Nutrition and Lifestyle Changes
How should I change my diet?
You'll want to develop certain eating habits before you get pregnant to ensure your baby has access to the nutrients he or she needs to develop. It's also a good idea to start taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid several weeks before conceiving. Wean yourself off caffeine and junk food so you can regulate your sleep and weight.
You should start paying attention to daily value nutrient percentages and recommended servings of meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables. However, it is important to remember that despite the “healthiness” of certain foods, there are some things pregnant women should not eat.
FoodSafety.gov provides a handy checklist of what not to eat and why. These items include, but are not limited to: soft cheese, raw fish, undercooked meat and raw cookie dough. The US Department of Agriculture has an excellent daily food plan tool for new moms.
Why is folic acid important?
The CDC suggests that women between the ages of 15 and 45 should take .4 milligrams (400 micrograms) of folic acid daily, whether or not they are planning to become pregnant. About half of the nation’s pregnancies are unplanned; getting into the habit of taking folic acid early can help prevent birth defects that occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy, such as anencephaly or spina bifida.
When you are first planning to become pregnant, your doctor may prescribe a higher daily dose of 4 milligrams (4000 micrograms) one month before getting pregnant and throughout the first trimester of your pregnancy.
What kinds of food should I avoid while pregnant?
As a pregnant woman, you will need to be very mindful of the food you eat. Fish, seafood, undercooked meats, unpasteurized food, and alcohol can contain toxins that can harm a fetus.
What is the WIC Program?
This is a nutritional support program for women, children, and infants offered by the USDA. The WIC Program provides low-income families with funding for approved foods and childrearing supplies at participating grocery stores.
How much weight will I gain during the total duration of pregnancy?
Women can expect to gain anywhere between 15 to 40 pounds, depending on their starting weight and whether or not they are having a multiple-baby pregnancy.
How much should I exercise?
It's important to reach a healthy weight before becoming pregnant. Being underweight or overweight can affect your pregnancy and delivery, so work with your physician on diet and fitness options based on your health history and current conditions. ACOG recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.
How will pregnancy affect my sex life?
Generally, it is safe to have sex throughout your pregnancy. However, you might notice a drop in your libido or physical discomfort. You will want to wait at least six weeks before resuming sex after giving birth, since your body needs to heal and adjust to normalizing hormone levels.
What activities should I avoid while pregnant?
Activities that apply force to your abdomen, or overwork it, should be strictly avoided, such as cycling, running, contact sports, skiing, and any other vigorous sports.
What impact will smoking and recreational drug use have on my pregnancy?
Recreational substances, including tobacco and alcohol, significantly increase health risk factors for mother and child. Lung and heart issues that develop from substance abuse can turn your pregnancy into a high-risk one, which can lead to concerns like placental problems, developmental issues, and preeclampsia.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) put together a FAQ sheet discussing smoking, drinking and their associated health risks for mother and baby. If you use recreational substances, you should work with your physician to address quitting before getting pregnant.