- See your doctor regularly. Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy and spot problems if they occur.
- Continue taking folic acid throughout your pregnancy between 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg or 0.4 to 0.8 mg) every day. Getting enough folic acid lowers the risk of some birth defects.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, lean meats, and a variety of cooked seafood.
- Get all essential nutrients, including iron, every day. Getting enough iron prevents anaemia, which is linked to preterm birth and low-birth weight babies.
- Drink extra fluids, especially water.
- Get moving! Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, physical activity is good for you and your baby.
- Gain a healthy amount of weight. Gaining more than the recommended amount during pregnancy increases a woman’s risk for pregnancy complications. Check with your doctor to find out how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
- Wash hands, especially after handling raw meat or using the bathroom.
- Get enough sleep. Aim for 7 to 9 hours every night.
- Set limits. If you can, control the stress in your life and set limits. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to requests for your time and energy. Ask for help from others.
- Make sure health problems are treated and kept under control. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels. If you have high blood pressure, monitor it closely.
- Ask your doctor before stopping any medicines you take or taking any new medicines. Prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medicine all can harm your baby.
- Get a flu shot. Pregnant women can get very sick from the flu and may need hospital care. Ask your doctor about the flu vaccine.
- Always wear a seatbelt. Make sure it fits snuggly.
- Join a childbirth or parenting class. Steer clear of these pregnancy no-nos to help keep you and your baby safe and healthy.
"Nothing gets you through the first few weeks like assurance and support from friends and family."
Doreen, mother of two
- Don’t smoke tobacco. Smoking during pregnancy passes nicotine and cancer-causing drugs to your baby. Smoking also keeps your baby from getting needed nourishment and raises the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and infant death.
- Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals, such as cleaning solvents, lead and mercury, some insecticides, and paint.
- Protect yourself and your baby from food-borne illness, which can cause serious health problems and even death. Handle, clean, cook, eat, and store food properly.
- Don’t drink alcohol. There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant.
- Don’t clean or change a cat’s litter box. This could put you at risk for toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be very harmful to the foetus.
- Don’t eat swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish, which are high in mercury.
- Avoid contact with household pests and pet rodents, such as hamsters. Rodents can carry a virus that can be harmful or even deadly to your unborn baby.
- Don’t take very hot baths or use hot tubs or saunas. High temperatures can be harmful to the foetus, or cause you to faint.
- Don’t use scented feminine hygiene products. These products might irritate your vaginal area, and increase your risk of a urinary tract infection or yeast infection.
- Don’t douche. Douching can irritate the vagina, force air into the birth canal and increase the increase the risk of infection.
- Avoid x-rays. If you must have dental work or diagnostic tests, tell your dentist or physician that you are pregnant so that extra care can be taken.