying if we said making nutrition a priority during pregnancy isn’t a challenge. Morning sickness, food aversions, cravings, insatiable hunger—we get it. Just do your best to eat as much fresh produce as you can whenever you can and healthy fats. Also, a reminder that pregnancy is not the time to go on a diet, particularly diets that eliminate food groups.
Rest.This includes developing healthy sleep habits to get 7-9 hours per night. We know pregnancy insomnia can put a damper on this, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not getting that much sleep. Rest also includes listening to your body to sit or lie down for quiet relaxation or meditation. This is one busy mamas-to-be often skip out on, but has so many benefits for both mama and baby’s health.
Get moving!Exercise is great for your immune system, so it plays a crucial role in keeping you and baby healthy. Studies have shown that exercising 3 days a week can even shorten labor times, reduce the risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, and ease back pain. “It is recommended that pregnant women without medical complications should get a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. If you were not active prior to pregnancy, consider starting with 10-20 minutes of low intensity intensity exercise 3 times per week and then gradually increasing the intensity, frequency and duration until you achieve the recommendations.” says Dr. Stephanie Liu. Dr. Liu also mentions “If you were already active, you may continue the types of exercise you did prior to becoming pregnant such as biking, jogging, dancing and yoga.” Dr. Liu also explains that there are are some sports and activities that should be avoided during pregnancy. “It is important to note that during pregnancy women are at a slightly higher risk of ligament sprains. The hormone relaxin, allows a woman’s belly to grow large and round. The same hormone allows other structures to stretch more than they normally would. Exercises that challenge maximal flexibility such as aggressive stretching and heavy weights should only be performed with supervision and caution. Contact sports (such as soccer) and activities with a higher risk of falls (such as skiing) should be avoided out of concern for fetal harm from accidental injury to mother. Scuba diving is also not recommended during pregnancy” explains Dr. Liu.
Nutrition, rest, and movement are the three things that will impact your pregnancy and your health the most. They’re the foundation for keeping you and the babe healthy. Now, let’s talk about what you’ll want to avoid:
Avoid These During Pregnancy
Prevent infectionsSo important, we wrote a whole blog post about it! Certain infections during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, and while it’s rare, they’re pretty simple to avoid. From changing cat litter to avoiding children’s saliva, we recommend checking that post out for some important pregnancy guidelines.
Avoid deli meat, unpasteurized cheese, and raw meat, fish, or eggs during pregnancy.These all pose a risk of infection (such as listeria or salmonella), and those infections come with their own set of pregnancy health risks. If you plan on eating any of the above, making sure it is from a reputable vendor and as fresh as possible is your best bet.
Avoid drugs and alcohol.It goes without saying, but we need to say it anyway. This includes smoking and the occasional glass of wine. While many women do choose to drink alcohol in small quantities with no issues at all, there is no scientific evidence that proves that alcohol in any quantity is safe for babies in utero.
What to Ask Your OB or Midwife
Your OB or midwife is a great resource for all your questions. Not only do they have tons of experience, but they know your medical history and your pregnancy, so they can make recommendations specific to you. Here are some great questions to get you started.
- Is it safe to take the medications I’m taking? Is it safe to take this new medication (whatever that may be)?
- What kind of exercise is safe, and do I need to change the frequency or intensity of my workouts?
- Are there any changes I should make to my diet? What do I need to avoid?
- What safety precautions should I be taking with Covid-19?
- How much weight should I gain throughout the course of my pregnancy?
- What prenatal screening or testing do you recommend?
- What symptoms would you consider unsafe? Should I call you if these happen, or is there a nurse line to call?
We’re hoping this helps you feel as healthy as possible during pregnancy!