3 Pregnancy Tips for First-Time Moms
Three experts offer tips to first-time mothers for a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Your Health Question
I’ve just learned I’m pregnant for the first time. What should I do to ensure that my baby is healthy?
– Emma Barry, Halifax
Be Sure To Take Your Vitamins
Zoltan Rona, MD
To prevent or stop morning sickness or nausea-most common in the first trimester-use ginger-root herb tea or vitamin B6 in a recommended dosage of 10 to 25 milligrams three to four times daily, as needed. Visit your doctor or midwife regularly for prenatal care, and avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs not prescribed by your doctor. You can expect constipation, hemorrhoids and back pain as your weight increases. Low levels of vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids will lead to more sensitive gums and joint pain, so make sure you’re getting enough of them in your diet. Additionally, take a prenatal multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains iron (30 milligrams daily is ideal to prevent anemia) and B-complex vitamins, including folic acid (400 micrograms daily is recommended to help prevent birth defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly). Vitamin D should be taken, too. It’s known to prevent a number of problems during pregnancy and reduces the risk of a low-birth-weight baby and of a C-section delivery. Take the emulsified form, as it is absorbed easily into the bloodstream.
Eat A Variety of Foods
Julie Daniluk, Nutritionist
People say that when you’re pregnant, you get to eat for two. Really, it’s more like 1.2, so enjoy an extra 300 calories daily. To ensure a healthy baby, avoid artificial sweeteners, large fish (due to mercury concerns), raw sprouts, most soft cheeses and undercooked meat to minimize chances of food poisoning, which can cause a miscarriage. Seven per cent of women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, so to help manage the condition, stick to whole grains and fruit as sources of fibre. Diverse produce choices will ensure you are getting enough nutrients. The baby’s brain needs omega-3 fatty acids, so try sardines, herring and mackerel. If fish turns you off during pregnancy, blending molecularly distilled lemon-flavoured fish oil into your smoothies and dressings will offer the benefits minus the fishy taste. (Avoid cod-liver oil in the first trimester, as it’s high in vitamin A and retinol, which can be dangerous to the baby.)
Exercise In Moderation
Amanda Vogel, Fitness Instructor
Most women can exercise throughout pregnancy without complication, but check with your doctor or midwife. Unless you’re feeling pain or discomfort, you can continue to do moderate exercises, making sure to avoid high-risk or contact sports. The goal is to maintain, rather than increase, fitness, but if you haven’t been exercising, you can still start during pregnancy. Aim for 15 minutes of continuous activity-like walking or swimming-three times a week. Gradually work up to 30 minutes four times a week. Add light resistance training to prepare for the demands of motherhood, such as carrying your growing baby or toting around a car seat. Keep in mind that the hormone elastin, released during pregnancy, makes joints less stable and more injury-prone. Stop exercising on your back after 16 weeks: it may hinder blood flow to your heart and cause dizziness, so adapt your ab workout to moves you can do standing, on all fours or on an incline.
Amanda Vogel, MA human kinetics, is a Vancouver-based certified fitness instruct-or and author of numerous books, including Baby Boot Camp: The New Mom’s 9-Minute Fitness Solution.
Each medical situation is unique. Be sure to consult your physician about the specifics of your condition.