Many pregnant women grow impatient during the long months of pregnancy — you are anxious to start taking care of your baby. But caring for your baby begins long before childbirth. You need to be as healthy as possible to ensure your baby’s well-being. Good nutrition, exercise and prenatal care are important parts of a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few “don’ts” and some things to avoid to complete the package.
Don’t smoke — Your baby has no way of escaping all the harmful chemicals in cigarettes, which cross through the placenta. Smoking increases the risk of having a low-birth-weight baby.
Avoid caffeine — Cut out the coffee if you can manage it. Otherwise, limit yourself to two cups a day. Remember, there is caffeine in black and green tea, colas and several other soft drinks, and chocolate.
Don’t use any medications without your doctor’s OK — Some doctors and health plans will give you a list of common drugs that are believed safe during pregnancy. But be extremely conservative with all medications, even those on the approved list.
Avoid artificial sweeteners — Saccharin is a no-no. There is controversy over the others, so it is best to avoid them or use them in moderation. Drinking a liter of diet soda is not the ideal way to get enough fluids.
Avoid stress, whenever possible — I know it is tough, but stress can have all kinds of negative health effects, probably some we do not know about. It can make you more vulnerable to colds and other diseases. Some people believe stress is implicated in preterm labor, but there is no proof that this is the case. Take a little time every day to do something you enjoy.
Don’t drink alcohol — Heavy alcohol use can cause birth defects and physical and mental retardation. Small amounts may not be harmful, but it is best to avoid alcohol altogether. A sip of champagne on New Year’s Eve will not hurt (unless you are around other people, who may criticize you for it).
Avoid raw or undercooked meat, fish and eggs — And do not eat cooked fish that comes from polluted waters.
Avoid sweets and junk food — A little bit is all right, but strive to eat food that is healthy and nutrient-rich. Sweets and junk food provide empty calories that do not help your baby.
Don’t use drugs — They can cause birth defects and other problems that may affect your child throughout life. If you are addicted to drugs, your baby may be born addicted.