Being a mother is a big responsibility, one that starts the moment you know (or even think) you’re pregnant. Your baby’s physical and mental development is potentially impacted by everything you do, so your baby needs you to make healthy choices from the very beginning.
Keep these three keys in mind to give your baby a head start in life.
1. Great Prenatal Medical Care is a Must
Your body undergoes a ton of changes during pregnancy. There are new hormones, redirected nutrients, repositioned organs and more. Oh, and there’s also a baby developing from just a handful cells into a fully functioning person. Now more than ever, you need continuous medical care, and the sooner, the better. Start by getting a medical pregnancy test as soon as you believe you may be pregnant. With your pregnancy confirmed, you’ll then want to select an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) to provide care throughout your pregnancy. An effective prenatal care plan should include regular doctor visits, evaluation of any genetic or environmental risk factors, blood pressure and weight monitoring, ultrasounds, measurements of mother and baby and monitoring of the baby’s heart rate. Even if you don’t have medical insurance, there are physicians, government programs and community groups available to ensure you get high quality prenatal care.
2. Treat Your Body Well to Treat Your Baby Well
When you’re pregnant, anything that goes into you also goes into your baby. That can include great things like vitamins and nutrients from a well-balanced diet, and not-so-great things like toxins from smoking, alcohol or drugs. Smoking during pregnancy reduces oxygen flow to the baby, increases the baby’s heart rate and increases risks of respiratory issues, birth defects and premature birth. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or any of a number of physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities known collectively as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Illegal drug use can also produce a host of health and wellness issues for your baby. Even legal drugs that you may take from legitimate medical reasons may be dangerous to your baby, so be sure to check with your prenatal care doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications. If you need help to quit smoking, alcohol or drug use during pregnancy, your doctor will be able to connect you with the right resources.
3. Embrace a Peaceful, Supportive Environment
Limiting stress is an important factor for a healthy pregnancy. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure, which can result in preeclampsia and premature birth. Untreated, preeclampsia can produce serious or even fatal complications for mother and baby alike. Exercise, meditation, journaling and quiet reflection can all be helpful stress relievers. Of course, one of the best ways to limit stress is to surround yourself with a great support system. If you have positive relationships with the baby’s father, your own parents, siblings or close friends, lean on them for support and encouragement. If you find yourself in an unhealthy environment, relocate as quickly as possible. Many community programs are available to ensure you have a safe, happy place to live and thrive during your pregnancy and beyond.
At Sira in Gainesville, we connect mothers-to-be with community partners that offer resources for healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. To find out how we can help you, contact us today at 352-377-4947.