Pregnancy is an exciting and busy time in a woman’s life. Mothers can spend every moment of their pregnancy planning and preparing to welcome their newest member of the family, but before that big day arrives, moms need to remember to continue to care for their own health as well in the process. Adena Women’s Health provider Dr. Catherine Neal advises her patients on how to optimize their health before, during and after pregnancy.
Here are five tips Dr. Neal suggests you can do to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.
1. Take Prenatal Vitamins
The concept behind prenatal vitamins is that some of a women’s nutritional and vitamin needs increase with pregnancy. Though, according to Dr. Neal, the most vital time to take prenatal vitamins is actually three months before you plan on getting pregnant.
“Prenatal vitamins are essentially multivitamins filled with folic acid and iron, which is known to be important in supporting a healthy pregnancy,” she explains.
While there are many types of vitamins on the market, Dr. Neal believes there is not one brand that is superior to another. It is important to remember that prenatal vitamins are a supplement to a healthy diet for expectant moms. Prenatal vitamins are not a replacement for a healthy diet.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is always important, and during pregnancy it is critical. According to Dr. Neal drinking water is essential during the third trimester as dehydration can actually release a special chemical in the brain, causing false contractions.
3. Choose Healthy Snacks
The famous saying about pregnancy is that you’re eating for two. And while you might not actually need that many more calories when you’re expecting, your nutritional needs do increase.
“The average woman only needs to consume 300 more calories than she normally would while pregnant and only 500 more if breastfeeding,” said Dr. Neal.
She also recommends expectant mothers to eat fresh veggies, especially greens, nuts and whole grains. While fruits are very healthy and make great snacks, Dr. Neal advises to be mindful of how much fruit is consumed due to the amount of natural sugar they can contain. She says, many varieties of soft cheese are also safe to eat if pasteurized in the United States.
4. Get Vaccinated
Vaccines help protect you and your baby against diseases. When you get vaccinated, you are not just protecting yourself, but you are protecting your baby too.
According to Dr. Neal, the two most important vaccines to get while expecting are Tdap (to help protect against whopping cough) and the flu shot.
Whooping cough can be serious for anyone, but for your newborn, it can be life-threatening. Catching the flu also increases your chances for serious problems for your developing baby, including premature labor and delivery. It is also safe to get vaccinated while breastfeeding.
5. Stay Active
Staying active during pregnancy can be challenging, but similar to eating healthy and staying hydrated, remaining physically active while pregnant is just as important to you and your baby’s health. There are many benefits to staying active such as decreased weight gain, improved sleep and increased energy.
“When it comes to physical activity, women should maintain the same routine they had before pregnancy, just not as intense,” suggests Dr. Neal. “A good rule of thumb, is to be able to still carry on a conversation while working out. If you are finding yourself out of breath or not able to speak, you should modify your workouts to lower the intensity.”
Dr. Neal warns women to be extra cautious of falling risks when running or participating in any aerobic type of exercises, as this could be hazardous to mom and baby.
Dr. Neal also cautions new mothers on turning to social media or the Internet for medical advice.
“If you have a question and are seeking medical advice, it is very important to contact your provider,” she said. “Building a close knit relationship with your provider is one of the best things you can do to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy.”
For more information on Women’s Health Services or to schedule an appointment with Adena, contact Adena Women’s Health OB/GYN at 740-779-7201 or Adena Women’s Health OB/GYN – Premier at 740-642-4400.