Prenatal Care: Do’s and Don’ts for Expectant Moms

If its your first pregnancy that it’s completely natural to wonder what you can and cant do while you’re pregnant. We have compiled a list of the most frequent things woman ask about while they’re pregnant and its broken down into do’s and don’ts. So with no further ado, here is a list of things you can do or engage in while you are pregnant.

The Do’s

Do have Sex

Absolutely. There are only a few conditions that preclude sex while you’re pregnant, such as placenta previa or another type of high-risk pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to identify these condition and advise your accordingly, but they are extremely rare, so for the majority of expectant mothers, sex is absolutely safe, right up until you go into labor and your water breaks.

If you experience discomfort during sex, try changing positions, as this will often help. If you have any concerns about having sex during pregnancy, please talk to one of our doctors.

Do take a multivitamin

Eating a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals is the best way to provide your body with all of the healthy nutrients it needs to support a growing baby. A healthy diet alone, however, is not enough for pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of certain nutrients that expectant mothers require at higher doses, such as:

  • folic acid
  • calcium
  • iron

These vitamins assist with proper development of the fetus and help prevent birth defects. Your doctor can help you find a multivitamin or a series of vitamins that are best for you. A multivitamin will usually include DHA, EPA, or both. These are omega-3 fats that are important for your baby’s proper brain development.

Don’t take more than one dose of multivitamins, though. Some vitamins in higher amounts can be harmful to the baby.

Do Exercise

We now know that exercise is good for both mother and baby. In fact, regular exercise may help you combat many of the issues that arise during pregnancy, including:

  • insomnia
  • muscle pain
  • excessive weight gain
  • mood problems

If you regularly exercised before you became pregnant, keep it up. Talk with your doctor about any adjustments you should make to your routine, especially as you move into your second and third trimesters.

If you didn’t exercise regularly before you found out you were expecting, ask your doctor about incorporating a fitness routine into your day. They can guide you into a program that’s safe and comfortable for you and your growing baby. Walking is an excellent way to ensure you’re getting daily exercise.

Do get a lot of sleep

Changing hormone levels, anticipation, and anxiety can make it difficult to sleep during your 9 months of pregnancy. Add to that, your tummy, which can pose a real problem, and it isn’t surprising that many expectant moms don’t get enough sleep. Pregnancy is demanding, especially in the final trimester, and you’ll need your sleep.

Take a quick snooze if you feel tired and schedule naps whenever you can. Set bedtimes and stick to them. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Fatigue is a sign that your body needs more rest, so give yourself all the sleep you can get. This is the one time you have a really good excuse to put your feet up and catch forty winks.

Do watch your diet

All mothers are told they need to “eat for two”. That advice however, is unfortunately not a license to eat whatever you can find. Try and keep to a healthy diet, and avoid picking up weight. If you pick up excessive weight while you’re pregnant you risk blood pressure issues and a host of other health headaches you can avoid by controlling your food intake.

Gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy may do more harm to your baby than good. During the first trimester, you only need about 100 extra calories a day to support your growing fetus. By your third trimester, that additional calorie number is closer to 300 to 500 per day. That isn’t a lot of food, so be cautious about your intake and ensure you’re active.

Any weight you gain while pregnant can be very difficult to shake off after birth, and as stated, packing on pounds exposes both you and baby to risk. If you need help with your diet, please talk to your doctor or a member of the nursing staff.

The Don’ts

Don’t smoke

This should seem very obvious, but some mothers are not aware of the fact that smoking while pregnant places your unborn child at risk. Babies born to mothers who smoke have lower birthweights and often suffer from learning disabilities. They are also more likely to smoke as adults and may suffer nicotine withdrawal when they are born.

Don’t drink alcohol

Alcohol may greatly impact your baby’s development. People who drink alcohol while pregnant could  deliver a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Symptoms of FAS include:

  • low birth weight
  • learning disabilities
  • behavior problems
  • lagging patterns in terms of growth and development milestones

Even small amounts of alcohol can be a problem. Many women believe that a small glass of wine will not harm the fetus, but there is no evidence to support this. There appears to be no safe level of alcohol intake in pregnancy.

If you need help stopping drinking while you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the healthier your baby is likely to be.

Don’t eat raw meat or food

In fact, avoid any meats, including fish, that are not properly cleaned and thoroughly cooked. Eating raw and undercooked meat and eggs exposes you to the risk of foodborne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. It’s also important to eat pasteurized (not raw) milk and cheese. Always wash produce to help eliminate harmful bacteria.

Food poisoning is also a very real possibility if you eat raw food, and if you’ve ever had food poisoning, you’ll know its not something you want to experience while pregnant. The bacteria in food that has not been cleaned and prepared properly can also lead to serious, life-threatening illnesses that could end in severe birth defects and even miscarriage. Cook all your food thoroughly.

Don’t sit in a hottub, jaccuzi or sauna

You might think the relaxation benefits are great while you’re pregnant but the truth is baby doesn’t really enjoy excessive heat and you may be exposing both of you to unnecessary risk.

Research suggests that using one of these during your first trimester may double your risk of miscarriage. Soaking in hot water can raise body temperature and this causes problems with the baby including increasing the risk of birth defects, so you may also want to ensure during your first trimester to avoid those long steamy baths.

Don’t drink a lot of caffeine

A normal cup of instant or filtered coffee every day probably isn’t harmful, but caffeine is a stimulant and can speed up your baby’s heart rate. With this in mind you might want to avoid Espressos and triple shot latte’s until after you’ve delivered.

Don’t clean out waste from cats and other animals

Pet your furry friend all you like, but be sure to wash your hands afterward — and don’t clean a cat’s litter box. Cat waste is filled with millions of bacteria and parasites. One in particular, Toxoplasma gondii, is particularly dangerous to expecting mothers.

If you contract it, you may never know until you begin having complications with your pregnancy. A miscarriage or stillbirth is possible. Babies who contract this parasite may face serious health problems, including seizures and mental disabilities.

Don’t use drugs

Again, this goes without saying. Whatever benefit you may think a drug provides you, cocaine, marijuana and other recreational drugs can end your pregnancy or result in serious mental and physical damage to your unborn baby.

You also need to be really careful about any medicines you use. If you take regular medication, you need to immediately check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure you can continue to safely use these while you’re pregnant. You may be prescribed an alternative that is safe to use during pregnancy or asked to stop until you’ve delivered your child.

Even over the counter (OTC) medicines can be potentially fatal to a baby, and that includes certain vitamins. Remember this one simple rule. If you aren’t sure, don’t. Check first to see if a product is safe for use during pregnancy. This also applies to homeopathic medicines and tinctures and home remedies.

In countries like the Philippines, India, Africa and Cambodia, mothers will often self diagnose themselves and resort to using traditional medicines, which include plants and roots. While these may be perfectly safe for you when you’re not pregnant, they can seriously harm your baby.

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This article has been checked for medical accuracy by appropriately qualified doctors on our advisory board and the contents deemed correct. If you think you may require medical assistance, always refer immediately to your doctor.

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