In honor of National Women's Health Week, we have compiled our top 10 tips for a healthy pregnancy. Above all, we recommend that you listen to your body! Whether you're craving sleep, food, hydration, etc., make sure that your body is getting what it needs during this pivotal period of your child's development.
(1) Get plenty of sleep -- at least 8 hours per night, if possible. And if you're able to nap, embrace it! Your body needs as much rest as it can possibly get right now.
(2) De-stress (we know, we know -- easier said than done). Spoil yourself with a massage (after the first trimester) when you can, call your best friends for a chat, take a gentle yoga class, or try a guided meditation (some of which can be found online).
(3) Take your prenatal vitamins, probiotics, and Omega capsules, but don't take any other medications or remedies without first consulting your obstetrician or midwife. There are even topical medications (like Retin-A) that should not be used by pregnant women, so always ask first.
(4) Exercise gently, while avoiding overheating. If you didn't exercise before you became pregnant, try going for a short walk or swim or taking a prenatal yoga class. Exercise is a wonderful way to alleviate some of the unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy (like stiffness and swelling). It also helps you build up the strength and endurance necessary for labor and post-natal recovery.
(5) Drink at least 8 to 10 glass of water per day. If water isn't your thing, aim for other fluids, but avoid caffeine and artificial coloring.
(6) Don't drink alcohol, don't smoke, and avoid being expose to secondhand smoke. These toxins can be very damaging to your unborn child.
(7) On a similar note, avoid other chemicals that might harm your baby. For instance, let your husband or a friend do the painting in the nursery so that you can avoid the fumes -- and better yet, ask them to use a VOC-free paint to keep both you and baby safe longterm! It is also recommended that pregnant women avoid drinking from plastic bottles which may contain BPA or other endocrine disruptors. We found Healthy Child, Healthy World to be a great resource on how to "clean up" our lifestyle.
(8) If you were at a healthy weight pre-pregnancy, you should be eating 300-500 extra calories per day to help feed your baby's growth. Of course we all have to indulge in ice cream now and then, but do try to get most of your calories from a variety of healthy sources like fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich legumes, and the like!
(9) See your dentist. Not everyone is aware of this, but hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the gums to react differently to the bacteria in plaque, resulting in swollen, bleeding gums (gingivitis). So see your dentist for a cleaning now if you haven't had a visit in the last six months.
(10) Be informed. Some of our favorite reads were What To Expect When You're Expecting (whose companion book we include in our Everything But the Stork Box), Baby 411, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and Healthy Child, Healthy World. Or if you prefer snippets of information at a time, try signing up for the weekly emails from sites like TheBump.com!