What do we mean by "healthy pregnancy"?
- A pregnancy that lasts the full nine months
- A pregnancy that results in a healthy baby (or babies) weighing at least five and a half pounds who has no birth defects
- A pregnancy in which the mother feels well the whole nine months other than the normal discomforts such as morning sickness.
What outcomes should we worry about for the baby?
For the baby, the most common problem is low birth weight. A baby who is born weighing less than five and a half pounds is considered low birth weight. Low birth weight is the number one risk factor for death in the first year of life and for life-long health problems.
It can be caused by being born too early, by growing too slowly, or some of both.
If you are one of those who indulge in smoking please remember that smoking by the mother is one of the main causes of poor growth, because it cuts down on the baby`s supply of oxygen and food.
Poor nutrition, birth defects, genetic conditions, mother`s health problems such as high blood pressure, hazards in the environment including lead or tobacco smoke, and multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.) may also cause low birth weight. In many cases, the exact cause of low birth weight is not known.
What can a woman do to help her have a healthy pregnancy?
The key to a healthy pregnancy is planning it in the first place. When pregnancies are planned, the mother-to-be can be in the best health possible and be ready for all the challenges of having a healthy baby and raising a family.
Most people don`t think about birth control as a way to have a healthy baby, but it plays a key role by helping women plan the best time to have a baby.
When a woman is planning a pregnancy, she should be in the best health possible and should follow these guidelines:
- Take a multivitamin every day that has 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects of the heart and brain. But it only helps if the mother takes it before pregnancy and in the first three months of pregnancy
- Stop smoking. Get others at home and at work to stop smoking too to cut down on second-hand smoke.
- Social drinking has become common now. Stop drinking alcohol and/or using illegal drugs. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the most common birth defects. Every case is preventable by not drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
- Have a pre-pregnancy health check-up with a qualified gynaecologist. Women with chronic health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure and women who take medicines or herbs especially need pre-pregnancy care.
- Talk to your doctor about the possible risk of lead poisoning especially if you`ve been exposed to it. If lead gets into your body, it could harm you and your unborn baby.
What can a woman do after she gets pregnant to have a healthy pregnancy?
- Get prenatal care early. Go to all your regularly scheduled doctor appointments.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Continue to take a multivitamin to be sure that mother and baby both get the nutrients they need.
- Gain enough weight, but not too much.
- Get help with causes of stress, including family violence or work problems.
- Take a childbirth class to learn more about having a healthy birth and a healthy baby.
- Talk to your doctor if you believe you might be exposed to lead from
- paint chips or dust if you`ve had a painting job done recently in your house.
- working in a factory, re-finishing old furniture, or other jobs and hobbies working with lead
- some spices, foods and medicines
- Always wash your hands before making meals or eating
Pregnancy is a time of life when a women needs to rely on help from others. Your husband or partner, other family members or neighbours can:
- help around the house
- help you prepare healthy foods
- help you get to doctor appointments
So like we`ve said earlier, pamper yourself during the period of your pregnancy, see that your health is in top condition, avoid doing things that might harm your unborn baby and most importantly, just r-e-l-a-x your way to a healthy pregnancy!