The following are ways you can take care of your own and your baby's health during pregnancy.
See your doctor or midwife regularly
- Visit your doctor or midwife as soon as you suspect you are pregnant.
- Keep regular appointments for prenatal checkups and care.
- Get treatment for all infections. If you have signs of an infection during pregnancy, such as fever or unusual vaginal discharge, call your doctor or midwife.
Eat a balanced diet
- Eat a balanced diet. Remember that your nutritional needs increase during pregnancy. Eat from each food group—grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat and other proteins, including beans. If you are not sure about what or how much to eat, talk with your doctor or midwife.
- Get enough folic acid. Take at least 400 mcg of folic acid every day for at least 2 to 3 months before trying to get pregnant and while you are pregnant.footnote 1 Some women need higher doses. Talk with your doctor or midwife about how much folic acid you need. Follow your doctor's advice about how to get higher amounts of folic acid. Don't just take more multivitamins. You could get too much of the other substances that are in the multivitamin. Folic acid is also found in fortified cereals, orange juice, spinach, and broccoli.
- Women who have uncomplicated pregnancies are encouraged to get regular aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise. Swimming, walking, and arm exercises are the safest activities.
- Don't exercise if you are not feeling well or if the weather is very hot. Do not participate in dangerous sports like horseback riding or motorcycle riding, waterskiing, or scuba diving.
Get plenty of rest
- Go to bed earlier than usual and get up later, if possible. Take naps, unless napping makes you sleepless at night. If you can't sleep, try reading, writing a letter, or doing another quiet and restful activity.
- Put your feet up and rest as often as you can during the day. Share housework and other duties with your partner whenever possible.
- As your pregnancy advances, it is best to lie on your left side. Placing a small pillow under your belly for support may increase your comfort. Have your partner roll another pillow in the small of your back. A third small pillow can be placed between your knees.
Think twice about medicines
- Talk to your doctor or midwife about medicines that you use, including non-prescription medicines. Some medicines have been linked to birth defects.
- If you have any long-term illnesses (such as diabetes or problems with your thyroid) and take prescription medicines, talk with your doctor or midwife about what you need to do for a healthy pregnancy.
Stay away from harmful substances
- Do not smoke. Smoking increases the risk of low birth weight and fetal death. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about ways to quit.
- Don't drink alcohol. No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
- Avoid certain chemicals (organic solvents) such as paints, varnishes, hair dyes, and glue.
Think safety first
- Take care to avoid falling. Unstable joints, your expanding belly, and your altered centre of gravity can make you more likely to fall. Some activities, such as bicycling or in-line skating, can increase your risk of falling.
- Avoid climbing on ladders or standing on anything that is high, unstable, or wobbly.
- Always wear your seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle or plane.
- Avoid roller coasters and other theme park rides that are fast or jarring. Rides that quickly start, stop, turn, or drop could jolt the uterus. This raises the risk for abruptio placenta. Theme parks usually have signs that warn pregnant women not to go on certain rides.
- Wilson RD, et al. (2015). Pre-conception folic acid and multivitamin supplementation for the primary and secondary prevention of neural tube defects and other folic acid-sensitive congenital anomalies. SOGC Clinical Practice Guideline No. 324. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada 37(6): 534–549. http://sogc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/gui324CPG1505E.pdf. Accessed July 20, 2015.
Current as of: February 11, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: February 11, 2020