Your first pregnancy can be exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and frightening all at the same time. In the next nine months, your body will change, and your moods will become unpredictable. You’ll hate the foods you used to love and crave weird dishes you’ve never even thought of eating before. Even your wardrobe will change.
Aside from the physical alterations, an expectant mom is also expected to adopt lifestyle changes to make sure she and her unborn child are safe and healthy. For example, pregnant women need to be more careful about what they need, see their doctor more regularly, and make healthier decisions. If you’re a first-time mom looking for advice for a healthy pregnancy, these tips may help you.
Confirm Your Pregnancy
Urine pregnancy tests are right 99 percent of the time, but they can still be inaccurate, especially if you test too early. Even if you’ve done several urine pregnancy tests, it’s still best to set up an appointment with an ob-gyn to confirm your pregnancy.
Although rare, false positives do occur. They are caused by chemical pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, medications, or user error. Learning of a false positive can be devastating, especially if you’ve been planning for a baby for a long time.
If you suspect you’re pregnant, wait another week before taking another pregnancy test. Afterward, see a doctor to do a foolproof pregnancy screening, like an ultrasound scan (which uses a specialized ultrasound transducer) that will look into the gestation sac and confirm the pregnancy.
Find a Health-Care Provider
Once you’ve confirmed your pregnancy, finding the right health-care provider should be your next order of business. You need to choose whether you want an ob-gyn, midwife, or another practitioner to assist you throughout the pregnancy.
Whichever you choose, the most important part is that your health-care provider respects your beliefs and principles regarding pregnancy, pain management, childbirth, and natal care. If you have dissenting views, they should work with you to reach a compromise that will be better for you and the baby.
Start Drinking Folic Acid
Folic acid supplements should be taken early in the pregnancy or when a woman is trying to conceive. Taking folic acid during conception or the first trimester is essential in preventing the development of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in the unborn child.
Go to Your First Prenatal Visits
During the course of your pregnancy, you’ll be seeing your health-care provider often, possibly more than you’ll see your closest friends. Your first official visit to your ob-gyn or midwife should be when you’re eight weeks along. There will be more prenatal visits as your pregnancy progresses.
Here’s a general schedule of most prenatal appointments:
- Once a month at 4 to 28 weeks
- Once every two weeks at 28 to 36 weeks
- Once a week at 36 to 40 weeks
Expect to undergo a general health check and several screenings and tests (e.g., fetal ultrasound, blood test, and genetic screening) during your visits. Every check is immensely important in keeping track of your baby’s health and development.
Eat a Healthier Diet
Pregnant women are sustaining the growth of another human being in their bodies, an act that requires a whole lot of energy and nutrients. For that reason, doctors will always recommend a more nutritious diet for expectant moms.
In general, you should be eating more lean meats, fruits, and vegetables and avoiding very fatty, oily, and sugary foods and anything that’s heavily processed and filled with artificial ingredients.
Eating healthier also doesn’t always mean consuming more. Pregnant women need to maintain a healthy weight as gaining more pounds than is recommended can lead to gestational diabetes. Alternatively, being underweight while pregnant can also cause other complications, like preterm labor and low birth weight in babies.
To create a healthy pregnancy meal plan, ask your doctor about what you can and cannot eat when you’re pregnant.
Avoid Harmful Substances
Unlike full-grown adults, unborn babies have yet to develop completely and are very sensitive to many substances that may or may not pose health risks to adult humans. Cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs are on top of the list of things expectant mothers need to avoid if they want their babies to be born with sound minds and bodies.
Pregnant women should also be cautious about the household products (e.g., cleaners and soaps). As well as bath and beauty products (e.g., moisturizers, lotions, and makeup) they use. Some everyday products you use may contain chemicals that are harmful to your baby.
Learn How to Alleviate Pregnancy Pains
Pain and discomfort will be stable in the next nine months of your pregnancy, but there’s no reason to bear with them without doing anything. While you can’t take over-the-counter pain relievers, you can still try safe alternative remedies to ease pregnancy pains.
Staying active during your pregnancy helps strengthen your muscles and bones, preventing achy joints. Safe massages can also relieve a lot of your discomfort. Using kinesiology tapes can provide support to your muscles, especially on your lower back, and alleviate pain.
There are several other ways to lessen pregnancy aches and discomforts. Ask your doctor about these treatments if exercise and simple solutions don’t work. Also, don’t dismiss the pain if it gets overwhelming, as it can be a sign that something is wrong.
If you’re not sure about anything—a food, a treatment, or a product—always consult a doctor before trying it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Especially because you now have to look after the well-being of a tiny human.
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