Every mom wants to learn how to have a healthy pregnancy. Discover the 5 best things you can do to make sure mom and baby are healthy while pregnant.
I walked into my work’s new office and smelled it: Brand new paint. My coworkers and I were moving into our new office space, built from scratch, including the paint on the walls.
This wouldn’t be a big deal, except I was six weeks pregnant. Since I wasn’t planning on announcing my pregnancy anytime soon, I couldn’t exactly walk into my boss’ office to discuss my options.
I, like many pregnant women, was on a mission, after all. I wanted to make the next several months as safe and healthy for me and the baby. (Or, in my case, babies, though I didn’t know it at the time.)
We hear how important the time in utero is for the baby, from building brain cells to making labor easier. We don’t want to make poor choices that can affect our babies or ourselves during this time. And while we don’t want to be paranoid, we also want to stay informed with our best options.
So you can imagine why I was a bit nervous smelling paint in our brand new building.
How to have a healthy pregnancy
Nothing is guaranteed in pregnancy, but the healthier we can be, the more likely we are to have a healthy baby and less complications. Being prepared and informed can make a difference with how our babies grow and develop.
I’m no doctor, but this is advice I learned from my doctor as well as researching how to have a healthy pregnancy. I include lessons from my own pregnancy, both the good and the bad, and boiled down the most important factors you need to have a healthy pregnancy:
1. Attend all your prenatal appointments
Doctor appointments aren’t always the most convenient. You need to take time off work at least every month, and more so toward the end of your pregnancy. Peeing in a cup, getting your blood drawn, and being poked and prodded aren’t pleasant.
But your prenatal appointments are crucial to making sure you have a healthy pregnancy. Doctors can monitor you and your baby, from measuring his growth to catching warning signs before they get worse.
Take notes of important information your doctor provides. Write any questions you may also have so that come appointment time, you have a ready list she can answer.
And follow all your doctor’s instructions, from taking prenatal vitamins to avoiding certain food. Your doctor can cater to your specific needs in ways you can’t on your own.
2. Watch your weight gain
Pregnancy is a delicate balance between gaining enough weight—not too much, but not too little, either. Excess weight gain can lead to complications like high blood pressure, increased chances of c-sections and delivering larger babies.
Depending on your unique needs, your doctor can tell you exactly how much weight you should gain. This is why it’s also important to attend prenatal visits—your doctor can track your weight gain progress.
My twin pregnancy wasn’t easy, right from the first trimester. In fact, I gained a measly two pounds during all those weeks because of morning sickness. I made the mistake of gorging on high-calorie but terrible food: burgers, shakes, anything I thought would add more calories.
Unfortunately, that kind of food also leads to complications. Eating the wrong food compromised my health and added complications I could’ve avoided. Thankfully, all worked out, but not before several weeks of an uncomfortable pregnancy.
If you need to gain weight, my best advice is to drink smoothies. Blend fruits and vegetables and other supplements so you have an easier time drinking your meals than eating them.
You can also eat high-calorie, healthy food that will pack on the pounds without compromising your body.
3. Get the right kind of exercise
Discuss with your doctor the right kind of exercise you can do during pregnancy. For most healthy pregnancies, you can continue a low-intensity version of your current workout. Stick to prenatal workouts like yoga, walking and swimming.
Just as exercise is important for everyone, so too does it help your pregnancy. You reduce discomfort and strengthen your body to better adjust to the strains of pregnancy. Exercise improves circulation and helps you feel better through those nine months.
My first pregnancy with my eldest felt like a breeze thanks to consistent workouts.
4. Don’t stress too much
Stress is a normal part of life, such that even sudden or heightened episodes aren’t too damaging. For instance, finding out you lost your job while pregnant isn’t likely going to affect you or your baby in the long-term.
But chronic and constant stress can impact your health and pregnancy. Stress releases hormones that can trigger an inflammatory response and impact your pregnancy. This can lead to complications like lower birth weight and delivering earlier than expected.
If you find yourself in constant stress, find ways to change your circumstances to avoid chronic pressure. Take more time to rest and focus on your well-being. Even though it doesn’t look like you’re doing much, your body is hard at work making your baby!
5. Avoid high-risk food
I watched over my meals like a hawk. Eating out at restaurants often included me quizzing the waiter on the ingredients of the meals. That’s because food that would normally be safe for you can pose risks when you’re pregnant.
A few of the top foods to watch out for include:
- Raw fish and meat. Sushi and paté are not the best to eat while pregnant. Instead, choose meat and seafood fully cooked rather than raw.
- Unpasteurized dairy. Certain soft cheeses and raw milk can be unpasteurized and contain bacteria that can be harmful during pregnancy. Choose pasteurized dairy instead.
- Deli meat. Some deli meat like the ones you’d put in your sandwiches can be risky to eat during pregnancy, unless they’re heated beforehand.
Staying healthy is just one of the many tasks you need to do during pregnancy. Need a checklist of all the things to get done before the baby is born? Join my newsletter and download your printable checklist below—at no cost to you:
Those nine months can be overwhelming for any pregnant mom. We bear the responsibility for a growing baby and fear one wrong move can change the course of his life or lead to complications.
Thankfully, you’ll likely have a healthy pregnancy, especially if you take care of yourself. Watch how much weight you gain, aiming for the amount your doctor recommends. Eat healthy food and avoid certain types that can be risky during pregnancy.
Stay away from chronic stress, the kind that doesn’t seem to let up. Get the right kind of exercise your doctor considers safe for you and your pregnancy. And finally, keep all your prenatal visits—it’s during these times that your doctor is better able to monitor your progress.
My twins turned out fine, despite paint fumes and pregnancy complications. All that worrying for nothing, as they say. Still, it helps to be informed, to ask those silly questions, to research, and to call your doctor with any concerns you may have.
After all, we want what every mom would—to learn how to have a healthy pregnancy.
Get more healthy pregnancy tips:
- 11 Pregnancy Secrets You Didn’t Know About
- How to Deal with Gender Disappointment During Your Pregnancy
- 11 Things Moms Do with the First Baby We Don’t Do with the Second
- Surviving the First Trimester when You Have No Idea Where to Start
- 9 Things to Do Before the Baby Is Born