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Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnant WomanA healthy pregnancy starts before conception. If you are thinking about having a baby, now is the time to prepare your body. You could be pregnant for weeks before you realize it. The first few weeks are a time when it's especially easy for the fetus to be impacted by drugs, alcohol, smoking and lack of nutrients. That's why good health is so important. You can read more below to learn about having a healthy pregnancy. You can also visit our Pregnancy Resource Center.

Prenatal care

The March of Dimes suggests the following to get off on the right foot:

You may also want to start thinking ahead to issues you will face later on in pregnancy, such as where you will give birth, (Read about "Childbirth") and other concerns such as purchasing a car safety seat to bring your baby home from the hospital. (Read about "Car Safety")

Pregnancy dangers

While there are many things that you should do to help insure a healthy pregnancy there are also things that you need to avoid. From alcohol to drugs, to even a soak in a hot tub, your developing baby can be at risk. The March of Dimes warns about the following:

Tests

The American Academy of Family Physicians says there are many tests that a doctor or midwife can run on you during your pregnancy to help determine if your fetus has a problem. These include:

(Read about "Pregnancy Testing")

Morning sickness

Morning sickness and nausea are common to about 70 percent of pregnant women. Most nausea occurs during the early part of pregnancy and, in most cases, will subside or go away entirely once you enter the second trimester, according to AAFP. The hormonal changes in your body are a suspected cause, according to ACOG. They might cause you to become nauseous or sick when you smell or eat certain things, when you are tired or stressed (Read about "Stress"), or for no apparent reason at all. Sometimes iron supplements (Read about "Iron Supplements") can play a role, if they upset your stomach. Discuss the issues with your healthcare provider. For some women, it might last longer than the early stages of pregnancy or even throughout the entire nine months.

Nausea in early pregnancy is a condition that often can be managed nutritionally. Here are some tips from the National Women's Health Information Center:

Severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (known as hyperemesis gravidarum) is rare, but if it occurs, it may cause you to become dehydrated or it can be a symptom of other conditions. Your healthcare provider should be informed if this occurs. (Read about "Dehydration") If you feel that your nausea or vomiting is keeping you from eating right or gaining enough weight, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. Severe cases of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, can result in serious complications. (Read about "Morning Sickness")

Pregnancy weight gain

Although it's a good idea to reach a healthy weight before becoming pregnant, it is definitely not a good idea to lose weight once you do become pregnant. All women, even those who are overweight, need to gain weight during pregnancy, in order to ensure the health of their baby. For those over the age of one, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests that women should gain:

Although people may talk about "eating for two," you shouldn't double your calorie intake. IOM says on average, women need an extra 200-300 calories a day. You should talk about this issue with your doctor or midwife.

Possible complications

You should also discuss possible complications in advance with your healthcare practitioner. Your body is undergoing major changes as it grows a baby. Those changes can have an impact on other systems in your body.

There are many other issues that can develop during a pregnancy. A woman may have a weakened cervix that can open before a pregnancy reaches full term. (Read about "Cervical Insufficiency / Incompetent Cervix") There may be other issues such as too much amniotic fluid or problems with the placenta, which is the organ that nourishes the developing fetus and removes its waste products. (Read about "Polyhydramnios / Hydramnios" "Placental Complications") One of the big concerns with many of these complications is that they can lead to early delivery. (Read about "Preterm Labor") Premature birth can be very dangerous, so it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about any concerns you may have.

Although it may seem overwhelming, it's important to consider all the important precautions you need to take as early as possible. By starting to plan early, you have the best chance of warding off potential problems later on and giving your child a great start on life.

Related Information:

    Microorganisms

    Baby and Young Child Care

    Anemia

    Food Labels

    Pregnancy Terms Glossary

    Genital Health - Female

    Woman's Health Terms Glossary

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

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By printing and/or reading this article, you agree that you accept all terms and conditions of use, as specified online.