Pregnancy is different for every woman. Some women have it easier while others, not so much. Nonetheless, getting pregnant is a life-altering decision that should be discussed at length with your partner.
How to have a healthy pregnancy? Both parties should have a complete understanding of how pregnancy and raising a child will change their lives before trying for a baby. Once you are 100 percent sure and ready, the next step is to ensure the safety of the baby and the soon-to-be mother. Start with these 10 essential steps for a healthy pregnancy.
#01. Talk with Your Partner
Pregnancy and the baby will upturn your and your partner’s lives. Many things will change: your priorities, lifestyle, diet, and physical and mental condition, to name a few.
You could quickly go on vacation before, but after getting pregnant, you’ll need to consider if it’s safe for the baby to travel or if you can afford it. The baby’s safety and security are paramount. Many things you used to do may endanger the child in your womb, and these will have to take a back seat.
Pregnant women will experience many drastic changes in their bodies, including rapid weight gain, frequent mood swings, uncontrollable cravings, and spiking hormonal changes. These alter how they perceive the world through their sight, taste, and smell.
While men are less affected, research has found that soon-to-be-fathers also experience hormonal changes during their partner’s pregnancy. Many men experience the same symptoms (e.g., morning sickness, nausea, and aches and pains) as the expectant moms do.
In short, pregnancy is a physically, mentally, and emotionally harrowing experience for both parties involved. Are you ready to face this challenge? You need to be sure and be on the same page before having a baby.
Here are a few essential questions that you should discuss with your partner before getting pregnant.
#02. Visit Your Doctor
Having a healthy pregnancy begins with ensuring the mother’s and father’s health before and after conceiving. This means visiting your doctor or health-care provider.
Your doctor will revisit your and your partner’s medical histories and those of your families too. The purpose is to determine potential risks and to assess your overall physical and mental readiness to get pregnant.
Certain prescription and nonprescription drugs can have adverse effects on the developing fetus. If you have chronic health conditions and are taking medication for them, the doctor can advise you on the best treatment while making your pregnancy safe.
The doctor will also check if your vaccinations are up-to-date and ask plenty of questions about your lifestyle. This is to help you determine a suitable diet and routine to prepare your body for the pregnancy and ensure your baby’s health.
Don’t hesitate to tell your doctor if you’re facing other physical, mental, and safety issues at home and work. Your doctor can help you keep you and your baby away from harm.
The father or sperm donor also needs to be checked for fertility issues or health conditions that may be passed on to the fetus. All these checks need to be done at least three months before getting pregnant. After which, there will be regular prenatal checks and ultrasound screenings1 to monitor the baby’s condition.
#03. Achieve a Healthy Weight
A woman should maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy to avoid certain health risks. Pregnant women who are overweight or obese face increased risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, oversized babies, and cesarean delivery.
Being too light is also not healthy for women who are trying to get pregnant or are already carrying a baby in their womb. Being underweight puts them at risk of fertility problems, preterm labor, anemia, and babies with low birth weight.
Every woman is different, so a healthy weight for another mother may not be the same for you. During your preconception checkup, the doctor will take your weight and height to calculate your body mass index (BMI) to determine whether you have a healthy weight for pregnancy.
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, women in the first few weeks of pregnancy should have a BMI of between 18.5 and 25 kilograms per square meter (kg/m2). Those who fall under 18.5 are considered as underweight, over 25 are overweight, and above 30 are obese.
#04. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Diet plays a significant role in ensuring the health of the mother and her baby. Food is your body’s primary and best source of nutrients. Therefore, you need to maintain a balanced diet that will provide you and the baby with essential vitamins and minerals.
You should start eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and reduce the intake of unhealthy fats. That means cutting down on fried foods, margarine, baked goods, and processed foods.
Eat foods that are rich in iron, calcium, and most importantly, folate. Folic acid is essential to the development of the fetus to prevent neural-tube defects. Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen to the whole body.
Calcium aids in strengthening your bones and teeth, as well as helping your baby develop strong bones and teeth.
You should also look into taking a multivitamin supplement, including folic acid, to get additional nutrients for you and your baby. Ask your doctor for safe supplements for pregnant women.
#05. Get Enough Sleep
Pregnancy is taxing to the woman, so her body needs to get as much rest as it can, at least seven to nine hours of sleep at night. Many pregnant women report having difficulty sleeping at night, whether it’s due to the frequent need to pee, nausea, morning sickness, aches and pains of pregnancy, or other reasons.
If you can’t fall asleep, do something else to relax your mind, like reading a book, knitting, or crocheting, instead of lying awake in bed. Avoid watching TV or browsing your phone before bed for improved sleep quality.
Having comfortable pillows to support your knees, abdomen, and back can help you become more comfortable and sleep better. The next step will also help you have a good night’s slumber.
#06. Start a Pregnancy Fitness Program
Pregnancy comes with certain limitations, but it doesn’t mean you should stop exercising altogether. In fact, exercise plays a vital role in having a healthy pregnancy. Of course, you shouldn’t be doing anything too strenuous, so it’s best to consult your doctor or health-care provider about exercise plans for pregnant women.
That said, exercise can benefit soon-to-be-mommies in many ways. First, it helps alleviate pregnancy pains and aches. It’s no secret that carrying another human being inside you takes a toll on your body, especially your lower back. Proper exercise, combined with lumbar kinesiology taping,2 can lessen the pain and strengthen muscles and bones.
Another benefit of exercising during pregnancy is the improvement in your mood and sleep quality. Exercise has long been known to help people manage negative emotions, stress, and anxiety, and its effects are the same in pregnant women.
Finally, staying active builds your body’s endurance and stamina, which will later help a whole lot when you’re in labor.
#07. Cut Out Caffeine and Sugar
Most, if not all, doctors will recommend cutting out caffeine in your diet when you’re pregnant. That’s for a good reason. The American Pregnancy Association says, “Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic. . . . [I]t increases your blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are not recommended during pregnancy.”
Because the mother is connected to her baby through the placenta, the food and drinks she consumes will also be absorbed by her baby, including caffeine. The developing fetus can’t metabolize the caffeine fully, and that will affect the baby’s sleep pattern.
Sugar isn’t good for you on regular days, but it’s even more detrimental when you’re pregnant. Gestational diabetes is a common risk during pregnancy. It occurs when the expectant mother has an excessive amount of sugar in her body, which leads to increased glucose and insulin levels.
Moreover, eating too much sugar makes you gain weight faster, cause the development of fatty liver, and put your baby at risk of low birth weight, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
#08. Quit Tobacco, Alcohol & Drugs
It’s essential to quit tobacco, alcohol, and drugs altogether before getting pregnant. Aside from harming your health, all three can cause serious health effects on your baby, including low birth weight, withdrawal symptoms, physical defects, mental disorders, and even death.
Tobacco is linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), permanent damage to the brain and the lungs, and colic in babies. Exposure to nicotine and carcinogenic chemicals while in the womb also raises the babies’ risk of developing congenital heart diseases. Many babies who develop this condition don’t survive their first year of life.
Pregnant women who drink alcohol put their babies at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. FAS is characterized by the development of abnormal facial features, growth deficiencies, and central nervous system problems in infants.
Cocaine and marijuana are even more harmful to the baby in your womb. Cocaine causes permanent harm to the baby, resulting in any of the following:
- Congenital disabilities of the urinary tract and the head
- Having a smaller head, which is linked to lower IQ
- A stroke that can lead to death or severe brain damage
Prenatal exposure to marijuana is linked to the developmental and hyperactive disorder in children. Moreover, these babies are also likely to suffer from withdrawal symptoms and a higher probability of marijuana usage when they grow up.
#09. Limit Exposure to Chemicals and Toxins
Everyday household products, like bath and body products, cleaners, air fresheners, detergents, and soaps, contain chemicals that can harm your baby. Avoid anything that contains toxic substances, like lead, formaldehyde, phthalates, and bisphenol A (BPA).
Lead can be found in contaminated water and can cause permanent damage to the brain, nervous system. This dangerous substance can also contribute to the development of hyperactivity and difficulties in behavior and learning.
Many household products contain formaldehyde, which is not only an environmental pollutant but also toxic to humans and animals. Exposure to formaldehyde can compromise the immune system and cause low birth weight and lung problems in babies.
Phthalates are found in a wide variety of products that use plastic containers. These plasticizers are linked to the lower fertility rate in women, low birth weight in babies, and the development of ADHD in children.
Commonly found in plastic water jugs, baby bottles, tableware, and food containers, BPA is a compound that disrupts the endocrine system. Prenatal exposure to BPA can cause developmental and reproductive issues and increase the babies’ risk of breast and prostate cancer later in life.
Do your research about the products you use and ingest every day to know whether they’re safe for you and the baby. Ask your doctor which brands and goods are the best for pregnant women.
#10. Stress Relief
Pregnancy is a lot of work for the body. Stress is the last thing you need when you’re growing another human being in your womb.
It’s natural to feel stressed with all the changes you must cope with while pregnant, but too much stress can harm both you and your baby. Too much stress can cause high blood pressure and heighten the risk of preterm labor and below the healthy birth weight and health problems in babies.
During pregnancy, expectant mothers should learn techniques and do activities that help them manage and relieve stress and anxiety. If you’re experiencing high levels of stress, you should get help as soon as possible and not put your baby at risk.
Stress usually comes from home or work. Let go of some of the tasks you’re juggling now, and leave the heavy lifting to your partner. Talk to your boss to arrange a maternity leave. Stay moderately active, and try relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, and walking in the park.
When nothing else works, consult a professional to help you manage your stress and anxiety during pregnancy.
Our Most Commonly Asked Questions
What Are the Tips to Having A Healthy Pregnancy?
If you find out you’re pregnant, you need to start making the right food and life choices for your child and yourself. If you want to have a healthy pregnancy, ensure that you:
- See your doctor as soon as possible and get registered for antenatal care
- Eat well – ensure that you have a healthy balanced diet whenever you can. It includes five portions of fruits and vegetables daily, daily servings of proteins like fish, among others
- You should ensure that you take several supplements like folic acid for at least the first three months and vitamin D supplements for the entire pregnancy
- You should also be careful about food hygiene. Make sure that you clean your veggies and fruits thoroughly before consumption.
- You should also exercise regularly – you might also benefit from doing pelvic floor exercises
- Ensure that you cut out alcohol and other harmful drugs
- You should avoid taking caffeinated drinks since they pose a risk of miscarriage
Ensure that you get enough rest throughout your pregnancy
How Do You Make Sure You Have A Healthy Pregnancy?
With the changes in the world and global warming become a significant concern, you need to be careful when pregnant. So, to ensure you have a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy make sure that you:
- Take prenatal vitamins with folate every day
- Exercise regularly – you might want to have some morning and evening walks
- Don’t smoke or use street drugs like cocaine or heroin
- Keep out from saunas and hot tubs
How Many Steps Should A Pregnant Woman Take Daily?
Well, according to various gynaecologists, for a healthy pregnancy, pregnant women should aim for at least 10,000 every day.
How Can One Have A Healthy Pregnancy Naturally?
A healthy natural pregnancy starts with a natural diet. You are nourishing your child and yourself. Therefore, you need to consume whole foods, vegetables and fruits.
You also need to avoid highly processed foods and empty calories.
The mother’s health is crucial to the safety and well-being of the baby in her womb. If the mother is unhealthy, the baby will also suffer. That’s why it’s crucial to look after yourself and take measures to ensure a healthy pregnancy, starting several months before you conceive. From maintaining a nutritious diet to avoiding stress, every step is essential to secure the health and happiness of your future child.
When your baby is born, your priority must be still be his health and safety. Make sure you check out our guide for the best double jogging strollers and best rated car seats for the safest products on the market.