5 tips for a healthy pregnancy

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By Jennifer Steffen, NP, InterMed Women’s Health

Moms-to-be often ask what they can do to give their baby the best start. Here are a few simple tips that will benefit your baby — and you.

Eat a healthy diet
Strive for a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein at every meal and for healthy snacks.

Other dietary changes important to pregnancy include:

  • Two meals per week of fish can provide essential fatty acids, called omegas, which contribute to healthy brain development for your growing baby.
  • Eating fortified foods is a good way to add extra nutrients.
  • Eating plenty of fiber and drinking six, eight-ounce glasses of water daily can prevent constipation, which is common in pregnancy.
  • Avoid deli meats, soft cheeses, and raw or under-cooked meat, as these foods can contain bacteria that can be harmful to the pregnancy.
  • There is no safe amount of alcohol in pregnancy, so it should be avoided.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, Choose My Plate is a good resource to help you plan a healthy diet.

Exercise regularly
Exercise is safe and recommended during pregnancy, unless you are advised otherwise by your provider. Exercise strengthens your muscles and heart, promotes healthy weight gain in pregnancy, manages stress, helps with sleep, eases backache and the discomforts of pregnancy, and prepares your body for labor. It is recommended that pregnant women get 150 minutes of exercise weekly, divided into 10 – 30 minute workouts. Some great activities to consider are walking, stationary biking, swimming, dancing, and yoga. High risk activities such as sky diving, contact sports, and hot yoga should be avoided. Remember to drink plenty of water while exercising.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has lots of good advice about exercise during pregnancy.

Maintain social connections
Research has proven that having strong family and social support during pregnancy has a protective effect on mood and is helpful in preventing postpartum depression. Examples of ways to connect include reaching out to family and friends, taking a prenatal education class, or joining a group for exercise such as a prenatal yoga class.

CenteringPregnancy® is offered at InterMed, which is a form of group prenatal care specifically geared towards establishing connections with other pregnant women. After delivery, consider postpartum and breastfeeding support groups, such as those offered by Birthroots and Maine Medical Center.

Visit your dentist regularly
Poor dental health can negatively affect your pregnancy as the hormones of pregnancy can cause changes to gums, which contributes to periodontal disease. Pregnant women should continue to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day, and see the dentist twice a year for routine cleanings. Should the need arise, dental x-rays and local anesthesia are safe in pregnancy, and necessary procedures such as fillings or root canals should not be delayed.

Monitor medications and exposures
Though many drugs and supplements are safe during pregnancy, you should always check with your provider before taking any over the counter medications or herbal preparations. Additionally, MotherToBaby is an excellent resource during pregnancy and breastfeeding if you have concerns about other exposures,  such as chemicals used in your household or work environment.