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Now that you're pregnant , taking care of yourself has never been more important. Here's how to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible. Key to protecting the health of your child is to get regular prenatal care. If you think you're pregnant, call your health care provider to schedule your first prenatal appointment. Many health care providers, though, won't schedule the first visit before 8 weeks of pregnancy, unless there is a problem. At this first visit, your health care provider will probably do a pregnancy test, and will figure out how many weeks pregnant you are based on a physical examination and the date of your last period.

He or she will also use this information to predict your delivery date an ultrasound done sometime later in your pregnancy will help to verify that date. If you're healthy and there are no complicating risk factors, most health care providers will want to see you:. Throughout your pregnancy, your health care provider will check your weight and blood pressure while also checking the growth and development of your baby by doing things like feeling your abdomen, listening for the fetal heartbeat starting during the second trimester, and measuring your belly.

During the span of your pregnancy, you'll also have prenatal tests , including blood, urine, and cervical tests, and probably at least one ultrasound. When choosing a health care provider to counsel and treat you during your pregnancy, your options include:. Any of these is a good choice if you're healthy and there's no reason to anticipate complications with your pregnancy and delivery. However, nurse-midwives do need to have a doctor available for the delivery in case an unexpected problem arises or a cesarean section C-section is required.

Now that you're eating for two or more! In fact, it's just the opposite — you need about extra calories a day, especially later in your pregnancy when your baby grows quickly. If you're very thin, very active, or carrying multiples , you'll need even more. But if you're overweight, your health care provider may advise you to consume fewer extra calories. Healthy eating is always important, but especially when you're pregnant. So, make sure your calories come from nutritious foods that will contribute to your baby's growth and development.

By eating a healthy, balanced diet you're more likely to get the nutrients you need. But you will need more of the essential nutrients especially calcium, iron, and folic acid than you did before you became pregnant. Your health care provider will prescribe prenatal vitamins to be sure both you and your growing baby are getting enough. But taking prenatal vitamins doesn't mean you can eat a diet that's lacking in nutrients. It's important to remember that you still need to eat well while pregnant. Prenatal vitamins are meant to supplement your diet, and aren't meant to be your only source of much-needed nutrients.

Most women 19 and older — including those who are pregnant — don't often get the daily 1, mg of calcium that's recommended. Because your growing baby's calcium demands are high, you should increase your calcium consumption to prevent a loss of calcium from your own bones. Your doctor will also likely prescribe prenatal vitamins for you, which may contain some extra calcium.

Pregnant women need about 30 mg of iron every day. Because iron is needed to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. Red blood cells circulate throughout the body to deliver oxygen to all its cells. Without enough iron, the body can't make enough red blood cells and the body's tissues and organs won't get the oxygen they need to function well. So it's especially important for pregnant women to get enough iron in their daily diets — for themselves and their growing babies. Although the nutrient can be found in various kinds of foods, iron from meat sources is more easily absorbed by the body than iron found in plant foods.

Iron-rich foods include:. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC recommends that all women of childbearing age — and especially those who are planning a pregnancy — get about micrograms 0. That can be from a multivitamin or folic acid supplement in addition to the folic acid found in food. So, why is folic acid so important? Studies have shown that taking folic acid supplements 1 month prior to and throughout the first 3 months of pregnancy decrease the risk of neural tube defects.

The neural tube — formed during the first several weeks of the pregnancy, possibly before a woman even knows she's pregnant — goes on to become the baby's developing brain and spinal cord. When the neural tube doesn't form properly, the result is a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. Again, your health care provider can prescribe a prenatal vitamin that contains the right amount of folic acid.

Some pregnancy health care providers even recommend taking an extra folic acid supplement, especially if a woman has ly had with a neural tube defect. If you're buying an over-the-counter supplement, remember that most multivitamins contain folic acid, but not all of them have enough to meet the nutritional needs of pregnant women. So, be sure to check labels carefully before choosing one and check with your health care provider.

It's important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, during pregnancy. A woman's blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy, and drinking enough water each day can help prevent common problems such as dehydration and constipation. The U. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least minutes that's 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week if you're not already highly active or doing vigorous-intensity activity.

If you are very active or did intense aerobic activities before becoming pregnant, you may be able to keep up your workouts, as long as your doctor says it's safe. Before beginning — or continuing — any exercise routine, talk to your doctor. Exercising during pregnancy has been shown to be very beneficial. Regular exercise can help:. Low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise activities such as walking and swimming are great choices.

You also can try yoga or Pilates classes, videos, or exercise apps that are tailored for pregnancy. These are low-impact and they work on strength, flexibility, and relaxation. But you should limit high-impact aerobics and avoid sports and activities that pose a risk of falling or abdominal injury. These include contact sports, downhill skiing, scuba diving, and horseback riding. It's also important to be aware of how your body changes. During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone known as relaxin.

It's believed to help prepare the pubic area and the cervix for the birth. The relaxin loosens the ligaments in your body, making you less stable and more prone to injury. So, it's easy to overstretch or strain yourself, especially the ts in your pelvis, lower back, and knees. Also, your center of gravity shifts as your pregnancy progresses, so you may feel off-balance and at risk of falling.

Keep these in mind when you choose an activity and don't overdo it. Whatever type of exercise you choose, make sure to take lots of breaks and drink plenty of fluids. Slow down or stop if you get short of breath or feel uncomfortable. If you have any questions about doing a sport or activity during your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider.

It's important to get enough sleep during your pregnancy. You'll probably feel more tired than usual. And as your baby gets bigger, it will be harder to find a comfortable position when you're trying to sleep. Lying on your side with your knees bent is likely to be the most comfortable position as your pregnancy progresses.

It also makes your heart's job easier because it keeps the baby's weight from putting pressure on the large blood vessels that carry blood to and from your heart and your feet and legs. Lying on your side can also help prevent or reduce varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and swelling in your legs. Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant women sleep on the left side.

Because one of those big blood vessels is on the right side of your abdomen, lying on your left side helps keep the uterus off of it. Lying on your left side helps blood flow to the placenta and, therefore, your baby. Ask what your health care provider recommends. In most cases, lying on either side should do the trick and help take some pressure off your back.

For a more comfortable resting position either way, prop pillows between your legs, behind your back, and underneath your belly. When you're pregnant, what you don't put into your body or expose your body to is almost as important as what you do. Here are some things to avoid:.

Although it may seem harmless to have a glass of wine at dinner or a mug of beer out with friends, no one has determined what's a "safe amount" of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. One of the most common known causes of mental and physical birth defects, alcohol can cause severe abnormalities in a developing fetus.

Alcohol is easily passed along to the baby, who is less equipped to eliminate alcohol than the mother. That means an unborn baby tends to develop a high concentration of alcohol, which stays in the baby's system for longer periods than it would in the mother's.

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Staying Healthy During Pregnancy