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Staying Healthy During Pregnancy: Starting Prenatal Care

Every pregnancy starts with good prenatal care which means finding an OB-GYN or midwife you feel comfortable with. Keep it simple when possible and make the decisions that feel right to you. That starts with knowing and planning out your prenatal care. Don’t fret, we’re here to help.

Let’s talk it through over coffee. Wait, should you have coffee when you’re pregnant? Pour yourself the cup of coffee, mama, but try to limit your caffeine intake during the day. About 8-ounces or less is the recommended amount. Is it enough? Never, but it’s a good median for you and the baby. Drink away – but maybe avoid getting a Venti. Do you like cashews, almonds, or other types of nuts? They make an excellent grab-n-go snack to munch on as part of a healthy diet. Take time for yourself – your emotional health matters during this time as well. Be an advocate for yourself and speak your truths. People will listen to you!

You won’t be able to control everything during your pregnancy. You’ll try (and should), but sometimes life can throw you the unexpected. Being as prepared as possible will help you deal with the things you cannot control.

You should ask for pregnancy support at work.

It’s common for women to wait until the second trimester to tell coworkers about their pregnancy, but if you’re experiencing fatigue, you should consider vocalizing your needs. Being able to take breaks and short walks can help make the days more manageable.

Workplaces can also have routine chemicals, heavy metals, and other materials you’ll want to avoid inhaling. Recognizing these hazards and communicating to your employer will ensure you’re not exposed to them or even near them.

Consider advocating for the following while being pregnant at work:

Taking time off to rest occasionally: This could be taking PTO days to just get off your feet and take time to yourself. Life will change soon – and you still need to consider YOU time.

Reduce physical labor: If you’re often doing physical labor, you’ll want to talk to your employer about making adjustments. Make sure your time on your feet is limited and heavy lifting is stopped completely. While you can carry heavy objects, the amount you can lift will depend on how strong your muscles were before you got pregnant.

These are the maximum recommended weight amounts you can lift at waist level only:

Infrequent lifting: Less than every 5 minutes

  • Up to 20 weeks of pregnancy: 36 lbs
  • After 20 weeks of pregnancy: 26 lbs

Moderate lifting: Less than an hour

  • Up to 20 weeks of pregnancy: 30 lbs
  • After 20 weeks of pregnancy: 22 lbs

Heavy lifting: More than 1 hour

  • Up to 20 weeks of pregnancy: 18 lbs
  • After 20 weeks of pregnancy: 13 lbs

Take maternity leave early: You want to spend all your maternity time with the new baby but sometimes, taking that time off early can help you feel more prepared for the arrival and well rested before the big day.

No alcohol, drugs, and smoking

Remember the D.A.R.E program in the 90s? It’s kind of like that (if anyone remembers it). Don’t drink while you’re pregnant. Alcohol you consume reaches your baby through your bloodstream, crossing the placenta and giving your baby higher levels of blood alcohol than you have. There’s no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.

Drinking during pregnancy will also increase your risk of stillbirth or miscarriage. Children born from mothers who drank alcohol can also experience FASDs (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders).

It’s not just alcohol that could affect your baby. It's smoking also.

Smoking can deprive your baby of the oxygen they need to develop appropriately. Smoking also increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirths, birth defects, low birth weight, and SIDS.

Remember, your baby is much more vulnerable to the effects of chemicals and toxins than adults. Any drug you use will get into your baby’s bloodstream. Some recent studies suggest that using marijuana may restrict your baby’s growth and increase the risk of placental abruption. Placental abruption is a condition in which the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. The abruption can be a partial separation or a complete one. If this were to happen, your baby might not get enough oxygen and nutrients in the womb.

Downsize your caffeine intake

We discussed it earlier, but less is more with caffeine while pregnant. The thing about caffeine is that it provides no nutritional value to you. Tastes great but also dehydrating. It also makes it harder for your body to absorb iron, something most pregnant women are already low on.

During pregnancy, you will want to cut back on your caffeine intake. ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) advises women to limit their caffeine consumption to less than 200 mg daily. That’s about the quantity you’d get from one 8-ounce cup of coffee.

Like anything you put in your body, caffeine will cross the placenta into your baby’s bloodstream. There is still developing research, but most experts believe that less than 200 mg a day of caffeine won't cause problems such as low birth weight, miscarriage, or premature birth.   

Support your emotional health

Your pregnancy hormones are taking you on a ride. You may be experiencing mood swings due to these hormonal changes or the stress from the unknown. Being able to share these feelings with the ones around you can provide support for your emotional health. You may consider some of the following as tools to support your emotional health:

Hormone changes can affect your brain chemicals, causing depression and anxiety. If you’re feeling unusually stressed or anxious, you may be suffering from pregnancy depression. Pregnancy depression is common, and women are more at risk of depression while pregnant or in the weeks after having their baby. The mild form of pregnancy depression (also postpartum) is called the “baby blues.”

Some signs of depression may be:

  • Crying for no reason
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Lack of energy (carrying a baby is draining)
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite (overeating or under-eating)

Pregnancy depression can be treated. With treatment, most mommies recover from depression. Treatment can include:

Family support: Talking with your partner and family about your feelings and seeking support often. You may need more time to yourself during the pregnancy (and that’s ok!).

Therapy: Talking one-on-one with a professional can give you reassurance in yourself and provide a way to speak openly and honestly about your feelings.

Your emotional health starts with talking to someone you trust. Reach out to family, friends, or professionals for support. Consider joining support groups for other moms struggling. It’s common, and being honest with yourself is part of being a fantastic mom. Self-care for yourself benefits everyone around you. Trust us, they’ll understand.

Exercise regularly

You’ve probably set up an excellent diet for yourself in your pregnancy plan, but coupling it with a good exercise program will give you a great one-two punch to improve the quality of your pregnancy.

Exercising during your pregnancy also carries a ton of benefits. You can see reduced negative symptoms, improvements in general mood, reduced depression, and increased self-esteem. Carrying extra weight during pregnancy requires strength and endurance (which you have in spades, mama). You’re gaining weight weekly and starting to feel the aches and pains. Exercise can improve your sluggishness, aid in leg circulation, help you reduce physical stress, and help your body recover after the baby is born. Research suggests that exercising while pregnant is a great way to boost your mood and cognitive function.

Some great exercises you can do are:
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Running
  • Yoga and Stretching
  • Weight Training
  • Aerobics

If all of that seems too much, don’t worry – just do what you can. It could be taking an occasional walk or doing some light stretches. Once you develop your exercise routine, don’t push yourself too hard. Always check with your practitioner to ensure it’s safe to resume exercise activities.

Take good prenatal vitamins. Shop the article.

You need a little bit more of everything while pregnant. A good steady diet can help ensure you’re covering most of your nutrition, but finding an excellent prenatal like our Total Prenatal + DHA  can cover everything else. Prenatals aren’t the same as a standard multivitamin. They’re made to support pregnancy needs and contain much more Folate and Iron than you’ll find in standard multivitamins. They’re much better for your life stage.

You got this. Staying healthy during pregnancy can be tough but remember to always advocate for your needs and be honest about how you feel. If you need a bigger support system, reach out to our Customer Obsession Team. We’re always here to help.