Pregnancy Dos and Don’ts

This post is brought to you by Baptist Health System.

When you find out you’re pregnant, you will probably have a lot of questions. Should you eat deli meats? What about drinking a cup of coffee, soft drink, or glass of wine? Here are a few tips to help you and your baby stay healthy for the next nine months. 

Do see your doctor for regular prenatal checkups. Ask about stopping any medications you are currently taking and before starting any new ones or nutritional supplements. Make sure health problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, are treated and kept under control. If you’re over age 35, your pregnancy will be considered high-risk, making it especially important to stay on top of medical care. 

Do eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium-rich foods, and lean meats. It’s okay to have up to 12 ounces of fish per week, but avoid fish such as swordfish, mackerel, or tilefish that are high in mercury and can cause serious nervous system damage for your baby. Instead, opt for canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, or catfish. Also stay away from unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses, because they may contain listeria, a bacterium linked to miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, or fetal illness. Remember to drink plenty of water every day to prevent constipation.

Do get at least 400 mcg of folic acid every day to lower the risk of birth defects. It’s also a good idea to take folic acid before you become pregnant. Also, be sure to get enough iron to prevent anemia and reduce the chances of preterm birth and a low-birth-weight baby. Your doctor may prescribe prenatal vitamins during your pregnancy.

Do make a birth plan. Baptist Health System offers peace of mind with access to the highest level of neonatal intensive care—Level IV—at North Central Baptist and St. Luke’s Baptist Hospitals in the San Antonio area. The Nest women’s services also offers a variety of support services and amenities. For women in South San Antonio, Mission Trail Baptist is introducing labor and delivery services in Fall 2021. Take an online tour to learn more.  

Do stay in shape. Exercising while pregnant doesn’t have to be strenuous or even at the same level as before you were pregnant; in fact, it’s better if you stick to a lighter routine. Your body has more blood and a new organ (the placenta) to take care of now, which it didn’t have before you got pregnant. It’s also important not to feel guilty for not exercising if your body demands a rest. As far as how to get your body moving, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you hit the gym or that yoga mat. Consider that any kind of water activity, whether it’s swimming a few laps or water aerobics, will give your body a feeling of weightlessness, which can be a relief to your tired ankles. Just as every pregnancy and person is different, your exercise routine needs to be unique to you and your needs.

Don’t smoke, which can raise the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and infant death.

Don’t drink alcohol, which can cause irreversible birth defects, or use illegal drugs, which are dangerous for you and your baby. 

Don’t gain too much weight. Excess body weight can increase the chances of developing gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, stillbirth, and preterm birth. In general, a woman who is normal weight should gain about 25 pounds during her pregnancy.

Don’t change or clean out your cat’s litter box, and avoid contact with pet rodents, such as guinea pigs and hamsters. 

Don’t expose yourself to toxic substances and chemicals, such as cleaning solvents, certain insecticides, and paint. 

Don’t take very hot baths or use a hot tub or sauna, which can be harmful to the fetus. Also avoid douching or using scented feminine hygiene products, which can increase the risk of infection.

In short, stay healthy and get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Reduce your stress levels and make sure to see your doctor for routine checkups. Baptist Health System is here when you need us, and several of our hospitals offer 24/7 OB emergency care.