Are you interested in finding out how to maximize your chances of having a healthy pregnancy? If so, it’s crucial to develop a personalized pregnancy guide for yourself that includes key points about prenatal care appointments, your customized pregnancy diet, a shortlist of knowing what to avoid during pregnancy, and suggestions for minimizing stress as well.
However, always be sure to check with your physician before doing any pregnancy exercises, eating or avoiding specific foods, or using techniques for dealing with stress. It’s great to take an active role in staying healthy. But, above all, remember to always follow your doctor’s orders. After all, healthy pregnancy doesn’t happen on its own — it’s through constant care.
Regardless if you are maintaining a healthy traditional pregnancy or if you are a surrogate mum, you are the essential ingredient for knowing the signs of a healthy pregnancy. As well as overseeing prenatal care milestones, avoiding stress during the expectancy period, and coming up with a personalized pregnancy guide that you can check daily.
The other ways to do it right include aerobic exercises such as easy walking, light jogging, and moderate swimming. They stimulate the heart and lungs as well as muscle and joint activity, which, in return, helps to process and utilize oxygen.
What A Healthy Pregnancy Is All About
As you know, Pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized by a sperm, grows inside a woman’s uterus (womb), and develops into a baby. Pregnancy only occurs with the fertilization of a woman’s egg by a man’s sperm. But, fertility drugs may improve the odds of achieving a pregnancy. In humans, the process is about 264 days from the date of egg fertilization.
But, the obstetrician will date the pregnancy accordingly, especially, from the first day of the last menstrual period (280 days 40 weeks). The duration of an individual pregnancy is divided into three periods called the pregnancy trimesters (approximately three months in duration). Each trimester is characterized by specific events and developmental markers.
For instance, the first trimester includes the differentiation of the different organ systems. Forthwith, by all means, the consulting doctor or midwife will use other certain/unfamiliar terms. In particular, when talking to you (or both the father-to-be and mother-to-be) about the expectancy period.
Consider the following key terms:
- Intra-Uterine Pregnancy: A normal pregnancy when a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus (womb) and an embryo grows.
- Embryo: The term used for the developing fertilized egg during the first 9 weeks of pregnancy.
- Fetus: The term used for the developing embryo after 9 weeks of gestation.
- Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (Beta-HCG): This hormone is secreted by the placenta and can be measured to determine the presence and progression of the pregnancy.
- Miscarriage: This is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But, the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy — before you might even know about pregnancy.
- Estimated Delivery Date (EDD): The delivery date is estimated by counting forward 280 days from the first day of the woman’s last period. It is also called the estimated date of confinement (EDC).
As an expectant mother/father, there are some Prenatal Care Benefits that you need to know. For instance, pre-pregnancy and prenatal care can help prevent any complications. They also inform women about important steps they can take to protect their infants and ensure a healthy pregnancy. Overall, regular prenatal care can help reduce the various risks of pregnancy.
Why A Healthy Pregnancy Matters
Of course, when you find out you’re pregnant, there are many immediate questions that probably come to mind: What can I eat? Can I still exercise? Are my sushi days in the past? Taking care of yourself has never been more important, but it’s not hard to learn. There are various ways to maintain a healthy pregnancy through nutrition, vitamins, good habits, etc.
Talking about pre-pregnancy care and prenatal care, having a healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy birth. Getting early and regular prenatal care improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy. This care can begin even before pregnancy with a pre-pregnancy care visit to a health care provider.
Learn More: Pregnancy Exercises For Surrogates
Women who suspect they may be pregnant should schedule a visit to their health care provider to begin prenatal care. Prenatal visits to a health care provider usually include a physical exam, weight checks, and providing a urine sample. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, health care providers may also do blood tests and imaging tests, such as ultrasound exams.
These visits also include discussions about the mother’s health, the fetus’s health, and any questions about the pregnancy. With that in mind, below are five ways to maintain good health and fitness while you are carrying a baby:
1. Visit Doctor
After the initial visit and during the first six months of pregnancy, you should see your doctor approximately once per month. Visits should be scheduled every two weeks during the seventh and eighth months and weekly during the ninth month. Electronic fetal monitoring, sequential ultrasound examinations, or admission to the hospital may also be required.
More so, depending on your circumstances. The doctor will probably provide the woman who is pregnant with information to read regarding her pregnancy. She should ask questions if she needs to at any time. Particularly, in order to help understand the written information or what is happening during the expectancy period.
During your visitation, either or both urine or blood can be tested for Beta-HCG presence. Not to mention, the same hormone is involved in the performance of a home pregnancy test as well. A positive result means a woman is pregnant. However, this test result can stay positive for several weeks after delivering a baby. Or rather, following a spontaneous miscarriage too.
2. Eat Right
Simply put, a good way to satisfy your nutritional needs during the expectancy period is to eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups every day. As well as taking the right amount of water on a daily basis. On that note, eating a nutritious diet during the expectancy period is linked to good brain development and healthy birth weight.
A well-balanced pregnancy diet can even reduce the risk of many birth defects. To protect you and your baby from a bacterial or parasitic infection, such as listeriosis, make sure that all milk, cheese, and juice are pasteurized. A balanced diet will also reduce the risks of anemia. As well as other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness.
The Diet May Include: Proteins, Vitamins, Calcium, Folic Acid, Adequate Fat, Whole Grains, Fruits And Vegetables, Iron-Rich Foods, etc. Nutrients like Choline are another vital element that may help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. Most prenatal vitamins don’t contain much or any choline so talk to your doctor about adding a choline supplement.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all pregnancy diet, but some very common guidelines can help most women consume the right kinds of foods. For example, don’t eat meat from the deli counter or hot dogs unless they are thoroughly heated. Knowing what to avoid during the expectancy period is as essential as knowing what to eat.
Remember the following points:
- Protein sources should include cooked eggs and salmon
- Don’t consume raw eggs, caffeine, processed meats, or organ meats
- Avoid uncooked, undercooked, or raw versions of fish, as well as those with high mercury content
- Eat salads that are rich with dark leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli
- Avoid refrigerated smoked seafood and undercooked meat/seafood
- Consume berries on a daily basis and some sweet potatoes
- Eat lean and well-cooked meats
At times, it’s quite hard to consistently plan nutritious meals every day. On one side, however, most nutrients needed during the expectancy period should come from food. Not forgetting, prenatal vitamin supplements also play a very important role to fill any gaps. On the other side, Folic Acid (Folate) is a B vitamin that is very important for pregnant women.
NB: If you or someone in your family has had a history of allergies, speak to your doctor about other foods to avoid as well. On the same note, learn about your family health history and that of your partner at large.
The folic acid supplements can be taken several weeks prior to pregnancy, or even for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. They have been found to lower the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.
3. Stay Fit
Fortunately, there are several kinds of pregnancy exercises you can do. Specifically, for pregnant women that help to build strength, improve posture and alignment, and promote better circulation and respiration. Plus, you can meet other parents for the support! For beginners, it’s good to add Squatting and Kegel Exercises to the exercise routine list.
Bear in mind, that Kegel exercises focus on the perineal muscles. This exercise is done in the same way you stop and start the flow of urine. The perineal muscles are tightened for a count of three, and then they’re slowly relaxed. The period of time the muscles are contracted can be increased over time as muscle control becomes easier.
Relaxing the perineal muscles can help during the birth of the baby. Kegel exercises are thought to help maintain good muscle tone and control in the perineal area, which can aid in delivery and recovery after birth. You’ll also stimulate the heart and lungs as well as muscle and joint activity. Just customize any difficult ones, and clear all exercise programs with your doctor.
Other exercises include:
- Easy walking
- Light Dancing/Jogging
- Moderate Bicycle Riding
- Moderate Swimming
- Special Yoga Routines
- Moderate Tai Chi
For your information, gaining weight while pregnant is completely natural and expected. If your weight was in a normal range before you got pregnant, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends a weight gain of about 25 to 35 pounds. It’s important to discuss and monitor your weight and nutritional needs with your doctor throughout.
As a matter of fact, weight gain recommendations will vary per person. Such as people who are underweight before conceiving or people who have obesity. Or even for those people with a multiple gestation pregnancy, such as twins. Considerably, moderate exercise is very safe for pregnant people. Ultimately, it’s thought to benefit both you and your growing baby.
ACOG recommends aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise regime, particularly if have any risk factors. And, if you were not physically active before getting pregnant, talk with your doctor about what safe exercise you can do during your pregnancy.
4. Change Habits
At all costs, making good lifestyle choices will directly impact the health of your baby. It’s important to stop tobacco smoking, drug misuse, and alcohol consumption. These have been linked to serious complications and risks for both you and your baby. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is linked with a wide range of problems in the developing baby.
Keep in mind, that any alcohol that you consume enters the fetal bloodstream from your bloodstream. Drinking throughout pregnancy can result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that FAS can cause your baby to have growth deficits. Such as being underweight and/or short in height or central nervous system abnormalities.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can also lead to complications, such as miscarriage, premature labor, and delivery, stillbirth, etc. Tobacco smoking before pregnancy has started is a risk of serious harm to a developing baby. There is also plenty of proof that smoking during pregnancy is hazardous.
For one thing, smoking affects blood flow and oxygen delivery to a baby, and therefore their growth. Cigarette smoking is a risk for low birth-weight babies, which in turn is a risk for infant death and illness after delivery. Smoking is also linked to a wide variety of pregnancy complications.
- vaginal bleeding
- ectopic pregnancy
- premature placental detachment
- premature labor and delivery
From a health care provider’s perspective, to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, it’s advisable to follow a healthy, safe diet; and get regular exercise. Whilst, avoiding exposure to potentially harmful substances such as lead and radiation. As a result, this can help reduce the risk of problems during pregnancy and promote fetal health and development.
Also, be sure to start controlling the existing conditions. Such as high blood pressure and diabetes — it’s always important to prevent serious complications and their effects before they even happen. If you need help with any substance misuse issues, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. You can also help ensure the medications women take are safe.
As an example, pregnant women should not take certain medications during the expectancy period — simply because they can harm the fetus (unborn baby). Including some acne treatments and dietary and herbal supplements.
5. Banish Stress
In reality, stress can affect anyone. Those with no signs or even those expectant alike. But, for those pregnant, things can get ugly quite fast. That’s why if a woman suspects that she may be pregnant or if she has a positive home pregnancy test, she should make an appointment with a healthcare professional.
It could be a doctor, an obstetrician (women’s health specialist), a family physician, a midwife, or a nurse practitioner. Early prenatal care is essential to ensure a favorable pregnancy outcome. As well as a good way to get all the needed support.
It’s no secret that stress can get in the way of the best plans. That’s especially true for moms-to-be. Many common medications and supplements, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may not be recommended during certain pregnancy times. Overall, a healthy diet and exercise, as well as plenty of rest and good hand-washing, should help to ensure good health.
Tips to keep stress at bay during pregnancy:
- Develop a suitable plan for your overall reproductive life
- Focus on the acronym “R.E.D.” which means Rest, Exercise, and Diet
- Try to get eight or more hours of sleep per night
- Do light exercise at least every other day, and eat a nutritious diet
- Create a daily schedule that allows you at least one or two hours just for yourself
- Prepare a list of three persons that you can contact for assistance or if you should have any concerns
- Have a few good books ready to read and to help you unwind.
- Avoid anything that could cause emotional distress at all cost
- Talk with close friends and maintain social connections as much as you can
Knowledge is your most effective tool while waiting for your little one to arrive. And, prevention is the best way to avoid getting sick. Talk to your doctor about your health history. They’ll tell you whether or not there are risks to your baby’s health.
6. Know “The Signs”
Always remember, that attending all prenatal care checkups will help your doctor carefully monitor you and your growing baby throughout your pregnancy. It will also give you a time schedule plan to ask your doctor about any concerns you’re having about your pregnancy. Set up a schedule with your healthcare providers to manage all of your symptoms and questions.
Both Pre-Pregnancy Care and Prenatal Care can greatly help prevent certain before/after birth complications. They can also inform women about important steps they can take to protect their infants and ensure a healthy pregnancy. A pre-pregnancy care visit can help women take steps toward a healthy pregnancy before they even get pregnant.
Knowing the signs will help pregnant women to promote a healthy pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby. Speak with your doctor about how your pregnancy is progressing. While no two cases are alike, there are some common signs to note.
Look for the signs like:
- Your overall fetus movements
- The location of your baby within your body
- Blood sugar and blood pressure levels
- Consistent weekly regular weight gain
- Estrogen and progesterone levels in the normal range
A woman who is pregnant should call her healthcare professional if any of the unfamiliar conditions develop. Such as labor or rupture of membranes (leaking fluid), serious abdominal or vaginal pain, bright red vaginal bleeding, etc.
Or rather, vomiting more frequently than three times per day or vomiting blood and severely elevated blood pressure (above 140/90), sudden and rapid weight gain, severe headache or visual changes, and severe leg or chest pain. In addition, they should also go to the nearest Emergency Department if they have any of the following symptoms.
Such symptoms include:
- Fainting or vaginal bleeding through more than one pad per hour
- Having severe pain in the abdomen or shoulder or severe dizziness
- Passing pink, gray, or white material from the vagina that does not look like a blood clot (should take it to the hospital)
- Having a bloody discharge or gush of fluid from the vagina during late pregnancy (the onset of labor is imminent)
- Seizure activity but without a history of epilepsy (This may indicate eclampsia, a complication of pregnancy)
- Having an injury, such as a fall, a blow to the stomach or pelvis, or a car accident
As for lower abdominal pain in the late pregnancy stage, it may indicate the onset of labor. Labor pains occur secondary to uterine contractions. A patient may attempt consumption of clear liquids or lie on her left side for a short time — to determine if the contractions will resolve spontaneously. If the pain persists, their health care provider should be notified immediately.
What To Do If You Get Sick During The Expectancy Period
Note that, besides all the expected symptoms that go along with pregnancy, pregnant women are also susceptible to certain infections, like the common cold or flu. A pregnant woman is more likely to become very ill if she catches the flu (influenza virus). Though the flu can make you feel very unwell, it most likely will not affect your developing baby.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about treatments that are safe to use for any illnesses during pregnancy. Some of the more common illnesses or symptoms include Common Cold, Seasonal Flu, Runny Nose, Stomach Upset, etc. A seasonal flu shot is the best line of defense during the flu season. It’s recommended for all who are pregnant.
According to recent research, pregnant people may be at a greater risk of developing complications from COVID-19 Coronavirus, seasonal flu virus, swine flu (H1N1), etc. Some women who have a history of asthma, especially if uncontrolled, may find that their symptoms worsen during pregnancy. This is partly due to the increasing amounts of system hormones.
Finally, to attain a healthy weight, you can increase your daily intake of folic acid (one of the B vitamins) to at least 400 micrograms. Make sure your immunizations are up to date. Control diabetes and other medical conditions, and avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs. And, if need be, seek help for depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
The Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia serves clients from Philadelphia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and around the world. As a full-service surrogacy agency with over a decade of experience, we are proud to support you on your journey. At the Surrogacy Center, whether you are an Intended Parent or a Surrogate, we know you will have questions and concerns.
That’s why we make communicating with us easy and convenient. We also have an extensive partner network of professionals to support you. Moreover, we work hard to make sure you are confident and informed throughout the process. We’ve got more than a decade of experience helping Intended Parents fulfill their lifelong desire to create a family (learn more).
That’s it! An expectancy period guideline with key tips for both the intended parents (fathers-to-be and mothers-to-be) as well as surrogates. If you think that there is something else missing, you can always Consult Us and let us know how we can sort you out. Also, feel free to share your additional thoughts, opinions, suggestions, or questions in our comments section.
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