Pregnancy is a journey like no other. Here are some basics that will smooth the road for you and your baby.
The best time to start planning for a healthy pregnancy is when you first start thinking about becoming pregnant. The sooner you start leading a healthier lifestyle, the healthier your baby will be. It also gives you more time to discuss any medical conditions you may have with your doctor and to talk to other mothers about their experiences when they were pregnant.
See Your Doctor
You should see your doctor as soon as you’re even thinking about being pregnant. If this isn’t possible, schedule a visit as soon as you suspect that you are pregnant. You’ll be seeing each other often and there’s a lot to talk about: –nutrition, exercise, what to expect during your pregnancy and basic skills for caring for your baby after he or she is born.
Typically, women see their doctor about once every month during the first six months of pregnancy, every two weeks during the seventh and eighth month and weekly during the ninth month of pregnancy. Women who are over 35 or who have medical conditions such as diabetes will probably see their doctor more often.
If you’ve been eating a well balanced diet, there are few changes you’ll need to make during pregnancy. You will want to take supplements of both iron and folic acid, probably as a prenatal vitamin supplement. Here is an ob-gyn recommended prenatal vitamin. Adequate intake of folic acid daily prevents neural tube defects in your baby. In fact, women who are even thinking about becoming pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Because many pregnancies are unplanned, it’s even suggested that all women of childbearing age make sure to take 400 micrograms folic acid daily.
You don’t need to eat for two when you’re pregnant and you probably won’t need any extra calories for the first four months of pregnancy. After that, you’ll likely need about 200-400 extra calories a day.
The recommended weight gain during pregnancy depends on your pre-pregnancy weight and other variables, and should be discussed with your ob-gyn. See below the recommended weight gain for various categories:
Underweight: BMI below 18.4
Normal weight: 18.5 to 25
Overweight: 25.1 to 29.9
Obese: 30.0 to 39.9
Extreme Obesity: 40 and over
Recommended weight gain for different BMI categories for a singleton pregnancy:
➢ Underweight: 28 to 40 pounds
➢ Normal: 25 to 35 pounds
➢ Overweight: 15 to 25 pounds
➢ Obese: 10 to 20 pounds.
Recommended weight gain for different BMI categories for twin pregnancy:
➢ Normal: 37 to 54 pounds
➢ Overweight: 31 to 50 pounds
➢ Obese: 25 to 42 pounds.
Almost all women should be physically active during their pregnancy. Exercise will ease or prevent the back pain that often accompanies the weight gain of pregnancy. In fact, it will limit the amount of weight that you gain while pregnant. It will also boost your mood and energy, help you sleep better and speed your body’s return to normal after delivery.
Even if you haven’t been active for a while, walking, swimming and low-impact aerobics are all great ways to ease back into an active lifestyle. Aim for 30 minutes a day on most days. If you’ve gotten out of shape, you can start with as little as five minutes a day and work your way up.
Contact sports are best avoided, as are exercises where you have to lie flat on your back after your first trimester of pregnancy. Here’s a more complete list of exercise dos and don’ts.
Cut Out Smoking/Drinking and Limit Caffeine
Smoking during pregnancy will cause serious health problems for you and your baby. It’s time to stop. And there is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy, so you shouldn’t drink either. You should also limit caffeine to 142 mg a day. That’s about the amount found in 12 ounces of regular coffee.