Prepare your body for pregnancy: Sponsored
Special to The Union
If welcoming a baby into the family could be on the horizon for you, there are steps you should take now to ensure the health of your baby – and maybe an easier pregnancy for yourself!
Why is early preparation important? You probably won’t know you’re pregnant for three to four weeks after conception. By that point, your baby is already forming major organs and structures. Some medicines, illness or bad habits can affect your baby before you even see the positive sign on the pregnancy test.
To be safe, take a few simple steps to ensure your body is ready for baby. The first step should be to see your doctor and discuss your plans for pregnancy. Get a checkup to ensure that you are healthy and your body is ready for the demands of pregnancy.
Your doctor will probably talk to you about the importance of exercising. Regular, moderate exercise is good for you and should be continued during pregnancy.
Do not get overheated, however, and avoid hot tubs in early pregnancy. And, of course, make sure your doctor is OK with your exercise plan.
You should also pay special attention to what you are eating. A diet rich with fruits and vegetables, as well as low-fat dairy products, is highly recommended for all women. Foods containing iron and calcium (milk, fortified breads and juices and green, leafy vegetables) are especially important for pregnant women.
Folic acid intake is critical. Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should take 400 mg of folic acid every day before and during pregnancy.
This important vitamin helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Multivitamins are also safe for pregnant women.
It is highly recommended that women reach the recommended weight for their height prior to getting pregnant. Women who are very overweight or underweight tend to have more complications during pregnancy. That said, once you see the positive pregnancy test, your focus should be on eating a healthy diet and NOT on losing weight.
Caffeine consumption should also be monitored. If you are a big coffee or caffeinated soda drinker, now is the time to cut back.
Pregnant women should not drink more than two cups of coffee or six glasses of tea or soda per day.
It goes without saying that smoking is never good for you and is especially harmful to an unborn fetus. If you smoke, stop before getting pregnant. Smoking, like alcohol and illegal drugs, can cause birth defects in your baby. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals both at work and at home.
Lastly, be sure you are up to date on your immunizations prior to getting pregnant. Some, like the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) must be given one month prior to getting pregnant.
Pregnant women are also considered a high-risk group for the flu, so be sure to talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot.
For more information on preparing your body, your family and your life for pregnancy and motherhood, attend Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s Preconceptions – our upcoming free event full of information, fun and goodies! Register at DignityHealth.org/Preconceptions.
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