Congratulations! Of all the gifts known to humanity, the greatest of these is a newborn baby. The miracle of pregnancy is accompanied by ever-changing hormones, emotions may have never been more heightened! From anxious stress to joyful euphoria—and beyond—a seemingly infinite influx of feelings are grounded in hope and unconditional love.
Some women get pregnant right away. For others, it can take months. When trying to get pregnant, act pregnant. Refrain from smoking and alcohol. If trying unsuccessfully for more than six months, consult your doctor. Knowledge about your monthly ovulation cycle can inform when you’re most likely to conceive.
While trying to conceive and upon conception, prenatal vitamins deliver essential nutrients. The sooner the baby has them, the better. Their neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops within the first month. If prenatal vitamins are causing tooth pain, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy can help with discomfort. Exceeding the recommended daily dose of prenatal vitamins may be harmful to the baby.
Not all medications are safe to take during pregnancy. Ibuprofen during pregnancy can cause damage to fetal blood vessels and increase risk of miscarriage. Before taking any over-the-counter medications, supplements, or natural remedies, first check with a trusted physician.
Light exercise is great for reducing stress, improving circulation, and getting better sleep. Walking, yoga, and swimming are excellent; working out for 30 minutes a day leads to healthier pregnancies and fewer complications during delivery. Regular exercise can bring relief to common pregnancy aches and pains and also tends to help with post-delivery recovery.
Kegel exercises strengthen pelvic floor muscles and support bladder, bowel, and uterus function, make delivery easier, and minimize problems with postnatal incontinence. They can be done privately, while driving, sitting at the desk, or standing in line. Squeeze for three seconds as if to stop the flow of urination / defecation, relax for three seconds, and repeat.
Oxygen and essential nutrients are carried to the fetus through the placenta, the same channel babies use to dispose of waste and carbon dioxide. With so much activity, the volume of blood coursing through mom increases up to 50%. Drink more water to support these demands and reduce discomfort—eight to ten glasses of water every day is best.
While no definitive science explains cravings, they are very real—and it’s ok to satisfy them—just don’t overindulge all at once. Eating for two means consuming 300 to 500 more calories a day. Avoid raw and undercooked meat or eggs and unpasteurized cheese.
Fish is great for the baby’s brain development. Unfortunately, fish can contain mercury, which can be toxic. The FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week, including shrimp, salmon, catfish, and canned light tuna. Avoid swordfish, shark, and mackerel, all high in mercury.
Expectant moms should get eight to ten hours of sleep daily. Want to prevent leg cramps? Stretch before bed. If comfortable, sleep on the left side to facilitate improved blood flow to the heart, kidneys, and uterus, more optimally delivering oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.
Childbirth Classes & Preparation
Childbirth classes teach ways to manage pregnancy and prepare for delivery. Classes are a great forum for expectant moms to get answers to so many questions. Especially for first time moms, consider babysitting a friend’s baby for firsthand learning.
Keeping regular visits with the doctor’s office helps medical professionals notice health concerns as early as possible, allowing them to better guide treatment options that improve outcomes.
Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are all linked to miscarriage, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), birth defects, and other adverse consequences. Avoid these substances, along with toxic chemicals found in paints and nail polish remover. Most doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy. As a substitute, natural sugars from fruit can help lift energy levels.
While the human body can withstand certain bumps and bruises, physical trauma can lead to miscarriage. Avoid climbing and activities which increase the risk of falling.
Both raw meat and cat feces contain the toxoplasmosis parasite, which can be harmful to the baby’s developing brain, eyes, lungs, and muscle tissue. Thoroughly wash hands after handling raw meat. Avoid changing kitty litter.
Pregnancy increases the sensitivity of skin to sunlight, making expectant mothers more susceptible to both sunburn and the skin-disorder chloasma, which results in dark blotchy spots on the face. If exposed to direct sunlight, wear 30+ sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
Avoid saunas and hot tubs; excessive heat is not good for the baby. When getting a massage, use only safe essential oils; some oils cause uterine contractions, especially during the first and second trimester.
Call your doctor if you experience strong, painful cramps, contractions at 20-minute intervals, vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid, trouble walking, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, constant nausea and vomiting, swelling of joints, and of course—decreased activity by the baby.
The Father’s Involvement
Usually, dad’s involvement during pregnancy evokes feelings of safety and security. Sometimes, expecting parents are at odds. If mom wants a reluctant or uncooperative dad to be more involved, encourage mom’s mom (grandmom) to have an accepting relationship with him. While unfortunate, some men need the inspiration of cross generational triangulation to embrace paternal responsibilities.
Mom’s feet seem like they are growing along with the baby. Gaining weight alters the center of gravity, adding pressure on feet and toes, causing painful overpronation—flattening out of the feet. Drinking water for two lives can cause excessive retention of fluids and swelling. Wear non-restricting shoes and elevate feet and legs a few times daily… this should reduce inflammation and swelling of the lower extremities.
Consider who you want present, procedures you want to avoid, whether you want pain medications, and what kind. Contingency plan for potential complications. Inform medical personnel about any problems with past pregnancies. Have bags packed months ahead of time and have cameras ready!
According to the March of Dimes, between 10 percent to 20 percent of expectant mothers experience major depression during pregnancy, which increases the risk of preterm labor. Feelings of unexplainable sadness, anger, guilt, losing interest in activities usually enjoyed, and sleeping excessively are all warning signs. Therapy, antidepressant medication, a support group, or a combination of the three can help.
Regular prenatal appointments, prenatal vitamins, nutritious food, hydration, and staying active all help with having a healthy pregnancy. Raw or undercooked foods are no good. If you smoke, drink, or do drugs, quit. Be prepared and do your best to enjoy the process—one of life’s most amazing journeys has begun, enjoy the 1st chapter of motherhood!
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a perennial New York Times bestseller and one of USA Today’s 25 most influential books of the past 25 years. Overflowing with tips, helpful hints, and humor (a pregnant woman’s best friend), 90% of pregnant women who read a pregnancy book read this one.
The childbirth experts at the Mayo Clinic offer the newly revised guide on planning for a healthy pregnancy. With detailed information about fertility, prenatal care, common pregnancy symptoms, and childbirth, this comprehensive guide will be your go-to source for answering all your pregnancy questions.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.