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 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.
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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