Now that you know you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. You can boost your chances of having a problem-free pregnancy and a healthy baby by following a few simple guidelines.
Get early prenatal care
Good prenatal care is essential for you and your baby. Call your healthcare provider right away and schedule your first prenatal visit. During that visit you’ll be screened for certain conditions that could lead to complications.
If you haven’t yet chosen a provider, get started now. Finding the right person — whether you’re looking for a doctor or a midwife — can take a while. In the meantime, let your current caregiver know if you’re taking medication or have any medical concerns.
Watch what you eat
Now that you’re ‘eating for two’ you may be surprised to learn that you only need about 300 additional calories per day. Make sure you get plenty of protein. You now need 70 grams a day compared to 45 grams before you got pregnant. And while your calcium requirement remains the same, it’s more important than ever that you meet it, which is a challenge for many women.
You’ll want to steer clear of undercooked eggs and meat, unpasteurised dairy products and juices, raw seafood, and cold deli meats, to avoid ingesting bacteria that could harm your baby. Also avoid certain fish that may contain high levels of mercury or other contaminants.
Take prenatal vitamins
Most prenatal supplements contain more folic acid and iron than you’ll find in a standard multivitamin.
It’s important to get enough folic acid before conception and during early pregnancy. Folic acid greatly reduces your baby’s risk of developing neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.
Ideally, you should start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid at least one month before becoming pregnant. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, up your daily dose to 600 mcg.
You also need to make sure you’re getting enough iron. Your iron requirement increases significantly during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters.
But more is not necessarily better — taking too much of certain things can actually be harmful. Avoid mega doses of any vitamin, and don’t take any additional supplements or herbal preparations without your caregiver’s okay.