Nurture Your Pregnancy



Get plenty of rest

Jolinda Mierny, Gardner, sums up how she nurtured her pregnancy: “Rest, rest and more rest!”

Elevated progesterone and a body working in overdrive make pregnant women drowsy at best and often downright exhausted, particularly during the first trimester.

Thankfully, energy levels tend to pick up during the second trimester, but getting plenty of rest is still important. Power naps and a good night’s sleep are best friends for a mom-to-be. Unfortunately, a growing belly and a baby who wants to party in the womb all night often make sleep elusive. A warm bath before bed, breathing exercises and extra pillows to support your body may help.

Rest all you can now, because in a few months, that bundle of joy will keep you on your toes!

Eat healthy

Veggies and calcium: good. Raw fish and alcohol: bad. You probably know you should eat healthy during pregnancy, but understanding which nutrients are especially important, and why, empowers you to make the best choices possible for you and your baby. Talk to your doctor for advice on which foods should have a starring role in your pregnancy diet. 

Sometimes circumstances dictate our food choices during pregnancy. Mary Becker, Kansas City, MO, was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her third pregnancy.

“I decided the last thing I wanted to do was to compromise my baby’s health, so I stuck to the diet religiously. I had to go through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s with very limited carbs and no sweet desserts. There was no greater reward for following the diet than having a healthy baby boy!”

Take prenatal vitamins

No matter how well a woman eats, most doctors agree that pregnant women need prenatal vitamins for an extra boost and to fill in any nutritional gaps.

Why prenatal rather than a regular multi-vitamin? Prenatal vitamins provide many vitamins and minerals, but folic acid, iron and calcium are especially important for moms-to-be and their growing babies.

Talk to your doctor about which prenatal vitamin she recommends. If your vitamin pill makes you nauseous, she may be able to recommend a chewable or liquid form.

Educate yourself

Education equals power, and a woman with power has the ability to make informed decisions for herself and her baby.

Read all the pregnancy books you can and sign up for weekly newsletters through www.BabyCenter.com or other parenting/pregnancy websites. You can track the baby’s progress week to week, and as Mierny says, “It’s so much fun to visualize all the changes that are going on in that little oven!”

Visit the maternity ward and ask lots of questions. Familiarize yourself with birthing options, interview midwives, talk to new moms, attend birthing classes…whatever it takes for you to feel knowledgeable and informed about the journey you are on.

Exercise

Belton mom Amber Hartenbower shares her favorite way to nurture herself when she was pregnant:

“Walking! Walking was the best thing for my crazy, aching joints, not to mention all of the other benefits. Physical activity is absolutely one of the best things you can do for yourself and the baby.”

Talk to your doctor about your exercise plan, but generally, moderate physical activity is recommended during pregnancies that are not high risk.

Go to the doctor regularly

Regular prenatal care, starting as soon as you even suspect you are pregnant, can help keep you and your baby healthy. According to the federal Office on Women’s Health, babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.

Doctors can diagnose and treat health problems early when they see their patients on a regular basis. They can also give advice on how to give unborn babies a healthy start and answer any questions you may have.

Talk to other moms

Achy joints? Nausea? Constipation? Trouble sleeping? Somebody, somewhere, knows exactly what you’re going through. Millions of other women have “been there, done that.”

Having a support group is helpful whether your pregnancy is smooth sailing or you have to deal with complications. Whether you choose your mom, sister, neighbor, coworkers, a group of girlfriends you’ve known since college, social networking sites or chat rooms, reach out to others during this exciting–and sometimes frightening–time in your life.

Have “me time”

“I don’t have time for ME!” you’re shrieking right now.

I hear you. Your to-do list is a mile long. But do you suppose you’ll have time for yourself those first few months after baby arrives?

That’s why you need to pamper yourself now. Have a pedicure, relax with a good book, engage in some retail therapy, whatever it is that helps you escape for a bit.

No more excuses! Take some time for yourself while you still can.

Take care of your mental health

While pregnancy is an exciting time, it also can be a bit overwhelming. Those few months are full of worries, what-ifs and things to do. The resulting stress can weaken your immune system, disrupt sleep and cause a host of physical symptoms, such as headaches and high blood pressure.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, voice your feelings to family and friends. Ask for help in completing projects and don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities.

Raymore mom Bonnie Lesmeister, a licensed massage therapist, recommends prenatal massage not only to reduce stress but also to help with the “fun changes your tissue and muscles go through.”

Nurture your relationship

Newsflash: not every moment of your life has to revolve around the pregnancy.

Couples often spend nine months focusing on baby this, baby that, and their relationship sometimes suffers, adding stress to the pregnancy.

Go on regular date nights with your honey and forbid “baby talk” for at least part of the time. You can even mix business with pleasure: after a doctor’s visit, stop by a favorite restaurant, or cap off a shopping trip at the baby store with a movie. You can even plan a romantic getaway.

Above all, maintain communication, a key to a healthy relationship.

Tisha Foley nurtured her pregnancy with daily walks, good nutrition and power naps on the couch. As always, check with your doctor on any health concerns.

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