Think of it like a checklist, and not just during pregnancy, but even before you get pregnancy. To get started on the right foot follow these six steps:
- Consult your doctor for a preconception visit
- Don't drink or smoke
- Take folic acid
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight during pregnancy
- Exercise is OK
- Get enough rest
Why Do I Need Folic Acid?
Now, let's take a deeper look at these items. First things first, before you start trying to get pregnant, you should see your doctor for a preconception visit. And you should be taking folic acid every single day. Studies show that folic acid can help reduce the risk of birth defects. Don't wait to take folic acid. If you're planning on starting a family you can begin taking a folic acid vitamin with at least 400 micrograms now. Folic Acid before and during pregnancy can reduce the risk of child born with serious birth defects of the spinal cord or brain.
Importance of a Healthy Diet and Exercise During Pregnancy
Dr. Hannele Laine, an OB/GYN at LDS Hospital and the Avenues Women’s Center teaches the importance of a healthy diet and a healthy weight during pregnancy. "It is very easy when you are pregnant to justify having a second helping more often than you normally would and often times results in a little more weight gain than you would want."
Generally pregnant women need to eat about 300 more calories a day, so make every bite count. Limit the amount of high-sugar foods, like soda and ice cream, and fatty meats- like fried chicken and sausage. Instead, eat more fruits, veggies, and whole-grain foods.
Dr. Laine says you should also be exercising regularly during your pregnancy. "You don’t want to train for a marathon for the first time in pregnancy, but if you haven’t been exercising, it is reasonable to get up to a moderate exercise level." How moderate? Dr. Laine says you should be able to carry a conversation while you are exercising. If you are having a hard time breathing or carrying a conversation, then you should probably tone it down. As you get further into your pregnancy, prenatal yoga and swimming are both great activities for pregnant women.
The Benefit of Prenatal Classes
If this is your first baby, you should look at taking birthing classes – they can cover helpful education, breastfeeding best practices, partner support, and many other topics. A good time to start researching birthing classes is during the second trimester. If you plan to breastfeed, you should also look into classes for moms who plan to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is best for baby and for mom and these classes can help you get a head start with ideas and troubleshooting. This can help minimize anxiety once baby arrives.
You can always get more information about parenting tips from the Baby Your Baby program with KUTV, Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare. If you want more information, click here. Intermountain Healthcare also has a Facebook page dedicated to pregnancy and parenting. To “Like” Intermountain Moms, click here.