Pregnancy and childbirth are transformative journeys filled with surprises and discoveries about yourself and the new human being you’re about to raise. Understanding the changes in your body and what to expect during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum can help you feel more at ease and ensure the healthy development of your baby.
So, if you just had a positive pregnancy test and your doctor confirmed you’re pregnant, congratulations! Your incredible journey to parenthood begins. But to make it as joyful and relaxing as possible, we prepared a list of tips for a healthy pregnancy and your baby’s development.
Ease your pregnancy with these 11 tips
Every pregnancy is different, so only you and your healthcare provider know best how to prepare for it and ensure the healthy growth of the baby. Below, we have collected eleven tips to help you understand this new experience and make it more comfortable.
1. Prepare and plan your pregnancy
If you’re only considering getting pregnant, preparing for this new chapter in your life is important. Although pregnancies are often unplanned, you can maximize your baby’s health by preparing your body for the pregnancy. Studies show that planned pregnancies result in healthier babies as a mother can make necessary adjustments to her lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, and taking certain medications.
You can also ask your doctor about the best supplements to prepare your body and tweak your diet to add more nourishing foods such as vegetables, fruits, protein, and healthy fats.
2. Attend all your medical checkups
You should visit your doctor right after you find out about the pregnancy. They’ll confirm it and explain what to expect and do next. The doctor should schedule your first ultrasound around the 8th week after the first day of your last menstrual cycle to see if the baby is healthy, measure the size of the fetus, and calculate your due date.
From the 4th to the 28th week, prenatal checkups are recommended once every month, depending on your medical history and potential pregnancy risks. From the 28th to the 36th week, you should visit your doctor at least twice a month. You might need to do prenatal checkups weekly during the time leading up to birth. These routine tests will help determine the health and development of the baby and check for any genetic diseases and disorders.
3. Give your diet a boost
In your first trimester, you’ll likely struggle to find foods that sit well. During this time, many women experience morning sickness and vomiting. But even if it’s challenging to find foods that don’t make you sick, eating a balanced diet is important.
That includes consuming enough folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, and iodine. These vitamins and minerals are vital for the healthy development of the baby’s bones, organs, and other tissues. If your diet lacks these essential compounds, your doctor can recommend prenatal supplements.
4. Protect yourself from chemicals
Most of us are exposed to some level of chemicals and radiation from the cleaning products we have at home, environmental pollutants, and solar radiation. But it’s important to limit your exposure to harmful substances during pregnancy. You can achieve this by replacing conventional cleaning supplies with more natural alternatives, avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and always wearing sunscreen.
5. Educate yourself
Ask your doctors, attend prenatal classes, and seek other information to learn as much as possible about what your body is going through and what will happen during and after labor. Knowing this information will help you relax and be prepared for what’s to come.
6. Learn the warning signs
Understand what is normal during pregnancy and what should raise red flags. It’ll help you identify any possible problems early on and prevent complications.
7. Stay active
If your health permits, stay active throughout your pregnancy. Studies show that mothers who were physically active during pregnancy had easier pregnancies and labor and a shorter postnatal recovery. Depending on your health condition, the best exercises during pregnancy are walking, swimming, low-impact aerobic exercises, and moderate strength training.
8. Write a birth plan
Your birth plan describes your preferences during labor. It’s important to have it written and make sure your doctor, doula, and partner, if possible, know what treatment you expect during the delivery. It’s recommended to have a birth plan because, during delivery, you might struggle to think clearly and remember everything.
Having a birth plan can help your doctors and doulas know how you want to manage pain, what people should be allowed, your medical history, the environment of delivery, and other details to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
9. Build your social group
It can be helpful for you to connect with other mothers or pregnant women. Of course, your partner and loved ones will be there to support you, but only other mothers can understand what you’re going through. Having someone to talk to during this time, especially when the baby is born, can be helpful for your mental health and recovery. You can try to connect with other mothers on social media or in local parent groups.
10. Try Kegel exercises
Kegel exercises are meant to strengthen your pelvic muscles. Pelvic muscles support your bowel, bladder, and uterus. During pregnancy and delivery, the weight and movement of the baby put a lot of pressure on your pelvic muscles, which can lead to uterine and bladder prolapse during and after pregnancy. Kegel exercises help to strengthen pelvic muscles, ease delivery, and speed up your recovery after birth.
To do Kegel exercises, lie in a comfortable position, tighten your pelvic muscles for a few seconds, and release. Repeat the exercise 10 times each day. If you’re unsure where your pelvic muscles are, you can feel them by trying to stop mid-urination. These are the same muscles that you need to train.
11. Track your pregnancy
Tracking your pregnancy is a great way to know when you’re due and what to expect at each stage of your journey. A pregnancy calendar helps you track each stage of your pregnancy, your symptoms and moods, and learn about your baby’s development. This is a useful tool not only to understand your pregnancy better but also to help your healthcare provider track your symptoms.
Pregnancy and childbirth are beautiful and life-changing experiences. We hope that these tips will help you feel more at ease during this time and ensure the optimal health of you and your new baby.