Body Changes |
Self Care | Second
Many women continue working through pregnancy. Staying active
might help you stay healthier. If you have a question about the
safety of your particular job, talk with your health care provider.
Nutrition and Weight Gain
What you eat isn't only important for your own health anymore,
but for the current and future health of your baby. Healthy foods
are the building blocks for your growing baby since pregnancy
is a complex time of developing new tissues and organs. Throughout
pregnancy, try to make most of your food choices healthy ones.
Eating junk food during pregnancy leads to too much weight gain
without meeting your increased need for nutrients.
Key Food Groups: Always remember that you are eating
to nourish your baby, and choose a variety of foods from the daily
Food Guide Pyramid. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
should have at least three servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese
to meet their calcium needs. They should also eat more breads
and cereals, fruits, vegetables, and meat and meat alternatives
- up to a total of 2,200 or 2,800 calories. Try to have three
meals every day, or six smaller meals if you have problems with
nausea or heartburn.
- Protein-rich foods build muscle, tissue, enzymes, hormones
and antibodies for you and your baby. They also have B vitamins
and iron, which is important for your red blood cells.
- Carbohydrates (breads and cereals) give you energy, iron,
B vitamins, some protein, and other minerals. Try to eat whole
grains (like whole wheat bread) because they have more vitamins
- Milk and other dairy products have calcium, which you and
your baby need for strong bones and teeth. Milk and diary products
also have vitamin A and D, protein, and B vitamins. Vitamin
A helps growth, resistance to infection, and vision. Pregnant
women need 1200 to 1500 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day.
Try to have nonfat milk and milk products to lower your fat
intake. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables,
dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, salmon and sardines (with
bones), and tofu.
- Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C help you and your baby
to have healthy gums and other tissues, and help your body to
heal wounds and to absorb iron. Examples of fruits and vegetables
with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, oranges, papaya,
tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. A variety
of fruits and vegetables also add fiber and other minerals to
your diet, and give you energy. Plus, dark green vegetables
also have vitamin A, iron, and folic acid.
Water: Water plays a key role in your diet during pregnancy.
It carries the nutrients from the foods you eat to your baby,
and also helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, excessive swelling,
and urinary tract or bladder infections. Most importantly, drinking
enough water, especially in your last trimester, prevents you
from becoming dehydrated which can then lead you to have contractions
and premature, or early labor. Pregnant women should drink at
least six to eight ounce glasses of water per day, and another
glass for each hour of activity. You can drink juices for fluid,
but they also have a lot of calories and can cause you to gain
extra weight. Coffee, soft drinks, and teas that have caffeine
actually reduce the amount of fluid in your body, so they cannot
count towards the total amount of fluid you need.
Folic acid: Folic acid is the most vital nutrient pregnant women
need. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube
defects (defects of the spine, brain, or their coverings) and
other birth defects like cleft lip and congenital heart disease.
By making sure you consume at least .4 milligrams (mg) of folic
acid every day before getting pregnant and during the first three
months of pregnancy, you can help reduce the risk of these defects.
Folic acid is found in dark-green leafy vegetables (like spinach
or kale), beans and citrus fruits, and in fortified cereals and
bread. But to make sure you consume enough folic acid, it is best
to take a daily vitamin that contains it. At your first prenatal
visit, your health care provider will talk with you about taking
prenatal vitamins with folic acid and iron.
Iron: Iron is needed to fuel hemoglobin (a type of protein in
red blood cells that helps take oxygen to body tissues for energy
and growth) production for you and your baby. Iron also helps
build bones and teeth. A shortage of iron can cause a condition
called anemia. Most women do not have symptoms of anemia, but
some might have extreme fatigue. Your health care provider can
check for signs of anemia through the routine blood tests that
are taken in different stages of your pregnancy. If you have anemia,
your health care provider will give you iron supplements to take
once or twice a day. You can help prevent anemia by eating more
iron-rich foods like potatoes, raisins, broccoli, leafy green
vegetables, whole-grain breads and iron-fortified cereals.
Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs
By taking good care of yourself during pregnancy, you're also
nurturing the new life inside of you. Quit smoking if you smoke,
since smoking during pregnancy passes nicotine and cancer-causing
drugs to the fetus. Smoke also keeps your baby from getting needed
nourishment while in your uterus, and raises the risk of fetal
death and premature birth (a low-birth weight baby born too early).
Quit drinking if you drink alcohol. The amount of alcohol needed
to cause problems in your baby is not known. But, drinking every
day, drinking large amounts of alcohol once in a while but not
all the time, or drinking with when you are out with friends or
at a party, all have been shown to have harmful effects. Tell
your health care provider if you are taking any medications or
drugs, since some can be harmful to your baby's development. Only
take drugs or medicines prescribed or approved by your health
care provider. You should never take illegal drugs like marijuana,
cocaine, heroin, speed (amphetamines), barbiturates, LSD, and
others. Talk with your health care provider right away if you
need help with quitting smoking or drinking, or a drug habit.
You can also get help with alcohol and drugs by talking with a
member of your faith community, a counselor, or a trusted friend.
Baths and showers are fine to take during pregnancy, but very
hot baths, hot tubs, and saunas can be harmful to the fetus, or
cause you to faint. You also might want to avoid taking frequent
bubble baths or baths with perfumed products that might irritate
your vaginal area, and increase your risk of a urinary tract infection
or yeast infection. Do not use douches, even vinegar-based douches,
without first talking with your health care provider. Although
vaginal discharge tends to be heavier during pregnancy, you should
see your health care provider if you have vaginal itching, burning
or a heavy discharge. You could have a urinary tract infection,
yeast infection, viral or bacterial infection that needs treatment.
If you have no medical problems with your pregnancy, regular physical
activity (30 minutes per day, most days of the week), can help
you have a more comfortable pregnancy and labor. It also helps
to lower your risk for having pregnancy problems like high blood
pressure and gestational diabetes. And you will have an easier
time getting back into a healthy body shape and weight after the
birth. Normal, low-impact activities, like walking and swimming,
that don't involve a lot of bouncing, stretching your muscles
to their greatest extent, or deeply bending your joints, are good
for you. Because your connective tissues stretch much more easily
during pregnancy, high impact or high resistance exercises that
involve a lot of bouncing and extreme muscle stretching can increase
your risk of joint injury. If you haven't exercised regularly
before becoming pregnant, you can still begin an exercise program.
Just start slowly and progress gradually. Talk with your health
care provider first about what types of exercise or activities
are best for you.
Your Mouth and Teeth
A pregnant woman's teeth and gums need special care. We know that
pregnant women with gum disease problems are much more likely
to have premature babies with low-birth weight. This may result
from the transfer of bacterial microbes in the mother's mouth
to the baby during the third trimester of pregnancy. The microbes
can reach the baby through the placenta (a temporary organ joining
the mother and fetus which supplies the fetus with blood and nutrients),
through the amniotic fluid (fluid around the fetus), and through
the layer of tissues in the mother's stomach.
Sexual Relations It is fine to have sexual intercourse throughout
your pregnancy unless your health care provider tells you not
to. Some women who have had miscarriages have to avoid sexual
intercourse during the first three months. You should contact
your health care provider if you have any of the following symptoms
during sexual intercourse:
- Pain in the vagina or abdomen
- Bleeding from the vagina
- Leaking of water (amniotic fluid) from the vagina