Helpful Information and Tips for a Safe Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you probably have plenty of questions about what you should or shouldn’t do during pregnancy, especially if you’re a first-time mom. Friends and family members may already be bombarding you with dos and don’ts during your pregnancy. To help you have a safe pregnancy we’ve compiled some helpful information and tips, outlined below.
I. Physical Activity and Exercise
While it was once thought that women should drastically limit physical activity during pregnancy and “take it easy” for the most part, we know today that fitness is an important part of physical health and well-being for pregnant women. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that women can or should do everything they did before. Below are some tips for maintaining a safe pregnancy when exercising. Always ask your doctor before you start an exercise regimen.
Best Activities for A Safe Pregnancy
Low-impact activities such as swimming, dancing, and low-impact aerobics are best for moms-to-be. If you were doing higher intensity activities before you became pregnant, such as jogging, lifting weights, or playing racquetball, you may be able to continue these with your doctor’s okay.
Avoid activities in which you could be hit in the abdomen, like soccer and hockey, as well as activities like horseback riding or gymnastics, in which you could fall.
Use Caution While Exercising
Begin slowly and progress gradually when exercising—you should be able to talk while you’re exercising. If you’re out of breath, you’re probably working too hard. Take frequent breaks, and make sure you’re well hydrated before, during, and after exercise.
Do not exercise on your back after your first trimester, as this can compress a vein that delivers blood to the baby. Do not exercise at high altitudes (over 6,000 feet), which can prevent your baby from getting enough oxygen.
If you experience any of the following, stop exercise immediately and call your doctor:
- Abdominal pain
- Blurred vision
- Calf pain or swelling
- Chest pain
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
- Less fetal movement
- Vaginal bleeding
Sex is generally safe during pregnancy, but you may find that certain positions are no longer comfortable. Talk to your partner about what’s most comfortable for you, and call your doctor if sex causes pain, fluid leakage or vaginal bleeding.
Life doesn’t stop when you become pregnant—if you commute for work you should be able to continue to do so, even in later months of pregnancy. If you’re planning on traveling out of the country, there are additional considerations to keep a safe pregnancy, including:
- Is the water and food safe where you’re going?
- What communicable diseases could you be exposed to, and will you need immunizations before you go?
- Is there good medical care available in case of an emergency?
Sitting for prolonged periods can slow blood flow to your legs, so limit travel by car to five or six hours maximum, and be sure to take plenty of stretch breaks. Occasional air travel is generally safe for women up to 36 weeks of pregnancy, but talk to your doctor to make sure it’s okay for you, or if you plan on traveling out of the country.
Seat Belt Guidelines
Always buckle up in the car and while seated on an airplane. The lap belt should go across your hips, under, not across, your belly. The shoulder strap should go between your breasts and to the side of your belly.
Saving your baby’s umbilical cord blood, cord tissue, and placental tissue could be lifesaving in the future. Rich with stem cells that are genetically unique to your baby and your family, cord blood, cord tissue, and placental tissue can be used to treat various medical problems for your baby, his or her siblings, and other family members in the future. Learn more about cord blood and tissue storage here.
IV. Oral health
Oral health is important before and during pregnancy, especially because many women experience swollen gums that bleed easily during pregnancy, referred to as pregnancy gingivitis. Never avoid necessary dental or oral health treatment during pregnancy, which could risk your own or your baby’s health.
Avoid environmental hazards like lead (found in some water and paint, mainly in homes built before 1978), arsenic (found in some well water), mercury, pesticides (household products and agricultural), solvents (such as degreasers and paint thinners), and cigarette smoke to have a safe pregnancy.
Smoking is dangerous for your health and the health of your baby. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than other women to have a baby born with a cleft lip or palate, and smoking while pregnant is more likely to result in a baby with low birth weight, which could put your baby at risk of health problems later in life. Read more about how to quit smoking.
- Prenatal care: http://womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/prenatal-care-tests.html#babyActivity
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: http://www.thehotline.org/