Keeping your baby healthy during its development is crucial to giving them the best start in life. But to have a healthy baby, you need to be healthy as well.
Pregnancy can come with many complications, and ensuring the health of the mother is the best way to reduce these complications and ensure the arrival of a happy and healthy baby as pregnancy self-care should not be optional.
Below is a month-by-month guide to help create a happy and healthy pregnancy for both you and your growing baby.
The first trimester of pregnancy is the time to get your body healthy and help better prepare for the growing life inside you.
- Schedule your first OBGYN appointment to make sure you are on track for a healthy pregnancy and get a more solid estimated due date.
Fact: Only 5% of moms will give birth on their actual due date.
- Begin a healthy diet and read up on food that should be avoided during pregnancy, such as fish high in Mercury, raw meat, organ meat, unwashed produce.
- Cut out smoking and drinking altogether. Fact: Women who smoke during pregnancy are 40% more likely to experience pre-term birth.
- Begin taking your prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid.
- Take folic acid supplements.
Fact: 400 to 800 mg of folic acid a day can help prevent neural tube defects from developing in the fetus.
- Schedule prenatal testing, including routine blood work and a first-trimester ultrasound.
Fact: Having an ultrasound between 8 and 11 weeks will give the most accurate due date.
- Begin your prenatal exercise routine. Doctors recommend 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity a day that is easy on your joints.
- 7 to 10 women will experience morning sickness in the first trimester, peaking between 6 and 9 weeks.
Fact: Hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe nausea, will affect 2 per cent of pregnant women.
- Discuss with your doctor medications that you will need to avoid during your pregnancy. Pain killers like ibuprofen should not be taken at any stage during pregnancy.
Guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine that are commonly found in cold medications should be avoided as well.
- A decision should be made as to where you want to give birth, such as a hospital birth center, or in your own home.
Fact: About 1.28% of moms choose to birth their children in their own homes.
- You will be offered a number of genetic tests at your doctor’s appointment this month to check for birth defects.
Fact: One of the most common defects for screening is down syndrome, which affects 1 in 700 pregnancies, with the risk higher as the mother ages.
- Go for a dental checkup. Pregnant women are more prone to dental problems such as cavities and gingivitis.
Fact: 60 to 75% of pregnant women will develop gingivitis as a result of increased hormones in the body.
- Drink between 6 to 8 glasses of water each day to prevent dehydration and aid in constipation.
Fact: Up to 38% of women will report some problems with constipation in early pregnancy due to increased levels of progesterone.
- This month is the best time to find the Lamaze or birth classes you want to attend.
Fact 30% of women will attend birth classes during their pregnancy, which can include classes about birth as well as postpartum care.
When you hit your 14th week of pregnancy, you will be officially into your second trimester. The good news is many of the first trimester symptoms begin to dwindle down, but you may become more anxious as it gets closer to your little one’s arrival.
It is also the time when you should start shopping the essential pregnancy products.
- Now is the perfect time to announce your pregnancy.
Fact: 80% of miscarriages occur in the first trimesters, and the risk is significantly reduced in the second and third.
- Start your maternity clothes shopping as you are likely to begin to start to show.
Fact: 60% of the weight you gain during pregnancy will be in the second trimester.
- Begin a regular moisturizing routine for your skin.
Fact: 50% of women will develop some stretch marks through their pregnancy.
- If you notice you are constantly stuffy and coughing, it might not be a cold. It could be pregnancy rhinitis, which can last until you give birth.
Fact: 18% of women will experience pregnancy rhinitis through a large portion of their pregnancy.
- You can expect more testing this month with the AFP test as a screening tool for birth defects and an anatomy ultrasound to check the health and growth of the baby.
Fact: AFP tests can have a false positive rate of 5%, so if you receive abnormal results, your doctor is likely to order more testing.
- If you haven’t found out your baby’s gender from the previous testing, you will be offered a chance during the anatomy scan.
Fact: 58% of parents say that they would want to know the gender of their child before it is born.
- If you are a first-time mom, you are likely to begin to feel movement for the first time. If you are a seasoned mom, you might have been feeling this for a few weeks now.
- Your baby is now big enough to make their presence known, but still small enough to be doing flips in your uterus.
Fact: When you digest your food, the noises may cause your little one to become more active.
- If you have not already decided, you should determine whether you would like to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby so you can obtain the necessary supplies.
Fact: Throughout the world, 83.2% of babies are breastfed for at least a short period, though only 68% will be fed the CDC recommended the length of time.
- If you are planning to have a baby shower, you may want to start registering for what you need.
Fact: Families in the U.S. will spend an average of $12,000 for the first year their baby is alive.
- Now is the time to finalize your baby’s names if you have not yet done so.
Fact: In some countries, there are lists of banned named that babies cannot be given.
Between your growing size and your increased appointments, you will be now feeling like the pregnancy is becoming much more of your life than previous trimesters.
Even though your baby is well-formed this is a critical time for development as their lungs are strengthening, and they are putting on additional fats stores.
- During the seventh month, your doctor is likely to want you to monitor your baby’s movements and contact them if they seem to be moving less.
When doing your kick counts, you should be looking for at least ten movements in two hours.
- At this stage in pregnancy, your doctor will see you more frequently, scheduling appointments every two weeks instead of every month.
They will perform urine tests and closely monitor blood pressure to watch for preeclampsia.
Fact: In the U.S., preeclampsia is the reason for more than 15% of pre-term births.
- Find a good pediatrician. By arranging for a pediatrician early, it will be easier to schedule early well visits, and they will come to the hospital to provide you new arrival with a checkup.
Fact: On average, your baby will have seven well visits in their first year alone.
- Your growing size may be causing discomfort and back pain and heartburn are common symptoms at this stage.
Fact: 50% of women will experience heartburn during pregnancy. Choosing a good pregnancy body pillow can help you alleviate symptoms.
- If you are pregnant and are over the age of 40, or have been diagnosed with preeclampsia, your doctor may order another ultrasound during this time to check on growth and movement.
- Braxton Hicks contractions will become more common at this stage, with 70% of pregnant women experiencing intense ones sometimes. They are warm-up contractions but have often resulted in false labor alarms.
- Your doctor appointments will increase to every week, and you will likely be checked for cervical effacement and dilatation.
- You are full-term at 37 weeks, and your doctor is not likely to stop labor passed this point.
Fact: 11.4% of all pregnancies will result in pre-term delivery.
- If you are over or approaching 40 years of age, your doctor will not let you deliver past your due date and will be closely monitored throughout the last month to check for movement.
Fact: On average, babies will weigh between 6 and 9 pounds at birth.
Follow the above tips as well as heed all of your doctor’s advice to help your baby’s development stay on track and keep you healthy through the duration of your pregnancy.