Eat Healthy

Eating healthy is important for everyone. A healthy diet helps protect against some diseases and provides energy. Poor nutrition during pregnancy can cause the developing baby to grow too slowly (growth retardation). That can lead to premature (early) birth, fetal distress or death. Dieting (or trying to lose weight) while you are pregnant is not recommended. Your doctor can tell you about how much weight you should gain to keep you and your baby healthy.

Follow these guidelines for a healthy diet:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
    • You should eat two cups of fruit AND two and a half cups of vegetables a day
  • Limit how much fat you eat
    • Choose meats lower in fat
    • Cut down on or cut out fried foods
  • Get enough fiber
    • Whole grains (such as whole wheat bread, bran muffins, and oatmeal), beans, fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals
    • Eat 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day
  • Include calcium in your diet every day.
  • Low-fat dairy products such as 1% milk, non-fat yogurt and low-fat cheeses are good choices
  • Make sure you get enough calcium, iron and folic acid.

For more specific information, talk to your doctor or nurse, or ask them to refer you to a nutritionist in their practice or at the local health department.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is that sick-to-your-stomach feeling (nausea) that you get in the morning but you may also feel from time-to-time during the day. It is often caused by changes in your hormones. The good news is that morning sickness is usually gone (or is greatly reduced) by the 12th week of pregnancy (end of first trimester.)

Some women have severe morning sickness. If you have constant or severe nausea or vomiting, call your healthcare provider. You may be at risk of dehydration.

Suggestions for mild morning sickness:

  • Keep dry toast, crackers or dry cereal next to your bed. Eat a little before getting up
  • Avoid sudden movements. Rest until the nausea passes.
  • Avoid greasy, fried and spicy foods, or any food that makes you feel nauseous
  • Eat five to six small meals a day instead of three big ones
  • Drink liquids between meals, not with them
  • Open windows or use a fan while cooking
  • Avoid strong food smells until nausea passes

Exercise

Exercise and staying active can help you feel better. It may also ease some of the discomforts of pregnancy. Always talk to your doctor or nurse before starting to exercise or continuing your regular exercise when you are pregnant.

Being active:

  • Helps you feel better
  • Strengthens your muscles
  • Reduces backache
  • Relieves stress
  • Burns calories

Walking

Walking is a good choice. Just remember:

  • Start out slowly and build up each day
  • Your balance changes when you are pregnant so be careful
  • Wear comfortable shoes with low (or no) heels and support

Walking Tips:

  • Choose a time and place that is fun. Indoor shopping malls are great no matter what the weather and may open early for walkers. Many have walking clubs.
  • Do short walks during the day. If you can’t do one 30-minute block of time, take three 10-minute walks during the day.
  • Walk with a friend or family member. This is a great time to spend quality time with the baby’s father, other children you may have, or a special friend or neighbor.

Reduce Stress

During pregnancy, many women feel overwhelmed at times. Between the changes in your body, friends who are full of advice, and the regular stress of daily life, it can be too much! It’s important to reduce your stress as much as possible. Stress that affects your health can also affect the health of your growing baby! Talk to your doctor about all your sources of stress.

Day-to-day or Short-term Stress

Your boss is cranky, traffic’s a mess, and you forgot to pay a bill. Day-to-day stresses like these can make you anxious and irritable. But you can manage their effects on you. Visit the Short-term stress section of this website for tips on coping with short-term stress.

Stress from Pregnancy

Do you still have morning sickness? Is it hard to carry things? Are you always tired? Don’t let your pregnancy drive you crazy! After all “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.” And what are desserts? Something special, something worth waiting for. Just like the baby you are carrying!

Think about what is causing you stress. Then come up with some ways to lower that stress. For instance if your feet hurt at work, maybe you can ask for rest times or to do another task. If you don’t feel like you have time or energy for yourself, do only the things that matter and say “no” to the rest.

Most importantly, ask for help.

Your partner, friends, and family want to do things for you. But don’t make them guess what you would like. Give them ideas about how they can be a part of your pregnancy and make you feel better. The Thanks for Asking brochure has 42 stress-busting ideas from other moms. Use this as your starting point and add your own ideas(If the brochure downloads slowly, try the plain text version.)

Lastly, try not to use food to reduce your stress. Overeating during pregnancy can cause serious health risks to you and your baby – which will only add to your stress.

Long-term Stress

Long-term stresses– such as a broken relationship, being in an abusive relationship, the death of a loved one, racial discrimination, money problems, and sexual harassment — are larger and longer-lasting sources of stress.

Some long-term stresses have been linked to complications in pregnancy that can cause problems for the developing baby. Long-term stress often comes from problems that may seem impossible to solve. But there are people and agencies that can help you! See Long-term stress for resources that can help.

Domestic Violence

Being pregnant does not protect a woman from an abusive partner. In fact abuse may start or increase when a woman becomes pregnant.

Hitting, pinching, choking, kicking and using weapons are examples of physical abuse. Screaming, blaming, being put down, being controlled, extreme jealousy and threatening suicide are forms of emotional abuse.

Make sure your doctor or nurse knows about your situation. For more information and resources in your area, see the Domestic violence section of this website.

Resources