From the first trimester to last, pregnancy is nerve-wracking for the person going through it and everyone around her. The tips below will help ensure that these 9 months sail by smoothly.
You’ve probably heard this line in school or seen it on a motivational poster somewhere: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. For couples who’re trying to conceive, pregnancy is planning personified. Meticulous family plans would’ve been made well before you decide it’s time to start trying for a child.
There are a whole host of plans after a successful conception too. From scheduling regular visits to the gynaecologist to keeping a checklist of things to take note of every month, your calendar and planner is sure to be filled with ink. In an ideal world, both you and your partner will be planning everything and keeping tabs on things together.
However, as with a good number of things in life, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry — and pregnancy is no exception.
But fret not! The following 25 tips are broad and simple guidelines that you can follow, helping to ensure that your pregnancy will be as healthy and safe as possible.
Pregnancy Tip 1: Get some physical activity in
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when you’re pregnant, given how uncomfortable you’ll feel from the extra weight alone. As counterintuitive as it might seem, exercising is beneficial for your physical and mental health. Regular exercise can help relieve backaches, prevent your joints from swelling, and ease bloating .
Pregnancy Tip 2: Learn, learn, and learn some more
Even if this pregnancy isn’t your first rodeo, it pays to learn everything you can from your primary care physician, gynaecologist, and trusted educational materials. For first-time parents, don’t shy away from bombarding your doctors with any question that comes to mind. Additionally, you might want to attend prenatal classes to be extra prepared.
Pregnancy Tip 3: Throw out the toxins
Avoid using pesticides or substances that contain lead and mercury. Also, you’ll need to stay away from alcohol and tobacco while you’re pregnant because of their negative effects on the foetus . However, feel free to visit the nail salon because there isn’t any conclusive evidence that the use of nail polish and nail polish removers harms the foetus .
Pregnancy Tip 4: Relook your medication and supplements
Together with your primary care physician and gynaecologist, go through the medications and supplements that you’re currently taking. There are several commonly used medications and supplements which are deemed unsafe for pregnant women. For example, ibuprofen can be dangerous in high doses, having the potential to cause problems like miscarriage, jaundice, and oligohydramnios .
Having said that, you can consider adding folic acid supplements to your diet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), folic acid supplementation helps in lowering the odds of birth defects.
Pregnancy Tip 5: Ensure that you’re well-hydrated
This is a tip that you should be following before, during, and after pregnancy, and one that applies to men as well. The benefits of being well-hydrated cannot be understated, especially when you’re pregnant. For one, water helps to form the amniotic fluid around the foetus , which protects it from shock while keeping it warm.
Pregnancy Tip 6: Watch your diet
It’s not just about having a balanced diet, which you should already be having before you get pregnant. There are food and beverages that you absolutely must not consume while you’re pregnant. One of which is seafood that’s high in mercury. That’s because unborn babies are highly sensitive to mercury, and studies have shown that it would cause developmental milestones later on to be delayed .
Pregnancy Tip 7: Don’t ignore (all of) your cravings
There’s no clear answer regarding food cravings during pregnancy, but go ahead and indulge (within reason, of course). Just be sure to avoid blacklisted items like high-mercury seafood and alcohol. Additionally, keep track of your sugar intake because this has the potential to cause increased weight gain, gestational diabetes and even dental problems .
Pregnancy Tip 8: Be as clean as possible
Because of hormonal changes that occur when you’re pregnant, you may experience increased perspiration, vaginal discharge, and dry skin . Staying on top of your hygiene prevents infections while helping you feel more comfortable throughout the day.
Pregnancy Tip 9: Have a sufficient amount of rest
Being physically active is important, but so is resting. There will be stretches where you’re unable to sleep well at night, so taking regular breaks during the day and the occasional nap go a long way in making these 9 months more bearable. Additionally, spending a bit of time in bed before you actually turn off the lights will help you fall asleep easier .
Pregnancy Tip 10: Make sure your doctor is on speed dial
Again, even if this isn’t your first pregnancy, it’s vital to be able to contact your primary care physician or gynaecologist easily. You can speak with them for advice or immediately drop them a call if an emergency occurs. For example, if you’re feeling contractions at 20-minute intervals or decreased activity from the baby, it’s time to make that call.
Pregnancy Tip 11: Stick to your medical appointments
Prenatal care appointments are important, especially if this is your first pregnancy. These regular check-ups help ensure that the foetus is developing well while providing the opportunity to spot any health issues early. The visits are most frequent when you’re at your heaviest but tough it out and make sure that your baby is safe and sound before the big day.
Pregnancy Tip 12: Come up with a birth plan
It’s important to plan for the actual day with your partner and caregivers, but do note that this isn’t a legally binding document . It’s simply there to prepare everyone, covering details like your preferred birth position, pain medication, whether you’d like to claim the placenta, and even drinks and snacks during labour (hangry is definitely not an emotion you would want to battle with during delivery).
Pregnancy Tip 13: Don’t gain too much weight
Weight gain is unavoidable when you’re pregnant, with an average of 10kg to 12kg gained because of the baby and your body preparing to produce breast milk . However, gaining too much weight can lead to health issues like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. This is another reason why physical activity and having a balanced diet are so important.
Pregnancy Tip 14: Be extra careful during your third trimester
Anyone and everyone would forgive you for being overly vigilant during this final stretch. You might want to start counting your foetus’ movements as well, with around 10 an hour being a safe benchmark . Additionally, you might want to take a few days or week off work and kickstart your maternity leave early to relax and prepare for your delivery.
Pregnancy Tip 15: Swap out your cleaning products
This might seem like an oddly specific tip, but there are commercially available cleaning products which contain toxic substances. For example, products with glycol ethers are linked with miscarriage and birth defects . Additionally, products with phthalates potentially increase the risk of congenital reproductive anomalies in male children .
Pregnancy Tip 16: Let your partner handle pet duties
You’re (figuratively) killing 2 birds with 1 stone. You can rest more and stay safe while your fellow paw-rent does all the dirty work. Cat faeces in litter boxes have the potential to expose you to toxoplasmosis . This is a parasitic infection that can cause great harm to the foetus, so it’s best to leave this chore (and perhaps many more) to your partner.
Pregnancy Tip 17: Avoid hot tubs
When you’re on vacation or staycation, there’s no better way to end the day than soaking in a hot tub. Unfortunately, you’ll need to hit the showers for 9 months. That’s because soaking in a hot tub for more than 10 minutes can raise your body temperature beyond 38.3°C. This causes a small increased risk of your foetus having neural tube defects .
Pregnancy Tip 18: Purchase comfortable footwear
This isn’t just about ditching the high heels. Pregnancy potentially causes your feet to have a flatter arch and increased size, so the shoes you’ve once worn pre-pregnancy might no longer cut it . When you’re pregnant, you’ll want an incredibly comfortable pair of shoes with plenty of arch support, even if it means sacrificing style.
Pregnancy Tip 19: Keep travelling to a minimum
If your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you can travel until you’re approximately 35 or 36 weeks in, which is generally when airlines disallow you from getting onboard . However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The risk of a miscarriage is higher during first 3 months of your pregnancy and you might be worn out during the final few months .
Pregnancy Tip 20: Get (flu) vaxxed
Did you know that pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalised with flu than their non-pregnant counterparts ? That’s why getting a vaccination is more important during this period of time. Do get a seasonal flu shot but not a live vaccine (attenuated virus or live bacteria) because of the risk that the latter poses to the foetus .
Pregnancy Tip 21: Rope your partner in too
It took 2 for a successful conception and it’ll take 2 to raise a child too. Therefore, your partner should be equally involved while you’re pregnant. Whether it’s attending a prenatal class or accompanying you for your regular gynaecologist trips, having your partner beside you will do wonders for your morale. Afterall, doesn’t the saying go ‘teamwork makes the dream work’?
Pregnancy Tip 22: Speak with your parents and in-laws
Your parents and in-laws might not be able to dispense professional medical advice like your gynaecologist or primary care physician, but it’s more than worthwhile to speak with them. Ask them about how their pregnancy journey went and whether they have any (safe) tips and tricks to make these 9 months just a little bit more bearable.
Pregnancy Tip 23: Keep a pregnancy journal
Whether it’s a simple Word document or an elaborate tome purchased online, a pregnancy journal helps you to keep track of your 9-month-long experience. If this is your first child, a pregnancy journal is an excellent keepsake and it might turn into a useful source of information if or when you’re trying for your second bundle of joy.
Pregnancy Tip 24: Stay motivated
As mentioned earlier, pregnancy can be a nerve-wracking experience. It can also be extremely exhausting as well, even if this is your second or third time around the block. Staying motivated as much as you can is crucial, making each day go by faster and helping you enjoy this (very fulfilling) period of time.
Pregnancy Tip 25: Relax
There are 101 things that you and your partner need to take note of during each trimester. And if you’re working while you’re pregnant, it’s a whole other set of problems added to the mix. Take some time off throughout the day and during the weekends to slow down and relax. Seek help when you need it and tune out the noise when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Pregnancy is akin to a 9-month-long obstacle course because trying to conceive clearly wasn’t difficult enough. However, what awaits after that will be worth all the time and effort that you and your partner have put in. And if everything goes according to plan, you’ll definitely have more reasons to celebrate!
Incorporate the 25 tips above into your pregnancy journey and you’ll be guaranteed a ride that’s as smooth-sailing as possible. Lastly, it truly takes a family to raise a village, so do not be shy to lean on your partner, doctors, family, and even friends whenever you need their advice or help.
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