I spend so much time focusing on issues that occur after a baby is born that I thought I’d remind everyone of what expectant mothers need to be aware of while they’re pregnant.
So let me give birth to some information to ensure that your baby has the best chance of being healthy upon delivery.
The best way to ensure the health of your new baby is to get regular prenatal care according to the schedule of visits set by an obstetrician, family physician or a nurse midwife.
Another way to ensure the health of your baby is to add a few extra calories to your diet. Mothers need to maintain their weight and add about 300 extra calories a day. The prenatal diet should be a healthy one that contains calcium to ensure bone growth, iron to make red blood cells and folic acid to be sure the baby’s brain and spinal cord grow.
Exercise is also important. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week to prevent gaining too much weight and to reduce the risk of back pain, swelling and constipation.
Walking and swimming are great low-impact, moderate-intensity exercises for expecting moms. Contact sports such as skiing, scuba and horseback riding should be avoided when pregnant.
So if proper attention to diet and exercise are the “dos,” what are the “don’ts”?
First and foremost, expectant mothers should not use any risk-taking drugs, tobacco or even alcohol and caffeine, since no one knows what a safe amount of these beverages should be during pregnancy to avoid complications to the baby’s growth and physical and mental development.
You should also avoid unpasteurized dairy products and raw or undercooked meats, to reduce the risk of a congenital infection to your future newborn.