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    Pregnancy & Parenting

    What can I do to have a healthy pregnancy?

    Getting early and regular prenatal care is the best thing you can do to keep yourself and your developing baby healthy while you are pregnant. Visiting Midlands Women's Center can help you get health coverage if needed, and find the doctor who’s right for you! During your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will probably talk to you about the following steps you can take to help ensure a healthy pregnancy:

    -Take folic acid

    Begin or continue to get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid a day by taking a good prenatal vitamin (available over the counter at any grocery or drug store) every day to reduce your child’s risk of birth defects. It’s really important, so pick some up TODAY!


    -Cut out alcohol and tobacco

    Drinking alcohol and/or smoking during pregnancy can increase your child’s risk for many birth defects and future health problems, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Currently, research shows that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. According to one recent study supported by the NIH, infants can suffer long-term developmental problems even with low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure.

    SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year old. It is the leading cause of death in children between 1 month and 1 year of age. Most SIDS deaths happen when babies are between 1 month and 4 months of age. Drinking or smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS, also, infants exposed to secondhand smoke are at greater risk for SIDS.

    Your health care provider can be a source of help if you find it hard to quit smoking or drinking on your own. You can also visit http://smokefree.gov/ for plans and information about quitting smoking. In addition, http://www.publichealth.org/smoking-in-america/ provides historical and other information about cigarettes and quitting smoking. The Rethinking Drinking website provides resources and information related to quitting alcohol use.

    -Talk to your health care provider about any medications you’re taking (even over the counter ones)

    Although many are safe, talk to your health care provider before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medication or herbal supplement. Certain medications to treat acne and epilepsy and some dietary or herbal supplements are not safe during pregnancy.

    -Eat a healthy diet

    Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products to help ensure your developing baby gets all the nutrients it needs. Make sure you also drink plenty of water. An online tool called the Daily Food Plan for Moms can help you plan your meals so that you get the right foods in the right amounts according to your personal characteristics and your stage of pregnancy.

    Read Nutrition During Pregnancy FAQs from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to learn more about how much you should eat during pregnancy, the nutrients you need, and how much caffeine is safe to drink.


    -Maintain a safe diet for you and your baby

    Avoid certain foods such as raw fish, undercooked meat, cold deli meat, and unpasteurized cheeses (for example, certain types of feta, bleu cheese, and Mexican-style soft cheeses). Always check the label to make sure the cheese is pasteurized. Some pregnant women are concerned about the amount of fish they can safely consume. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pregnant women can eat up to 12 ounces a week of fish and shellfish that have low levels of methylmercury (salmon, canned light tuna, and shrimp). Albacore (“white”) tuna has more methylmercury than canned light tuna, pregnant women should consume 6 ounces or fewer in a week. Avoid fish with high levels of methylmercury (swordfish, king mackerel, and shark). For more information on methylmercury and pregnancy, see the FDA Food Safety for Moms-to-Be.

    -Cut down on caffeine

    Some studies suggest that too much caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage. Talk to your health care provider about the amount of caffeine you get from coffee, tea, or soda. Your health care provider might limit you to 200 milligrams (the amount in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee) per day. Keep in mind, though, that some of the foods you eat, including chocolate, also contain caffeine and contribute to the total amount you consume each day.

    -Talk to your health care provider about physical activity & exercise

    Most women can continue regular levels of physical activity throughout their pregnancy. Regular physical activity can help you feel better, sleep better, and prepare your body for birth. After your child is born, it can help get you back to your pre-pregnancy shape more quickly. Talk to your health care provider about the amount and type of physical activity that is safe for you.

    -Maintain a healthy weight

    Gaining too much or too little weight during pregnancy increases the risk of problems for both the mother and the baby. Following a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity can help you stay within the recommended weight gain guidelines set by the Institute of Medicine. Talk to your health care provider about the right amount of weight gain for you based on your pre-pregnancy weight. Remember, a developing baby only needs about 300 extra calories a day, so “eating for two” may not be exactly what you were expecting!

    Adapted from: http://www .nichd .nih .gov /health /topics /preconceptioncare /conditioninfo /pages / healthy -pregnancy .aspx