We all want a healthy baby and a stress-free pregnancy. Luckily there are some things that are in our control. While there are no guarantees that a pregnancy will go out 100% well, a few lifestyle changes can increase our odds of delivering the baby to term.
Invest in early prenatal care
See your doctor as soon as you discover you are pregnant. Many doctors will prescribe a prenatal vitamin and recommend taking folic acid is the first month of pregnancy. She will also evaluate your health and prescribe tests to check that your thyroid, sugar levels are normal and that you have no infections that could increase risk for preterm labor.
Know your risks
Common risk factors for delivering early include being under or over weight, 35 years or older, and having delivered multiples. Your doctor will also be on the lookout for any infections that might develop; uterine infections may be responsible for almost half of all preterm births, as the inflammation may cause premature opening of the cervix.
See the dentist too!
A deep cleaning of the teeth in early pregnancy can prevent gum disease, like gingivitis, which can also cause the opening of the cervix. Flossing everyday can also prevent gum disease.
Keep weight gain healthy
You should gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. Any more, and you’ll be courting gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Obese and overweight women should gain less in pregnancy (around 15-25 pounds). What to Eat When You Are Expecting by Murkoff, Eisberg and Hathaway offers comprehensive food guides for pregnant moms.
Eat right and exercise
Eat whole wheat carbohydrates, protein, 1,200 mg of calcium (4 glasses of milk), an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and omega -3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon). Fatty acids are essential to healthy fetal brain development. Regular exercise can reduce the risk for preeclampsia, and lower stress levels; remember that stress can also induce premature labor. Important: Consult your doctor before doing any exercise routine.