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Eight tips for a healthy pregnancy


(BPT) – Did you know that every single minute in the United States a baby is born too early? That’s approximately 450,000 born too early each year. A pregnant woman’s good health, both physical and emotional, is essential to the health of her baby. You can boost your own chances of having a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby by following a few tips and by learning more about the important development of your baby, even during the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy.

1. Get early prenatal care

Early prenatal care is important for you and your baby. As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, contact your health care provider to schedule your first prenatal visit. During that appointment you’ll get advice for a healthy pregnancy and be screened for risk factors associated with preterm birth.You can also visit GrowthYouCantSee.com for a checklist of risk factors and example questions to bring with you to help guide the conversation with your health care provider.

2. Make every bite count 

What you eat is a key part of pregnancy health. Your baby absorbs everything you eat, so good nutrition is not only essential for your own good health but also for your baby’s growth and development. Make sure you eat a well-balanced, healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids to help ensure both your good health and your baby’s.

3. Manage stress

Bringing a baby into the world is no easy task. Pregnancy can be nerve-wracking and it’s normal to feel stressed. However, too much stress can cause health problems and increase a woman’s chances for preterm birth – delivering a baby before 37 weeks or more than three weeks prior to the due date. Taking care of your emotional health by learning to manage stress makes for a healthier pregnancy and is an essential part of taking care of your baby.

4. Exercise regularly

Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy is important for your general health and can help you prepare for labor. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress and help you feel your best. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication. Talk to your health care provider about your fitness routine during pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe.

5. Get plenty of rest

When you’re pregnant, discomfort can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress can all help improve sleep during pregnancy. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or a warm bath before bed, may also help you fall asleep. If you’re unable to sleep well at night, try resting more during the day.

6. Change your habits

Healthy lifestyle choices directly impact the health of a growing baby and certain habits can cause lifelong health problems for your baby. In particular, smoking, drinking alcohol and using street drugs (also called illegal or illicit drugs) can restrict a baby’s growth and increase the chances for preterm birth. Avoiding substances such as nicotine, alcohol and other street drugs during pregnancy gives your baby the time he or she needs to grow and develop. If you need help to quit, talk with your doctor.

7. Learn about the signs and symptoms of preterm labor 

Help protect your baby by familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of preterm labor, which can lead to preterm birth, so you can proactively discuss them with your health care provider. Visit GrowthYouCantSee.com to learn more.

8. Enjoy this special time 

Forty weeks sounds like a long time, but you won’t be pregnant for forever. Enjoy this special time in your life with family and friends.

There’s a lot of growth that happens in your baby, even in the last few weeks of pregnancy leading up to your due date.

For more information on the risks of preterm birth and the benefits of a full-term pregnancy, visit GrowthYouCantSee.com.

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Women’s Health

The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

By James N. Martin, Jr, MD
President, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

It’s no surprise that pregnancy causes many changes to a woman’s body. Extra weight, changing balance, and fatigue can all make sitting on the couch seem a very attractive proposition. But staying active can provide multiple benefits to you and your baby, making pregnancy an excellent time to adopt and stick to an exercise program.
During pregnancy, exercise can reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling; oost mood and energy; promote muscle tone, strength, and endurance; and improve sleep quality. It can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. Pregnant women who exercise may also have an easier time with labor and delivery and weight loss after childbirth.
Talk to your doctor before beginning or continuing an exercise program to be sure that you don’t have any health problems that would limit your activity. Women with certain forms of heart and lung disease, cervical problems, a multiple pregnancy that is at risk of preterm labor, vaginal bleeding, preterm labor, placental problems, and high blood pressure caused by pregnancy (preeclampsia) should avoid exercise. For most pregnant women, however, 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most, if not all, days of the week is recommended.
Be mindful of the changes in your body when choosing your activity. Pregnancy hormones can cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch and your balance shifts as you gain weight in the front of your body. These changes can lead to more injuries, less stability, and the increased likelihood of falling. The extra weight is also more taxing on your heart. If you can’t talk at normal levels at all times, you may be working too hard.
Gentle exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling, or low-impact or water aerobics is suitable for exercisers of all levels. However, you should avoid any sports or activities that could injure your abdomen or that have a high risk for contact such as ice hockey, soccer, or basketball. Skip activities that come with a high risk of falling such as downhill skiing, horse-back riding, or vigorous racquet sports. Stop exercising and call your doctor if you experience dizziness or faintness, increased shortness of breath, uneven or rapid heartbeat, chest pain, trouble walking, vaginal bleeding, calf pain or swelling, headache, uterine contractions that continue after you rest, fluid gushing or leaking from your vagina, or decreased fetal movement.
Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and a supportive bra and shoes. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and overheating. Most importantly, get out, get moving, and have fun!
For more information, the ACOG Patient Education Pamphlet “Exercise during Pregnancy” is available at www.acog.org/publication/ patient_education.

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