100 Pregnancy Tips

Congratulations! You are going to have a baby. So now what do you do? Here are 100 tips for the first time and experienced mom to help with pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Don’t feel alone in your new role as mother. Start by reading this book of 100 pregnancy tips written by midwives and doulas who have helped many mothers through childbirth and beyond. You’re going to be a mom! Or are you? The best time to read this book is before you’re pregnant and have questions, but you can certainly read it after too. It’s written in a friendly and approachable style, but also provides solid information for women who are about to have their first baby or for experienced moms considering alternative birth options.

Thinking about having a baby? You’re not alone. There are 14 million people in the US looking to start a family each year and that’s just a fraction of the over 2 billion women worldwide who want to get pregnant. Being pregnant can be scary, exciting, beautiful and overwhelming all at the same time. If you are thinking of having a baby then this book is for you!Congratulations! You are going to have a baby. So now what do you do? Here are 100 tips for the first time and experienced mom to help with pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

Take up yoga to help you relax and improve your fitness during pregnancy.

Yoga is a great way to relax, relieve stress and improve your health during pregnancy.

  • Yoga can help you sleep better. Just like with meditation, yoga can help you get better sleep at night by teaching you how to manage stress and relax your body.
  • Yoga can help relieve back pain. If you’re experiencing back pain or discomfort in general during pregnancy, try doing some simple poses like the cat stretch or downward dog! These two poses are especially helpful for stretching out the muscles in the lower back area that often tighten up as a result of carrying around an extra person attached to them!
  • Yoga will also help with leg cramps because they usually happen when there’s too much pressure on one part of your body (for example: legs). By doing stretches throughout a day such as downward facing dog pose where legs are straight while raising hips upward toward ceiling it helps loosen up tight muscles along those areas which might lead less strain being put into certain joints etc…

Eat a diet rich in protein for healthy and strong nails and hair.

In order to grow healthy, strong nails and hair, you should eat a diet rich in protein. Protein is also essential for your baby’s growth and development. To get enough protein, eat meat, fish and eggs (a great source of vitamin B12) as well as nuts, beans and lentils.

It’s important to avoid excessive amounts of animal protein though as it can cause kidney problems or gout during pregnancy.

During your pregnancy, take a DHA supplement to provide omega 3 essential fatty acids which help with the baby’s growth and development.

You should take a DHA supplement during your pregnancy to provide omega 3 essential fatty acids which help with the baby’s growth and development. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for a baby’s brain development, eyesight and nervous system function. They also reduce inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of certain illnesses such as asthma, allergies and eczema.

DHA is found in fish, fish oil or algae oil including salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and mackerel. If you don’t like eating oily fish all the time then it may be better for you to take a capsule because this way all of your daily allowance will be delivered into one easy swallowing pill form so that you can make sure that you get enough DHA every day!

Get plenty of sleep during your pregnancy.

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for yourself during pregnancy. A good night’s sleep helps both you and your baby.

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Make sure that your bedtime routine is relaxing and calming so that you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer by not worrying about things like finances, work, or school assignments for the next day.
  • If you’re having trouble sleeping, try to find a comfortable position on your side that feels natural for you (if possible). For example: One woman we know used to lay on her back with her legs propped up in front of her; another slept with her feet propped up against something soft like a pile of pillows (which she could easily slide off if she needed to go use the bathroom during the night). These are just two examples—you may discover what works best for you by experimenting!

Try not to increase your caloric intake by more than 300 calories a day while pregnant.

You should eat between 300 and 500 extra calories a day during pregnancy. This is important because you need the extra calories for growth, development and energy to support you and your baby. However, make sure that you don’t take in too much fat or sugar because they can harm your baby’s health. Also avoid eating too much salt or caffeine!

Avoid eating shark, swordfish and king mackerel while pregnant since they contain high levels of mercury.

  • If you’re pregnant, avoiding eating shark, swordfish and king mackerel is a good idea. These fish contain high levels of mercury that can cause birth defects or problems with the baby’s growth. Mercury can also lead to miscarriage.

Increase your intake of folic acid during pregnancy as it can help prevent birth defects.

You should increase your intake of folic acid during pregnancy as it can help prevent birth defects. Folic acid is a B vitamin that is important for the growth and development of the baby. It’s found in green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, lentils and fortified grains. Most people are able to get all the folate they need from a healthy diet alone but some may require a supplement for various reasons.

During pregnancy, get plenty of calcium each day to support the baby’s growth and development of healthy bones, teeth and heart.

During pregnancy, it’s important to get plenty of calcium each day. Calcium is essential for the baby’s growth and development of healthy bones, teeth and heart. Your body needs calcium to help your baby form a skeleton made up of 206 bones by the time he or she is born. This can be a scary concept for new parents but take heart—the human body actually contains around 300 bones! During childhood, these become stronger as they grow larger with age.

The best source of dietary calcium is milk products like cheese or yogurt as well as dark leafy greens like spinach and kale. Fish with soft bones such as salmon may also be good sources if you don’t eat dairy products or if you’re allergic to them (be sure to check with your doctor first). Beans such as black beans can provide some calcium too! Finally fortified foods such as soy milk are another great way to get more into your diet without any added effort on your part 🙂

Consume plenty of iron-rich foods during pregnancy so that you have enough iron to make blood for yourself and the baby.

Consume plenty of iron-rich foods during pregnancy so that you have enough iron to make blood for yourself and the baby. Foods rich in iron include:

  • Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • Fish
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale)
  • Dried beans and peas (kidney beans, pinto beans) and other legumes like chickpeas or lentils

When exercising during pregnancy wear supportive bras and low heeled shoes with good arch support for comfort.

When exercising during pregnancy, wear supportive bras and low-heeled shoes with good arch support for comfort. Pregnancy is not the time to push yourself too hard. If you feel uncomfortable or dizzy, stop immediately and find a place to rest. Don’t do anything that feels wrong or makes your body feel uncomfortable.

While pregnant, avoid secondhand smoke which can cause problems with the baby’s growth or even lead to miscarriage.

Secondhand smoke can cause problems with the baby’s growth or even lead to miscarriage.

Secondhand smoke contains carbon monoxide, nicotine and other harmful substances that can harm your unborn child.

When you’re pregnant, you should avoid secondhand smoke at all costs because it contains more than 4,000 chemicals including arsenic and cyanide. Secondhand smoke is also responsible for about 1 in every 100 infant deaths each year in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Avoid taking medications unless absolutely necessary as some can cause birth defects or other problems for the baby.

Avoid taking medications unless absolutely necessary as some can cause birth defects or other problems for the baby.

If you are pregnant and have asthma, your doctor may prescribe a different medicine than usual to treat your asthma. Be sure to take this medicine exactly as prescribed by your doctor. You should do all that you can to prevent an asthma attack while using these medicines because they will not work as well in preventing or treating an attack if you are having one.

If you need to use a medication during pregnancy, talk with your health care provider about how much of it is safe for both you and your unborn child before starting treatment.

Taking Tylenol (acetaminophen) is considered safe during pregnancy if needed for headaches or body aches.

  • If you’re experiencing a headache or body ache, take the lowest effective dose of Tylenol (acetaminophen) as needed according to package instructions.
  • Take the lowest effective dose of Tylenol for the shortest amount of time possible, and avoid taking it at all if you have a history of liver problems.
  • Avoid taking more than 4 grams of acetaminophen per day during pregnancy — that’s 8 extra-strength Tylenols!

Conclusion

We hope you’ve found this list of pregnancy tips helpful. With so many changes happening during pregnancy, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable at times. This is why we recommend that you do what you can to keep your body and mind healthy throughout your pregnancy. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, speak to your doctor right away.

Pregnant woman grocery shopping
Photo © Photodisc / Getty Images

Trying for a baby? Being healthy before, during, and after pregnancy involves so many different aspects of your life. So, we’ve compiled a quick list to help you stay on the healthy side.

Stay Calm Mom: Episode 10

Watch all episodes of our Stay Calm Mom video series and follow along as our host Tiffany Small talks to a diverse group of women and top doctors to get real answers to the biggest pregnancy questions.

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How to Deal With Unwanted Pregnancy Advice

  1. See your practitioner before becoming pregnant.
  2. Start changing your food habits to include a healthy variety of foods.
  3. Exercise! Starting now will help you stay in shape during pregnancy, can lower your risk of miscarriage, and has been proven to help reduce labor complications and length.1
  4. Educate yourself!
  5. Eat a new vegetable you’ve never tried.
  6. Check out a book on pregnancy.
  7. Decide what you’d like to do about birth control. You may need to find out how quickly after stopping birth control you can get pregnant, or how you would plan to get pregnant in conjunction with stopping your current contraception pills or birth control devices.
  8. Quit smoking. There are many programs to help you.
  9. Take a prenatal vitamin. They can be prescribed by your practitioner or you can buy them over the counter. Ensure it contains 0.4 mg of folic acid.2
  10. Ask your partner to join you on your new healthy habit changes.
  11. Track your cycles. Learning what you can about your cycles will help determine when you ovulate and when you conceived. These make for more accurate due dates.
  12. If you need a new practitioner, interview before you become pregnant.
  13. Ask your friends about pregnancy and parenthood.
  14. Avoid chemicals that could possibly harm a developing fetus. Learn about the common dangerous chemicals that could be lurking in your home, work place, and community.
  15. See your dentist before you get pregnant and brush your teeth daily.
  16. Tell any medical professional that you may be pregnant if you are trying to get pregnant. This can prevent exposure to harmful tests and chemicals if you are pregnant and don’t know it yet.
  17. If you have a cat, read up on the risk of toxoplasmosis and your cat’s litter box.3 If possible, avoid changing the cat litter while you’re pregnant.
  18. Remember: it can take months to become pregnant. However, if you have been trying to get pregnant for longer than a year—or for longer than six months, if you’re 35 years or older—then you should see your doctor.
  19. Act pregnant. This includes not drinking alcohol, even while trying to conceive. There is no known safe level during pregnancy and alcohol can cause birth defects.1
  20. Announce your pregnancy when you’re ready.
  21. Talk to your parents, what do you want to take from their experiences? How do you want to be different?
  22. Rest when you can. Nap!
  23. Start a journal or a pregnancy blog.
  24. Talk to your doctor or midwife about the safest remedies for common pregnancy problems like nausea, heartburn, and constipation.
  25. Drink 8 to 10 8-oz glasses of water (at least!) a day.
  26. Read yet another book!
  27. Join a prenatal yoga or exercise class.
  28. Keep your prenatal appointments with your midwife or doctor. This will help ensure that if you have any problems that they are caught early and kept to a minimum.
  29. Take an early pregnancy class.
  30. Remember to add 300 to 500 calories a day to your diet while pregnant.1
  31. Tour your selection of birth facilities before making a choice if you are not having a home birth.
  32. Review the signs of premature labor and warnings signs for when to call your practitioner.4
  33. Talk to local doulas and start interviewing. Doulas can help you have a shorter, safer and more satisfying birth.
  34. Keep a food diary to ensure that you are keeping up with your daily requirements.
  35. If you are decorating your house or a nursery remember to avoid fumes often associated with paint and wall paper. Perhaps have friends do the heavy work while you help make snacks for them. Keep the windows open!
  36. Baby sit a friend’s baby and learn a bit about caring for a newborn.
  37. Take a childbirth class. Sign up early to ensure you get the class and dates that you want.
  38. Swimming is great in late pregnancy. It can help relieve a lot of aches and pains and makes you feel weightless.
  39. Take a breastfeeding class to help prepare you for the realities of breastfeeding.
  40. Stretch before bed to help prevent leg cramps.
  41. Continue to exercise, even if you have to slow down. This will help you recover more quickly.
  42. Write a birth plan. Something to help you clarify what you want or need for your birth experience. Share this with your practitioners and those you have invited to your birth.
  43. Have film and cameras ready!
  44. Practice relaxation whenever you can. Try for at least once a day.
  45. Do pelvic tilts to help with late pregnancy back pain. It will help relieve your pain and even encourage the baby to assume a good birth position.
  46. Pack your bags if you are going to a birth center or hospital. Don’t forget your insurance cards, pre-registration forms, camera, birth plan, etc.
  47. Review the signs of labor and warning signs.5
  48. Take a picture of yourself before the baby comes!
  49. Read birth stories.
  50. Kiss the baby!

Pregnancy Tips For First Time Moms

New moms spend 1,400 hours online researching ways to keep their babies happy and healthy. This worrying comes with the territory of experiencing a whole new kind of responsibility.

Becoming pregnant is only the beginning but it’s a very vital stage in your child’s health.

Start on the right track by following these 7 tips for first-time pregnancies.

1. Avoid Caffeine

Drinking caffeine during pregnancy has some major health risks. The caffeine gets digested much slower and goes through the placenta into your baby’s bloodstream.

This means that the caffeine side effects of a racing heart rate, high blood pressure, and a stimulated nervous system affect you and your baby.

The result is a higher chance of miscarriage. Even small amounts have been known to cause a 13% increase in low birth weight for your newborn.

Try switching to a naturally decaffeinated herbal tea, but do consult your doctor or midwife as certain herbs can cause premature labor.

2. Exercise Regularly

Having a baby is rough both physically and mentally. To combat the pain and mood swings that come with being pregnant, exercise regularly.

Low impact exercise can help ease back pain, increase circulation, and improve your mood. It will also strengthen your muscles and ligaments in preparation for labor.

Some great exercises that limit the stress on your body include swimming and walking. Yoga increases fertility rates and prenatal yoga opens up your hips, relieves stress, and assists with restlessness.

Lifting heavy weights or exhausting yourself through intense cardio workouts may do more harm than good.

3. Drink Plenty of Water

First-time moms require more water than normal as it becomes part of the amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby. Low fluid can lead to miscarriage or birth defects, as well as complicated labor.

You can get dehydrated fast while pregnant since you need more than you are used to. It is recommended that you drink at least 10 cups of 8 ounces each day to stay hydrated.

Drinking enough water can also relieve swollen joints and flush your system of built-up toxins.

4. Take Naps

Fatigue, especially during the first trimester, is common. Your body is going through hormonal changes that will affect your energy levels.

Take the time now to catch up on sleep and let your body relax. Once the baby is born, you won’t have the opportunity to rest as often. Your sleep schedule will be inconsistent and lacking.

So, treat yourself to an afternoon nap to restore yourself and help ease the stress of work and personal life on your baby.

Getting the right amount of sleep at night is also important. As your pregnancy progresses, it will become more difficult to sleep at night. You will use the bathroom often and struggle to find a comfortable position for your bump.

Make up for lost sleep at night and invest in a pregnancy pillow that goes in between your thighs and under your below. A pillow will align your hips to take the pressure off of your back and pelvis.

5. Prenatal Massage

Before giving birth, schedule a time for a professional prenatal massage.

A low-impact massage treats lower back pain that can be a menace throughout your pregnancy. It will also increase circulation and remove inflammation that causes swelling.

Avoid a massage at the beginning of your first trimester. Most practitioners won’t accept women during this time as the chance of miscarriage is higher. You can get a message anytime up into your due date after that.

6. Make a Birth Plan

Being a mother begins during the birth of your baby. You want to make this moment special and safe. That is why making a birthing plan is essential.

Do your own research online about your options before taking any advice from friends and family. This is your decision so you should have an unbiased view of the ways to give birth.

While a hospital birth is traditional, a rise in the use of midwives and even home births is occurring in the USA. There has been a 77% increase in home births from 2004 to 2017.

Your location is not the only choice you have to make. The decisions to use an epidural, have a water birth, or a delayed cord clamping are just a few more.

7. Go Shopping

Get excited for your bundle of joy by getting those essential and cute baby items ready.

You can prepare the nursery with a crib, changing table, rocking chair, and dresser. Plus, pick out a bright color for the walls and decals for the windows for your baby to enjoy.

Dressing your baby is fun, but it also requires a lot of planning. You don’t want to run out of clothes when your baby has a growth spurt. Plan to buy one size up from their current age. Newborn clothes won’t last long so only buy a few.

You also want to decide on diaper brands or choose cloth or reusable inserts. For newborns, disposable diapers work the best since you will be changing very often. As they get older, you may switch to a more eco-friendly option.

Don’t forget about blankets, bibs, bottles, and some starter toys.

These items will help you prepare both physically and mentally for your new addition.

Finding More Tips for First-Time Pregnancies

As you progress in your pregnancy, more questions will pop up daily. To find more tips for first-time pregnancies visit online forums and mom’s groups to get anecdotal advice from moms who have been in your shoes.

If you plan to have another child, but you don’t know when then visit our egg and sperm freezing page for information about planning for the future.

Early Pregnancy Care Tips

Having a baby is an exciting time that often inspires women to make healthier lifestyle choices and, if needed, work toward a healthy body weight. Here you’ll find tips on how to improve your eating and physical activity habits while you’re pregnant and after your baby is born.

These tips can also be useful if you’re not pregnant but are thinking about having a baby! By making changes now, you can get used to new lifestyle habits. You’ll give your baby the best possible start on life and be a healthy example to your family for a lifetime.

A pregnant woman walks in the woods with her husband and young daughter.
Being active when you’re expecting can help you have a healthy pregnancy.

Healthy Weight

Why is gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy important?

Gaining an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy helps your baby grow to a healthy size. But gaining too much or too little weight may lead to serious health problems for you and your baby.

According to experts External link, gaining too much weight during pregnancy raises your chances for developing gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) and high blood pressure during pregnancy. It also increases your risk for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure later in life. If you’re overweight or have obesity when you get pregnant, your chances for health problems may be even higher. You could also be more likely to have a cesarean section (C-section) NIH external link.

Gaining a healthy amount of weight helps you have an easier pregnancy and delivery. It may also help make it easier for you to get back to your normal weight after delivery. Research shows that recommended amounts of weight gain during pregnancy can also lower the chances that you or your child will have obesity and weight-related problems later in life.

How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?

How much weight you should gain depends on your body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy. BMI is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. You can use a formula to calculate your BMI NIH external link online.

The general weight-gain advice below is for women having only one baby.

If you’re1You should gain about
Underweight (BMI less than 18.5)28 to 40 pounds
Normal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9)25 to 35 pounds
Overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9)15 to 25 pounds
Obese (BMI of 30+)11 to 20 pounds

It’s important to gain weight very slowly. The old myth that you’re “eating for two” is not true. During the first 3 months, your baby is only the size of a walnut and doesn’t need many extra calories. The following rate of weight gain is advised

  • 1 to 4 pounds total in the first 3 months
  • 2 to 4 pounds each month from 4 months until delivery

Talk to your health care professional about how much weight gain is appropriate for you. Work with him or her to set goals for your weight gain. Take into account your age, weight, and health. Track your weight at home or when you visit your health care professional.

Don’t try to lose weight if you’re pregnant. Your baby needs to be exposed to healthy foods and low-calorie beverages (particularly water) to grow properly. Some women may lose a small amount of weight at the start of pregnancy. Speak to your health care professional if this happens to you.

Healthy Eating

How much should I eat and drink?

Consuming healthy foods and low-calorie beverages, particularly water, and the appropriate number of calories may help you and your baby gain the proper amount of weight.

How much food and how many calories you need depends on things such as your weight before pregnancy, your age, and how quickly you gain weight. If you’re at a healthy weight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) External link says you need no extra calories in your first trimester, about 340 extra calories a day in your second trimester, and about 450 extra calories a day in your third trimester.1 You also may not need extra calories during the final weeks of pregnancy.

Check with your health care professional about your weight gain. If you’re not gaining the weight you need, he or she may advise you to take in more calories. If you’re gaining too much weight, you may need to cut down on calories. Each woman’s needs are different. Your needs also depend on whether you were underweight, overweight, or had obesity before you became pregnant, or if you’re having more than one baby.

What kinds of foods and beverages should I consume?

A healthy eating plan for pregnancy includes nutrient-rich foods and beverages. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 External link recommend these foods and beverages each day

  • fruits and vegetables (provide vitamins and fiber)
  • whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and brown rice (provide fiber, B vitamins, and other needed nutrients)
  • fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or nondairy soy, almond, rice, or other drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
  • protein from healthy sources, such as beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood that is low in mercury (up to 12 ounces per week), and unsalted nuts and seeds, if you can tolerate them and aren’t allergic to them.

A healthy eating plan also limits salt, solid fats (such as butter, lard, and shortening), and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods.

A display of fresh vegetables, beans, fruit, fish, lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and milk.
Fruit, colorful vegetables, beans, fish, and low-fat dairy are rich sources of nutrients needed during pregnancy.

Does your eating plan measure up? How can you improve your habits? Try consuming fruit like berries or a banana with hot or cold cereal for breakfast; a salad with beans or tofu or other non-meat protein for lunch; and a lean serving of meat, chicken, turkey, or fish and steamed vegetables for dinner. Think about new, healthful foods and beverages you can try. Write down your ideas and share them with your health care professional.

For more about healthy eating, see the MyPlate Daily Checklist External link. It can help you make an eating plan for each trimester (3 months) of your pregnancy.

Pregnant woman eating a meal of grilled chicken and vegetables.
A meal of steamed veggies and grilled chicken breast contains nutrients without too many calories.

What if I’m a vegetarian?

A vegetarian eating plan during pregnancy can be healthy. Consider the quality of your eating plan and talk to your health care professional to make sure you’re getting enough calcium, iron, protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and other needed nutrients. Your health care professional may also tell you to take vitamins and minerals that will help you meet your needs.

Do I have any special nutrition needs now that I’m pregnant?

Yes. During pregnancy, you need more vitamins and minerals such as folate, iron, and calcium.

Getting the appropriate amount of folate is very important. Folate, a B vitamin also known as folic acid, may help prevent birth defects. Before pregnancy, you need 400 mcg per day from supplements or fortified foods, in addition to the folate you get naturally from foods and beverages. During pregnancy, you need 600 mcg. While breastfeeding, you need 500 mcg of folate per day.2 Foods high in folate include orange juice, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, beans, fortified breads, and fortified low-sugar breakfast cereals. These foods may even provide 100% of the daily value of folic acid per serving.

Most health care professionals tell women who are pregnant to take a prenatal vitamin every day and consume healthy foods, snacks, and beverages. Ask your doctor about what you should take.

What other new habits may help my weight gain?

Pregnancy can create some new food, beverage, and eating concerns. Meet the needs of your body and be more comfortable with these tips. Check with your health care professional with any concerns.

  • Eat breakfast every day. If you feel sick to your stomach in the morning, try dry whole-wheat toast or whole-grain crackers when you first wake up. Eat them even before you get out of bed. Eat the rest of your breakfast (fruit, oatmeal, hot or cold cereal, or other foods) later in the morning.
  • Eat high-fiber foods. Eating high-fiber foods, drinking water, and getting daily physical activity may help prevent constipation. Try to eat whole-grain cereals, brown rice, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
  • If you have heartburn, eat small meals spread throughout the day. Try to eat slowly and avoid spicy and fatty foods (such as hot peppers or fried chicken). Have drinks between meals instead of with meals. Don’t lie down soon after eating.
 Dish of cooked black beans with bell peppers and brown rice.
High-fiber foods like beans help prevent constipation during pregnancy.

What foods and drinks should I avoid?

Certain foods and drinks can harm your baby if you have them while you’re pregnant. Here’s a list of items you should avoid.

  • Alcohol. Do not drink alcohol, such as wine, beer, or hard liquor.
  • Caffeine. Enjoy decaf coffee or tea, drinks not sweetened with sugar, or water with a dash of juice. Avoid diet drinks, and limit drinks with caffeine to less than 200 mg per day—the amount in about 12 ounces of coffee.3
  • Fish that may have high levels of mercury (a substance that can build up in fish and harm an unborn baby). Limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Do not eat king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, or tilefish. To get the helpful nutrients in fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 12 ounces of seafood per week, choosing from many safe seafood choices External link (PDF, 387.44 KB) , such as cod, salmon, and shrimp.3
  • Foods that may cause illness in you or your baby (from viruses, parasites, or bacteria such as Listeria or E. coli). Avoid soft cheeses made from unpasteurized or raw milk; raw cookie dough; undercooked meats, eggs, and seafood; and deli salads. Take care in choosing and preparing lunch meats, egg dishes, and meat spreads. See more food safety guidelines during pregnancy External link.
  • Anything that is not food. Some pregnant women may crave something that is not food, such as laundry starch, clay, ashes, or paint chips. This may mean that you’re not getting the right amount of a nutrient. Talk to your health care professional if you crave something that isn’t food. He or she can help you get the right amount of nutrients.

Physical Activity

Should I be physically active during my pregnancy?

Almost all women can and should be physically active during pregnancy. According to current physical activity guidelines External link (PDF, 14.4 MB) , regular physical activity may

  • help you and your baby gain the appropriate amounts of weight
  • reduce backaches, leg cramps, and bloating
  • reduce your risk for gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • reduce your risk for postpartum depression NIH external link

There’s also some evidence that physical activity may reduce the risk of problems during pregnancy such as preeclampsia NIH external link (high blood pressure during pregnancy), reduce the length of labor and postpartum recovery, and reduce the risk of having a cesarean section (or C-section) External link.

If you were physically active before you became pregnant, you may not need to change your exercise habits. Talk with your health care professional about how to change your workouts during pregnancy.

Being physically active can be hard if you don’t have childcare for your other children, haven’t exercised before, or don’t know what to do. Keep reading for tips about how you can work around these hurdles and be physically active.

Pregnant woman taking a walk with her husband and two young children.
Almost all women can and should be physically active during pregnancy.

How much and what type of physical activity do I need?

According to current guidelines External link (PDF, 14.4 MB) , most women need the same amount of physical activity as they did before becoming pregnant. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activities—also called endurance or cardio activities—use large muscle groups (back, chest, and legs) to increase your heart rate and breathing. Brisk walking is a form of aerobic activity.

How can you tell if you’re doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity? Take the “talk test” to find out. If you’re breathing hard but can still have a conversation easily—but you can’t sing—that’s moderate intensity.

If you can only say a few words before pausing for a breath, that’s called vigorous-intensity activity. If you were in the habit of doing vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or were physically active before your pregnancy, then it’s likely okay for you to continue these activities during your pregnancy.

You can talk to your health care professional about whether to or how to adjust your physical activity while you’re pregnant. If you have health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, or anemia (too few healthy red blood cells), ask your health care professional about a level of activity that’s safe for you and your unborn baby.

How can I stay active while pregnant?

Even if you haven’t been active before, you can be active during your pregnancy. Here are some tips.

  • Go for a walk where you live, in a local park, or in a shopping mall with a family member or friend. If you already have children, take them with you and make it a family outing.
  • Get up and move around at least once an hour if you sit most of the day. When watching TV or sitting at your computer, get up and move around. Even a simple activity like walking in place can help.
  • Make a plan to be active while pregnant. List the activities you’d like to do, such as walking or taking a prenatal yoga class. Think of the days and times you could do each activity on your list, such as first thing in the morning, during your lunch break from work, after dinner, or on Saturday afternoon. Look at your calendar or phone or other device to find the days and times that work best and commit to those plans.

How can I stay safe while being active?

For your health and safety, and for your baby’s, you should not do certain physical activities while pregnant. Some of these are listed below. Talk to your health care professional about other physical activities you should not do.

Pregnant woman does yoga pose on a yoga mat.
Prenatal yoga can be part of your activity plan and may reduce backaches.

Safety do’s and don’ts

Follow these safety tips while being active.

Do…Don’t…
Choose moderate activities that aren’t likely to hurt you, such as walking or water or chair aerobics.Don’t engage in sports where you could fall or injure your abdomen, such as soccer or basketball.
Drink fluids before, during, and after being physically active. Don’t overdo it.Avoid brisk exercise outside during very hot weather.
Wear comfortable clothing that fits well and supports and protects your breasts.Don’t use steam rooms, hot tubs, and saunas.
Stop exercising if you feel dizzy, short of breath, tired, or sick to your stomach.Avoid exercises that call for you to lie flat on your back after week 12 in your pregnancy.

After the Baby Is Born

How can I stay healthy after my baby is born?

After you deliver your baby, your health may be better if you try to return to a healthy weight slowly. Not losing your “baby weight” may lead to overweight or obesity later in life. Slowly returning to a healthy weight may lower your chances of diabetes, heart disease, and other weight-related problems.

Healthy eating, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and other healthy habits after your baby is born may help you return to a healthy weight and give you energy.

After your baby is born

  • Consume foods and beverages to meet your calorie needs.
  • Regular physical activity will continue to benefit your overall health. Moderate-intensity physical activity will increase your fitness and can improve your mood.

Also, physical activity does not appear to have bad effects on how much breast milk is produced, what the breast milk contains, or how much the baby grows.

How may breastfeeding help?

Breastfeeding External link may or may not make it easier for you to lose weight because your body uses extra calories to produce milk. Even if breastfeeding does not help you lose weight, it’s linked to many other benefits for mother and child.

For mothers who breastfeed, experts advise External link feeding their babies only breast milk for the first 6 months—no other foods or drinks during this time. Experts suggest that those women continue breastfeeding at least until their baby reaches 12 months.

Calorie needs when you’re breastfeeding depend on how much body fat you have and how active you are. Talk with your health care professional about your calorie needs while you are breastfeeding.

Benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding your baby

  • likely gives him or her an appropriate mix of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients in a liquid (breast milk) that is easy to digest
  • helps boost his or her immune system
  • helps protect your baby from common problems, like ear infections NIH external link and diarrhea
A young mother nurses her baby at her breast.
Breastfeeding has many health benefits for mother and baby.

What else may help?

Pregnancy and the time after you deliver your baby can be wonderful, exciting, emotional, stressful, and tiring—all at once. These feelings may cause you to overeat, not get enough calories, or lose your drive and energy. Being good to yourself may help you cope with your feelings and follow healthy lifestyle habits.

Here are some ideas that may help.

  • Sleep when the baby sleeps.
  • Ask someone you trust to watch your baby while you nap, bathe, read, go for a walk, or go grocery shopping.
  • Explore groups that you and your newborn can join, such as “new moms” groups.
  • Don’t feel like you need to do it all on your own. Seek help from friends, family members, or local support groups.

Summary of Tips for Pregnancy

  • Talk to your health care professional about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy, and regularly track your progress.
  • Consume foods and beverages rich in folate, iron, calcium, and protein. Talk with your health care professional about prenatal supplements (vitamins you may take while pregnant).
  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Eat foods high in fiber, and drink fluids (particularly water) to avoid constipation.
  • Avoid alcohol, raw or undercooked fish, fish high in mercury, undercooked meat and poultry, and soft cheeses.
  • Do moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 150 minutes a week during your pregnancy. If you have health issues, talk to your health care professional before you begin.
  • After pregnancy, slowly get back to your routine of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity.
  • Gradually return to a healthy weight.

100 Tips For A Happy Pregnancy

Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

An image of a pregnant woman on her bed.
GETTY IMAGES.

If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, you probably already know the most basic pregnancy advice: Don’t smoke or be around secondhand smoke. Don’t drink or consume other dangerous substances, and get your rest. (Sleep, after all, is important.) But what else do you need to know? From taking vitamins to what to do with the kitty litter, here are more than 20 pregnancy tips that can help ensure safe and healthy prenatal development.

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Take a Prenatal Vitamin

Taking Prenatal Multivitamins BEFORE Getting Pregnant Could Lead to Miscarriage 26620

It’s smart to start taking prenatal vitamins early, i.e. you should begin taking them as soon as you learn about your pregnancy and/or beforehand—when you’re trying to conceive. This is because your baby’s neural cord, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops within the first month of pregnancy, so it’s important you get essential nutrients—like folic acid, calcium, and iron—from the very start.

Prenatal vitamins are available over the counter at most drug stores, or you can get them by prescription from your doctor. If taking them makes you feel queasy, try taking them at night or with a light snack. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy afterward can help, too.

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Exercise

exercise

Staying active is important for your general health and can help you reduce stress, improve circulation, and boost your mood. It can also encourage better sleep. Take a pregnancy exercise class or walk at least 15 to 20 minutes a day at a moderate pace—in cool, shaded areas or indoors in order to prevent overheating.

Pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking are also great activities for most pregnant people, but be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Listen to your body, though, and don’t overdo it.

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Write a Birth Plan

An image of a woman writing on her bed.
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Determined to have a doula? Counting on that epidural? Write down your wishes and give a copy to everyone involved with the delivery. According to the American Pregnancy Association, here are some things to consider when writing your birth plan:

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Educate Yourself

doula

Even if this isn’t your first baby, attending a childbirth class will help you feel more prepared for delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, but you can ask specific questions and voice concerns. You’ll also become more acquainted with the facility and its staff.

Now is also a good time to brush up on your family’s medical history. Talk to your doctor about problems with past pregnancies, and report any family incidences of birth defects.

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Practice Kegels

stretch

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. Done correctly, this simple exercise can help make your delivery easier and prevent problems later with incontinence. The best part: No one can tell you’re doing them—so you can practice kegels in the car, while you’re sitting at your desk, or even standing in line at the grocery store. Here’s how to do them right:

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Eliminate Toxins

Close-Up Of Red Wine Pouring From Bottle In Glass On Table
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Because of their link to birth defects, miscarriage, and other problems, you should avoid tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and even solvents such as paint thinners and nail polish remover while pregnant. Smoking cigarettes, for example, decreases oxygen flow to your baby; it’s linked to preterm birth and other complications. “If you can’t stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs, let your doctor know,” recommends Roger Harms, M.D., an Ob-Gyn at the Mayo Clinic. A doctor can offer advice and support and refer you to a program to which may help you stop.

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Change Up Chores

Money for Chores
REDPIXEL.PL/SHUTTERSTOCK

Even everyday tasks, like scrubbing the bathroom or cleaning up after pets, can become risky when you’re pregnant. Exposure to toxic chemicals or coming in contact with bacteria can harm you and your baby. Here are some things to take off your to-do-list:

  • Climbing on step stools and/or ladders
  • Changing kitty litter (to avoid toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a parasite which cats can carry)
  • Using harsh chemicals
  • Standing for long periods of time, especially near a hot stove

Also, wear gloves if you’re working in the yard where cats may have been, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.

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Check Your Medications

Check with your doctor or midwife before taking any over-the-counter medications, supplements, or “natural” remedies. Even non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen should be avoided. According to the National Health Service, taking this medication during pregnancy can increase your risk of miscarriage and damage to fetal blood vessels. It is best to check with your physician before taking any medication, prescribed or otherwise.

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Go Shoe Shopping

pregnant woman walking
ANNA KOBYCHEVA/SHUTTERSTOCK

At last, a perfect excuse to buy shoes! As your bump grows, so may your feet—or at least they may feel like they are. That’s because your natural weight gain throws off your center of gravity, putting extra pressure on your tootsies. Over time, this added pressure can cause painful overpronation, or flattening out of the feet. You may retain fluids, too, which can make your feet and ankles swell. So it’s important to wear comfortable, non-restricting shoes when you’re pregnant. And be sure to put your feet up several times a day to prevent fatigue and swelling of the feet, legs, and ankles.

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Rethink Your Spa Style

massage

Pregnancy is definitely a time for pampering, but you need to be careful. Avoid saunas, which can make you overheat. Ditto for hot tubs. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it takes only 10 to 20 minutes of sitting in one for your body temperature to reach 102 degrees Farenheit—nearly the limit of what’s considered safe for pregnant people. Also, certain essential oils can cause uterine contractions, especially during the first and second trimester, so check with your massage therapist to make sure only safe ones are being used. On the taboo list: juniper, rosemary, and clary sage. The same goes for over-the-counter medicines and supplements containing these herbal remedies. Don’t take them without first consulting your obstetrician or midwife.

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Drink More Water

pregnant holding water bottle
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During pregnancy, your blood is supplying oxygen and essential nutrients to your baby through the placenta and carrying waste and carbon dioxide away—which means your blood volume increases up to 50 percent to handle all this extra activity. So, you need to drink more to support that gain. Drinking water can also prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, UTIs, fatigue, headaches, swelling, and other uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms. Aim for 8 to 10 glasses per day, and if you don’t enjoy the taste, try adding a squeeze of lime or a splash of fruit juice.

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Eat Folate-Rich Foods

orange

In addition to drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water each day, you should eat five or six well-balanced meals with plenty of folate-rich foods, like fortified cereals, asparagus, lentils, wheat germ, oranges, and orange juice. “Folic acid is crucial for the proper development of the baby’s neural tube—which covers the spinal cord—and is vital for the creation of new red blood cells,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D., author of Feed the Belly.

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Recharge With Fruit

healthy eating

Most doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy, since it can have harmful effects on you and the baby. Cutting back can be tough, though, especially when you’re used to your morning java. For a quick pick-me-up, try nibbling on some fruit. “The natural sugars in fruits like bananas and apples can help lift energy levels,” says registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth.

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Wear Sunscreen

Pregnant woman rubs sunscreen on her belly.
ASIFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Being pregnant makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight so you’re more prone to sunburn and chloasma, those dark, blotchy spots that sometimes appear on the face. Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Many brands now offer chemical-free formulas. And wear a hat and sunglasses. While no studies prove spending time in tanning beds can hurt your baby, the American Pregnancy Association recommends you avoid them while you’re pregnant.

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Stay Clean

hand sanitizer
SHAYNEPPLSTOCKPHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK

Frequent hand washing can protect you from infections such as Group B streptococcus, Fifth disease, cytomegalovirus, and chickenpox, all of which can cause birth defects and other severe complications for your baby. Ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a great option for those times when you can’t get to a sink. “They protect users from most of the communicable infections,” says Anjan Chaudhury, M.D., an OB-GYN at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston.

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Travel Smart

travel

Go ahead: Book that flight, but take some precautions. Mid-pregnancy (14 to 28 weeks) is the best time to fly. By this time you’re probably over morning sickness. The risk of miscarriage or early delivery is also relatively low. Still, you should check with your doctor about any travel plans and make sure the airline has no restrictions for pregnant people.

On the plane, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and get up and walk around every half hour to reduce the risk of blood clots. An aisle seat will give you more room and make trips to the bathroom easier.

In the car, continue to wear a safety belt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the shoulder portion of the restraint should be positioned over the collar bone. The lap portion should be placed under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips and across the upper thighs, never above the abdomen. Also, pregnant people should sit as far from the air bag as possible.

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Eat Fish

salmon

According to a 2020 study, fish isn’t just good for you, the benefits of eating fish while pregnant outweigh the risks. Scientists say that’s because fish is high in omega 3s, a nutrient critical to brain development. It also helps children have a better metabolic profile. There’s just one catch: Some kinds of fish contain mercury, which can be toxic to both babies and adults.

To be safe, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant people eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. Stick with canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollack, or catfish. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, which are all high in mercury.

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Say Yes to Cravings—Sometimes

Bowl of Ice Cream and Metal Spoon on Lace Tablecloth Table
VZWER/SHUTTERSTOCK

Truth be told, no one knows why pregnancy cravings happen. Some experts say they are nature’s way of providing nutrients to the expectant parent, particularly nutrients they may be lacking. Others say they’re an emotional thing, driven by hormones or your mood. Regardless, as long as you’re eating an overall healthy diet, it’s usually OK to give in to your cravings. Just be careful to limit portions—don’t down all that ice cream at once!—and know which snacks to steer clear of. A few foods to avoid: raw and undercooked meat or eggs; brie, feta, and other types of unpasteurized cheese; herbal teas; and raw sprouts.

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Make Friends

pregnant women talking
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Find ways to meet other pregnant people, whether that’s through prenatal yoga or a childbirth class, a neighborhood parents group, or an online parenting forum. The support, resources, and camaraderie from others who are in the same boat as you can be crucial for getting through the ups and downs of pregnancy. “These are good connections after you have the baby, too,” said Dr. Miller.

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Get Your Rest

High angle view Of pregnant Black woman lying on bed holding her belly
GETTY IMAGES

You may think you’re busy now, but once the baby comes, you’ll have even fewer precious moments to yourself. Be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep a night, and if you’re suffering from sleep disturbances, take naps during the day. See your physician if the situation doesn’t improve.

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Learn About Postpartum Depression

Young mom with new baby suffering from postpartum anxiety
BJI/Blue Jean Images/Getty Images. BJI/BLUE JEAN IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

You’ve probably heard of postpartum depression, but you may not know that 10 percent to 20 percent of expectant people experience symptoms of major depression during pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes. This could increase your risk for preterm labor. If you’re feeling unexplainably sad, angry, or guilty—or if you lose interest in activities you usually enjoy or sleep too much—tell your doctor. Therapy, a support group, an antidepressant medication, or a combination of the three will likely help.

That said, not all antidepressants are safe, so be sure to work with a doctor who is familiar with pregnancy-related mental health issues. To search for a prenatal/postpartum support organization in your area, visit Postpartum Support International.

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Know When to Call the Doctor

Doctor meeting with pregnant woman
FLY VIEW PRODUCTIONS/GETTY IMAGES

Being pregnant can be confusing, especially if it’s your first time. How do you know which twinge is normal and which one isn’t? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Pain of any kind
  • Strong cramps
  • Contractions at 20-minute intervals
  • Vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Constant nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble walking, edema (swelling of joints)
  • Decreased activity by the baby

Tips and Tricks During Pregnancy

We all have questions when we’re expecting but can’t find the answers. LoveAndBaby is here to help you get through the pregnancy, delivery and first year by providing you with 100 essential tips and tricks.

Are you a mom-to-be? Congratulations! You’re about to embark on the most exciting journey of your life. With all the changes and challenges involved, you’re going to need this book. It contains 100 tips and tricks that will help you navigate the nine months ahead with less stress, less fear and more confidence.

I Need To Get Pregnant This Month

You’re ready to start trying to get pregnant. You bought ovulation strips, did some research and started having sex at the correct time of day. But a month has gone by and your menstrual cycle hasn’t been regular, or you haven’t even had a period yet. Now what?

Most people who are trying to conceive (TTC) don’t realize that there is a right time and wrong time to have sex. If you are having trouble getting pregnant, learning the best time of day and days to have intercourse can help increase your chances of getting pregnant. There are many tips out there that people use in an attempt to get pregnant, but many of them don’t work or can actually harm a woman’s body. The more I researched and looked at what studies were done on these old wives tales…the more I found that they were either wrong or downright unhealthy for a woman’s body.

How To Have A Healthy Baby in The Womb

This is a friendly guide for expecting mothers on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy. This book covers topics from before you conceive, what to do after you’ve become pregnant and tips for a happier birth.During your pregnancy, you’re taking care of yourself and your baby. Get the most out of your pregnancy with our 100 tips for having a healthy baby and you!

Learning about your body and what is happening with your baby is one of the best ways to enjoy pregnancy and have a healthy baby. These 100 tips are designed to help you gain more confidence, understand what is happening during each stage of your pregnancy, cope with common discomforts, and prepare for the joys ahead.

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