Staying Healthy: The Importance of Pregnancy Health
Just as diet is important to fertility, healthy, well-balanced pregnancy diet is an essential component of prenatal health. Consuming a variety of foods from the four food groups is therefore integral: whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products.
Some of the main nutrients that you should consume during pregnancy include calcium (found in milk products), iron (spinach, poultry, fish, dried fruit) and vitamin C (citrus fruits). In addition, calcium and vitamin D are important to proper pregnancy health. In addition, consuming folic acid is also essential to good health during pregnancy; sources of folic acid include oranges, bananas, green leafy vegetables and fortified breads and cereals.
Foods to avoid include fish with high mercury levels (swordfish, shark and King Mackerel), raw foods (sushi, oysters, eggs and raw shrimp) and unpasteurised foods (milk and soft cheeses). In addition, alcohol and caffeine should not be consumed.
On average, a woman will gain 25 to 35 lbs. during her pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about whether a prenatal vitamin is right for you.
Exercise during pregnancy is important to your health and can also help to minimize common pregnancy symptoms.
Generally, low impact exercises are the safest types of pregnancy exercise. Such exercises include low impact aerobics and strength training workouts; kegels exercises (which help to promote pelvic strength), Pilates and yoga can also be good options.
Always speak to your health care provider prior to starting any form of exercise routine during pregnancy.
Regular prenatal checkups are crucial to prenatal health; in fact, a woman can expect to have between 10 to 15 medical checkups during pregnancy.
At a prenatal checkup, your health care provider will monitor your blood pressure and weight, as well as monitor fetal heart rate.
Pregnancy Health Risks
The following factors present risks to pregnancy health:
- alcohol: consuming alcohol during pregnancy leads to a risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)
- smoking: smoking reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrition to the developing fetus, resulting in an increased risk of low birth rate and premature birth
- drug use: taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs can be harmful to fetal development