Taking care of yourself during and after pregnancy
September 03, 2021
Congratulations, you’re having a baby! When you get pregnant, a lot of attention and energy go into assuring that your baby is healthy. But never forget that your health is what contributes to a healthy pregnancy. In other words, to have a healthy baby, you need to keep yourself healthy, too.
Tips to a healthy you during pregnancy:
- Prenatal care checkups. Good prenatal care is essential for you and your baby. During your first visit, your doctor will be able to confirm your pregnancy and screen for certain medical conditions that could lead to complications. At this time, the doctor will suggest prenatal vitamins, if you have not already started on them. Taking a daily prenatal multivitamin can help ensure you get the right amount of the key nutrients you and your baby need during pregnancy.
- Nutrition Eating healthy foods is especially important for pregnant women. Your baby needs nutrients to grow healthy and strong in the womb and you need good nutrition to stay healthy and strong. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and foods low in saturated fat. Remember, while it’s okay to occasionally give in to your cravings during pregnancy, keep in mind that you typically only need an additional 300 calories per day.
- Exercise. Daily exercise or staying active in other ways can help you stay healthy during pregnancy. Check with your doctor to find out how much physical activity is right for you. Regular daily exercise increases your chance of having a vaginal delivery and helps you manage the common discomforts of pregnancy. Exercise can also aid in postpartum recovery.
- Don’t drink alcohol, don't smoke, and limit caffeine. One part of taking good care of your body during pregnancy is avoiding alcohol, limiting your caffeine intake, and stopping smoking.
- Indulging in alcohol can adversely affect your baby’s brain or spinal development.
- Too much caffeine has been linked to a higher instance of miscarriage.
- Smoking increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), premature birth, miscarriage, and other poor outcomes.
- Sleep. Ample sleep (7 to 9 hours) is important for you and your baby. Try to sleep on your left side to improve blood flow.
- Know when to call the doctor. From the CDC, if you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor:
- Vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid.
- Contractions that are 20 minutes apart or less.
- Pain of any kind.
- Strong cramps.
- Heart palpitations.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- Decreased activity of the baby.
- Shortness of breath.
Once your baby has arrived, it is important to continue caring for yourself. Whether this is your first child or your third, adjusting to everyday life after the birth of a baby has its challenges. As is true during pregnancy, after pregnancy a healthy you means a healthy baby!
Tips for a healthy you post pregnancy:
- Get continued medical care. Take time for all medical appointments after pregnancy. Make your health a priority. Manage any medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, and be aware of changes in your health.
- Accept help. Don’t hesitate to accept help from family and friends during the postpartum period, as well as after this period. Your body needs to heal, and practical help around the home can help you get much-needed rest.
- Monitor mental health. Changes that happen to your body after pregnancy can affect your mental and social well-being. Seek urgent help if you feel depressed or are at risk of harming yourself or your baby.
- Nutrition. Maintain a healthy diet to promote healing. Increase your intake of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein. You should also increase your fluid intake, especially if you are breast-feeding.
- Exercise. Your doctor will let you know when it’s OK to exercise. The activity should not be strenuous. Try taking a walk near your house. The change of scenery is refreshing and can increase your energy level. Find ways to be active.
- Rest. Get as much sleep as possible to cope with tiredness and fatigue. Your baby may wake up every two to three hours for feeding. To make sure you’re getting enough rest, sleep when your baby sleeps.