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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

5 Tips to Get a Healthy Pregnancy

You can take these five crucial tips to protect your pregnancy. By following these tips, you can dramatically reduce the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, birth defects, and other complications. As a bonus, you'll be giving yourself the strength, energy, and confidence you'll need to thrive throughout the pregnancy and birth. Here are 5 tips to get a healthy pregnancy :

1. Eat well
Your growing baby has only one source of building materials: The foods you eat today will become part of his brain or his toes or his heart tomorrow. With so much at stake, this is not the time to go on a low-calorie diet. According to the American Dietetic Association, pregnant women should get between 2,500 and 2,700 calories a day.
It's also not the time to skimp on any of the food groups. If you're like most women, you probably already get plenty of protein every day from eggs, meat, nuts, and other sources. But you may have to make an extra effort to reach other important goals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says pregnant women should get at least three servings of fruits, four servings of vegetables, six to nine servings of grains or cereal, and at least four servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy products every day.
Now that you're pregnant, take a few extra precautions at mealtime. To avoid food poisoning, make doubly sure that all meats and fish are fully cooked. Don't eat fish that contain high levels of mercury, including shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. Tuna also contains mercury, but it's safe to eat as long as you don't have more than six ounces in a week. (You can have up to 12 ounces each week if you stick to canned "light" tuna.)

2. Take your supplements
No matter how careful you are at the dinner table, you'll probably have a shortage of two key nutrients: folic acid and iron. Not getting enough folic acid raises the risk of birth defects in the brain and spine. Women who could become pregnant should get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily – and more if they become pregnant. The federal Food and Drug Administration urges all pregnant women to get 800 micrograms of folic acid every day; while the Institute of Medicine recommends 600 micrograms daily, with a safe upper limit of 800 micrograms daily for pregnant women under 18 and 1000 micrograms daily for pregnant women over 18. Your doctor can help you choose the prenatal supplement that’s right for you.
Start taking iron supplements after talking with your doctor at your first prenatal visit. The usual dose is 20 or 30 milligrams each day. Iron in your bloodstream helps deliver oxygen to every part of your body, as well as to the placenta, which feeds your baby. If you don't have enough iron, you can become anemic, increasing the chance that your baby will be born prematurely or underweight.
A good prenatal vitamin will include both folic acid and iron. Most practitioners recommend that women start taking daily prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant, and continue using them through the pregnancy until they stop breastfeeding. Pregnancy can also drain your body of calcium, so you'll want to boost your calcium intake as well.

3. Don't smoke or drink alcohol
Growing babies can't cope with cigarettes and alcohol. The more you smoke, the more you restrict the baby's oxygen supply and raise the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, low birth weight, and other complications. It's a good idea to avoid secondhand smoke as well. Likewise, federal experts say there's NO safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. Heavy or binge drinking during pregnancy can damage a baby's brain and may cause a devastating birth defect called fetal alcohol syndrome. Even light drinking has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems. If you're having trouble giving up smoking or drinking, ask your doctor for help.

4. Take your medicine carefully
The medicine cabinet isn't off-limits just because you're pregnant. If you have a chronic condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes, medications may be crucial to your health and your pregnancy. Your doctor may change your prescription or your dosage to give you the maximum benefit with the fewest risks. You should also check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter drugs such as pain relievers or allergy medicine. Some options will be safer than others. For instance, aspirin and ibuprofen may raise the risk of miscarriage, but acetaminophen (Tylenol) is known to be safe during most pregnancies.

5. Get regular prenatal care
Ideally, you should start getting prenatal care even before you conceive. If you plan to get pregnant, your doctor can check your overall health, make sure your vaccinations are current, and generally help you get your pregnancy off to the best possible start. Once you become pregnant, schedule a prompt appointment with your family doctor, an obstetrician, or another health professional.

Source : AhealthyMe/Chris W

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