Take your prenatal vitamin
Even though your diet may be close to perfect, it’s difficult to get all the nutrients you and your baby need from food alone during pregnancy. Pregnant women and nursing mothers often need more nutrients than other women. Although research suggests that a balanced diet is sufficient to ensure the healthy development of your baby in utero, pregnant women still require extra folic acid, iodine and iron.
Click here for a list of safe supplements you can use during pregnancy.
Choose a caregiver
Giving birth is one of the most intimate, challenging and rewarding experiences that a woman will ever go through. So it’s only natural that you should pick the right medical practitioner to guide you through it. The two main practitioners that will usually attend a birth are either a gynaecologist or a midwife. Some women also choose to have a doula – a birthing partner with no medical training – there to help with their personal needs.
The combination of caregivers that you need will depend entirely on a personal preference.
Click here for tips on choosing a pregnancy and birthing team.
Make a prenatal appointment
Antenatal care is an essential part of pregnancy and should start as soon as you find out you’re expecting. Having a healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy birth. Sticking to your appointments is essential to determine if your baby is healthy and whether your pregnancy is progressing well.
Before your appointment, write down the first day of your last period so your caregiver can determine your due date. Make a list of questions you have for your caregiver. You might forget them with all the excitement going on.
Click here for more on antenatal care.
Consult your doctor about any medications you’re taking
Medications, including over-the-counter ones and herbal remedies, should be considered very carefully during pregnancy. The rule of thumb is to avoid most medications while you’re pregnant, unless your healthcare provider prescribes or approves of the meds. “There‘s nothing wrong with taking paracetamol for a headache, but if it doesn’t work, consult with your healthcare provider before taking stronger medication,” says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Judith Carter from the Netcare Parklane Clinic. Everything you put into your body passes from your blood to baby. Before you reach for the pill box, check with your doctor if it’s safe. If you’re taking any chronic medications, don’t stop cold turkey – call your doctor to discuss this with him first.
Are you on depression meds? Read more about taking antidepressants during pregnancy here.
Click here for a list of homeopathic remedies that are safe to use during pregnancy.
If you’re smoking, quit
Whenever you smoke, the blood vessels in your body tighten. Dr Carter explains that the placenta is full of blood vessels, and in order for your baby to get proper nourishment, the placenta has to have a large surface area through which oxygen and nutrients can transfer from mom’s blood to baby’s blood. Anything that affects your blood vessels will affect the functioning of the placenta. “Tobacco or cigarette smoking damages all of the blood vessels in your body. Once the blood vessels in your placenta have been damaged, they won’t transfer nutrients and oxygen to your baby as effectively, which could stunt your baby’s growth. Other devastating effects of smoking during pregnancy include an increased risk of miscarriage or still birth.
Click here for more things you should avoid during pregnancy.
Think about when and how you’ll announce your pregnancy
Becoming parents is one of the most exciting events in a couple’s life. Every woman wants to shout the good news from the roof tops – or Twitter and Facebook these days. But, before you get too carried away, remember that there’s a time and a place for everything.
Click here for some guidelines on how to do it right.
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