As soon as you got that Big Fat Positive pregnancy test, how many of you started scouring baby websites for the perfect nursery must-haves and watching for deals on baby gear? That’s great, but how many of you actively started putting your health first? Our partners at Missouri Baptist Medical Center have some great tips on keeping not only your baby, but YOU healthy for the nine months ahead.
As moms, we are our children’s first line of defense and their greatest advocates. We know that the time from conception through the first year of life is a critical window for a baby’s development. We also know that while we can’t control everything, we can do certain things to safeguard their overall health and wellbeing. From regular prenatal checkups and proper nutrition to safe sleep practices and car seat checks, there are a number of ways we can help to ensure a healthier pregnancy and first year of our babies’ lives, as well as give us weary moms a little peace of mind.
I met with a panel of experts at Missouri Baptist Medical Center to get their top recommendations for safeguarding prenatal and infant health – David Weinstein, MD, FACOG, Chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Miranda Coker, RN, labor and delivery nurse and certified perinatal loss care (CPLC) specialist; and Sharon Anderson, MSN, RNC-OB, OB staff educator.
What are some things an expectant mom can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy?
Dr. Weinstein: First, be sure to address any medical issues prior to conception. For example, controlling blood pressure, optimizing blood sugars, and managing any clinical medical conditions before pregnancy leads to a healthier pregnancy outcome.
It sounds cliché, but diet and exercise are critical to getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy and baby. It can also help to minimize pregnancy discomfort such as nausea and constipation.
Here is a guide to building a healthy diet:
- Three daily servings of vegetables – broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and leafy greens
- Two to three daily servings of fruits – apples, oranges, berries and bananas
- Six to eight daily servings of grains (ideally whole grains) – oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn, whole-wheat pasta and bread, barley and brown rice are some examples of whole grains
- Six to eight daily servings of lean protein – skinless poultry, fish (twice per week), eggs, beans, peas, soy products, nuts and seeds
- Three daily servings of dairy – low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese
- Limit processed foods, sweets and fats
- Also, drink plenty of water and limit sugary drinks like soda and decadent coffees
In addition to a healthy diet, low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming and yoga – for 30 minutes every day – can help prevent excessive weight gain, improve and maintain fitness, reduce stress, boost mood, and regulate blood pressure and glucose levels. However, speak with your provider before starting any exercise programs while pregnant.
Are there any pregnancy-related symptoms that expectant moms should be wary of?
Dr. Weinstein: Certain pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue and weight gain are fairly common. However, other symptoms can be a sign of trouble. For instance, bleeding with abdominal pain could be a sign of a miscarriage or tubal pregnancy. If you’re dealing with round-the-clock nausea and vomiting beyond the first trimester and are unable to keep anything
down, you may be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Although rare, HG can lead to malnutrition and dehydration, which can be harmful for the baby.
After 20 weeks, if you experience a persistent severe headache, visual disturbances and swelling, you may be suffering form preeclampsia – a serious condition for both moms and babies. If left undiagnosed, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which includes seizures and a less than optimal pregnancy outcome. If you ever experience any unusual symptoms throughout the course of your pregnancy, don’t hesitate to call your provider. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
This post is sponsored by Missouri Baptist Medical Center.