If you are pregnant or thinking about starting a family, you're probably wondering what you can do to ensure having the healthiest pregnancy possible. As a responsible expectant mom, you want that for your baby, and for yourself.
Here, in a nutshell, are the top ten tips for having a healthy pregnancy.
1) Gain only the proper amount of weight for your body type (and number of babies you are carrying). You are not eating for two! You need only 300 extra calories a day when you're pregnant.
2) Avoid junk foods that are high in fat, salt, sugar, and contain unhealthy additives, because consuming too much can lead to diabetes, other health problems, and to having an overweight baby and and more difficult delivery.
3) Make sure you get at least 400 mcg (micrograms) of folic acid (also called folate and vitamin B9) each day. Folic acid plays a huge role in the development of cells and tissue formation, so being deficient can result in spinal chord and neural defects.
4) Abstain from all types of alcohol (including an occasional glass of wine), because alcohol passes through your bloodstream into the placenta, and your baby has a drink of equal strength to your own. But because the baby is so much smaller and still developing, the alcohol can cause your baby to be born with mental and physical defects.
5) Give your body the sleep it craves. Hormonal changes in you and the growing baby cause you to need more sleep, especially in the first trimester.
6) Refuse to worry. High levels of stress and anxiety can cause preterm birth or a low birth weight. To combat worry and fear, acquire knowledge about child birth, practice meditation, and ask friends to keep their "horror stories" to themselves.
7) Get in 30 minutes of exercise daily. Walking, swimming, and yoga are good choices. Exercise reduces stress and contributes to good health and an easier delivery.
8) Get a minimum of 25 mg of DHA daily during pregnancy. (Some experts recommend up to 240 mg daily.) DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is an important structural element of the brain and retina. This essential fatty has been shown to increase babies' performance on IQ tests.
9) Drink at least 8-12 glasses of water daily. Water makes up 75 percent of your muscle tissue, and being dehydrated by as little as 1 to 2 percent of your body weight can impair mental and physical function.
10) Be faithful in going to your health care provider early in your pregnancy and regularly thereafter. Follow your doctor's advice for you, as every woman is different. Do not be shy about asking questions, because the more you know and understand about pregnancy and childbirth, the more confident and relaxed you'll be.