As an expectant mother, you will undoubtedly be bombarded with do's and don'ts: "Eat this," "Don't eat that," "Do this," "Don't do that." After all, with pregnancy comes the vital task of making sure that your health — and consequently, your baby's — are of priority throughout the pregnancy and lactation.
But don't let all of the advice overwhelm you. The following suggestions are simple tips that from the very first symptoms of pregnancy can improve the prospects of good health and normal development for you and your child:
Regular Prenatal Care
Establish care with an obstetrician or midwife early in your pregnancy, and follow their recommendations on how to improve your general viability. Take prenatal vitamins to help ensure a healthy pregnancy, but do not take any other medications or supplements without consulting your provider first.
Load your plate with fresh produce, whole grains and other healthy and natural choices so that you get all the vital nutrients needed for an expectant mother. A good rule of thumb is to consume five to seven colors in your diet each day. Many women find that eating several smaller meals per day is easier on the digestive system than three normal meals.
This does not mean intense Olympic-level training during your pregnancy! However, engaging in mild to moderate prenatal exercise promotes the circulation of blood throughout the body and helps maintain strong bones and tissue in an expectant mother. Although sit-ups, crunches or other abdominal exercises are not recommended, some good exercises for pregnant women include:
- Brisk walking
- Stationary bicycling
In addition, every expectant mother should take regular baths, as the glands of the skin become more active than usual.
Exhaustion is a common complaint of expecting mothers. The body goes through a large amount of demanding work to generate a new human life, just when you need to be building up your energy reserve for after baby comes. Therefore rest! Try to take a nap each day if you can.
Your clothes should be simple and comfortable. Avoid tight-fitting clothes, which could interfere with your blood flow. Wear low-heeled shoes or flats to avoid ankle sprains/strains. A sturdy bra that provides adequate support is recommended as breasts swell during pregnancy.
The "Don'ts" List:
For your health and your baby's health, there are a few things that you are going to want to avoid:
- Tobacco, alcohol or drugs of any form — Any use of these substances is capable of resulting in a birth defect or a baby that is less than healthy. Check with your doctor or midwife regarding any prescription medications.
- Extensive physical activity — Listen to your body all the time and do what your body is telling you to. No heavy lifting — just ask someone to help you.
- Mercury-containing fish — This list includes shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish, which they may contain enough mercury to interfere with development of your baby’s brain and nervous system.
— Abigail Aiyepola, ND, LM, naturopathic physician, licensed midwife and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University.