You’re pregnant. Take a deep breath. I get your excitement and your nervousness. There’s nothing more thrilling than the feeling of carrying another life inside of you.
Now, being pregnant is one thing, and having a healthy pregnancy is another thing. Unfortunately, quite a number of moms-to-be are “too busy” to take care of themselves and their unborn child.
In this article, we’ll be going through the healthy pregnancy manual, outlining clearly how you should pay attention to your health and that of your unborn baby.
Here’s a quick summary of what we’re going to go through.
- Enroll for Prenatal Care & Services
- Eat Right
- Supplement where necessary
- Get Enough Rest
- Exercise Regularly
- Ensure Proper Hygiene
- Quit alcohol & smoking
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a report shows that 10-15 of every 100 pregnancies end in miscarriage, 2.6 million end in stillbirth, while a significant fraction of deliveries come with complications and deformities.
These statistics vary across the globe, but it increases the importance of having a healthy pregnancy especially within the first twelve weeks. It is worthwhile to remember that a pregnant woman and her unborn baby are highly connected in a manner that the activities of the former have a direct impact on the later.
Here are practical tips and steps you should take that would help reduce the chances of maternity-related complications and ensure safe delivery.
1. Enroll for Prenatal Services
Prenatal care is the first, and an integral part of a healthy pregnancy. It should begin with the first trimester of pregnancy which is the first 12 weeks. Such services are offered in most hospitals, clinics, and primary health centers. It involves a series of tests, physical examinations, and necessary medication to ensure safe delivery.
Depending on your peculiarities, your prenatal care provider may schedule appointments for you every 4 weeks for the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. After which it becomes once in 2 weeks till delivery. These visits are highly essential to identify abnormalities on time and to ultimately ensure safe delivery.
2. Eat Right
It’s normal for pregnant women to have a slightly strange appetite. Changing hormones can affect your appetite, resulting to the food aversion and strange cravings. Don’t be confused when your favorite meal becomes gross to you. It’s called pregnancy appetite. However, stick to the healthy pregnancy manual — it’s important to ensure that the right kind of food is consumed.
Juna focuses on whole sources of food whenever possible, with lots of plant-based sources. During pregnancy, we aren’t overly prescriptive, but in the Juna App, we provide a “key nutrient” that coincides the week of pregnancy you are in and the development of your baby. From there we give you creative ways to get that nutrient in. It can be that simple!
Avoid excessive intake of sugar and foods with high saturated fat. They can lead to overweight which increases the chances of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and ultimately cesarean delivery. Things like soda, shellfish, raw eggs, processed foods, juices, soft cheeses, sushi, cold-cured meats like deli meats, and alcohol are on the DO NOT CONSUME list.
Juna is a fitness and nutrition app created to help guide you through your pregnancy and motherhood journey. Everything we do is designed to empower and support you through one of the most rewarding, and challenging, times of your life. You can try it free.
3. Supplement Where Necessary
Often times, pregnant women don’t get adequate nutrients from their meals. Supplements can help make up for the inadequacies. They are very good for a healthy pregnancy, most especially for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Generally, they help to avoid an avalanche of pregnancy-related complications. Here are some helpful supplements for pregnancy:
- Prenatal vitamins: curbs the chances of premature birth and preeclampsia, a complication that is induced by high blood pressure.
- Folate (Folic Acid): helps in red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, and fetal growth and development.
- Iron: aids in proper transportation of oxygen within bloodstreams. Its deficiency can lead to anemia and adversely affect the growth and development of the fetus and placenta.
- Vitamin D: enables cell division, bone health, and balanced immune function. An adequate intake will reduce the risk of cesarean delivery, gestational diabetes and other complications associated with deficiency of Vitamins.
- Magnesium: is a mineral that has been proven to prevent hypertension during pregnancy. It’s necessary for effective high immune, and proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
- Fish oil: Is highly important for an unborn baby. It contains DHA and EPA which are two fatty acids highly necessary for fetal brain development. It also reduces depression attributed to maternity.
- Fluids: One piece of advice your healthcare provider will repeat to you is staying hydrated. It’s important to take plenty of fluids during pregnancy, especially water. It helps prevent constipation and dehydration. We recommend grabbing a reusable water bottle and keeping it with you everywhere you go.
4. Get Enough Rest
The importance of rest for healthy delivery cannot be overemphasized. Avoid lifting heavy equipment and activities that strain the body. Try to avoid stress. Stress is a major cause of high blood pressure.
Stress can lead to premature delivery (born within 37 weeks of pregnancy) or delivery of low-birthweight baby (weighing less than 5.5 pounds).
For a healthy pregnancy, an average of 7 hours of sleep is recommended in addition to adequate relaxation. It’s not unusual to ask others to help out with little activities around. Ask your spouse or anyone to help out with some tedious chores.
Don’t go all superwoman — you need enough rest.
5. Exercise Regularly
Rest and exercise go together. To avoid a possible build-up of excessive fat especially around the abdomen, regular exercise is recommended.
Safe exercises such as swimming, brisk walking, yoga, indoor stationary cycling, low-impact aerobics, and squatting are so recommended. They help to prevent backaches, swelling, bloating, and constipation.
Juna has custom workouts that are safe for each trimester. If you download the Juna App, input your due date, you will find workouts that are tailored exactly to where you are in your pregnancy or postpartum journey.
Engaging in exercise improves your sleep, boosts your mood, and can help lessen recovery time after childbirth. Exercising keeps you fit and prepares you for the rigors of labor. An average of 30 minutes every day will do the magic.
(Disclaimer: Always clear any exercise with your OB first)
6. Ensure Proper Hygiene
Maintaining proper hygiene is just as important as having a proper diet. You’re not just protecting yourself, you’re protecting the life growing inside you. Good hygiene reduces the chances of infections. It’s an integral part of a healthy pregnancy.
7. Quit Alcohol and Smoking
This is kind of obvious mamas, but we have to say it – no booze or smokes.
If these pre-pregnancy habits continue, your unborn baby will be at a high risk of survival.
Continued alcohol intake often leads to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
At times, the effect only begins to manifest as the baby grows in age. FASD is known to cause severe learning abilities, abnormal facial features, and acute behavioral issues.
Smoking, on the other hand, is just as dangerous. Smoking cigarettes throughout pregnancy is one of the single most important avoidable causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes and it represents the first major environmental risk of the unborn. If compared with other risk factors in the perinatal period, exposure to tobacco smoke is considered to be amongst the most harmful and it is associated with high rates of long and short term morbidity and mortality for mother and child.
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