Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy

There are many things you can and should do to prepare your body to have a healthy pregnancy. This can and should start several months or even years before trying to conceive. Some of these sound like no-brainers, but you would be surprised at what I see pregnant women do because of the lack of knowledge they have about having a healthy pregnancy for both mom and baby.

#1 - Quit Smoking....and never smoke again.
Smoking cigarettes is probably the number one cause of adverse outcomes of babies. These include: low birth weight babies, underdeveloped bodies, and adverse effects to the lungs, brain, and other organs. Even just one cigarette a day can have significant effects on the baby's blood vessels, causing lifelong traumatic effects on him.

# 2 - Stop Drinking Alcohol
Some alcohols that contain yeast can provide an environment on the body that breeds bacterial and fungal infections. As you prepare your body to conceive, understand that these infections can be passed to your baby if not taken care of properly. When you drink alcohol while pregnant, so does your baby. Alcohol has been shown to be harmful to the baby's development. If you drink during pregnancy, you are putting your baby at risk for irreversible Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

#3 - Check Out Medications and Supplements
Before becoming pregnant, check with your health care provider about the affects your medications may be having on your ability to conceive and carry a baby safely. In addition, some medications and supplements are not recommended for pregnant or lactating mothers.

#4 - Cut Out The Junk food and Soda
It is important to develop healthy eating habits before your baby is conceived. Being at an ideal weight and eating well will significantly increase you and your baby's health. Eating foods that are empty in calories is not a good habit to have. When pregnant, it is important to choose foods wisely. Having a balanced diet of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber is important to develop and strong and healthy baby. Reach for the apple instead of the candy bar next time you have a pre-pregnancy craving. The sooner you start, the better off you will be once you are pregnant! Here are just a few ideas of some healthy foods for pregnancy:
  • Whole Grains - buckwheat, spelt, rice, millet, quinoa, barley, and rye
  • Leafy Greens - spinach, kale, arugula, collard greens, and broccoli
  • Protein - wild caught fish, chicken, legumes, tofu, nuts, eggs, and cheese
#5 - Become Active
If you aren't already involved in doing some kind of physical activity, it is going to be important to get your body physically in shape to carry a baby. Try exercises such as yoga or Pilates. This will help minimize the muscle aches and pains that come along with being pregnant when you get there. If the season is right, get outside and walk in the park or around the block each day. Plus, the fresh air is good for you! *I do not recommend starting a rigorous exercise program when pregnant. And, don't start doing anything when you become pregnant that you hadn't preciously done, like jogging or running.

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