While you can’t guarantee yourself a healthy pregnancy, meeting the needs of your growing baby and your own body as the pregnancy progresses may greatly increase your chances of having one. Proper nutrition as well as adequate exercise play important roles in healthy pregnancies, and putting a stop to unhealthy behaviors, is just as important as practicing good ones.
A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables supplies your baby with the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes for proper blood, immune system and tissue development. Plant foods also contain probiotic bacteria to fight infection and fiber to keep you regular.
Your protein requirements increase during pregnancy. Nuts and seeds provide protein without the saturated fats found in red meats. They’re also rich sources of the Omega-3 fatty acids critical to your baby’s brain and nervous system development. While cold-water fish like wild salmon contain lots of Omega-3, they may be contaminated with mercury. Mercury is associated with numerous birth defects, especially during the first trimester.
Regular exercise is a great stress reliever. The National Institutes of Health claim staying active during pregnancy can:
• Decrease back pain and the risk of diabetes, hypertension or postpartum depression
• Build muscle mass and endurance for an easier delivery
• Prevent excessive weight gain
Thirty minutes of moderate exercise on most days provides all these benefits, so it’s recommended to partake in low-impact exercises like walking, swimming or stationary biking with pre- and post-workout stretching.
What to Avoid
Consuming alcohol has been linked to alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder. This form of prenatal brain damage can lead to academic and behavioral difficulties. Fetal alcohol syndrome, also the result of drinking during pregnancy, refers to a pattern of birth defects, including mental retardation, problems eating and sleeping, and even problems seeing and hearing properly.
Smoking during pregnancy should be avoided completely as it drains your system of minerals and vitamins and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke produces carboxyhemoglobin by bonding with your blood’s hemoglobin. This substance starves your developing baby of oxygen..
After Your Pregnancy
Safeguarding your baby’s health doesn’t end with delivery. With the help of a family cord blood bank you can store the umbilical cord blood for potential future use, should your child or possibly a sibling, become ill and require a source of stem cells. Banking cord blood may help save your child from a long list of blood, immune system or metabolic disorders, or even leukemia and other cancers. Parents should also keep visiting the doctor for regular checkups, and should continue to follow healthy eating and exercise habits to build a strong foundation for the baby’s future.
This article was written by Alan Cassidy, an active writer within the blogging community covering maternity and childbirth, and always advocating for infant and children’s health. Connect with him on Twitter @ACassidy22