4 Keys to a Healthy Pregnancy
During pregnancy, you aren’t just eating for two. You’re also exercising, sleeping, and making other lifestyle choices for both yourself and your baby. Here’s how to take care of your health and give your little one a strong start in life.
1. Get your nutrients
To feel your best and fuel your baby’s growth, build your diet around:
Whole grains (such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and brown rice)
Low-fat or fat-free dairy products (such as milk, yogurt, and cheese)
Healthy protein foods (such as lean meats, fish, and beans)
Your healthcare provider may advise you to take a vitamin and mineral supplement, too. During pregnancy, you need increased amounts of some nutrients. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. Iron is a mineral used to make a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and your baby.
2. Rethink your drink
Constipation is a common complaint during pregnancy. Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water daily helps fight this problem. (Eating fiber-rich foods—such as fresh fruit, raw veggies, and whole-grain cereal—is helpful as well.)
Think twice about beverages that contain:
Alcohol. Even in small amounts, alcohol can increase your baby’s risk for long-term developmental problems. It’s important to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy.
Caffeine. At higher levels, caffeine may increase the risk for miscarriage. Your provider may suggest a limit of 200 milligrams per day (about the amount in a 12-ounce cup of coffee).
3. Be physically active
Staying active during pregnancy helps reduce back pain, promote healthy weight gain, and prepare your body for childbirth. If you’re a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy, that generally means aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week.
Ask your healthcare provider which types of activities are right for you. Many pregnant women enjoy:
4. Make sleep a priority
Getting plenty of sleep helps ease fatigue. But that’s not all. Sleep deprivation during pregnancy is tied to an increased risk for pregnancy complications, long labor, and cesarean delivery.
To improve your sleep, drink most of your fluids earlier in the day to reduce late-night bathroom visits. Skip greasy or spicy foods that keep you awake with heartburn. And experiment with new sleep positions and extra pillows to get comfy. Try lying on your left side with your knees bent and a pillow tucked between your knees.
By putting your own health first during pregnancy, you’re looking out for your baby, too.