Getting the right health care and making smart diet and exercise choices while you’re pregnant will help keep you – and your baby – healthy.
Start Taking Care of Your Baby Early with Prenatal Care
One of the most important things you can do for your baby is to start getting prenatal care within the first three months – or first trimester – of your pregnancy. This early part of pregnancy is a critical time for development – and it’s a time when your baby is most vulnerable. If you know you’re pregnant – or think you might be – call and make an appointment to see your health care provider.
During your pregnancy, you’ll see your provider often. In fact, you’ll see him or her more frequently the closer you get to your due date. You might be nervous before your very first prenatal visit, but know that this visit is a time to talk with your provider and get answers to your pregnancy questions.
What You Can Do Each Day to Have a Healthy Baby
Eat three balanced meals a day plus two snacks – or five small meals a day. Eating small amounts throughout the day helps keep up your energy and can help you feel less nauseous.
Eat more protein and more calories than usual. Most pregnant women need to eat about 300 more calories a day to support their developing baby.
Do not eat raw seafood (sushi and sashimi) and soft cheeses or drink unpasteurized milk. These foods could contain bacteria harmful to your baby.
Take prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women need more folic acid, iron and calcium than the average woman.
Exercise. Staying active can give you the strength you need to carry the extra weight of pregnancy – and the endurance to handle labor and delivery. Talk with your provider before you start any exercise program.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. If you need help overcoming a substance abuse problem, talk to your health care provider.
Do not smoke. If you smoke, quit. Smoking increases your chance of miscarriage, vaginal bleeding and complications. If you smoke and are pregnant, quit. If you need help kicking the habit, talk to your provider.
Avoid caffeine. Some studies have shown that drinking three or four cups a day of caffeinated beverages may contribute to low birth weight.
Avoid children diagnosed with Fifth disease. This common childhood illness is usually harmless, but it can lead to serious problems for pregnant women.
Avoid contact with children with chicken pox. Chicken pox is another childhood illness that can cause serious problems for pregnant women. If you have never had chicken pox – or been vaccinated against the disease – avoid contact with children with the illness while you are pregnant.
Be careful taking certain medications and getting X-rays. Talk with your health care provider about all the medications you take regularly. If you need to have X-rays, tell the technician and your doctor you are pregnant, so they can take precautions to protect your baby.
Do not clean cat litter boxes. Toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite in cat waste, can be very dangerous to you and your baby. If you are pregnant, have someone else clean your cat’s litter box daily.
Information and Resources on Pregnancy and Becoming a Parent