Staying Healthy During Pregnancy (Part 1)
Now that you're pregnant, taking care of yourself has never been more important. Of course, you'll probably get advice from everyone — your doctor, family members, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers — about what you should and shouldn't be doing.
But staying healthy during pregnancy depends on you, so it's crucial to arm yourself with information about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.
Prenatal Health Care
Key to protecting the health of your child is to get regular prenatal care. If you think you're pregnant, call your health care provider to schedule an appointment. You should schedule your first examination as soon as you think that you are pregnant.
At this first visit, your health care provider likely do a pregnancy test, and will figure out how many weeks pregnant you are based on a physical examination and the date of your last period. He or she will also use this information to predict your delivery date (however, an ultrasound performed sometime during your pregnancy will help to verify that date).
If you're healthy and there are no complicating risk factors, most health care providers will want to see you:
• every 4 weeks until the 28th week of pregnancy
• then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks
• then once a week until delivery
Throughout your pregnancy, your health care provider will check your weight and blood pressure while also checking the growth and development of your baby (by doing things like feeling your abdomen, listening for the fetal heartbeat starting during the second trimester, and measuring your belly). During the span of your pregnancy, you'll also have prenatal tests, including blood, urine, and cervical tests, and probably at least one ultrasound.
Nutrition and Supplements
Now that you're eating for two (or more!), this is not the time to cut calories or go on a diet. In fact, it's just the opposite — you need about 300 extra calories a day, especially later in your pregnancy when your baby grows quickly. If you're very thin, very active, or carrying multiples, you'll need even more. But if you're overweight, your health care provider may advise that you consume fewer extra calories.
Healthy eating is always important, but especially when you're pregnant. So, make sure your calories come from nutritious foods that will contribute to your baby's growth and development.
Try to maintain a well-balanced diet that incorporates the dietary guidelines including:
• lean meats
• whole-grain breads
• low-fat dairy product
By eating a healthy, balanced diet you're more likely to get the nutrients you need. But you will need more of the essential nutrients (especially calcium, iron, and folic acid) than you did before you became pregnant. Your health care provider will prescribe prenatal vitamins to be sure both you and your growing baby are getting enough.
But taking prenatal vitamins doesn't mean you can eat a diet that's lacking in nutrients. It's important to remember that you still need to eat well while pregnant.
Prenatal vitamins are meant to supplement your diet not be your only source of much-needed nutrients.
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