Prenatal care is one of the vital factors that ensure a smooth pregnancy. The first checkup should occur during the first 6 to 8 weeks of your pregnancy, when your menstrual period is approximately 2 to 4 weeks late. For women who are relatively healthy and have no complicating risk factors, you will probably see your health care provider every 4 weeks until the 28th week of pregnancy, and then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks of pregnancy. After that you will have an appointment every week until you give birth through inducing labor or otherwise.
Proper nutrition is one of the best ways to enjoy a happy pregnancy. Because you’re eating for two, it’s doubly important to consume healthy foods and stay away from things that may harm your baby as it develops. When you’re pregnant, dieting and cutting calories is not a good thing – you will need to take in about 300 more calories a day to ensure you and your baby are properly nourished, especially as your pregnancy progresses. Caloric intake, however, can vary from woman to woman. For thin women, and women carrying twins, you may be required to consume more than 300 extra calories. Or, if you are currently verweight you might need less. No matter what, you’ll need to contact your healthcare provider to determine what’s best for you.
Of course, pure calorie consumption is not the only goal – you need to make sure that what you eat is nutritionally sound. Nutritious foods contain the essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to a baby’s growth and development.
Although a healthy diet is fundamental to caring for your body during pregnancy, it’s actually quite simple to integrate healthy living into your daily life. Maintain a well-balanced diet by following basic dietary guidelines. Lean meats, fruit, vegetables, whole grain breads and low-fat dairy products are all essential to maintaining good health.
Real, healthy food will provide your body with much-needed nutrients. At the same time, during pregnancy certain essential nutrients are required in higher-than-normal amounts. For example, calcium, iron, and folic acid are especially essential in the diet of a pregnant woman. Although your doctor may prescribe vitamin supplements, your diet still needs to contain nutritious food to provide your body with most of its nourishment.
On a normal basis, women need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, but during pregnancy, calcium consumption should rise in order to keep up with calcium loss in your bones. You can get calcium from a wide range of food products, including low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt; orange juice, soy milk, and cereals that are fortified with calcium; dark green veggies such as spinach, kale, and broccoli; as well as tofu, dried beans, and almonds.
A pregnant woman requires 27 to 30 mg of iron per day because iron is used by the body to make hemoglobin, which is what helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. A lack of iron leads to a dearth of red blood cells, meaning the body’s tissues and organs don’t receive enough oxygen. With a baby on board, women need to pay extra attention to their iron intake.
Iron is found in both plant and animal matter, but the body absorbs it more easily from meat sources. The following are some foods that contain a good amount of iron: red meat, dark poultry, salmon, eggs, tofu, enriched grains, dried beans and peas, dried fruit, leafy green vegetables, blackstrap molasses, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals.
Many people have already heard about how important folate (folic acid) is for a pregnant woman. For pregnant woman, or those planning on becoming pregnant, it is recommended that you take 0.4 milligrams of folic acid every day. Many women choose to supplement their diet with vitamins in addition to any folic acid intake they receive from food.
It has been found that consuming folic acid 1 month before and during the first 3 months of pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube defects by 70%, which is why it’s considered so critical. The neural tube is formed during the first 28 days of pregnancy, which is usually before a woman even realizes she’s pregnant, and it eventually develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Lack of sufficient nutrition, particularly a lack of folic acid, may result in a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.
To remain healthy while pregnant, it’s also key to drink plenty of fluids. During pregnancy your blood volume increases, so drinking plenty of water is the best way to avoid dehydration and constipation.
Exercise is a great way to feel great throughout an entire pregnancy. There’s no reason to stop physical activity once you become pregnant; in fact, dietary guidelines suggest that you take 30 minutes or more each day to work out at a moderate pace.
During pregnancy, regular exercise prevents excessive weight gain, reduces problems such as back pain, swelling, and constipation, improves sleep, increases energy, promotes a positive attitude, prepares your body for labor and lessens recovery time after labor.
Proper sleep is another factor in maintaining health and comfort during pregnancy. Pregnancy can take its toll, and after a long day you will feel more tired than usual. As the baby grows bigger, it will be more difficult to sleep, but try to sleep as best you can – it will do wonders for how you feel!
Once you are ready to give birth and are considering inducing labor it is wise to consider all the advantages and disadvantages. Several authorities recommend you give informed consent before labor is induced. Of course, the baby is an important concern when considering induction of labor, especially the baby’s ability to breathe once delivered.
Following a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising, and drinking plenty of fluids are all important to your overall well-being during pregnancy. If you strive to eat nutritious food and maintain a positive attitude during the course of your pregnancy, the good moments will definitely outshine the difficult ones.