Pregnancy Health Tips
Pregnancy Health Tips
When you are pregnant, people love to give you advice, especially if you’re young. Usually they’re trying to be helpful, but remember that your doctor is the expert. It can be confusing when everyone is telling you what to do to have a better pregnancy. When in doubt, listen to your doctor. Second-hand advice is not reliable, even if the person giving it means well and truly wants to help.
Where to Get Good Advice
Remember that your friends and family care about you and want to help you have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. They may have advice on how to cure morning sickness, what to do if your feet are swollen, what you should eat, or what to do if you catch a cold. It’s always best to check with your health care provider to make sure something is safe. Your friends could have remembered something wrong, or not know the most up-to-date information that your provider knows.
Did You See That Show?
Between celebrity babies and reality TV, pregnancy is everywhere in pop culture. Remember that pregnancies on TV are shown for entertainment and drama, not to offer advice. Don’t believe everything you see, or expect that pregnancy, birth, or parenting will be like what you see on reality shows.
Is It True? Is It a Good Idea?
When someone offers you pregnancy advice, stop for a moment and ask: Could this hurt me or my baby? Where can I find more information about this to decide if it’s a good idea? Can I trust this person to know the best information?
If you look online for information, know that some websites are more reliable than others. Watch out for sites that have clear biases. For example, a religious organization might not discuss all your options for birth control. In general, websites that have URLs ending in .edu, .gov, and usually .org are less biased and more reliable than .com sites.
It’s up to you to sort through the information you get and make your own decision about what to do.
If you have a pregnancy question for a medical expert, you can get an answer by typing in your question here and you’ll get an email back within 48 hours.
Having a Healthy Pregnancy
Once you’re pregnant, there’s suddenly someone else depending on you. Whether you are keeping your baby or choosing adoption, it’s your responsibility to be as healthy as you can for the baby. Your choices now have a direct impact on your baby. This means that you might have to start doing things you haven’t done in the past (like taking vitamins and exercising), or stop doing things that you’ve enjoyed in the past (like drinking or smoking).
Sometimes it might seem like there are a lot of rules about what you should and shouldn’t do during pregnancy. Just remember, everyone has the same goal: health, safety, and happiness for you and your baby!
There are some basic things that you must do to keep yourself and your baby healthy during your pregnancy.
No drinking or smoking: Drinking and smoking can cause your baby to have lifelong problems with their health and development. It’s important that you stop both of these behaviors as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. If you feel like you can’t stop drinking on your own, or you need help with addiction to other drugs, you can call the Alcohol/Drug Helpline at 1-800-562-1240. For support in quitting smoking and tobacco use, call the Washington State Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-784-8669.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help in quitting drinking, smoking, or other drugs. Your baby’s health is the most important thing, and it’s up to you to protect them.
Take prenatal vitamins: Prenatal vitamins are special for pregnancy. They contain folic acid, which prevents some serious birth defects. You don’t need a prescription, so get some from your local drugstore as soon as you know you are pregnant. Your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for them later in your pregnancy, which will help reduce the cost.
Take your prenatal vitamins to help your baby develop well. Also your baby is taking a lot of nutrients to grow, and that might leave you with little nutrients for yourself and cause you to get sick.—19-year-old mom, Cowlitz County
Take care of your teeth: Did you know the health of your mouth can affect the health of your growing baby? During pregnancy, changing hormones make gum disease more common. If gum disease gets bad, it could increase the chances of your baby being born too early or with health problems. So make a dentist appointment as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, to learn how to best take care of your oral health. More information is available here.
Learn What to Avoid
Everything that goes into your body affects your baby, sometimes in very negative ways. Learn what to avoid and get information on resources available to help you.
- Information about alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
- Information about medications and supplements
- Information about environmental risks like paint and cat litter
Did you know a baby’s brain at 35 weeks of pregnancy weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 or 40 weeks? That’s a big difference! You might not have a choice when to have your baby. If there are problems with your or your baby’s health, you may need to have your baby early. But if you do have a choice and you're planning to schedule your baby's birth, wait until at least 39 weeks.
One of the things I wish I had know about pregnancy before going through it is how your body will change and actually feel.
—19-year-old mom, Cowlitz County
You might be excited or scared about how your body is going to change during pregnancy. It can be exciting to learn how you and your baby are growing together. Here’s what you can expect week by week.