Tips for Staying Healthy

The Importance of Getting Good Care
When it comes to medical care and pregnancy, you can never start too early. The best start to having a healthy baby is to see your health-care provider before you conceive. There are lots of things you can do ahead of time: you can make sure you're immune to rubella [German measles], find out your blood type, quit smoking, make sure your diet is healthy, and get any illnesses you might have under control.

Once you're pregnant, your health professional will have you begin with monthly visits that increase to once a week or more, closer to your due date. At each visit, the physician or nurse will perform a series of examinations and tests to determine the health of the mother and baby.

Getting good care is very important since it is known that pregnancy outcomes are better in women with early prenatal care. Here are some tips on how to ensure that you are getting the best care possible:

    1. Write Down Questions: Write down all questions you may have and bring them to your appointments with your health practitioner for clarification. This will ensure that you won't forget to ask any of the questions or concerns you may have during your pregnancy. Questions regarding side effects of treatments, medications etc. should all be asked.

    2. Get Educated: The very fact that you are reading this web page indicates you are trying to keep up to date on the subject of pregnancy. When you read or hear something new in the realm of pregnancy or obstetrics that is questionable, bring it to your practitioner's attention so you can discuss it.

    3. Get Clarifications: If your practitioner doesn't explain something to you or if you are just confused about something, don't be afraid to ask for explanations. Your practitioner should clarify all the risks involved in certain interventions and answer any questions regarding potential side effects of medications and why tests are being ordered.

    4. Be Truthful: Make sure that you are completely truthful with your practitioner. Some women are embarrassed to divulge all the information about their gynecological or general medical history. It is vital that your practitioner knows everything about you including any drugs (legal or illegal, prescription or over-the-counter) you may be taking or have taken in the past and any past illnesses or medical procedures you may have undergone. Previous pregnancies, miscarriages, abortions, surgery or infections may have an impact on what happens in your pregnancy. The more your practitioner knows about you, the better he or she will be able to treat you.

    5. Follow Doctor's Advice: Always follower your practitioner's recommendations fully as well as her instructions regarding medical procedures.

    6. The Whole Truth: Make sure that your practitioner is aware of any adverse side effects to medications or treatments or any other worrisome symptoms you may be experiencing.

Eating for Two
Good nutrition is another crucial step in having a healthy baby. A pregnancy takes about 300 extra calories a day to maintain, and an average-sized woman can expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds overall. Those extra calories should be nutritious ones. A pregnant woman needs a balanced diet complete with protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with a minimum of sugar and fatty foods. Good nutrition is extremely important even before a pregnancy. See the section on nutrition during pregnancy for more information.

A proper diet will improve your chances of having a comfortable pregnancy. It will minimize the effect of morning sickness and indigestion, while at the same time it will help to alleviate fatigue, constipation, hemorrhoids and infections associated with pregnancy.

Some nutrients have been found to provide specific benefit to mother or child. For example, the B vitamins are especially important. One of them, folate, or its synthetic form, folic acid, can reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, called the neural tube. Because neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days after conception, once you know you're pregnant, it's too late to do anything about them. Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it is recommended that all women of childbearing age get 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. Studies suggest that if all women received that amount daily, the incidence of neural tube defects might be reduced by an estimated 45 percent.

It is now required that all flour products, such as breads, buns and bagels be fortified with extra folic acid. Natural sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and citrus fruits. Folic acid is also in many fortified breakfast cereals and in some vitamin supplements.

Calcium and iron are also especially important during pregnancy. Getting enough calcium will help prevent a new mother from losing her own bone density as the fetus uses the mineral for bone growth. Iron helps both the mother and baby's blood carry oxygen. Most women need supplements to maintain adequate levels of these minerals. A daily vitamin supplement, while not an adequate substitute for a healthy diet, helps fill in the gaps on days when a woman's diet is less than perfect.

Following a proper diet will ensure that you gain weight at a steady rate and that you keep the gain within the recommended boundaries of 25 to 35 pounds. This will further minimize the chances of developing hemorrhoids, varicose veins, stretch marks, backache, fatigue and indigestion. For more information on how to fight those varicose veins, visit our website!

Avoid Infections
Many infections during pregnancy can be dangerous to an unborn child. Urinary tract infections and any sexually transmitted diseases need to be treated immediately. Cat litter and raw meat may contain the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause toxoplasmosis infection. It's rare for a pregnant woman to get the infection, but if she does, her baby could be at risk for serious illness or death. Get someone else to change the kitty litter if possible, or wear a facemask and rubber gloves for protection.

Problems also may arise when a pregnant woman eats undercooked or raw foods, or cooked foods that have been cross-contaminated with bacteria from raw food nearby. Food poisoning can cause meningitis, pneumonia or even death to an unborn child, plus the vomiting and diarrhea involved leave the mother exhausted and dehydrated. By attending to chronic conditions and clearing up any lingering infections, you can optimize the chances of having a comfortable pregnancy.

Mononucleosis can also really take it out of you when you are pregnant. Avoid sharing cups or utensils with other people, and this should reduce your risk of infection. If you have mono, find out about effective mono treatment.

Sometimes it is best to step back and break away from the stresses in your life. Leading a frenzied and stressful life during your pregnancy can worsen some of the side effects of pregnancy such as morning sickness, fatigue, headache, backache and indigestion. Don't be afraid to ask for help around the house and don't spread yourself too thin. Take more breaks from the really stressful things in your life and practice relaxation techniques to get some relief from the grind of everyday life.

The Dangers of Smoking and Alcohol
Smokers put their babies at a significantly higher risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth compared with nonsmokers. After birth, the babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to have poor lung development, asthma and respiratory infections and to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If a woman quits smoking early in pregnancy, however, she can still improve her chances of having a healthy baby. Expectant fathers or other members of the family should quit too, because studies suggest breathing second-hand smoke may be dangerous as well.

Alcohol can also damage a developing fetus. Alcohol travels rapidly to the bloodstream, so when an expectant mother drinks, her baby drinks also. Alcohol is known to cause mental retardation and facial abnormalities in babies, a condition called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). No one knows what amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy; therefore, it is recommended that women avoid alcohol altogether.

Taking Medications
Many drugs are appropriate for use in pregnancy, if really needed. But a pregnant woman shouldn't take any medication, even an over-the-counter one, unless she checks with her doctor first. If possible, she should avoid taking drugs in the first trimester or taking more than one medication at a time. She can also ask for the lowest dose possible to treat her condition.

Some medications have a long history of being used in pregnancy without problems. A pregnant woman shouldn't be deprived of drug therapy she really needs, and women with pre-existing medical conditions such as epilepsy, lupus, asthma or high blood pressure shouldn't quit their drugs because of pregnancy. Safer drugs can be used if necessary, but those medical conditions still need to be treated.

The risks of a drug have to be weighed against its benefits. For example, some epilepsy drugs are known to cause birth defects, but an epileptic seizure can cause brain damage to the fetus. Most experts agree that the benefits of medication in such cases outweigh the risks. Other drugs, however, are not so clear-cut.

There's increasing medical evidence to show that exercise, even a vigorous workout, is healthy during pregnancy. It has been found that exercise is usually safe during pregnancy, and that women who exercised vigorously were more likely to carry their babies to full term compared with women who exercised less or not at all; however, a pregnant woman should check with her doctor before exercising. If she gets the OK to work out, she should do so at least three times a week for 20 minutes each time. This is recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Walking, swimming, riding a stationary bicycle and joining a prenatal aerobics class are all excellent exercise choices for a pregnant woman. Many women enjoy doing prenatal yoga and Pilates. Some prefer the convenience of doing this from the comfort of their home alongside a video. Exercises that require jerky, bouncy movements and being outside in hot weather are not good choices. Being in good overall health will improve your chances of having a comfortable pregnancy. It is vital that you take good care of yourself during your pregnancy.

Recommended product

Pregnancy Plus Prenatal Vitamins
These vitamins are free of artificial dyes, flavors or preservatives and provide 100% RDA of key nutrients like Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin A (as beta-carotene), and folic acid- important in preventing birth defects.

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