Read these 18 Pregnancy Health & Wellness Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Pregnancy tips and hundreds of other topics.
We’ve all heard of the “baby blues” — but what happens when the blues come before the baby? It’s estimated that for every 10 women, one or two will exhibit symptoms of depression during pregnancy. For those who are already predisposed to depression, the surge of pregnancy hormones can alter levels of brain chemicals and exacerbate the condition, known as antepartum depression.
How do you know if you’re clinically depressed? Many of the signs can be attributed to other causes, which can make the medical disorder challenging to diagnose. The key is careful self-monitoring. If you experience any of the following symptoms for a period of two weeks or more, you should consult your obstetrician or health care provider:
• Persistent feelings of sadness
• Excessive fatigue or sluggishness
• Disinterest in activities you once enjoyed
• Difficulty focusing on one topic or activity
• Loss of appetite, or a suddenly insatiable one
• Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
The safety of anti-depressant medication during pregnancy is a subject of some controversy among medical professionals. When considering an antidepressant, such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil, it’s important to carefully weigh the potential benefits with risks to the fetus.
If you’re not comfortable with the risk associated with antidepressant medication during pregnancy, there are alternate methods of treatment. Holistic therapies such as support groups, light therapy, and psychotherapy can help restore feelings of well-being and minimize risk to you and your baby’s health.
As you near the middle of your pregnancy, you’ll begin to experience those first wondrous flutters of your baby’s movement in your womb. Although they may be fleeting at first, those tiny stirrings will soon become unmistakable and frequent.
Toward the end of your pregnancy, usually around the 28th week of gestation, your doctor or midwife will most likely mention “kick counts.” More and more often, medical practitioners are using kick counts as a means of monitoring your baby and ensuring a healthy level of activity.
So, what exactly is a kick count, and how do you know if you’re doing it correctly?
As the name implies, a kick count is a tally of the number of movements your baby makes in a given time period. Below are some tips for obtaining accurate results:
• Always perform kick counts at the same time of day, ideally at an hour when your baby is typically the most active.
• Get a pen and piece of paper and lie down on your side. Each time you feel your baby move, make a mark on the paper. Any type of movement qualifies, no matter where you feel it or how forceful it is.
• Continue marking movements until you have 10 marks in a 30-minute time span. If you have fewer than 10 marks and 30 minutes have passed, turn on your other side and continue the count.
• If you’re not feeling much movement, try drinking some orange juice or eating a snack. The sugar consumption can help to get your baby up and moving.
• If you haven’t recorded at least 10 movements in two 30-minute sessions, contact your doctor or midwife for suggestions.
We all know smoking poses health risks—especially for women who are expecting. The smoke emitted from cigarettes contains thousands of toxic chemicals, including nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. But what exactly are the dangers of lighting up during pregnancy? The answers are sobering, especially considering that 13% of American women continue to smoke throughout their pregnancies.
For more than 70% of expectant mothers, the joys of pregnancy can be overshadowed by persistent heartburn. This very common symptom is distinguished by pain or discomfort in the chest area, often just above the breastbone, and is often marked by an unpleasant burning sensation. Pregnancy heartburn is caused primarily by the hormones that are released into the digestive system, increasing the flow of stomach acids into the esophagus, and can be exacerbated by certain foods or positions. As your baby grows and your uterus becomes heavier, the increase in pressure against your stomach can exacerbate the symptoms of heartburn, which is why the condition seems to worsen during the third trimester.
Although certain types of acid reflux medications are not recommended during pregnancy, there are several home remedies that can help relieve the symptoms:
• Instead of consuming large meals at one sitting, graze on several smaller portions throughout the day.
• Avoid spicy, greasy foods, which tend to aggravate heartburn.
• Increase your intake of milk and other dairy products, which have been shown to alleviate symptoms.
• Avoid lying down for an hour or so after eating, allowing your food ample time to digest and helping to prevent acid reflux.
• Instead of drinking throughout a meal, hold off on liquids until you’re finished eating.
You're pregnant so that means you can eat for two, right? Not really. Being pregnant does mean you need to pay special attention to your nutrition, however. You can enjoy that special, sweet treat, but your diet and pregnancy nutrition will also be your baby's diet and nutrition.
* Eat a well-balanced meal every day.
* Smaller more frequent meals may ward off indigestion and keep you feeling more energized all day.
* Avoid too many sweets and an overload of carbs.
* Focus on lots of fruits and vegetables, including plenty of protein filled legumes.
* Don't forget the dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, there are plenty of substitutes.
* Get plenty of fiber in your daily diet.
Always check with your doctor about specific foods to avoid, or if you experience any problems.
Some women are worried about having sex during pregnancy. These are common worries, but often they are also unfounded. Unless you have had complications in your pregnancy, such as an increased risk or repeated occurrence of miscarriage, having sex with your partner is perfectly safe and quite normal. You may also discover that certain areas of your body are more sensitive, making sex even more enjoyable. Your added voluptuousness can make you feel more attractive, too. As you enter into your second and third trimester, it may be time to try new positions which can also enhance your time together.
While pregnancy fitness is important to the health of you and your baby, there are some precautions that you should keep in mind.
* If you haven't been regularly exercising already, see your doctor before beginning a fitness regimen.
* Avoid rigorous bouncing, arching of your back, and any exercise which involves even mild abdominal trauma.
* Maintain even, steady breathing while exercising.
* During pregnancy fitness, do not lift your feet over your hips.
* Do not do sit-ups that are past 45 degrees.
* Don't do fitness exercises that require precise balance.
* Be sure you always stretch before and after your fitness regimen.
* Don't overdo it! Cut back on your exercise levels as your pregnancy progresses.
Always check with your doctor before engaging in exercise programs, or if you experience any problems.
Pregnancy emotions typically follow the path of a wild rollercoaster. One minute you're up, and the next your down. You may find that you cry at the most inopportune times, and you may suddenly be overcome with worries about your baby and your pregnancy. Even with all of these tumultuous emotions, you need to know that most women experience the same feelings. Pregnancy emotions are due in part to hormonal changes and imbalances, which will follow you for a few weeks or months even after the delivery of your baby. Another reason for the change in your emotions is the fact that you are experiencing a life-changing event...the up-coming birth of your baby. Take heart, however. Life will settle down, and you'll feel more normal in a few short months.
If you are feeling very nervous or out of control, consult with your doctor.
Is it really important for you to exercise while you are pregnant? What are the true benefits of pregnancy fitness and exercise? The answer to the first question is an emphatic yes! Exercising will make you feel better during your pregnancy. The benefits include the following:
* Exercising improves balance which can be disrupted because of changes and weight gain in your body.
* Exercising stimulates the right hormones in your body leading to a better emotional health.
* Exercising helps to get your body in shape so that you are more prepared for labor.
* Exercising strengthens your heart, which is already working overtime to support you and your baby.
* Exercising also strenthens your muscles and your joints, getting you into better shape for labor and delivery.
Pregnancy fitness exercises are important to your health and the health of your baby! Always check with your doctor before engaging in exercise programs, or if you experience any problems.
There are several different foods that should be avoided during pregnancy. Pay attention to the following precautions when you are planning your pregnancy nutrition and nausea control, and avoid these foods.
* Fish-High levels of mercury are found in certain fish, such as shark, swordfish, fresh tuna, mackerel, and sea bass. You shouldn't ingest more than six ounces of canned tuna per week.
* Deli Meat-Listeria can contaminate deli meats and cause miscarriage.
* Liver-Liver can contain high amounts of vitamin A, which can harm an unborn baby.
* Raw Eggs-These can harbor salmonella.
* Soft Cheeses-Soft cheeses, such as brie, Roquefort, camembert, feta, gorgonzola, and Mexican cheeses, can also harbor listeria.
* Unpasteurized Milk and Pate-This may contain listeria, also.
* Raw Shellfish-These can also cause problems or miscarriage.
* Caffeine-Avoid during the first trimester, and use moderately later in pregnancy.
* Alcohol-Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can occur in an unborn baby or a mother who drinks alcohol.
* Unwashed Vegetables-Wash well to eliminate any toxins.
Always check with your doctor for nutritional information, or if you experience any problems.
Can the ointments that you see advertised on television really get rid of pregnancy stretch marks? Probably not. Whether you have stretch marks and how many stretch marks you have depends a lot on your genetic makeup, and there aren't any miracle cures. There are some pregnancy beauty tips you can pay attention to lessen the affects of your stretching abdomen, however.
* Some ointments containing retinol have been known to help reduce some stretch marks if applied soon after labor and delivery.
* Applying lotion and lots of it during pregnancy can provide some relief from itching and may make your skin somewhat more elastic.
* If severe stretch marks really bother you, contact a dermatologist to discuss procedures such as laser treatment.
One minute you're on top of the world, and the next you are sobbing on the couch. What's going on with your emotions? If you are pregnant, the answer is pretty simple. Your hormones are all over the board, and so are your pregnancy emotions. Keep the following points in mind:
* Your body is changing, and you are experiencing hormonal imbalances.
* Look to your partner for extra emotional support during and after your pregnancy.
* Take good care of yourself, including eating right and getting plenty of rest.
* Don't expect too much of yourself. Recognize that you might be scared, worried, and overwhelmed at the idea of becoming a mother.
* If you feel overly depressed, talk to your obstetrician.
People often talk about the glow of pregnancy. A pregnant woman, however, sometimes simply feels unattractive, especially in the last trimester. You can be pregnant and beautiful. Check out the following pregnancy beauty tips.
* Your hair may be more lustrous and fuller than any other time in your life because of hormonal changes and prenatal vitamins. Enjoy it while you can!
* There are lots of great looking maternity clothes available, and there are many flattering styles to suit just about any body shape. Go shopping and feel beautiful while you are pregnant!
* You may not have an hour glass figure right now, but you have to admit you are voluptuous in some of the right places. Accentuate your best features!
* Your complexion may be clearer than its been in months, so purchase that new blush and eye shadow you've been thinking about.
During pregnancy, your body will go through many different hormonal changes. The two main hormones that affect a pregnant woman's body are estrogen and progesterone. These hormones play an important role in readying the body for pregnancy and maintaining the pregnancy. Hormonal changes can affect the skin, so keep the following beauty tips in mind.
* Facial skin may darken, so avoid prolonged exposure to the sun during pregnancy.
* Dry, itchy skin may require extra applications of lotion.
* Hair may be dryer but also more lustrous.
* Nails may stronger and grow faster.
Hormones also play an important role in pregnancy emotions, and women may experience more frequent ups and downs and a host of conflicting feelings during pregnancy. All of these changes are normal.
Many women don't take advantage of the enjoyment of pregnancy sex simply because they believe certain sex myths. The following myths are common, but they simply aren't true!
* Pregnancy sex causes premature labor. Labor just doesn't happen that easily! Remember, many times labor must be chemically induced.
* It will hurt the pregnant mother. As your pregnancy progresses, you may need to experiment with new positions that are more comfortable, but the act of sex should be very enjoyable!
* It will hurt the baby. Your baby is well insulated in your womb, surrounded by plenty of liquid in a tough anmiotic sac.
It is important to maintain a healthy, pregnancy fitness program throughout your pregnancy. The following exercises are considered the best for pregnant women who want to remain fit.
* Swimming-Water supports your weight and gives you added resistance to strengthen your muscles and joints.
* Yoga-This exercise is great for reducing stress and helping you remain flexible.
* Low-impact Aerobics-There are many aerobic classes and tapes that are specially designed for pregnant women.
* Walking-This is the easiest exercise to add to your fitness routine.
Always check with your doctor before engaging in exercise programs, or if you experience any problems.
Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman's body simply can't process all of the sugar in her body. There are some common facts that every woman should know about gestational diabetes and pregnancy nutrition.
* If you are over 40, have delivered a baby that was 10 pounds or larger, or have already had gestational diabetes in prior pregnancies, you are at an increased risk.
* Gestational diabetes typically disappears a few weeks after delivery.
* You may have an increased risk of developing diabetes later in life if you experienced gestational diabetes.
* Gestational diabetes can often be controlled with diet and exercise.
* You'll be tested for gestational diabetes in the first few months of pregnancy.
* If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a certifited dietician will help you plan a healthy diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, and fiber and low in carbs and sweets.
Always consult with your doctor for medical diagnosis, or if you experience any problems.
One of the best exercises that you can do while pregnant is swimming. Swimming is great for a variety of reasons.
* The water carries your weight, relieving your joints and muscles.
* The water is a perfect resistance item that won't put added strain on your body but will strengthen your muscles and joints.
* You certainly don't have to worry about becoming overheated while exercising if you are swimming!
* One word of caution-Once your water breaks, signaling impending labor, don't attempt to swim or even take a tub bath. Call your doctor, though!
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|