Tips to Stay Healthy During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to understand the causal link between your health and your baby’s health.  By maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle during your pregnancy, you decrease your risk of pregnancy complications and birth defects while increasing your chance of having a safe and successful delivery.

Of course staying healthy sounds easy in theory, but putting that theory into practice can be tough for new moms-to-be.  What foods should you eat and what foods should you avoid?  What exercise habits should you continue to practice, and which ones should you stop?  What should I avoid to reduce my risks of birth defects and miscarriages?  There are many online resources and apps you can use to develop a pregnancy health plan.  This article will cover the basics on how to stay healthy during pregnancy.

Maintaining a Healthy Diet During Pregnancy

Your diet is your main source of nutrients for your developing baby during pregnancy.  As such, there are certain foods you should make part of your diet and certain foods you should avoid.  First, it’s recommended that you take a prenatal vitamin while you’re planning on becoming pregnant and also while you’re pregnant.  These supplements provide your body with the critical vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain a healthy pregnancy like Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Calcium, and more.

Given that you’re supporting another life, you’ll need to up your calorie intake by 300-500 calories per day.  Be sure to incorporate a diet high in folates (lentils, oranges, asparagus), and also be sure to eat foods rich in calcium (dairy, leafy greens).  Fish can be a great food source for pregnant women, but avoid seafood that is known to carry high levels of mercury.

Exercising While Pregnant

Light exercise is a great way to stay healthy during pregnancy.  That being said, heavy or intense workouts can actually be detrimental at a certain point, so don’t overdo it.  Light cardio and yoga are great ways to keep fit during pregnancy without harming your baby.  Intense cardio, heavy weight-lifting, and hot-yoga should be avoided.

It’s important to understand that weight gain is an important part of a healthy pregnancy, and a new mom should expect to gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.  Excessive weight gain or too little weight gain can actually be detrimental to your baby’s health and could lead to health concerns.

Avoid Harmful Substances

Exposure to harmful toxins can significantly increase your risk of birth defects. Be sure to avoid tobacco products, second hand smoke, drugs and alcohol during pregnancy.  Seek professional help if you’re suffering from addiction.

Also, some common household products should be avoided during pregnancy.  Avoid organic solvents such as paint thinners and degreasing products, as they emit vapors that could be harmful to your baby.  Also, some acne medications like oral isotretinoin and topical retinoids have been linked to birth defects and should be avoided.  Also, avoid changing cat litter during pregnancy as toxoplasmosis could lead to a parasitic infection that can harm your baby.

Infographic provided by Vanguard Behavioral Health, rehab Tucson

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