You just found out you're pregnant. Congratulations! The next nine months will be full of exciting milestones, physical changes, and mounting anticipation as the big day draws near. Nurturing your growing baby starts with taking care of yourself. From immunization schedules to diet and exercise, this pregnancy checklist will help you and your baby stay healthy and happy all throughout your pregnancy.
During pregnancy, certain vaccinations can protect you and your baby from serious complications. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of each with your doctor. The most commonly administered are influenza, Tdap, and hepatitis B.
During pregnancy, a healthy, well-balanced diet can be one of the most important gifts you provide your baby. Stock your pantry full of these nutrient-packed, pregnancy-friendly foods:
- Grains. Get healthy portions of whole wheat, oats, barley, corn, and rice.
- Vegetables. Consume multiple servings of leafy greens.
- Fruit. Be sure to eat your daily share of fruit such as apples, berries, and watermelon.
- Dairy. Dairy options, including milk, yogurt, and hard cheeses, are good for mothers-to-be.
- Protein. Get needed protein through lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
Vitamin and mineral supplements cannot substitute for a healthy diet, but your doctor will recommend taking prenatal vitamins to ensure that you and your baby get the right amount of nutrients needed for healthy development. Look for these when choosing a prenatal supplement:
- Folic acid. This decreases the risk of certain defects, such as cleft lip and heart defects.
- Iron. It decreases your risk of iron-deficiency anemia, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and infant mortality.
- Calcium. This helps your baby grow strong bones and teeth in addition to healthy nerves, heart, and muscles.
- Essential fatty acids. Fatty acids are important for healthy development of your baby's brain, nerve, and eye tissues.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps to maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels, helps build your baby's bones and teeth, and may decrease your risk of developing preeclampsia.
Pregnancy can zap your energy and place significant stress on your body. Luckily, regular exercise can improve pregnancy-related complaints, including fatigue, backaches, constipation, and swelling. Additionally, performing prenatal exercises at least 30 minutes a day can improve your heart function, strength, flexibility, and endurance to prepare for delivery.
- Good prenatal exercises. Choose low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, indoor bicycling, prenatal yoga, dancing, or low-impact aerobics.
- Activities to avoid. Stay away from activities that have a high risk of falling; require jumping, jerking motions, or fast directional changes; and involve contact sports. These can put undue stress on your joints and cause injury to you or your baby.
There are several routine tests that are performed as part of your prenatal care. They can help your doctor identify particular conditions that may increase risks of complications to you and your baby. This includes blood tests both early and late in your pregnancy and optional genetic screening.
As you navigate your pregnancy journey, you may be overwhelmed at times with the number and variety of necessary tasks. A pregnancy checklist will help you feel organized, making sure you're keeping track of everything that needs to be done to ensure the healthiest possible newborn.