When it comes to pregnancy, everyone seems to have an opinion on what’s best for mom and her baby. When taking in all of this advice – some of it hair-brained, some of it contradictory—it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed, confused and frustrated. That’s why we’re going back to basics, paring down the most sound and simplest advice for a healthy, stress-free and happy pregnancy.
Find your health care team
One of your first steps should be finding a doctor or midwife who you feel confident in and comfortable around. Regular prenatal care is so important during pregnancy and to ensure a healthy birth. During these visits, your provider will do a physical exam, check for healthy weight gain and test your urine. Throughout your pregnancy journey, you’ll have blood work done to make sure both you and baby are doing well. You’ll listen to your little one’s heartbeat, check in periodically through ultrasound imaging and have ample time to ask questions and address your pregnancy and birthing concerns.
Take a prenatal vitamin
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that’s been shown to significantly reduce the risk for neural tube defects like spina bifida. A well-balanced vitamin will also include nutrients vital to your health and your developing baby. Ask your health care provider about taking an additional calcium supplement, as a deficiency could pose some trouble for you down the road.
Talk to your doctor or midwife about beginning a gentle exercise regimen. Working out regularly—30 minutes each day—can help you feel better, reducing aches and pains and boosting your self esteem. Most importantly, labor and delivery are hard work and a true test of your endurance. You wouldn’t sign up for a marathon without planning to train, would you?
Go to the dentist
We’ve talked about how important it is to get your teeth cleaned during pregnancy before. With pregnancy hormones surging and fluctuating, you’re more prone to gum infections at this time. Untreated infections can increase your risk for pre-term birth—and cause more dental problems for you post pregnancy. Keep your six-month check-up on the books, but just be sure to alert your dentist to your pregnancy.
Eat a balanced diet
Ignore that old maxim that states that during pregnancy you’re eating for two. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology advises that expectant mothers add an additional 300 calories to their daily intake. Make these calories count by focusing on whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy grains and protein sources like chicken, tofu, and salmon.
If you’ve never been a big water drinker, now is the time to change that. Guzzling eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, helps deliver much-needed nutrients to your developing baby. Water staves off bladder infections and constipation, reduces swelling, may help with joint pain and nausea, and is crucial to maintaining a healthy level of amniotic fluid.
Recent studies show a correlation between high stress levels and complications during birth. During pregnancy, put a focus on staying calm and centered. There’s no shame in seeking out the professional help of a therapist if you need someone to talk to.
Join a birthing class
Knowledge is power. Prepare for labor and delivery by signing up for a birthing class before the end of your third trimester. You’ll learn about the stages of labor, what you can expect and pick up some helpful tips for pain and stress management. You’ll also meet face-to-face with other expectant moms and have the benefit of sharing your pregnancy experiences and fears with others in the same boat.
Have you been overwhelmed by all the advice out there for pregnant women? How have you been choosing what to follow? Share your experience in the comments below!