Congratulations on your pregnancy! Having a baby is a life-changing and joyous event, but it can also be a little bit overwhelming. Here at Geisinger, we want to help you throughout every step of your pregnancy and after your baby arrives.
As you begin to plan for your new arrival, you’ll likely have a lot of questions about your and your baby’s health over the course of your pregnancy. Your body will go through significant changes during pregnancy to prepare for birth, and you may also feel a range of emotions.
Exercise can improve your mood, help you maintain a healthy weight and help to improve your health during any stage of your life, including pregnancy. Getting exercise during pregnancy can also help prepare your body for labor.
Running, biking, swimming and lifting weights is typically safe — especially if you exercise frequently before you became pregnant. During exercise, stay hydrated and avoid getting overheated.
Eat a healthy diet
While you may crave certain foods and be averse to others throughout your pregnancy, you should try to eat a healthy diet. Meals rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and lean protein will support your baby’s growth and give you plenty of energy each day.
Take prenatal vitamins
Taking a daily prenatal vitamin during your pregnancy can help bridge any nutrition gaps and ensure you get the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs to grow strong. Prenatal vitamins include folic acid, iron, iodine and calcium, as well as other vitamins and nutrients.
Two vitamins and nutrients are especially important to your baby’s health during pregnancy. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube deficiencies like spina bifida. Iron prevents anemia, which could lead to complications such as early delivery and low birth weight.
Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs
During your pregnancy, it’s important not to smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs. Both smoking and drinking alcohol can pose a number of risks to your baby, including low birth weight, miscarriage or stillbirth. Alcohol can also cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which may lead to abnormal facial features, learning disabilities, speech and language delays and other developmental disabilities.
If you use drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or heroin, they may be passed on to the baby through the placenta. Using drugs could be fatal to your baby.
If you’re struggling with smoking, alcohol or drugs, Geisinger’s Behavioral Health Services can help you create behavioral change plans or refer you to other support options.
Take care of your mental health
Your hormone levels spike during pregnancy, which can lead to a wide range of emotions, including feelings of fatigue, forgetfulness and anxiety. It’s important to know that these feelings are normal. However, you should talk to your healthcare provider about them to ensure they don’t interfere with your pregnancy.
If you’re having a hard time dealing with your emotions, Geisinger can help. Our behavioral health psychologists can help you with stress, anxiety and depression during and after your pregnancy.
Avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses
It’s impossible to avoid germs completely for nine months, but expectant mothers should take preventive steps to avoid getting sick.
Flu shots are safe for both mother and baby. You should get a flu shot early in the flu season, which typically runs from November to March.
The best defense against catching anything else, from a cold to a stomach bug, is washing your hands frequently. And if you do get sick, talk to your provider to find out which over-the-counter remedies are safe for pregnant women.
See a healthcare provider regularly
Getting regular medical checkups during pregnancy can help ensure that you and your baby stay healthy for 40 weeks.
Visits with your healthcare provider during pregnancy can be exciting. You’ll find out your due date and the sex of the baby (if you want to know). You’ll also get to hear the baby’s heartbeat and see him or her on an ultrasound during some visits.
Here’s what a schedule might look like:
4 to 28 weeks – One visit every month
28 to 36 weeks – One visit every two weeks
36 weeks to delivery – One visit every week
During several prenatal appointments, you’ll undergo routine tests to gather information about your and your baby’s health. Depending on the results of some tests, your provider may then recommend additional prenatal visits.