Start taking a prenatal supplement well before pregnancy. The most important part of pregnancy is prenatal care. The first few weeks of gestation are full of quick growth for the fetus.
- Preconception and prenatal care early: Prenatal care is important, and it starts well before you are pregnant with a preconception visit. The first few weeks of gestation are full of quick growth for the fetus. It is important to notify your family doctor of the pregnancy even if an obstetrician has yet to be chosen. Prescribed medications may require changing medications, but you should never stop a medication on your own without first notifying your doctor.
- Be at your optimal weight and adjust your diet: A pregnancy diet is a bit different from everyday eating. Folic acid is extremely important to the development of the neural tube and the optimal time to start is 1-2 months before pregnancy. Dark green, leafy vegetables are rich in folic acid. Protein is also an important addition to the pregnancy diet. This is not the time to be counting calories but eating lean meats is optimal for both mom and baby. Moms also need to watch the intake of fish as the mercury content in some fish could be harmful to the fetus.
- Take that supplement including folic acid: Never before has taking a vitamin been so important. The prenatal vitamin is created with the pregnancy RDA in mind. Traditional vitamins may not contain the correct amounts of vitamins and minerals so choose a prenatal vitamin that includes at least 4-800 mcg folic acid. Prenatal vitamins are available over the counter and you should start them and take them every day well before getting pregnant. Start taking your supplement at least 1-2 months before pregnancy.
- Move that body: As the pregnancy hormones kick in, the muscles of the body will be more limber than ever before. Take this opportunity to stretch and exercise a bit. The better shape the body is in when labor begins, the more prepared the body will be for the physical stresses of labor.
- Increase sleep: Most people get less than 6 hours of sleep a night. For the pregnant mom, this is simply not enough. Eight hours of sleep is optimal. During sleep, the cells of the body rejuvenate and heal from the damage done during the day at the hand of environmental and physical exertion. Less sleep may give the mom to be more time, but the body will not be as prepared to take on a new day.
- It's not 5 o'clock here: Moms need to cease consuming alcohol when they start trying to get pregnant but especially from the moment they find out they are pregnant. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a rare, but dangerous condition that could affect the fetus with only small amounts of alcohol consumption.
- No unprescribed drugs: No drugs, whether over the counter or street should be consumed during pregnancy unless prescribed by the obstetrician. There is a list of over-the-counter medications that are safe for pregnant women. This list should be the only medications in the cabinet.
- No smoking allowed: Smoking is not healthy for mom, let alone a baby. Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Baby wants to be healthy and strong and stopping smoking is the best gift mom can give.
- Switch to less tea and coffee: If you need those morning shots of caffeine to get moving, you may need to find another wake me up. More than 2 cups of coffee a day have been linked to negative emotional effects on the fetus years after birth. These effects include behavioral disorders.
- Take fewer chances and make mindful decisions: During pregnancy is not the time to be speeding down the road or riding your favorite roller coaster. The female body is the perfect vessel for a baby, but not at 55 MPH heading toward a loop. Taking a break from these activities will help to ensure a safe and productive pregnancy.
- Seek dental care: The increase in the acidity of the saliva is one reason to seek out dental care during pregnancy. This acid can wreak havoc on the enamel of the teeth, so get the pearly white cleaned. Make sure to tell the dentist you are pregnant.
- Maintain chi: The emotional health of mom is just as important as the physical health. Depression has been linked to physical pain and negative effects on health.