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Top Ten Tips for Expectant Mothers

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Are you pregnant? Are you thinking of becoming pregnant? Here are 10 important things to consider for a healthy pregnancy.

  1. Vitamins:
    Take prenatal vitamins with folic acid and essential fatty acids starting 2-3 months before conception (when you start having unprotected sex in order to get pregnant). Take at least 800 micrograms of folic acid per day. Folic acid prevents open neural tube defects such as spina bifida. The neural tube closes on approximately day 24 of pregnancy. Also take a supplement of essential fatty acids (omega-3, 6, & 9) each day. Essential fatty acids can be found in many foods, but have been added to most prenatal vitamins. They have been shown to be good for babies’ brain and eye development, as well as moms.
  2. Dental Health:
    Have a dental check up prior to conception to make sure there are no infections in your mouth. This is important because bacteria in your mouth may cause preterm labor and preterm delivery (premature baby).
  3. Clean Living:
    Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs. Cigarettes expose the embryo/fetus to over 200 toxic chemicals which can interfere with the growth of the baby, causing the blood vessels to constrict. This constriction of the blood vessels causes an increase in blood pressure and a decrease in oxygen and nutrients going to the developing fetus.
  4. Sleep:
    Once pregnant, rest as much as possible. During pregnancy you should not take any sleeping medication, but you can have a glass of warm milk to help you relax. Seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night is usually sufficient, although sometimes your body wants more sleep. A nap during the day or late afternoon will provide a wonderful “pick-me-up.”
  5. Stay Hydrated:
    Drink lots of water, at least two quarts per day. If dehydration occurs during pregnancy, it can cause your mouth to feel dry and your uterus may cramp, which is very concerning when pregnant. Also, avoid adding salt and sugar to anything you eat or drink.

Add a Comment12 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

where did i say you must exercise to have an athletic kid? i said they are more likely to be better athletes. my mom never exercises a day in her life, i have been super athletic all my life thanks to dad, but i am weaker and slower than really good athletes. there is a big difference. you have totally misconstrued every word i have said. this is my last word. i live by prevention of all health problems, my mission is to help moms have healthier babies using facts. i educate and hope moms will listen because when they do, they have amazing pregnancies and babies. my moms babies are always way ahead of their friends babies in development and behavior. proof is in the pudding.

August 7, 2009 - 6:31pm
EmpowHER Guest

The research on exercise was done my Dr. James Clapp III of Cleveland health center (our foremost researcher on prenatal fitness) and for antisocial behavior from smoking there is both medical research and crime prevention organizations: http://www.psych.uic.edu/news/AJPHreview.pdf, http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/reprint/156/6/857.pdf, this one is a tad crazy but still truthful: http://medicolegal.tripod.com/preventcrime.htm. of course it's not the ONLY cause which is why i can't stand comments on singular cases when "in general" meaning the masses the risk is higher. there are always exceptions to the rules and there are ways of "muting" what might have been a health problem with really super healthy habits once a baby is born. in the last 2 years there has finally been studies proving that what we do or don't while pregnant affects children health positively or negatively 2-3 generations down the line. and that what we do when pregnant can "turn on of off" certain health problem genes, that can subsequently be accentuated or be put dormant by lifestyle factors once baby is born. You say you are a PPD survivor. did you know sufficient FOLATE, (and all B vitamins) , exercise, omega fatty acids and vitamin D in the form sunshine could have prevented that? i live by one mantra alone: PREVENTION. Yes some women can't stomach pills when pregnant, mostly because they are given synthetic vitamins, you have to pick natural ones. And yes nausea plays a big part, but vitamins can be powderized and sprinkled on cereal or something.... a good whole foods natural vitamin come in capsules that can be broken and sprinkled.....if there is will there is a way. i have worked with 100's of pregnant women over the last 20 years. i get 100's of new studies every week into my email box.

August 5, 2009 - 9:09pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for providing the studies. They're interesting. I wonder if there have been any other more recent studies since these are up to ten years old. The first study you listed offered more info regarding alternative explanations such as the socioeconomic status of most smokers, the increased prevalence of mental disorders in people who smoke, the lower quality of family environment in households of smokers, etc. I think there are so many other factors, many environmental, wrapped up in this issue that it's a little simplistic simply to assert that smokers create criminals. In any case, it's great info to be aware of.

I totally agree with you on the importance of prevention!! I have a blog devoted to spreading awareness of how perinatal mood disorders can easily be prevented. I suffered horribly from PPD after the birth of my third baby, but a few years later, armed with the knowledge and experience of having had PPD, I had a wonderful postpartum with my fourth. For me, it was all about awareness. I had no idea what PPD was (had never even heard of it) when I had it. I've been advocating as much as I can in the PPD realm to try to spread awareness of the disorder while also letting women know they can take steps to prevent it, and what worked for me. Unfortunately, I was a prime candidate for PPD, having lost a baby shortly after his birth. I wasn't prepared for the depression that followed, nor to become pregnant again only four months later with my eldest daughter. I was so focused on keeping it together during her pregnancy that I buried my sadness and broken heart. After she was born, I completely crashed.

I think your info is very helpful, but again, I believe that what may work well for one pregnant woman and her baby might not work well for another. I don't believe in the "one size fits all" approach. To make statements like --you must exercise during your pregnancy or your baby won't be as athletic as possible later in life-- does nothing positive for women who aren't able to exercise or who chose not to exercise while pregnant.

August 6, 2009 - 10:11am

These are all interesting comments, but the differences in opinion and information can be really confusing! I've had three pregnancies, and with the first, I didn't even know about the importance of folic acid because it wasn't "in the know" at the time and not much was said about it. During my second pregnancy, I was so sick with morning sickness that I wasn't able to take prenatal vitamins at all. And yet I had an extremely healthy baby.

August 4, 2009 - 9:56pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Kristin Davis)

there is always someone that will utter such nonsense....common sense would tell any smart person that a baby would have been healthier had moms diet been better. just like all those that will say: but back in the 50's we drank and smoked and kids still came out healthy.....when we have truck loads of proof that they didn't....think depression, cancer rates, ADHD, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, mental and behavioural problems, crime (yes a criminal mind is a birthdefect; and boys from smoking moms have higher risk of becoming violent criminals) . let's try our best to help a child come into this world as healthy as we can make it. and stop making excuses...and i don't deal in opinions only facts. you still didn't get the difference between folate and folic acid....

August 5, 2009 - 1:35pm
(reply to Anonymous)

I'm sorry....are you saying that my comment is nonsense?? That's nice. (Who are you, by the way? I'm assuming that you're Birgitta from a previous comment.) Regarding folate vs. folic acid, I know about folic acid because of all of the awareness work that the March of Dimes has done very aggressively in recent years. Here's a link to some helpful info on folic acid: http://search.marchofdimes.com/cgi-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=6&page_id=11339264&query=folic+acid&hiword=ACIDE+ACIDO+ACIDS+FOLICO+FOLIK+acid+folic+

I've never heard of a criminal mind being a birth defect -- that's interesting. Do you know of a study that shows that? I've never in my life heard that before. I would think that there would be more environmental factors involved when it comes to committing a crime.

In your previous comment, you mention that prenatal exercise creates babies with superior academic and athletic abilities. That sounds a little extreme to me -- again, do you have a study that you can refer us to on that? I was unable to exercise during each of my pregnancies and I do believe that my kids have superior academic and athletic abilities. ;) In fact, one of my kids is off-the-charts gifted (started reading medical journals at the age of 5) and plans to go to Harvard Medical School one day to become a surgeon. I was unable to exercise during his pregnancy and never took a prenatal vitamin (nor folic acid) because I was so sick that I couldn't keep them down. Go figure.

I do believe that we as moms need to have access to all of the great health information that exists, such as Dr. Stein's Top Ten Tips for Expectant Mothers, and that we should be respected and not judged for the choices we make (and sometimes have to make out of necessity). The worst thing you can tell a mother is that you HAVE to take folate or you HAVE to breastfeed or you HAVE to make sure your toddler has two naps a day, or you HAVE to (fill in the blank) or you'll have an unhealthy child. That's ridiculous.

August 5, 2009 - 4:04pm
EmpowHER Guest

we need to re-educate women that Folate is what they need. Folic acid is synthetic and not usable by 30% of people. Folate is found naturally in foods like whole grains and vegetables as well as a few very select good whole food prenatal supplements like Healthy Baby Vitamins. Most others and all prescriptions use Folic acid as it is cheaper. also Folate won't do any woman or baby any good unless all other b vitamins and all 31 nutrients are present. So a prenatal needs to be a multivitamin with all micro nutrients.
one more thing, besides nutrition, the most important thing a mom can do to make a healthier baby wasn't even mentioned: exercise. prenatal exercise creates babies at lower risk for all health problems and with superior academic and athletic abilities once 19 years of age. Birgitta Lauren, prenatal fitness / nutrition @ www.expectingfitness.com

August 4, 2009 - 6:05pm
EmpowHER Guest

Also, it is ok to take some sleep aids such as benadryl or even ambien in pregnancy. Benadryl is an anti-histimine and is not addictive, but ambien can be.

August 3, 2009 - 10:27pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

NO!!!!!! drugs are not oK in pregnancy. benadryl and ambien can cause sever damage to the "still developing and defenseless fetus" . i would never even think of consuming those for myself when not pregnant let alone when pregnant. Please let babies develop as best it can naturally. moms need to become more responsible and less selfish. pregnancy is a temporary condition, except for sever conditions moms need to stay drug free. one of the worst offenders is morning sickness drugs: they prevent moms from absorbing Folate ! the most important nutrient for baby. How is baby supposed to grow without Folate. ? and doctors will dole these out saying they are safe......atrocious!

August 4, 2009 - 9:13pm
EmpowHER Guest

Good comments, but why is it bad to have an occasional glass of wine? In Europe, this is considered normal.

August 3, 2009 - 6:27pm
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