Healthy Prenatal Strategies for Pregnant Women

During pregnancy, the best health strategies are often those that can be incorporated into one’s everyday life. As a woman’s size increases and her mobility decreases, the ability to engage in physical activity gradually diminishes, which places a greater emphasis on other health habits that can help her maintain a healthy pregnancy weight and engage in effective self-care on a daily basis. Prenatal care depends to a great extent on many of those same health concerns that impact anyone, notably getting plenty of restful sleep, following a healthy diet, getting the right amount of physical exercise, and observing self-care practices every day of your pregnancy.

Your Microbiome

Your microbiome is the sum of all the genetic material inside and on the human body. The bacteria in one’s microbiome helps digest food, regulates the immune system, produces vitamins such as B and B12, and is essential for nutrition and immunity to disease.

Eating Right

Getting the right foods is one of the easiest, most straightforward ways of caring for your health and that of your unborn child. In general, eating foods from the five essential food groups is advisable, including a variety of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, though unpasteurized cheeses (i.e. feta and bleu as well as Mexican-style cheeses) and certain fish — particularly those high in methylmercury — should be carefully avoided. Additionally, ensure that you get 400 micrograms of folic acid a day.


In general, pregnant women can continue engaging in normal forms of physical exercise during pregnancy, though it’s important to consult a healthcare provider if you have any doubts regarding the safety of a particular exercise. Regular exercise is a good way to help you sleep soundly, feel better, and keep your body in good shape so you’re able to get back into shape quickly after giving birth. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy pregnancy weight; gaining too much (which can cause gestational high blood pressure and other problems) or too little can lead to problems for you and your baby. In general, the amount of allowable pregnancy weight gain depends on your body mass index and your pre-pregnancy weight.

Substances to Avoid

It is by now well-known that nicotine intake and alcohol consumption can lead to birth defects and should be avoided during pregnancy. Studies have shown that smoking tobacco or marijuana and taking illegal drugs can as much as triple the risk of fetal death after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Avoid doing house cleaning with cleaning substances that could prove to be toxic, and don’t handle pesticides and anything containing heavy metals.


During pregnancy, women often suffer from iron-deficiency anemia, which has a bearing on problems such as low birth weight and pre-term birth. In some cases, a B12 supplement can help guard against such problems.

Observing careful health practices when you’re pregnant is about much more than watching one’s weight and maintaining your health. It’s all about ensuring that you give birth to a healthy baby on time and with a safe and healthy birth weight.

Jennifer McGregor is the co-creator of Public Health Library – a forum for sharing reputable health and medical information.

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Lessons from Tahlequah

Thank you, Ashley, for writing this lovely article about loss and bereavement.

Many of us have seen the article circulating by now about Tahlequah, the mother orca that carried around the body of her calf for upwards of two weeks. This documented, circulating story has struck a chord in many, and for many different reasons. Most obvious, we can all relate to the pains of grief and loss in some way or another, and all our hearts break for this mother. The article and photos I’ve seen circulating have stirred within me for days, as I feel compelled to share the significance of this occurrence.

Infant loss for all mammals, is a daily occurrence, including humans, yet, we don’t hear about it. And if we do hear about it, we certainly don’t want to discuss it as infant loss if so intensely painful. It’s hard to express in words. I have not personally experienced infant loss, but I have come close to many who have. I am a certified bereavement doula with I have come alongside grieving families as they’ve birthed their baby sleeping, and done my best through training to provide the safe space for them that they so desperately yearn for and deserve. When you read the article, you see that Tahlequah‘s whole family came around her and supported her. They fed her. They took turns holding the baby when she needed a break. This is what infant loss support should look like. It’s breathtaking.

With every family I’ve volunteered to come alongside when their baby was born sleeping, my focus is always on them doing everything they want and need to have time with their baby. If they’re nervous, I encourage them to hold the baby. Talk to baby. Sing. Dress them. Rock them. Cuddle them. And especially, take photos. While all of that can be excruciatingly painful to do, they only get that one chance.

My heart longs to tell you, wether you’re a family going through this or know someone going through infant loss: don’t let fear hold you back from grieving with your baby in your arms. This baby is yours, and you deserve every minute, every hour you so desire with your child. If you’re a loved one, encourage them. Hold the baby yourself. Love this child while you still can through touch, and long after they leave your arms. Look into certified bereavement doulas to help support a family in need, even last minute. Many of us do this work pro-bono. It’s a scary thing to face these fears of such unknown and deep pain, but this orca Momma has shown the world that it’s natural and important.

To all that have lost, I see you. Don’t be afraid to keep talking about your baby. It may help someone who will face this down the road to have the courage to cherish the limited time they’ll have with their baby in arms. Get connected. Give yourself grace, and know you have a community, even with Tahlequah.

Photo credit: Jenny’s Childbirth Services offering free stillbirth photography to grieving families


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