Twenty Tips for a Problem-Free Pregnancy

You are pregnant and you are proud, so you need to make sure you are doing the very best you can both for you and your baby during the coming 9 months.

o Prenatal Care – as soon as you suspect you are pregnant, sign up with a doctor or midwife with whom you will be happy to entrust your welfare and that of your baby over the coming months. Regular tests, examinations and scans will occur throughout the pregnancy. Remember to take a urine sample with you every time you have an appointment and always keep those appointments. You will soon get used to these regular visits and should not find them too stressful.

o Vitamins and Folic Acid – take prenatal supplements as these contain more folic acid and iron than standard multivitamins. Folic acid, which is found naturally in fortified cereals, wholegrain breads, dried peas and beans, leafy vegetables, fruit and yeast, greatly reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.

o Morning Sickness – very common and affecting some 75% of pregnant women. Avoid warm, hot places; open windows when cooking; avoid foods and smells that trigger your nausea; carry a handkerchief sprinkled with drops of essential oil so you can breathe through it; keep simple snacks like crackers next to your bed; eat small, frequent bland meals and snacks throughout the day; and drink fluids in small but frequent amounts;

o Diet – good nutrition in early pregnancy affects your baby for years to come. Eat a healthy and balanced diet from all the recommended food groups especially food rich in protein, calcium and iron.

o Liquids – try to drink at least 8 glasses of water while keeping those cups of coffee to the minimum and avoiding sweet fizzy sodas.

o Exercise and Circulation – regular exercise such as walking instead of riding, climbing that flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator and swimming will help you keep fit while improving circulation. Yoga, Pilates and gentle stretching exercises are also very beneficial.

o Rest and Relaxation – Get plenty of rest and as much sleep as possible. Plus learn the art of relaxation and it will help you during labor. Sit somewhere comfortable and let your shoulders drop down. Stretch out your fingers and rest back into the chair. Then take a slow deep breathe in and focus on a long, steady breathe out. Empty your lungs as much as you possible can. Then breathe normally again but each time you do, focus on breathing the tension out of you body. Stay for as many minutes as you can and do this relaxation exercise whenever you can. Rest, relaxation, avoiding stress and a good night’s sleep help morning sickness too.

o Banned Substances – Be aware that alcohol, nicotine, drugs and medications should be avoided at all costs as they can be very harmful to your unborn child. You should consult your doctor before taking any medication when you are pregnant.

o Caffeine – drinking too much caffeine (i.e. more than 4 cups of coffer per day) is not only harmful but can actually increase the risk of miscarriage. Doctors recommend limiting your intake to 1 cup of coffee per day.

o Dental Care – pay special attention to the state of your teeth and general dental health as all the hormonal changes taking place can affect your gums. Early on in your pregnancy, make an appointment with your dentist for a full check up and tell him that you are pregnant.

o Putting on Weight and Stretch Marks – you are not “eating for two” so if you eat carefully and exercise regularly you will avoid sudden bursts of weight gain. This together with drinking all those glasses of water will help you avoid stretch marks later on. Add a few tablespoonfuls of non fat milk powder to many of your food dishes and mix it in to soups and hot cereals so you include extra calcium.

o Varicose Veins and Hemorrhoids– possibly 40% of pregnant women develop varicose veins so take care to rest with your feet up as much as possible. By sleeping on your left side, you will decrease the pressure on the vein which carries the largest amount of blood through your body.

Maternity support house can be very beneficial. A healthy and balanced diet low in salt but rich in high fiber food helps plus plenty of exercise including kegel exercises. Some pregnant women will suffer from hemorrhoids. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods as well as constipation

o Maternity Clothes – around week 13 of your pregnancy your clothes may start to feel tight. Choose plenty of loose clothing so you are comfortable and these days there are so many styles to choose from. You may find that even your maternity wear is not large enough for the last couple of weeks so be prepared for that possibility too!

o Scans and Gender – an ultra sound scan is usually done about half way through your pregnancy. This is an important milestone so make sure your partner will be able to come with you or if this is impossible, take a close family member. It is highly likely that the doctor or technician will be able to determine the sex of your baby during this scan. In addition, you will find the scan very interesting.

o Emotional Wellbeing – make time during your busy day for some “me time” when you have time to yourself for reading, a soak in the tub or even a pregnancy massage. Relieve some of the stress and tension you may be feeling by relaxing in a comfortable place with your body completely supported. While you close your eyes, concentrate on tensing and relaxing individual parts of your body. Start at your toes and work your way slowly up to your head. Then in reverse, work from your head down to your toes again. You should then feel relaxed and loose all over your body. This is also a time when your spouse can play a great part in ensuring the mother of his child is happy, secure and protected from any mood swings or other emotional upheaval. If you are feeling low for more than 2 weeks, then please seek help from your caregiver.

o When to stop working – not every mother-to-be even has a choice about this. However, if it is up to you, then carry on as long as you are comfortable to do so even if you cut down to part-time. It can help to keep you busy during the waiting months but you need to ensure you are getting enough rest.

o Planning ahead – as well as planning your baby’s nursery and having everything ready for your baby to come home to, don’t forget to have a stock of ready made meals in the deep freeze. When you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, have your hair cut, have your hospital bag packed and ready including going home clothes both for you and your baby plus a car seat fitted ready in the car for the drive home. You home should be a safe and friendly environment for your baby.

o Preparing the Perineum – this is the flesh that stretches between the vagina and rectum and plays an important role both during pregnancy and the natural birth. Several hormonal and physical changes affect the perineal area during pregnancy. A “perineum soften” massage, to gradually soften and stretch the perineal tissues, can be carried out from the 34th week up to and even including the birth. Kegel exercises and even your position while giving birth all contribute to avoiding stress on the perineum.

o Labor Massage – when planning ahead for the birth, consider having a labor massage. This helps to improve the blood flow and relax the muscles. Your spouse can learn the technique beforehand.

o D-Day – visit the hospital where you are to give birth so you have some idea of what to expect. You have been learning how to relax for several months so that by the time you do start to deliver your baby, it almost
becomes second nature. Often false labor contractions can start before the real thing. If you are worried and do not know whether it is a false or real labor, seek medical advice. Hospitals, doctors and healthcare providers are so used to this, they will not give it a second thought.

If you follow these 20 tips during your pregnancy, you will be going a long way towards giving yourself the best possible chances of enjoying a problem free pregnancy.