What to Do to Have a Healthy Pregnancy
- Do see your doctor for regular prenatal checkups. Ask about stopping any medications you are currently taking and starting any new ones. Make sure health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure are treated and kept under control. Ask about getting a flu shot. Don’t forget to wear a seatbelt when you are in the car (under your belly, across your hips, with the shoulder strap between your breasts to the side of your belly).
- Do eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium-rich foods and lean meats. It’s okay to have fish, but avoid shark, swordfish, mackerel or tilefish that are high in mercury. Also avoid smoked seafood, deli meats and unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses because they may contain listeria, a bacterium linked to miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth or fetal illness. Remember to drink plenty of water every day to prevent dehydration and constipation.
- Do get at least 400 mcg of folic acid every day to lower the risk of some birth defects. It’s also a good idea to take folic acid before you become pregnant. Also be sure to get enough iron to prevent anemia and reduce the chances of preterm birth and a low-birth weight baby. Your doctor may prescribe prenatal vitamins during your pregnancy.
- Do get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Also,reduce stress in your life by setting limits and saying “no” to requests for your time and energy.
What Not to Do to Have a Healthy Pregnancy
- Don’t smoke, which can raise the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth and infant death. And don’t drink alcohol, which can cause irreversible birth defects, or use illegal drugs, which are dangerous for you and your baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant. Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals, such as cleaning solvents, certain insecticides and paint.
- Don’t gain too much weight. Excess body weight can increase the chances of developing gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, stillbirth and preterm birth. Talk with your doctor about what he or she considers normal weight gain for your pregnancy.
- Don’t change or clean out your cat’s litter box. Avoid contact with pet rodents such as guinea pigs and hamsters.
- Don’t take very hot baths or use a hot tub or sauna, which can be harmful to the fetus. Also avoid douching or using scented feminine hygiene products, which can increase the risk of infection.
You can get your hair dyed, drink a cup of coffee or soda, stand in front of a microwave, sit in front of a computer monitor, paint your nails and travel by air when you are pregnant (typically up to your 36th week for uncomplicated pregnancies and up to 32 weeks if you have risk factors). If you have any more questions about pregnancy dos and don’ts, talk with your doctor.