When you discover you are pregnant, you may feel unwell and exhausted because of the symptoms of pregnancy.
Don’t allow that to come in the way of taking these 11 steps towards a healthy pregnancy.
Step 1 – See your doctor immediately
Several tests need to be done in early pregnancy to screen for conditions that may need a certain kind of special care or treatment.
Step 2 – Do not take any medicine without prescription
Inform your doctor that you are pregnant before they write out your prescription whenever you visit them.
Step 3 – Take prenatal vitamins
Folic acid is very important in the first trimester. Take it as per your doctor’s prescription. It prevents neural tube defects.
In the second and third trimester you will be prescribed iron, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids and DHA which you must take as advised.
Step 4 – Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals
If you work in a place where you are exposed to toxic chemicals, ask to be shifted to a place where you will not be exposed.
At home do not use toxic cleaners, moth balls, paints, and pesticides.
Do not wear nail polish, avoid eating food covered in plastic packaging and never reheat food in plastic containers.
Step 5 – Avoid changing the cat’s litter box
Cat litter may have a parasite called Toxoplasma that can cause blindness and neurological problems in your baby if you get infected with it.
Get someone else to do this for you.
Step 6 – Stop smoking, consuming alcohol and caffeine
Do not drink any alcohol during pregnancy. It can have serious consequences for your baby.
Stop smoking. Smoking can cause major complications during your pregnancy and later. Try to avoid secondary cigarette smoke as well – both at work and at home.
Caffeine is present in tea, coffee, colas, chocolates, and energy drinks. Be cautious when you consume these.
Step 7 – Eat a balanced diet
Get all the macro and micronutrients you need by eating food cooked at home with fresh, unrefined ingredients. The farm to plate time should be as short as possible for every ingredient.
Focus on making your plate colourful with fruits and vegetables so that you get lots of antioxidants.
Step 8 – Focus on food hygiene.
Stop eating soft cheeses, undercooked meat, unpasteurized juices, and milk. These may harbour organisms like Listeria, Salmonella etc. that can cause serious complications during pregnancy.
Eat food only if you know how it has been cooked.
Step 9 – Exercise
Exercise is important but check with your doctor before you begin or continue your exercise routine.
Avoid any exercise that leads to overheating or dehydration.
Practice breathing exercises.
Step 10 – Rest
Rest by lying on your left-hand side for 30 minutes after every meal.
Focus on getting a good night’s sleep.
Step 11 – Join a prenatal class.
Take a nutrition and exercise class by the end of the first trimester so that you can practice what you learn.
Prioritize healthy living and take the precautions required during pregnancy. That is the best gift you can give your baby.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. She is the author of 7 books on parenting published by Juggernaut Books and her books are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach and her application of physiology and neuroscience to parenting.