Throughout your Pregnancy
Throughout Your Pregnancy
Throughout your pregnancy, friends, relatives—even complete strangers—may be compelled to offer their advice about what you should and should not do. Dozens of books and hundreds of magazine articles are written on the subject, and many of them are cautionary. Although you may start to feel like you have to avoid nearly everything while you are pregnant, good prenatal care is based in large part on common sense. The same things that promote good health when you are not pregnant just need to be given extra attention while you are. These include eating right, exercising, and avoiding harmful substances. You should also start taking prenatal vitamins. For these nine months, everything you consume will also be “consumed” by your unborn child.
Healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do for your baby. Proper nutrition will nourish you and help our baby grow strong and healthy. Most pregnant women need to eat 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day. As a general rule, you should try to limit foods high in sugar and saturated fats, and make a point of having several daily servings of fruit and vegetables. In addition, pregnant women should include an extra helping of protein-rich food, as well as an extra serving of a calcium-rich food every day.
Although you may try hard to be “good” about your eating, it’s often difficult to give up all foods high in fat and/or sugar, such as ice cream, candy, potato chips, etc. If our weight gain is not excessive, and you are eating a well-balanced diet as described above, an occasional “treat” will not harm you or your baby.
So how much weight should you gain? On average, the recommended total weight gain during pregnancy is from 25-35 pounds. However, not everyone is average, and you need to discuss with your provider what will be best for you.
Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely to get listeriosis from food than women who aren’t pregnant. This can be dangerous to the fetus. The following foods should be avoided by pregnant women in order to reduce risk of listeriosis.
- Hot dogs, lunch meat, deli meat, or other processed meats unless reheated until steaming hot.
- Soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert; blue-veined cheeses; and Mexican cheeses such as “queso blanco fresco”.
- Smoked seafood unless it is re-cooked.
- Pate (even refrigerated)
- Raw milk or any other unpasteurized milk.
For healthy women, moderate exercise several times a week throughout pregnancy helps promote good health. Exercise helps women keep their muscles toned, work off emotional stress, ease ack pain, avoid constipation and hemorrhoids, and ease leg cramps.
How strenuous can I get? Will I hurt the baby? There is no evidence that women need to limit their exercise intensity or lower target heart rates when they are pregnant. Because there is less oxygen available for aerobic exercise during pregnancy, you may not be able to work at your prepregnant level, and it will gt harder the further along you are in the pregnancy. Remember to pace yourself and not to exercise to exhaustion. Avoid becoming overheated, especially during the first trimester.
- Take part in regular exercise (at least three times per week). It is preferable to intermittent activity.
- Start and finish your exercise session gradually (warm up and cool down).
- Exercise at a moderate pace for 20-30 minutes. This will give ou an aerobic benefit.
- Keep your fluid level up by drinking before you are thirsty.
- Do not hold your breath.
- Be gentle with stretching.
- After the first trimester, avoid any exercise where you lie on your back.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing and a supportive bra.
- Wear shoes with good support and cushioning.
Prenatal exercise classes are available through the community. Ask your provider for resources.
Discontinue your exercise if you experience any of the following:
- Fainting, or dizziness
- Bleeding, or fluid leakage
- Shortness of breath
- Racing heart beat, or palpitations
Please keep in mind that these are only general guidelines. If your provider has advised you differently, follow his or her guidelines for you.
Pelvic-floor exercises, or Kegel, exercises tone the muscles in the vaginal and perineal area. If done throughout your pregnancy—and beyond—these exercises will aid postpartum recovery, help prevent sagging or prolapse of the bladder and uterus, and help prevent urinary incontinence.
Sex during pregnancy…
Some women report an increased interes in sex during pregnancy, while others report a decreased interest and still others say there is no change at all in their interest levels. Unless you are having problems and your provider has advised you to avoid intercourse, sex and orgasms during pregnancy are considered safe and will not cause harm to your baby. Talk to your partner about your feelings, whatever they may be. Sharing honest feelings and concerns is important in meeting each other’s needs for intimacy. If you are near your due date or have had signs of preterm labor, talk to your provider about the advisability of intercourse during this time.
Avoiding harmful drugs…
Medications—either prescribed, over-the-counter, or ‘natural’—during pregnancy are best kept to a minimum. While some are considered relatively safe, many are not and pose the risk of potential harm o your baby. Most providers recommend the use of plain acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, for headaches, fever or minor aches and pains. Be sure to discuss the use of an medications with your provider early in your pregnancy.
Recreational drugs—(marijuana, cocaine, crack, etc) have been linked to miscarriages, stillbirths, low-birth-weight babies and birth defects. If ou are concerned about your ability to completely stop using drugs, or have an other concerns related to medication or drug use, please talk privately to your provider. Seeking help now is crucial to your baby’s well-being.
Alcohol—during pregnancy is not recommended. The use of alcohol has been associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which results in babies who are abnormally small and tend to have some mental retardation and behavioral problems. Instead of drinking alcohol, try seltzers, fruit juice or soda water with a twist of lemon or lime.
Smoking—during pregnancy has been associated with miscarriage, stillbirths, premature births and low-birth-weight babies. Recent research has also shown that babies and children who have mothers who smoke around them have more respiratory-tract infections and ma have some growth retardation and learning disabilities. Therefore, quitting smoking is strongly recommended. Talk to your provider about programs available to help you stop smoking.
Caffeine—intake during pregnancy should generally be limited to no more than two servings per day. Remember, caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, colas and some other soft drinks.
Other things to avoid— during pregnancy include work requiring heavy lifting or overexertion; radiation, including X-rays, poisons or toxic fumes from aerosols, insecticides and paint; hot tubs or saunas hatter than 101 degrees; and eating raw meat, eggs or poultry. Because parasites in cat feces can cause toxoplasmosis in pregnant women, this is the time to have someone else clean the litter box.
To protect both you and your baby while traveling in the car, always wear both a lap belt and shoulder harness. As your abdomen grows larger, wear your lap belt low across your hip bones and as snug as is comfortable. Your shoulder belt should be worn above your pregnant abdomen and below your neck.
Air travel is not harmful to your baby, although toward the ed of your pregnancy you will not want to be too far from home. While travel itself is no a problem, you need to be sure that quality emergency health care is available at your destination.
Preparing your family…
A new baby forever changes the dynamics of a family. In most ways, the changes are positive, but can be challenging. It will help all of you to be as prepared as possible.
Especially with a first child, many men find it difficult to talk about their worries and fears regarding the impending birth experience and their new roles as fathers. A new father is often concerned about the health of his partner, the health of his unborn child, his role as a childbirth coach and the added responsibilities a new baby will bring. These concerns will sometimes trigger physical symptoms such as weight gain, nausea and generalized aches and pains. Sharing feelings with your partner, talking with other couples and reading books and magazines about pregnancy and parenting can all help.
For children, the upcoming addition of a brother or sister may not be viewed as any sort of blessed event. Young children may feel threatened by the soon-to-arrive intruder. Building on your love and trust with the older child is important, especially during the last weeks of pregnancy. Even very young children can be included in the preparation for a new baby. School-age children also need to be included and have time set aside to talk about their feelings and concerns.