6 steps for a healthy pregnancy
After becoming pregnant, a woman should continue to focus on healthy habits on a daily basis. “It’s extremely important in the development stage of pregnancy to be in the best control of your health as you can be,” including controlling your blood pressure and, if you have the condition, diabetes, says Dr. Debra Kirkpatrick, vice chairperson for clinical affairs for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind.
To be ready for labor, follow these tips:
Get plenty of protein. “We recommend 60 to 80 grams of protein every day,” says Alice Bailes, co-director of highly rated Birthcare and Women’s Health in Alexandria, Va. “That really does help with building endurance; increasing your energy so that you’re prepared for labor.”
Add exercise to your routine. “If you are very sedentary, start a walking program five days a week until you work up to 1 mile a day,” Bailes says.
Take prenatal vitamins. For the average woman, the daily vitamin should contain 400 micrograms of folic acid, Kirkpatrick said. If possible, women should start taking folic acid at least a month before getting pregnant. Women who have had a previous pregnancy that resulted in the birth of a child with neural tube defects should consult her doctor about the recommended dosage.
Get plenty of sleep. Listen to your body. “Sleep when you’re tired,” Bailes says.
Limit your work hours. As the delivery date draws near, try to cut back on your work hours, if possible, Bailes says. “This will allow you to focus on making healthy meals and exercising."
Be patient. Many women tend to think something is wrong if they’re not in the delivery room as soon as they hit their ninth month, Bailes said. “They need to realize that 39 weeks is not yet term,” she says. “We work with a five-week window of 37 to 42 weeks for a healthy delivery. Try to cultivate an attitude of patience as you think about your unborn child.”