It's a time to celebrate when you find out you're pregnant. A child is a blessing in many ways and this will be an exciting journey for you. However, there are a number of things you should know from the start — a list of do's and don'ts to ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.
At UPMC, our health care providers want to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
Some important things you should do during your pregnancy include:
To keep your baby healthy, stay away from the following:
It is always recommended that you discuss do's and don'ts with your doctor to determine a list of suggestions specific to your pregnancy.
The following resources are also available to help you learn more about what you can do to lower risks during pregnancy.
According to the FDA, about 300 extra calories are needed daily to maintain a healthy pregnancy. These calories should come from a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with sweets and fats kept to a minimum. A healthy, well-balanced diet during pregnancy can also help minimize some pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and constipation.
The American Dietetic Association recommends the following key components of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy: appropriate weight gain, consumption of a variety of foods in accordance with the new USDA guidelines at ChooseMyPlate.gov, and appropriate and timely vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Fluid intake is also an important part of pregnancy nutrition. Women can take in enough fluids by drinking six to eight glasses of water each day, in addition to the fluids in juices and soups. An expectant mother should talk with her health care provider or midwife about restricting her intake of caffeine and artificial sweeteners. All alcohol should be avoided in pregnancy.
The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid each day. Folic acid, a nutrient found in some green leafy vegetables, most berries, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, fortified breakfast cereals, and some vitamin supplements can help reduce the risk for birth defects of the brain and spinal cord (called neural tube defects). The most common neural tube defect is spina bifida, in which the vertebrae do not fuse together properly, causing the spinal cord to be exposed. This can lead to varying degrees of paralysis, incontinence, and sometimes mental retardation.
Folic acid is most beneficial during the first 28 days after conception, when most neural tube defects occur. Unfortunately, many women do not realize they are pregnant before 28 days. Therefore, folic acid intake should begin prior to conception and continue through pregnancy. Your healthcare provider or midwife will recommend the appropriate amount of folic acid to meet your individual needs.
Most healthcare providers or midwives will prescribe a prenatal supplement before conception, or shortly afterward, to ensure all of the woman's nutritional needs are met. However, a prenatal supplement does not replace a healthy diet.
Regular exercise, with the approval of your physician or midwife, can often help to minimize the physical discomforts of pregnancy and help with the recovery after the baby is born. There is evidence that physical activity may be especially beneficial for women with gestational diabetes.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who exercised and were physically fit before pregnancy can safely continue exercising throughout pregnancy. Women who were inactive before pregnancy or who have medical or pregnancy complications should consult with their physician or midwife before beginning any exercise during pregnancy.
All women should be evaluated by their physician or midwife before beginning or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy.
Exercise may not be safe if the pregnant woman has any of the following conditions:
Types of exercise and strenuous activities to avoid during pregnancy include:
The experts at UPMC want you to have the best care possible. Find a doctor if you have any questions about what you should and shouldn’t do during pregnancy.