17 Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts That May Surprise You
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Before your little bundle of joy arrives, you’re responsible for helping them grow in a nurturing, healthy environment.
This list of pregnancy do’s and don’ts can shed some light on what you should worry about — and what you really shouldn’t fret over.
1. Do take a multivitamin
Eating a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals is the best way to provide your body with all of the healthy nutrients it needs to support a growing baby. A healthy diet alone, however, may not be enough for pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of certain nutrients that expectant mothers require at higher doses, such as:
These vitamins assist with proper development of the fetus and help prevent birth defects. Your doctor can help you find a multivitamin or a series of vitamins that are best for you.
A multivitamin will usually include DHA, EPA, or both. These are omega-3 fats that are important for your baby’s proper brain development.
Don’t take more than one dose of multivitamins, though. Some vitamins in higher amounts can be harmful to the baby.
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2. Do get lots of sleep
Changing hormone levels, anticipation, and anxiety can make sleep elusive during your 9 months of pregnancy. Pregnancy is demanding, especially in the final trimester, and you’ll need your sleep.
Take a quick snooze if you feel tired and schedule naps whenever you can. Set bedtimes and stick to them.
Aim for 7-9 hours of shut-eye each night. Fatigue is a sign that your body needs more rest, so give yourself all the sleep you can.
3. Do work out
Gone are the days of pregnant women avoiding lifting a finger during their pregnancies: We now know that exercise is good for mama and baby.
In fact, regular exercise may help you combat many of the issues that arise during pregnancy, including:
excessive weight gain
If you regularly exercised before you became pregnant, keep it up. Talk with your doctor about any adjustments you should make to your routine, especially as you move into your second and third trimesters.
If you didn’t exercise regularly before you found out you were expecting, ask your doctor about incorporating a fitness routine into your day. They can guide you into a program that’s safe and comfortable for you and your growing baby.
4. Do eat seafood
Seafood is loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and iron. These are all important for both mom and baby. But undercooked or raw seafood can cause some problems.
Seafood may carry harmful bacteria and viruses, which are eliminated when thoroughly cooked. Also, pregnant women should avoid raw fish and fish that may contain high levels of mercury.
Examples of fish containing high levels of mercury include:
Eat a variety of seafood so you don’t have a concentration of minerals from one type of fish. Eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week.
5. Do have sex
Sex during pregnancy is fine, as long as you don’t have a complicating factor such as placenta previa or another type of high-risk pregnancy.
Sex is safe with your partner right up until your water breaks. If you have discomfort you may have to try new positions. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about the safety of intercourse during your pregnancy.
6. Do practice yoga
You should avoid Bikram or hot yoga, but other yoga modalities are fine when you’re expecting. Seek out prenatal or gentle yoga classes that are designed for mothers-to-be. Instructors in these classes will know which poses are best and which you should avoid.
If you weren’t doing yoga before you became pregnant, talk with your doctor before signing up for a class. While it’s possible you can start, it’s best to go over the risks and concerns with your doctor.
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7. Do get a flu shot
Pregnant women can and should get a flu vaccine as long as you don’t have a contraindication as noted by the manufacturer.
The injection isn’t a live virus. You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. If you were to contract influenza during your pregnancy, the risk of severe side effects is greater than in women of the same age who aren’t pregnant.
The vaccine will protect you as well as your developing fetus.
8. Do gain weight smartly
The “eat for two” advice to expecting mothers isn’t a license to eat whatever you’d like. Instead, women need to be strategic about what they eat and how much.
Gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy may do more harm to your baby than good. During your first trimester, you only need about 100 extra calories a day to support your growing fetus.
By your third trimester, that additional calorie number is closer to 300 to 500 per day.
9. Do visit your dentist
Trips to the dentist’s office were avoided for decades for fear that an oral cleaning might cause bacteria to spread and lead to an infection. Now we know that’s just not the case.
In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that expectant mothers have a routine oral health assessment while pregnant, along with regular dental cleanings. Be sure to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant.
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10. Don’t smoke
Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a lower birth weight and are at a greater risk for learning disabilities than children born to nonsmoking mothers.
Additionally, children born to women who smoke are more likely to try smoking at a younger age and become regular smokers earlier, due to physiologic nicotine addiction.
11. Don’t drink alcohol
Alcohol may greatly impact your baby’s development. People who drink alcohol while pregnant could deliver a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Symptoms of FAS include:
low birth weight
lagging patterns in terms of growth and development milestones
Even small amounts of alcohol can be a problem. There appears to be no safe level of alcohol intake in pregnancy.
If you need help stopping drinking while you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the healthier your baby is likely to be.
12. Don’t eat raw meat
Raw and undercooked meat and eggs carry the risk of foodborne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Food poisoning is also a possibility.
These conditions can cause serious, life-threatening illnesses that could lead to severe birth defects and even miscarriage. Make sure all eggs and meat that you eat while pregnant are well-cooked.
13. Don’t eat deli meat
Deli meats — including hot dogs, sausages, smoked salmon, and other cured meats — can cause foodborne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis.
Meats that are sliced have far more surface area for bacterial growth. Thoroughly cooking these processed proteins well reduces your risk.
It’s also important to eat pasteurized (not raw) milk and cheese. Always wash produce to help eliminate harmful bacteria.
14. Don’t eat unpasteurized milk products
Calcium is very important for growing babies, but moms have to be careful how they get their calcium from dairy.
Raw milk isn’t recommended for expecting mothers since it’s unpasteurized. This means it hasn’t been heated to kill bacteria that could make you ill.
Specifically, raw milk may contain the bacteria Listeria. It can lead to illness, miscarriage, or even life-threatening consequences.
15. Don’t sit in a hot tub or sauna
Though relaxing, the high-heat environment of hot tubs, Jacuzzis, and saunas may be too dangerous for expecting mothers.
In fact, research suggests that using one of these during your first trimester may double your risk of miscarriage. Soaking in hot water can raise body temperature and this causes problems with the baby including increasing the risk of birth defects.
16. Don’t drink a lot of caffeine
Caffeine can travel through the placenta and increase your baby’s heart rate.
Current research suggests that women can safely consume a cup or two of coffee each day, but forego downing a triple-shot latte while you’re carrying.
17. Don’t clean the cat’s litter box
Pet your furry friend all you like and wash your hands afterward — but don’t clean a cat’s litter box.
Feline waste is filled with millions of bacteria and parasites. One in particular,Toxoplasma gondii, is particularly dangerous to expecting mothers.
If you contract it, you may never know until you begin having complications with your pregnancy. A miscarriage or stillbirth is possible. Babies who contract this parasite may face serious health problems, including seizures and mental disabilities.
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12 Ways to Stay Healthy During Pregnancy
Audra Meadows, MD, MPH, an obstetrician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, helps patients optimize their health before, during and after pregnancy. Here are 12 tips from Dr. Meadows to help you increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
1. Eat healthy foods.
Eating healthy foods is especially important for pregnant women. Your baby needs nutrients to grow healthy and strong in the womb. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods and foods low in saturated fat.
2. Take a daily prenatal vitamin.
Taking a daily prenatal multivitamin can help ensure you get the right amount of the key nutrients you and your baby need during pregnancy. These include folic acid, iron and calcium.
3. Stay hydrated.
A pregnant woman’s body needs more water than it did before pregnancy. Aim for eight or more cups each day.
4. Go to your prenatal care checkups.
Women should get regular prenatal care from a health care provider. Moms who don’t get regular prenatal care are much more likely to have a baby with low birth weight or other complications. If available, consider group prenatal care.
5. Avoid certain foods.
There are certain foods that women should avoid eating while pregnant. Don’t eat:
Raw or rare meats
Liver, sushi, raw eggs (also in mayonnaise)
Soft cheeses (feta, brie)
Raw and unpasteurized animal products can cause food poisoning. Some fish, even when cooked, can be harmful to a growing baby because they’re high in mercury.
6. Don’t drink alcohol.
Don’t drink alcohol before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of having a baby with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD can cause abnormal facial features, severe learning disabilities and behavioral issues.
Alcohol can impact a baby’s health in the earliest stages of pregnancy, before a woman may know she is pregnant. Therefore, women who may become pregnant also should not drink alcohol.
7. Don’t smoke.
Smoking is unhealthy for you and your unborn child. It increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), premature birth, miscarriage and other poor outcomes.
8. Get moving.
Daily exercise or staying active in other ways can help you stay healthy during pregnancy. Check with your doctor to find out how much physical activity is right for you.
9. Get a flu shot.
The flu can make a pregnant woman very sick and increase risks of complications for your baby. The flu shot can protect you from serious illness and help protect your baby after birth, too. Ask your doctor about getting a flu shot.
10. Get plenty of sleep.
Ample sleep (7 to 9 hours) is important for you and your baby. Try to sleep on your left side to improve blood flow.
11. Reduce stress.
Reducing stress is crucial for improving birth outcomes. Pregnant women should avoid, as much as they can, stressful situations. Recruit your loved ones to help you manage stress in your life.
12. Plan the right time to get pregnant.
“If you are choosing to become pregnant at a time when you know that you’re at your healthiest, that increases your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy birth,” says Dr. Meadows.
This not only means that women should make sure that they are healthy before they become pregnant, but they also should consider their age before getting pregnant. Mothers who have children early in life (earlier than 16-years-old), or late in life (older than 40) are at greater risk for having a premature birth. Also, women who become pregnant again too soon (less than 18 months in between births) are even more likely to have a premature baby.
Audra Meadows, MD, MPH
Audra Meadows, MD, MPH is an obstetrician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).
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If you’re thinking about pregnancy, managing a pregnancy complication or looking for tips on newborn care, our experts can help support you at every step in your journey. Read more pregnancy and childbirth articles.
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What can and cannot be done during pregnancy? Recommendations for expectant mothers
Pregnancy is an important and responsible stage in the life of every family. Most women feel good during this exciting time, trusting in the natural restructuring of the body under the strict guidance of nature. Taking care of your health and well-being in advance, it is easy to prevent possible complications and focus on the main thing.
The third trimester of pregnancy is the happiest, but at the same time the most "exciting" period of pregnancy. The baby is about to be born, and the mother begins to actively prepare for childbirth. What rules should a woman follow in order to give birth to a healthy child?
1. Don't miss 's weekly visits to your obstetrician-gynecologist who is managing your pregnancy, follow his advice.
2. In the third trimester of gestation monitor weight gain, count the amount of fluid drunk and excreted per day. The amount of liquid drunk is all drinks, soups, and also half the volume from fruits and dairy products. The amount of fluid excreted is the volume of urine (diuresis). If these numbers are the same, then everything is fine. If the volume of fluid drunk exceeds daily diuresis, then this may indicate latent edema that forms in the intercellular spaces of tissues and organs. Latent edema may be the result of such a serious complication of pregnancy as preeclampsia, which can be accompanied not only by latent edema, but also by swelling of the arms and legs, high blood pressure, proteinuria - the appearance of protein in the urine.
3. Eat right! Proper nutrition in the third trimester of pregnancy is of particular importance, because the female body begins to work in a new way - in the mode of intensive preparation for labor. How your diet will be in the last months of pregnancy largely depends on how the birth will go.
Follow the following rule : The closer the due date, the lighter the diet should be. In the last months of pregnancy, the body should spend efforts on preparing for childbirth, and not on the digestion of heavy food.
Eliminate from the diet such harmful foods as fast food, carbonated drinks, pickles, pickles, mushrooms,
Useful cranberries, gooseberries, red and white currants), fruits (bananas, apples, prunes, pears in limited quantities), juices, vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, onions, sweet peppers), greens.
4. Get enough sleep . Sufficient sleep is the key to your well-being, excellent mood, and normal development of the fetus. The duration of sleep should be such that after waking up you feel rested and alert. In order for the body to recover, you must sleep at least 8-10 hours. Remember your baby is very sensitive to all changes in the mother's mood.
5. Be active, move, don't lie on the couch all day! Many women in the third trimester become lazy, stop walking and exercising. But lying on the couch all day won't prepare your pelvic floor muscles for childbirth. Moderate physical activity not only does not harm the expectant mother or child, but also helps to maintain your health and well-being, contributes to an easy birth and the appearance of a healthy baby.
In the third trimester of pregnancy, you can continue to do some of the exercises that you did in the first and second trimesters, choosing those that are easy for you. Practice morning and evening leisurely walks, do not give up your favorite wellness activities until childbirth - go to yoga and swimming, master breathing techniques, gymnastics with a fitball.
Remember that in the third trimester of pregnancy, both cycling and horseback riding are strictly contraindicated.
It is very important that you wear comfortable clothes and shoes while walking.
Do not wear high heels . Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds, so mom is gaining weight quickly. The center of gravity of a pregnant woman shifts due to the growing uterus, as a result of which the deflection in the lumbar spine (lumbar lordosis) increases, which can create certain difficulties and even pain in the lumbar region. Shoes with high heels further increase the deflection in the spine, and any awkward movement can cause a fall and injury to a pregnant woman.
Clothing should not restrict movement and compress blood vessels so as not to disturb blood flow.
Remember that activity in the third trimester of pregnancy is the key to a quick and easy delivery.
6. Control your emotions. The more positive emotions mom experiences, the better.
Positive emotions have a good effect on the development of the fetus, during pregnancy and childbirth, contribute to the production of oxytocin - hormone of happiness, which improves not only psychological but also physical condition.
It is not always possible for a future mother to cope with anxiety and excitement on her own. If negative emotions and fears do not let go, visit a psychologist.
To maintain positive emotions, engage in pleasant activities that will give you pleasure. For example, buying children's things or arranging a room for an unborn baby. Choose a name for the future baby, talk to him. Listen to relaxing music. Spend as much time outdoors as possible.
The world of a pregnant woman is amazing, unpredictable and constantly changing. It is important that this period be pleasant, joyful and leave good, warm memories in your memory.
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What can and cannot be done during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a woman receives a lot of information and advice about nutrition, lifestyle and even medical treatment from different sources: from doctors, relatives, friends, neighbors or from the Internet
It is easy to get confused in the variety of recommendations, and often these tips contradict each other. Let's see what is really allowed and what is prohibited for pregnant women in terms of modern evidence-based medicine and international practice.
What not to do during pregnancy
Unfortunately, there is still a popular opinion that it is better for pregnant women to continue smoking than to quit abruptly. Modern medicine refutes this statement: the risks of smoking exceed the risk of stress when quitting a bad habit. Nicotine easily crosses the placental barrier and causes fetal abnormalities and pregnancy complications. Possible consequences of smoking during pregnancy include low birth weight, miscarriage, developmental abnormalities, and premature birth. According to WHO, smokeless tobacco use and passive smoking are also dangerous and can negatively affect pregnancy and child development.*
Eat raw and undercooked meat, fish and eggs, unpasteurized milk and dairy products
These products may contain the bacteria that causes listeriosis. Pregnant women are 13 times more likely than other adults to be at risk for listeriosis. The disease can cause diarrhea, fever, muscle pain. It can also occur in an erased form with mild symptoms, or no manifestations at all. But, nevertheless, the consequences of listeriosis during pregnancy can be very serious - miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
Cleaning the litter box and touching other people's cats
Another disease dangerous for the fetus - toxoplasmosis, is transmitted mainly with cat feces. When registering at the antenatal clinic, you will definitely take a blood test for antibodies to toxoplasmosis. If it turns out that you have had it before (as a rule, the disease is mild, with almost no symptoms), you can not worry, the chances of re-infection are minimal. But if you're not immune to toxoplasmosis, limit close contact with cats, especially during the first trimester. Toxoplasmosis is easily transmitted from mother to fetus and causes malformations such as damage to the brain, hearing and vision. You can also get toxoplasmosis by eating raw meat.
Sauna and hot baths can cause hyperthermia, or an excessive increase in body temperature. In the first trimester, overheating can be fraught with the risk of fetal abnormalities, in particular defects in the nervous system. The risk of neural tube defects in the fetus in women exposed to overheating in the first trimester increases by more than 2 times. Also, according to the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, any increase in body temperature above 39 can be dangerous. C**, both in diseases and overheating in a hot room or in the sun.
Make independent treatment decisions
The main taboos for pregnant women are self-medication and self-diagnosis. During pregnancy, it is strictly forbidden to take medications without consulting a doctor. All pregnancies are different, and the medicine that once helped your mom or girlfriend can be deadly for you and your baby. Talk to your doctor about taking any medication, from headaches and antihistamines to vitamins and dietary supplements. If you have any doubts about your doctor's recommendations, try to get a second opinion from another specialist, but do not make independent decisions about treatment.
What can be done during pregnancy
Do fitness and sports
Pregnancy, as you know, is not a disease, and in the absence of complications and specific risks, moderate physical activity during this period will only benefit. Numerous studies show that fitness has a positive effect on a woman's well-being and helps keep weight gain under control. What is a "moderate" load, each pregnant woman should decide together with her doctor. It depends on many factors: age, health status, level of physical fitness. The American Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians recommends avoiding physical activities such as diving, hot yoga, and surfing during pregnancy. The full list can be found here. Walking, swimming and yoga are traditionally recommended. But, if you did a lot of sports before pregnancy, you don’t have to give up your favorite activities, sometimes it’s enough to slightly reduce the load and take into account some of the nuances. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any exercise.
Visit the pool
Some pregnant women refuse to swim due to fear that chlorine and other substances used to disinfect pool water may adversely affect the baby. We hasten to dispel your doubts - chlorine can penetrate into the mother's body only if she swallows water, and in order for the substance to have at least some effect on the child, you will have to drink quite a lot of this water. No water, neither chlorinated nor ordinary, can penetrate through the cervix, since the entrance to the uterus is reliably protected by a mucous plug, and the cervix itself is closed.
Surprised? Yes, it turns out that you can drink coffee during pregnancy, most doctors agree that moderate caffeine intake does not affect the course of pregnancy and fetal development. But, of course, it is important to observe the measure. According to the American Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, pregnant women can consume up to 200 mg of caffeine***, i.e. 250-350 ml of weak coffee per day. But remember that caffeine is also found in other drinks and foods, such as tea, cola, and chocolate.
Get a flu shot
Studies show that the risks to mother and baby from flu shots are much lower than the risks from the flu vaccine itself and its complications. Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth are more susceptible to influenza than others and often endure it especially hard. The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation recommends vaccinating against influenza at any time if pregnancy occurs during the epidemic season. Talk to your doctor about the availability and timing of getting the vaccine.
Ask your doctor questions
Feel free to ask your doctor about do's and don'ts during pregnancy or how to interpret certain symptoms. The more you know about your pregnancy and its features, the less nervous you will be. Ask to explain the results of the tests, ask about the reasons for prescribing drugs and examinations. If you are worried about pain or other discomfort, make an appointment out of turn. Ask your doctor for a phone number and ask if you can send him or her a message during office hours if needed.
*WHO guidelines for the prevention and control of tobacco use and secondhand smoke during pregnancy
**American Pregnancy association: Pregnant in a hot tub
***ACOG: Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy