Pregnancy can be a wonderful and joyous experience for many expectant moms. For other soon-to-be moms, it can become devastating for so many different reasons. While some things cannot be predicted or prevented, they are certain measures you can take to try to have the healthiest possible pregnancy that you can.
Most people know what it takes to have an unhealthy pregnancy. But for some, they don’t know what it takes to have a healthy pregnancy in order to keep the fetus growing properly. It seems too simple, but there are so many things out there that can actually harm a growing and developing fetus. It takes things like a healthy and well-balanced diet, getting plenty of exercise, and knowing what is safe to eat in order to have a healthy pregnancy.
If you are reading this, congratulations on your positive pregnancy test! Even if you’re not pregnant, that’s okay too. Everyone can benefit from learning some more information every now and then.
Continue reading below to see if you know these 15 different ways to help keep a fetus growing properly. If you are pregnant, the list below contains some very useful and beneficial information that you should really know about.
15 #CleanEating For The Win
One way to keep a fetus growing and developing properly is to make sure to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, even when those crazy food cravings kick in. Now, we know that is much easier said than done. We know how strong and monstrous those cravings can truly get and that a pregnant woman may feel like she is going to literally chew someone’s face off if she doesn’t get it! But that is when it is time to look for a way to make or buy that craving food in the healthiest way possible or to find a healthy alternative.
Starting to eat healthy should start before conception, but we know that not all pregnancies are planned for. So, in the instances that it was unplanned, it’s the perfect time to start making some lifestyle changes so that a mom can have the healthiest pregnancy she can.
According to Healthline.com, “Eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy is linked to good fetal brain development, a healthy birth weight, and it reduces the risk of birth defects. A balanced diet [may] also reduce the risk of anemia, as well as other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness.”
Those are just a few of the amazing ways that eating well during pregnancy can be beneficial. Plus, it also lowers the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
14 Plenty Of Moving
It’s entirely way too easy not to want to get up and start moving during pregnancy, especially when fatigue kicks in and the further along you get. But there are so many wonderful benefits that can come with getting plenty of exercise during pregnancy.
According to Babycenter.com, there are eight great reasons to get fit while expecting. It can help boost your energy levels and alleviate pregnancy fatigue, which can make it easier to get through your day. On top of sleeping better at night, it can actually also help reduce the risk of developing certain pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes.
It can help reduce feelings of discomfort while pregnant, as well as help the body naturally prepare for childbirth. It can actually help reduce stress and help put you in a better mood because one study had found that exercise helps release serotonin – making you feel happier.
Getting some exercise can definitely also chase away the pregnancy body blues and help improve your self-image. And it can also help get your body back into shape faster after giving birth.
Isn't all of the above some perfect reasons to get out and get active during your pregnancy? If you weren’t very physically active before pregnancy, there is no reason not to get active now. Always talk to your OB/GYN starting an exercises regimen while pregnant, however.
13 An Absolute Necessity
According to Webmd.com, “Even if you eat a super healthy diet, you still need prenatal vitamins. It takes a lot of vitamins and minerals to grow a baby!”
Prenatal vitamins give you an extra amount of folic acid, calcium, and iron. They are three key ingredients/nutrients that you will need while pregnant.
“Folic acid helps your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly,” according to Webmd.com. This is a very important nutrient that will help reduce the risk of something called spina bifida. As well as other serious congenital disabilities.
Calcium will help your baby’s bones grow strong while helping protect your own at the same time. When a woman is expecting her growing baby will take calcium from its mother's bones and teeth during the pregnancy. This is the exact reason you will hear a lot of women complain that their teeth were perfect and that they never even had one cavity until after they had their first child. I know my own mother blames me for all her cavities. Perhaps she didn’t get enough calcium!
And then comes iron. “Iron will help your blood carry oxygen to your baby. It’s also to help prevent your baby from being born too early or too late,” according to Webmd.com.
All of these combined with your prenatal vitamin will help keep your baby growing properly!
12 Reigning In Those Cravings
Some pregnant women really do take the “eating for two” phrase literal. If you are or have been guilty of doing this during this pregnancy or even a previous one – you are doing it wrong!
According to Americanpregnancy.com, you only need “approximately 300 extra calories during your second and third trimester of pregnancy” in order to get all of the calories needed to help your baby grow properly.
Now, keep in mind, it is assumed that you are eating healthy. Plus, please do not take that 300 number literal and spit your food out after you feel you have gotten to 301 calories.
The number varies and is dependent on how many pounds you were pre-pregnancy. At a normal amount of pounds, you will need about 340 calories in the second trimester, and 450 calories in the third trimester and it scales up or down from there if you were under or over “average,” according to Babycenter.com. That is where that keyword “approximately” came into play.
When it comes to your extra calories, you should use them wisely and try to consume them for those extra cravings that you have either started to get or have already gotten in order to maintain healthy eating habits!
11 Lots Of H2O
We all know that drinking lots of water is very important and good for you and that it helps keep your body hydrated. But did you know that it is even more important to drink plenty of water while pregnant and that it has some amazing benefits as well?
Staying hydrated can actually help with pregnancy swelling. This is because our body tends to retain and hold on to water when we don’t have enough of it, meaning we are dehydrated, which can actually be a cause of swelling. It can also lower your chance of getting a bladder and urinary tract infection as well. It has also been known to help with constipation, according to Babycenter.com.
It is recommended that pregnant women drink at least ten cups of water a day. Some women do need to drink more than other since every body type is different, according to Babycenter.com. If you are looking for a little more flavor, try adding some lemon, lime, or other healthy fruits to this refreshing beverage.
It is also extremely imperative that expectant moms stay hydrated in their third trimester of pregnancy because, according to Babycenter.com, being dehydrated can actually “cause contractions that can trigger preterm labor.”
10 Never Ever Skip A Single One
When you are pregnant, you want to do everything possible to keep your growing and developing baby healthy. So, it is no surprise that going to all of your prenatal appointments is a way to keep the fetus growing properly. Prenatal care visits can help detect any issues or complications that you or your baby could potentially develop throughout the pregnancy.
According to Overlakeobgyn.com, there are five real reasons that soon-to-be-moms should get prenatal care. The first one is that mom and the baby’s life depends on it. Number two is because a mom-to-be can get the real scoop on nutritional information. Three is because a mom can keep track of her baby’s development, which is something that a mom would definitely need to make sure her baby is growing properly. Number four is because prenatal visits allow moms to schedule the proper tests they need to ensure them and their baby is healthy. And last but not least, expectant moms get to learn more about the labor and delivery process.
According to Womenshealth.gov, “Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to [pass away] than those born to mothers who do get care.”
Those are some scary facts, and hopefully, it will help to motivated more moms to receive prenatal care.
9 Avoid The No-No's
There are plenty of foods soon-to-be moms need to try to avoid during pregnancy. I know it may feel like pregnancy requires you to give everything up, but it really is only temporary. Being pregnant can honestly give you the opportunity to learn how to eat better. Part of making sure your baby is growing – and stays growing – properly is by making sure that you know what the no-no foods are.
Things like high-mercury fish, under-cooked or raw meats and fish, deli meats, raw eggs, unwashed produced, raw sprouts, and unpasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juices are all on the no-no list, according to Healthline.com.
With these foods, it’s always like playing Russian roulette; you never know when something bad could happen. You may be fine eating these foods, but then there is the risk that you won’t. It’s not worth it.
Just like how a lot of soon-to-be moms sometimes complain about being told not to eat raw eggs and say that nothing bad has ever happened to them in their entire life from eating raw homemade cookie dough, but, according to Breakingtheviciouscycle.info, way back in 2001, there were actually 11.3 reported cases of salmonella from eggs. It’s not much, but the chances are there.
8 Stay Away From The ‘Mommy Juice’
Most pregnant women know that they should stay away from the ‘mommy juice’ but just because they know it doesn’t mean that they always listen to this. According to Healthline.com, “Pregnant women are advised to completely avoid drinking alcohol, as it increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even a small amount can negatively impact your baby’s brain development. It can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. This syndrome involves facial deformities, heart defects and [intellectual disabilities].”
Some expectant moms may think that even one night of partying and drinking would be okay, but it really isn't.
I personally know someone – which I was shocked to find out – who occasionally drank during her pregnancy and not only did her baby girl have severe and life-threatening health issues and complications, but her child was taken from her before she even got to bring her daughter home. It was just an all-around bad situation that could have been prevented.
There is no known safe amount that a pregnant woman can consume, according to Healthline.com.
Knowing all of that, there really is no reason for a soon-to-be mom to pick up a drink. The nine month wait will be worth it. So, keep the mommy juice locked away for awhile if you would like to keep your baby girl or boy growing properly!
7 Quit Your Worst Habit
We all know that smoking is bad for you and your lungs. It has been scientifically proven again and again. We’re not here to judge you for that because it honestly is your choice. But when you are pregnant, you have more than yourself to think about. After you find out that you are pregnant, it is time to weigh your options and consider quitting. If not for you, then for your baby.
Smoking during pregnancy can cause low birth weight for a baby, which some moms believe is a good thing. But according to Women.smokefree.gov, a lower birth weight actually increases the likelihood of the baby having serious health problems. These health issues can manifest at any time during a child’s life.
“There is no safe level of smoking. Even a few cigarettes a day means harmful chemicals will reach your baby and damage your health. It’s never too late to quit. Quitting at any time during pregnancy is likely to reduce the bad effects of smoking on your baby,” according to Women.smokefree.gov.
Some women believe that quitting smoke will put stress on the baby, but according to Women.smokefree.gov, that is not the case at all. Their words to be exact were, “Quitting smoking does not put extra stress on your baby.”
6 Be Aware Of Toxic Beauty Products
According to Fitpregnancy.com, there are a lot of beauty products that you will want to avoid so as not to hurt your unborn baby. If you are going to use antiperspirants check to make sure they don’t contain aluminum chloride hexahydrate or aluminum chlorohydrate.
Also, according to Treehugger.com, nail care products are believed to be harmful to your fetus, Time Magazine had listed working in a nail salon as being one of the worst places to work after so many workers had given birth to babies with birth defects, and even had stillborns.
Tetracycline, Retin-A (tretinoin), and Accutane (isotretinoin) are some of the acne treatment products that you should never use if you are or are planning on getting pregnant. The birth defects of babies whose mothers use Accutane are between 25-35% This is a fairly high number.
Obviously, you will want to be smart and protect your baby by always consulting with your doctor on which products you should or should not use.
It says in Treehugger.com that hairspray may actually cause deformities in a male baby’s private part, so PLEASE moms for the sake of your unborn son, please do not use hairspray, he will thank you someday.
5 Make Your Partner Clean It
Pregnancy will and can be the one time that cat loving women can get away with not having to change their beloved felines stinky kitty litter – as long as there is someone else either at home who can change it, or a good friend or family member who is willing to come over to do the dirty work. So, soon-to-be moms should take advantage of this while they can! I know I love my cat, but I am not too fond of cleaning out his tickle and droppings!
The reason for this is because of something called toxoplasmosis. This is an infection from a parasite that anyone can get but can be dangerous to pregnant women. It can actually be transferred through the feces of an infected cat, and the cat most likely will never show any signs of symptoms of this parasite living rent free inside of him or her. So, while pregnant women can still technically change the kitty litter, it really is best to let someone else take over for the next nine months, according to Babycenter.com.
Toxoplasmosis can transfer from mother to baby. In the early and developmental stages of pregnancy, it can actually cause birth defects in the fetus, according to Babycenter.com.
4 Clean That Dirty Dozen
For most of us, our parents had drilled it into our heads that we should wash our fruits and vegetables before we even make an attempt to eat them. If you were like me, you never really knew why or even bothered to ask. It is because raw fruits and vegetables can become contaminated by different types of bacteria that can be harmful to us and especially to pregnant women, according to Fda.gov. That is why it is really important for pregnant women to wash their fruits and veggies thoroughly before consumption.
Even the fruits that have rinds and peels on them need to be washed thoroughly so that the germs and bacteria on the outside do not get transferred to the inside.
It is also a very good idea to cut away any cuts and bruises on your produce as well, since bacteria tend to thrive in damaged areas, according to Babycenter.com.
Can you guess what you have to do before you even throw fruits and veggies into a blender? Yep, wash it well! Don’t ever use soaps, bleach, or even detergents on your produce as well. Ingesting soaps and such can make you feel sick to your stomach and even induce vomiting.
3 Manage Stress Levels
According to Psychiatry.emory.edu, stress can be very damaging to your fetus. Studies have shown that both stress and anxiety, which are closely related, can not only have immediate effects on your baby but can also have very long term effects.
Different situations can cause different types of stress. For example, everyday life stress is not the same as situational stress which comes on due to a specific situation or event.
Some of the things that have been associated with prenatal stress include, smaller birth weight and length, increased risk of miscarriage, and shorter gestation & higher incidence of preterm birth.
Most everyone knows how bad stress can be for us, it can even lead to heart attacks, so it is not hard to see that it can also harm your baby as well. It would be beneficial to the both of you to ask your doctor about natural ways of reducing stress, and also things that you may want to avoid that can increase your stress level like limiting your caffeine consumption, deep breathing exercises, and even some of these foods we eat can help us to feel calmer.
So in short, please try the best way that you can to live a little more stress free, you and your child will greatly benefit from it.
2 Limit Or Cut Out Your Energy Booster
It has long been debated on whether or not caffeine is actually safe to drink (or eat) during pregnancy and, according to Article.mercola.com, “a new study shows that one dose of caffeine – just two cups of coffee – ingested during pregnancy may be enough to affect fetal heart development and reduce heart function over the entire lifespan of the child.”
According to Dr. Mercola on Articles.mercola.com, “Caffeine is an addictive, stimulant drug that passes easily through the placenta to the developing fetus. It is also transferred through breastmilk. In babies (newborn and unborn) the half-life of caffeine is extended, it stays in your baby longer, and a developing fetus has no ability to detoxify caffeine.”
There are some serious risks that are now becoming said to come to with pregnant women consuming caffeine, according to Dr. Mercola, such as an increased risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, birth defects, increased risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), and for the soon-to-be moms – a decrease in the levels of iron and calcium.
But again, this is only one study. But it could be the study that changes the way we associate caffeine with pregnancy. Caffeine is not just found in coffee but in some soft drinks, teas, as well as chocolate.
1 Don't Stop Reading
One good way to help your baby grow properly is to educate yourself on pregnancy, labor, and delivery by asking your OB/GYN lots of questions and by doing research for yourself. After all, you ended up on this article, so you have already started educating yourself and are gaining knowledge and insight on pregnancy, so congratulations for taking the first immediate step!
When you go to your OB/GYN, it can be a good idea to write down any questions or concerns that you might have so that on the day of your appointment you don't forget anything that may have been important to you. I know this may sound ridiculous, but try to take your friend’s and family's advice and tips with a grain of salt because you can't be too sure how accurate that information is and where they got it from.
When doing research of your own, you can download or purchase pregnancy books on what to except. When you do research online, make sure it is from a reputable source. Somewhere you trust. Some places use their personal opinions only and don't bother looking up the facts.
Educating yourself will better help you prepare throughout your pregnancy, labor, delivery and beyond.
References: Healthline.com, Babycenter.com, WedMD.com, Americanpregnancy.com, Babycenter.com, Babycenter.com, Overlakeobgyn.com, WomenHealth.com, Treehugger.com, breakingtheviciouscycle.com, Women.smokefree.gov, Fitpregnany.com, Babycenter.com, FDA.gov, Psychiatry.emory.com, Article.mercola.com