Whether you are pregnant or trying to conceive, maintaining good health is vital for a smooth pregnancy.
- Edited byZoe Alexander
Whether you are pregnant or trying to conceive, maintaining good health is vital for a smooth pregnancy. Two South Bay physicians—Jennifer McNulty, MD, an OB/GYN at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, and Michael L. Friedman, MD, FACOG, with Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA Health System in Torrance—share their top recommendations for expecting mothers.
1 LOOK AHEAD
Dr. McNulty emphasizes that a healthy pregnancy begins before conception. She recommends seeing your OB/GYN right away “to discuss any health conditions that should be well controlled before conception and ways to reduce the possibility of a birth defect occurring.”
2 BE ACTIVE
Exercise can reduce symptoms and prevent unnecessary weight gain. Walking and yoga are beneficial, and you may continue with more intense activities with your doctor’s approval. Dr. Friedman cautions: “Don’t overdo it. Listen to your body. If you’re tired, stop and rest. Drink more water, at least a minimum of two liters per day.”
3 DON’T EAT FOR TWO
Contrary to the old adage, pregnant women only require an extra 300 calories a day. Dr. McNulty advises, “Women who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preterm birth and cesarean section. Discuss with your health care provider what your weight gain for the entire pregnancy should be.”
4 MANAGE YOUR MOODS
Got hormones? Pregnancy can make any woman weepy and hostile. Dr. McNulty advises, “Postpartum blues are extremely common in the first one to two weeks after giving birth and resolve without any specific treatment. If you find yourself experiencing intense feelings of anxiety, despair or sadness, let your health care provider know as soon as possible.”
5 BANISH BUGS
Not only do pregnant women need to get necessary vaccinations, all household members and caregivers need to get vaccinated before handling babies (for influenza and whooping cough). Encourage family members to practice good hygiene such as frequent hand-washing.
6 STAY GROUNDED
Any activity that poses a risk of falling is considered unsafe. Dr. Friedman says, “Air travel should stop at 28 to 30 weeks. High-speed driving, bicycle riding in bike lanes or off-road, or any motorcycle riding should be limited.” Retire those Jimmy Choos for postpartum wear; high heels can increase back pain, varicose veins and swelling.
7 GET HELP FOR PROBLEMATIC SYMPTOMS
Your grandmother may have been confined to bed with morning sickness, but today most severe symptoms can be treated. Dr. Friedman says, “The best treatment for morning sickness is frequent, small amounts of any liquid, one or two ounces at a time. Saltine crackers really work, and Zofran is the best (prescription) medication and is not dangerous to the baby.”
8 BE PREPARED
Pregnancy presents a good excuse to implement (or update) an emergency plan. Stock extra medications, prenatal vitamins, food and water in your home and vehicles. Have a bag packed for the hospital three weeks prior to your due date that includes a contact list, warm clothes, pillows and comfortable shoes in case of evacuation.
9 GET YOUR ZZZs
A lack of sleep may be inevitable, but Dr. Freidman says it can lead to problems such as “headaches, car accidents, preeclampsia, bad moods and marital problems. Daily and weekly routines need to be suspended for a healthy and safe pregnancy and delivery.” Warm baths, meditation and certain over-the-counter medications can help.
10 STAY INFORMED
Staying informed will ease concerns and limit complications. Be aware of certain foods and hygienic products to avoid. It may be tempting to rely on the web, but always consult your doctor, as the internet is often misleading and incorrect.