Having a baby can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be a time of uncertainty. This is A Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy for many parents, they face all the changes that pregnancy brings. With advice coming from everyone, it is tough to know who to listen to. That is why having accurate information is so important! It will help you to make good decisions about how to take care of yourself before, during and after your pregnancy.
Your nutritional health, before and during pregnancy, influences the health of your developing baby.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods each day
- Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat, like nuts, seeds and omega-3.
- Choose fish low in mercury
- Eat a little more food each day than you normally would
- Make water your drink of choice, water carries nutrients to your body and your growing baby
- Be mindful of your caffeine intake, caffeine is safe in small ammounts.
Your baby’s brain, skull and spine form during the first few weeks of healthy pregnancy, before you may even know you are pregnant. In order for them to form properly, you need to have enough folic acid in your body.
Oral health for healthy pregnancy
Your hormones change during pregnancy. This can affect your oral health by increasing your risk of gum disease (gingivitis) and infection of the bone that supports your teeth (periodontitis). Periodontitis has also been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, such as having a pre-term delivery or a baby with low birth weight. How periodontitis may lead to these poor outcomes is not yet understood.
Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle and has many benefits in pregnancy.
Exercise is safe and encouraged for healthy pregnant women who are receiving prenatal care.
- Help you sleep better
- Improve your mood and energy level
- Help prevent you from gaining excess weight
- Help with constipation, backaches and bloating
- Help you build strength for labour and birth
Emotional health is part of guide to a healthy pregnancy
Everyone has a different pregnancy experience. It is normal to experience a range of feelings, from happiness to worry and stress. Your emotional health is linked to your physical health so it is important to be aware of how you are feeling and get the support you need.
Take care of your physical health to improve your emotional health.
Your body is going through many physical and emotional changes. It is important to take care of yourself and figure out what you need to protect your emotional health. Eating well and staying active during your pregnancy can help regulate your mood. If you are feeling tired, try to take the time to relax and rest.
Share your thoughts and feelings with others.
Try to be honest about your feelings. If something is bothering you, confide in your partner, friend, family member, health care provider or anyone you trust. Joining a peer support group for pregnancy can also be helpful as other expecting mothers can relate to your situation.
One in 10 women suffer from depression during pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be an emotional time. Your moods change with your hormones, so it is okay to have negative feelings once in a while. Take the time to reflect on how you are feeling and learn the signs and symptoms of depression. You could be depressed if you have 5 or more of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks:
- Feeling sad, worthless, anxious or guilty
- Crying more than usual
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Being very irritable
- Experiencing frequent mood swings
- Feeling very tired or restless
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Eating more or less than usual
- Lacking interest in the things you used to care about
- Having thoughts of death or suicide
Talk to your health care provider if you think you may be depressed.
Partner support during pregnancy
Pregnancy is usually a time of excitement but sometimes you may feel anxiety along with the joy. You and your partner likely have a long list of to-dos, all while coping with the changes and unknowns that come with pregnancy.
A partner’s support is especially important for both you and your baby during this busy time. A woman who feels supported by her partner during and after pregnancy may feel happier and less stressed.
Your baby is well protected by amniotic fluid and your uterus. Sexual activity will not harm your baby as long as you do not have complications such as preterm labour or placenta problems.
The last guide to a healthy pregnancy is Breastfeeding
Pregnancy is a great time to get ready for breastfeeding. Breast milk is the best food you can give your baby.
- There are many important reasons to breastfeed:
- It helps your baby fight off sickness and disease.
- It reduces the risk that your baby will have diarrhea, ear or lung infections, die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or be overweight/obese when they are older.
- It also protects you from breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
- Breastfeeding is natural but may take time for both you and your baby to learn.
- Support from other breastfeeding mothers is a great source of help and can build your confidence.
skin-to-skin contact after birth help with breastfeeding
- Babies are often more alert and interested in feeding in the first hour after birth. Holding your baby skin-to-skin will help your body to start making milk and will wake up your baby’s feeding reflexes. This means that your baby will start looking for the breast sooner and your milk production will increase. Skin-to-skin also helps your baby stay warm, reduces crying and stress, regulates your baby’s blood sugar, promotes bonding, and helps you and your baby recover from the birth.
Preparing for birth
As your due date approaches, your focus will begin to shift to labour and birth. While it is normal to feel a bit anxious about childbirth, preparing yourself mentally and physically for this powerful life event can help you feel calm and ready.