There’s nothing like the rush of exhilaration you feel when you find out you’re pregnant. And then it sinks in: you are wholly responsible for well-being of the life inside you. It can feel like an overwhelming responsibility—especially if you’re not entirely confident you know how to take care of yourself yet. We’d like to suggest some ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy, both physically and mentally.
Embrace the Changes
When you read books like “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” your pregnancy is broken down into trimesters and weeks. There are illustrations that show how big your baby is and how it’s growing. But don’t just focus on that shrimp-sized fetus. Pay attention to how your own body is adapting to your pregnancy. If your baby is constantly changing, so are you. Being kind to yourself is the best thing you can do for your child.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
The list of nutrients your baby needs is intimidating. If you were to try to get them all through food, you’d get full very quickly with avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, salmon, yogurt, and as many beans as you can manage. Luckily, science has given us the prenatal vitamin, which can fill in all the gaps. You can start taking them in the earliest stages of your pregnancy, or even before. A baby’s spinal cord and brain are developing from the first several weeks. These vitamins put an emphasis on nutrients like calcium and iron, not to mention something growing fetuses need a lot of: folic acid. There’s a bonus for you, though. Many women report that folic acid gave them the thickest, bounciest hair of their lives.
Optimize Your Diet
Suddenly, “eating right” takes on a lot more importance. Any food choices you make are for two of you, and though you might feel the urge to scarf down Totino’s and Zingers, there are better choices for both of you. Everything you already know about a healthy diet remains true. You’ll need vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, preferably at every meal. These foods are the fuel you need to stave off morning sickness, anemia, and fatigue.
Because you’re pregnant, some nutrients will be emphasized by your doctor. For instance, that folic acid you’re familiar with from your vitamin can also be ingested in foods like lentils, oranges, and asparagus. All that folic acid will contribute to neural tube and red blood cell development for your baby. Calcium is another mineral with too many health benefits to ignore. Pasteurized cheese and milk are an ideal way to increase your calcium, but if dairy doesn’t agree with you, you can try probiotic yogurt and even spinach.
Make a Birth Plan
As you get closer to your due date, you might find yourself with less energy and a foggier brain. You’ll be busy up to the last minute making sure all your baby supplies are in order, and trying to get ahead at work before maternity leave. Don’t push yourself too hard. Your body is preparing for its greatest moment yet, so make as many decisions ahead of time so you can save your strength.
Put together a birth plan so your doctor will know what pain medication you’re comfortable with. Who do you want in the delivery room with you? Should there be music playing, or a baseball game on TV? If you’ve already learned what umbilical cord blood is used for, do you want to store these valuable stem cells for your child? Who should cut the cord? With all these decisions made, you can clear your mind and focus on the contractions when they arrive.