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How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy at Any Age
Pregnancy is a sensitive time in a woman’s life and you have to exercise the utmost care to ensure all goes well. The new life growing inside you is prone to anything, including a miscarriage, and research has shown that 15 to 20% of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage.
However, with healthier choices, you can have a stress-free and healthy pregnancy.
If you are wondering how to have a healthy pregnancy, here are sixteen tips that should help:
1) Know your medical history
Your medical history has an important role to play in giving you a healthy pregnancy. Women with a history of one or more medical conditions would need to be on deck with their healthcare giver from an early stage to ensure all goes well.
For instance, women with a history of recurring miscarriages are encouraged to start their prenatal appointments as soon as they notice they are pregnant to avoid a repeat.
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2) Avoid certain foods
Certain foods are a no-no in pregnancy as they increase your risk of infection.
Infection is quite dangerous in pregnancy as it increases the risk of a miscarriage, stillbirth, or preterm labor.
Foods you want to avoid include raw or rare foods, unpasteurized milk, fish high in mercury, and soft cheese.
Fruits like unripe papaya and pineapple should also be avoided, especially in early pregnancy as they contain a compound that softens the cervix or promotes contraction, leading to premature contractions.
3) Eat Healthy Foods
You are eating for two now and most of what you eat will be used by your baby for his development.
You want to eat more healthily at this time, including a lot more veggies, fruits, fish, and other classes of food in your diet.
4) Take Your Prenatal Vitamins
To have a healthy pregnancy, you want to start on our prenatal vitamins as early as possible. While foods you eat would contain a lot of healthy nutrients and vitamins you and your baby need, you might not be getting these nutrients in the right forage at this point.
You can correct this by going on a good prenatal vitamin as soon as you notice your pregnancy.
5) Educate Yourself
Knowing about pregnancy and what to expect, especially as a first-timer will go a long way in keeping you healthy.
There are a ton of pregnancy books by experts as well as pregnancy groups that will give you all the information you need about having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
6) Avoid Stress
Stress during pregnancy, especially when prolonged increased your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, two conditions that could become fatal.
It also affects your baby’s brain development, which is all the more reason to avoid it.
7) Don’t Drink
Research is yet to determine a safe amount of alcohol to take while pregnant or a safe time to take any drink, which is why the consensus is to avoid alcohol completely.
Taking alcohol places your baby at risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which promotes complications like severe learning disabilities, abnormal facial features, and behavioral issues.
8) Avoid Smoking
Smoking is just as bad as drinking as it also places your baby at the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SID), premature birth, or a miscarriage.
9) Go for Your Prenatal Checkup
Most people start their first prenatal appointment at 12 weeks. However, there is no right or wrong time to start. You should start as soon as you notice you are pregnant, especially if you’ve had complications in previous pregnancies or have a high-risk pregnancy.
10) Get Plenty of Sleep
You also want to get plenty of sleep to prevent stress. The recommended hours to sleep daily is 7 -8 hours, more if you feel your body needs it.
You should try to sleep more on your left side as more nutrients and oxygen gets to your baby this way.
Exercising is beneficial for your baby, especially if you are not overdoing it.
The rule is not to exhaust yourself or become breathless when exercising.
One of the best exercises to perform while pregnant is walking and you want to aim for a 30-minute walk daily.
You should always check with your doctor before performing any exercises during pregnancy.
12) Keep Track of Your Weight
Being overweight during pregnancy leads to certain complications like high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia, and gestational diabetes.
Being obese places you at further complications like breastfeeding problems, a blood clot disorder called venous thromboembolism, a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea, and a higher risk of infection.
The ideal weight range to gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds.
While it is not advisable to try to lose weight while pregnant, you want to start eating healthily and work with your doctor to work out a meal plan that’s right for you.
13) Stay Away from Cat Litter
To stay healthy during pregnancy, you should keep away from all cat litter to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis can cause severe damage in babies, increasing the risk of developing brain damage, and liver, eye, and spleen disorders.
14) Change Up Your Chores
Chores that exhaust you or leave you depleted of energy should be avoided.
Chores that require bending or standing for long should be avoided as they increase your risk of a miscarriage or premature birth.
15) Wear Sunscreen
Sunscreens are safe to wear during pregnancy and you should wear them often as your skin becomes a lot more sensitive at this time.
However, you want to look out for certain ingredients like Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as these are the only sunscreen ingredients in pregnancy-safe sunscreens that meet the FDA’s criteria for GRASE ingredients.
16) Limit Caffeine
Caffeine is another food you want to limit during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg (that’s around two, six-ounce cups) per day.
Taking too much caffeine constricts the blood vessels in the uterus, leading to a reduced supply of blood and nutrient to the growing baby.
Also, while taking caffeine at any time during your pregnancy poses some sort of risk, doing so in the third trimester presents with more risks due to changes in your metabolism at this time.
Facts About Female Fertility After Age 35
Although fertility for both men and women starts to decline gradually from age 30, most women 35 and older go on to conceive naturally and have healthy pregnancies.
Here are some facts about female fertility in the 30s you want to know:
- Women aged 35 to 39 have a 29% chance of conceiving each month during their fertile period. This figure is reduced by almost half to 15% if her partner is five years older.
- 82% of women 35 and over go on to conceive within two years if they have unprotected sex at least twice a week.
- Once a woman is 35 and over and trying to conceive the couple is said to be experiencing fertility issues if they have had unprotected sex for over six months without the resulting pregnancy.
- Women are most fertile in their late teens and 20s, and men, from the ages 25 to 29 years.
- Your egg quality starts to decline from age 30, more rapidly from age 35 and this will present with symptoms such as absent or late periods, shorter-than-average menstrual cycles, irregular periods with a heavy or light flow, and possible miscarriage.
- You can increase your egg quality after 35 by eating foods rich in antioxidants, avoiding trans fat, eating more fiber-rich foods, taking fruits and veggies, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
- Okra water, while unpleasant, boosts fertility as it causes multiple eggs to be released each month during ovulation.
- Boosting fertility works both ways and getting your partner to also include certain foods in his diet will help your cause. One of such food is watermelon as it contains lycopene—an antioxidant that improves sperm motility.
- Male sperm is higher in number and strongest within the hours 5:00 am and 7:30 am, so you want to target this period.
- Fiber-rich foods, dairy products, green teas, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, castor oil, and vitamin D supplement all make for a stronger uterus.
- Taking 2.2 to 2.5 liters of water daily has also been known to improve fertility.
How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy at 35 and Over
More and more women are waiting until their mid-30s and 40s to have kids and while most go on to have healthy, complication-free pregnancies, this time of a woman’s life is nonetheless characterized by an increased risk.
According to CDC female fertility starts to decline gradually from age 30 and by age 35 there is a sharp decline. The ovarian reserve drops to around 80,000 and there’s also a noticeable drop in the quality of these eggs.
Older women also have an increased risk of developing pregnancy-related complications like high blood pressure, placenta previa birthing a baby with a chromosome disorder such as Down syndrome, or experiencing a miscarriage.
How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy at 35 and Over
To have a healthy pregnancy at 35 and over, the following tips are recommended:
- You want to go on a prenatal or folic acid supplement 2 to 3 months before you conceive. Taking a prenatal high in folic before at least three months before you conceive and three months after you get pregnant greatly reduces the risk of birthing a baby with spina bifida.
- Work with your doctor who already knows your medical history and can give you personalized medical advice if needed.
Your doctor will also perform any exam or test to ensure you are healthy and can safely carry your baby.
- Start your prenatal appointments as soon as you notice you are expecting so your doctor can monitor you and spot any complications if any.
- Eat well, exercise often, and get enough sleep to keep healthy.
- Lose weight if you are overweight before trying to get pregnant.
- Stress can hurt your pregnancy, so it is important to find ways to relax and manage your stress levels. Consider taking up yoga or meditation to help you stay grounded and relaxed. If you are having difficulty managing stress, you should talk to your doctor or a mental health counselor.
- It is also important to take steps to avoid any potential risks. Make sure to avoid any contact with hazardous materials, such as cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs.
- You should take steps to avoid infections. Wash your hands regularly, practice good hygiene, and avoid contact with people who may be sick.
- Avoid certain lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking.
- Work with your doctor to manage any medical problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes that might come up.
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