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11 Ways to Stay Healthy During Pregnancy

Here are 11 tips to help you increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

1. Get enough sleep.

Sleeping for long periods (7 to 9 hours) is important for you and your baby. Sleep on your left side to improve blood flow.

2. Reduce stress.

Reducing stress is critical to improving childbirth outcomes. Pregnant women should avoid stressful situations as much as possible. Recruit loved ones to help you manage stress in your life.

3. Eat healthy foods.

Eating healthy foods is especially important for pregnant women. Your baby needs nutrients to grow healthy and strong in the womb. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and foods low in saturated fat.

4. Take a prenatal vitamin daily.

Taking a daily prenatal multivitamin can help ensure that you are getting the right amount of the essential nutrients that you and your baby need during pregnancy. They include folate, iron and calcium.

5. Stay hydrated.

A pregnant woman's body needs more water than it did before pregnancy. Aim for eight or more cups each day.


6. Avoid certain foods.

There are some foods that women should avoid eating during pregnancy. do not eat:

Raw or rare meats
Liver, sushi, and raw eggs (also in mayonnaise)
Soft cheeses (feta, brie)
Unpasteurized milk
Raw and unpasteurized animal products can cause food poisoning. Some fish, even when cooked, can be harmful to a growing baby because they are high in mercury.

7. Do not drink alcohol.

Do not drink alcohol before, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of having a baby with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD can cause abnormal facial features, severe learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

8. Go to your prenatal checkups.

Women should get regular antenatal care from a health care provider. Mothers who do not receive regular antenatal care are more likely to have a baby with a low birth weight or other complications. If available, consider group prenatal care.

Alcohol can affect a baby's health in the early stages of pregnancy, before a woman knows she is pregnant. Therefore, women who may become pregnant should also not drink alcohol.

9. Do not smoke.

Smoking is unhealthy for you and your baby. It increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), premature birth, miscarriage, and other poor outcomes.

10. Move.

Daily exercise or staying active in other ways can help you stay healthy during pregnancy. Consult your doctor to find out how much physical activity is right for you.

11. Get a flu shot.

The flu can make a pregnant woman very ill and increase the risk of complications for your baby. The flu vaccine can protect you from serious illness and help protect your baby after birth, too. Ask your doctor about the flu vaccine.

Not only does this mean that women must ensure that they are in good health before becoming pregnant, but they must also consider their age before becoming pregnant. Mothers who have babies early in life (over 16 years old), or late in life (over 40 years old) have a higher risk of preterm birth. Also, women who become pregnant again very early (less than 18 months between births) are more likely to have a premature baby.




Audra Meadows, MD, MPH