There are some simple things you can do to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Think of it like a checklist, and not just during pregnancy, but even before you get pregnant.
1. Consult your doctor for a preconception visit. First things first, before you start trying to get pregnant, you should see your doctor for a preconception visit. Your doctor can identify if you have risk factors, make suggestions, recommend a prenatal class, and answer any questions you have.
2. Take folic acid. 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.
3. Don't drink or smoke. Smoking can not only affect your health, but the development of your baby. Low birth weight, premature birth, and an increase in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) are just a few risks. Likewise, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
4. Maintain a healthy diet and weight during pregnancy. Hannele Laine, MD, an OB/GYN at LDS Hospital and the Avenues Women’s Center, says maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy weight during pregnancy is important. "It is very easy when you are pregnant to justify having a second helping more often than you normally would and oftentimes 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-grains.
5. Exercise is OK. 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? 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.
6. Get enough rest. Pregnancy is a lot of work and can take a lot out of you. The National Institutes of Health suggests an extra hour or two of rest each night.
Join Intermountain Healthcare experts on Tuesday, July 10 as they discuss women’s healthincluding pregnancyon KUTV and Intermountain Healthcare’s Ask the Expert. Tips and suggestions will be offered throughout the day on Channel 2, with nurses, doctors, and other medical experts providing interviews during news and other broadcasts.
If you have your own questions, our panel of experts will be answering your phone calls from noon to 5:30 p.m. at 1-877-908-0680. You can also submit questions via Facebook and Twitter using #kutvasktheexpert.
For more information visit intermountainhealthcare.org/asktheexpert