5 Important Steps to Have a Healthy Pregnancy

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You’re pregnant! Now what? There is so much to figure out and do in anticipation of the arrival of your baby. It can all feel very exciting and overwhelming as you try to figure out where to even begin, but the answer is really simple. First and foremost, you need to take care of your health. A healthy pregnancy is important not only to your developing baby and your hard working body, but also to your and baby’s well-being after birth. There are several ways you can help optimize your health during pregnancy.

See a Prenatal Healthcare Provider

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One of the most important tools available to help you have a healthy pregnancy is a prenatal healthcare provider. Whether you go with an ob/gyn or a midwife, you should establish care early in your pregnancy. The most obvious benefit of establishing prenatal care early on in your pregnancy is that your provider can monitor your health and baby’s development from the start. They will use their well of knowledge and experience to help you through your pregnancy.

Not all pregnancies are the same. Being able to follow your pregnancy from the start allows your healthcare provider to study the path and patterns as your pregnancy develops. This will allow them to personalize your care to your needs.

Getting in to see your prenatal healthcare provider early in your pregnancy also helps you create a relationship with your healthcare team and allows you to determine if the provider you choose is the right fit for you. If not, you will have plenty of time before delivery to make a change if you feel the need. Your prenatal healthcare team consists of the people you are trusting to take care of you at a most vulnerable time in your life as you carry and give birth to your child.

So much is happening to you and your baby during this time that is quite frankly out of your control and you might not have a clue about. It can be exciting yet nerve wracking to experience your body change as you hope for a healthy baby whom you can’t see all the time and reassure yourself everything is ok. Your prenatal healthcare provider’s job is to not only make sure you and your baby are healthy but also help you understand what is happening and what you and your baby need.

You should feel comfortable communicating anything related to your or baby’s health and wellbeing with your provider. This is a situation where truly no question is stupid. Another little being’s health is dependent on your being and ability to communicate with your healthcare team is a must. You need to be heard in order for your provider to address your needs, so make sure you feel your provider takes the time to listen to your questions and concerns and takes the time to address them to your satisfaction.

Take Prenatal Vitamins

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Among the first things your prenatal healthcare provider will likely ask you is whether you are taking prenatal vitamins, and with good reason. As at any point in your life, taking care of your nutrition is important during pregnancy as well. This includes taking your prenatal vitamins. According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, women should ideally start taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid up to three months before they become pregnant.

The benefits of the extra folic acid for the fetus is apparent in the first month of pregnancy as the baby’s neural tube develops. Most women don’t yet realize they are pregnant in the first month, so getting a head start on prenatal vitamins by taking them while trying to conceive is a good idea. You will, however, still benefit from prenatal vitamins even if you hadn’t been taking them when you got pregnant, so start as soon as you can.

 Some of the other important vitamins and minerals in a prenatal vitamin include:

  • Calcium for healthy bone development;
  • Vitamin D, also for healthy bone development and cell division as well as your immune health;
  • B Vitamins provide energy for you, help prevent nausea and are important to your baby’s skin, bone, muscles and nerves;
  • Iron to help your increasing blood supply and prevent or correct anemia, which is fairly common during pregnancy.

These nutrients can also be found in foods that are part of a well-balanced diet. However, sometimes you aren’t able to eat as healthy as you should for a variety of reasons. Pregnancy can also make it difficult to eat especially if you have morning sickness (or all day sickness in many cases). It might be hard to even think of eating, let alone keeping food down.

A good, balanced prenatal vitamin diet can go a long way in supporting a healthy pregnancy by getting those essential nutrients. Always run your supplements by your prenatal care provider to ensure the concentration of nutrients is ok for your specific needs, as too little or too much of some vitamins and minerals can be detrimental to your and baby’s health.

Eat A Balanced Diet

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While a prenatal vitamin can help fill in the gaps and boost some essential nutrients for you and baby, it cannot completely replace the benefits of a well-balanced diet. A healthy diet while pregnant will provide you with the necessary calories and nutrients to keep you and your baby thriving. There is not much difference in what your diet should look like while pregnant and not pregnant.

If you’ve had a well-rounded diet from the major food groups before your pregnancy, you should be okay continuing with your routine. If you follow any specific diets like Paleo, keto, vegan, etc. or have any other food limitations, you should talk to your prenatal healthcare provider. They will determine if your diet is safe for your pregnant body and your developing baby.

Even if you normally lead a healthy lifestyle, it can sometimes be difficult to have a healthy diet while pregnant. Nausea during early pregnancy and heartburn and sheer lack of space during the last trimester are some of the most common reasons why you might not be able to eat well while pregnant.

Some tips to get the calories and nutrients you need despite the discomfort are:

  • Eat small meals and frequent snacks; 
  • Avoid greasy, highly spicy or acidic foods;
  • Focus on fresh fruits, vegetables and simple carbs when you are feeling nauseous;
  • Pay attention to what does and doesn’t trigger your nausea like certain smells, textures, or flavors.

If you are unable to keep anything down, contact your prenatal healthcare provider. You may need to be evaluated for hyperemesis gravidarum. Hyperemesis gravidarum can seem like morning sickness at first, but if you begin losing weight, have no strength, or start to feel dizzy and lightheaded due to vomiting, you will need medical help to get the nutrients your body needs.

On the flip side, those who are able to enjoy food while pregnant need to remember that, despite the common saying “you are eating for two”, you are not eating for two full-size adults!

In order to stay healthy, pregnancy shouldn’t, unfortunately, be used as a free pass to eat whatever and whenever you want. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a woman with a healthy BMI at the beginning of her pregnancy needs an extra 300 calories per day in her second and third trimester and to gain 25 to 35 pounds by the end of her pregnancy.

The weight of the baby and the amniotic fluid surrounding it, the increase in blood volume, and stores of fat as the body prepares for labor and feeding your baby are among a few of the critically important contributors to your weight gain. While every pregnancy progresses differently and the guidelines are general, gaining too much weight can negatively impact your overall health during and after pregnancy.

Remember to focus on high nutrient quality and slightly higher calories. This can help your body stay strong and healthy to deal with the added weight and stress of carrying a growing fetus, setting you up for a healthy pregnancy, easier delivery, and smoother postpartum recovery.

Stay Hydrated

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Staying well-hydrated is always essential to your health, and it’s even more important in order to have a healthy pregnancy. Your body is working hard producing amniotic fluid, increasing blood volume, and yes, growing a baby. All of which use the water in your body to facilitate these processes.

The water you drink also helps flush out toxins from your body and aids in digestion at all times in your life. Only now it will be used to keep toxins away from your baby too. In order to help your body perform all these extra functions along with the usual functions water performs in your body, the American College of Gynecology recommends that pregnant women drink 64 to 96 ounces of water every day.

Drinking 8 to 12 cups of water can be difficult, especially if you experience nausea and vomiting at any point in your pregnancy. However, your mode of hydration doesn’t need to be straight up water all the time.

Some ways to stay hydrated are:

  • Ginger, mint, or lemon teas can both hydrate and help with nausea;
  • Infusing your water with fruits or using a low sugar water flavoring product to help make your water more appealing;
  • Coconut water can be used to occasionally boost electrolytes. It can be high in sodium content, so use sparingly and talk to your prenatal healthcare provider if you feel you need a boost of electrolytes;
  • Just a reminder: alcoholic drinks are not hydrating to your body and should be avoided during pregnancy for a multitude of reasons. Also, avoid very sugary drinks like soda and juices with high amounts of added sugar.

If you are struggling to drink or keep down fluids, it is important you let your prenatal healthcare provider know. They can evaluate you for dehydration. A few signs of dehydration are dizziness, a parched, dry mouth, dry eyes, less and/or dark, strong smelling urine, lightheadedness and tiredness. If you experience any of these symptoms, try to increase your fluid intake and contact your prenatal healthcare provider. You may need the help of some IV fluids to get your body’s hydration back on track.


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Along with a healthy diet and staying hydrated, being active can greatly improve your health during and after pregnancy. Some of the benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy include:

  • Getting your blood flowing to all your hard working vital organs and your growing baby;
  • Keeping your core muscles strong as they stretch to accommodate your baby, helping to prevent back pain as you gain weight and pelvic prolapse issues after pregnancy;
  • Improving your energy levels and mood, which will help with the fatigue that is so common during pregnancy.

Although exercise is very beneficial for most pregnant women, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your physical activities. Certain pregnancy-related conditions such as hyperemesis gravidarum, a shortened cervix, preterm labor, and others could limit the amount of exertion that is safe for you.

If you didn’t use to work out before you got pregnant, it is important to ease into it to prevent injury and overexertion. Start with regular, brisk walks or short workouts with a similar level of exertion. Even if you are used to doing high-intensity workouts, you should discuss it with your prenatal healthcare provider to make sure your routine is not too intense. Extremely intense workouts can cause too much of your blood flow to be redirected from your uterus to the muscles being used.

Certain physical activities can also be dangerous to you and your baby, especially as the baby gets bigger and your center of gravity shifts. Your balance may be off as your baby grows, so carefully consider activities that require good balance. Avoid exercises that have you lie flat on your back or require you to go swiftly from lying to an upright position. You may end up restricting blood flow to and from your lower body, which could disrupt blood flow to your uterus as well as make you lightheaded when you get up.

Also, avoid activities like high-impact sports or activities where you have a high likelihood of falling and injuring your baby.

At all times, listen to your body for signs that you need rest or help. These signs include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness;
  • A sharp headache;
  • Swelling in your legs;
  • Vaginal bleeding or any other fluid discharge;
  • Uterine contractions even after hydrating and resting.

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your prenatal healthcare provider immediately. You should also contact them if you get hit in your abdominal area from a fall or blow. The key to exercise during pregnancy is staying moderately active and staying safe. 

There are so many things you need to learn during the journey to becoming a parent. It can be overwhelming. So many new things are happening that will impact you forever. By taking steps to have a healthy pregnancy, you will be able to better enjoy this special time in your life and prepare for your new future.

Do you struggle to have a healthy pregnancy? What helps you stay healthy? What do you wish to know about taking care of yourself and baby while pregnant? Share in the comments below.


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