If you have decided the time is right to start a family, getting your health in the best shape possible is an important first step toward a healthy pregnancy.
“One of the most important parts of pregnancy--and one that most moms and soon-to-be moms don't realize--is beginning your pregnancy as healthy as possible," said Dr. Andres Rodriguez, a physician who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology associated with Maury Regional Medical Group. "That means taking the right vitamins before conceiving or when trying to get pregnant as well as maintaining a healthy weight, exercise regimen and diet habits that can be continued into pregnancy. Poor lifestyle decisions and health significantly increase the rates of nearly all of the major complications of pregnancy, from pre-eclampsia to low birthweight babies and even pre-term birth. Although complications are not always preventable, data and experience shows there are ways to decrease the risk.”
Here are some tips for preparing your body for pregnancy and childbirth:
Have a wellness exam: If it has been a while since your last check-up, make an appointment with your family physician or an OB/GYN. Tell your doctor about your pregnancy plans and ask for suggestions on improving your overall health. You can also discuss management of chronic health conditions and catch up on any vaccinations.
Eat well: Make sure your diet includes the recommended daily servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while cutting back on sugar and fat. Ask your doctor about taking a multi-vitamin and the right amount of folic acid, which will be important to your baby’s development and to reduce the risk of certain birth defects.
Drink more water, less caffeine and no alcohol: Increasing your intake of water helps keep your body hydrated and can help rid the body of waste and extra sodium and prevent urinary tract infections. Cut back on drinks with caffeine and say no to alcohol, which can increase the risk of miscarriage or having a premature birth and puts your baby at risk for birth defects.
Make time for exercise: A light to moderate exercise program can help you be in the best shape before and during pregnancy. Exercise has other benefits: helping you sleep better, deal with stress and is a mood-booster.
Weight: Ask your doctor about a plan to get your weight into a healthy range before becoming pregnant.
Stop smoking: If you or someone in your home smokes, now is the time to stop. Second-hand smoke is among the leading cause of problems in pregnancy and puts your baby at great health risk.
“We are excited to be able to see so many young families just starting out or making new additions in the Columbia and Spring Hill area," said Dr. Rodriguez. "Our primary goal is always going to be delivering the highest level of care to keep all moms and babies safe, happy and healthy."