There’s no shortage of pregnancy information out there. In fact, women are swamped with a torrent of books, websites and articles to read. They’re classes to attend, group discussions to follow and mailing lists galore to subscribe to! For newly pregnant women, particularly first-time mothers it can be an information overload. Furthermore, there’s always the worry that what you’re reading wasn’t written by an expert. So to help sift through it all, Patricia Gould, our head Midwife at Physician & Midwife Collaborative Practice has 7 top tips every pregnant woman should know:
1. Weight gain
Weight gain in pregnancy can be a sensitive topic but it doesn’t have to be. As a rule of thumb the amount of weight you should gain depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. Most women of average BMI (that’s a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) should expect to gain 25-35 pounds. But if you’re coming into pregnancy a little heavier then weight gain should not be as high. According to Patricia Gould “for women at or around that 200 pound weight, we encourage them to gain no weight, or no more than 15 pounds.” If you’re still unsure about where you fall on the spectrum, speak to your OBGYN.
2. Hormonal headaches
Starting at about 14 weeks, some women may experience hormonal headaches. Most headaches that people have are caused by dehydration. So the first thing to do is make sure you’re well hydrated. Patricia recommends women drink a gallon of water a day. After all, pregnancy is the last time in your life you want to be dehydrated.
If the headache continues, a Tylenol can be used to help relieve the pain. A helpful tip: Take the tylenol at the beginning of a headache, not when your headache has been thumping for an hour. Head off the pain. Don’t let it get bad.
Remember, if you’re well hydrated and still continue to experience debilitating headaches then be sure to speak to your healthcare provider right away.
3. Pain relief in pregnancy
Most women are advised to stay away from medications while pregnant. But one medication that research shows is safe for both mother and baby is Tylenol. Unless you have allergies to Tylenol or have been specifically told to avoid it, then it is a safe way to relieve pain over the course of your pregnancy.
4. The most important meal of the day
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and while you’re pregnant, that’s especially true. Patricia recommends that women stick to a high-protein breakfast to help turn on metabolism. She also suggests that women continue the rest of day with 5 to 6 small, snacking meals to keep your blood sugar level stable. Examples of healthy mini-snacks you can eat: fruit salad, veggies with dip, trailmix or nuts.
5. Foods you should avoid
There are a few items that you should avoid when pregnant; sushi, shark meat, mackerel and tuna. Unpasteurized cheeses or prepackaged lunch meats should also be skipped. But the number one item that should be avoided in pregnancy is junk food. Junk food carries a lot of empty calories, contains very little nutritional value and does not provide any of the key nutrients or minerals that a growing baby needs.
Another tip to keep in mind: Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame while you’re pregnant. They are neurotoxins and can interfere with fetal brain development.
6. Exercise and staying active
Pregnancy doesn’t mean giving up all the physical activities you enjoy. Most experts recommend that you continue any healthy activities or exercises that your body is accustomed to. According to Patricia women should think about a few new activities like yoga, swimming, walking, and pilates. “There are all kinds of prenatal yoga classes that you can get involved in, and we do encourage women to start some sort of activity to keep you healthy.”
All women should be taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid and DHA. For those who may want to take some extra supplements of iron or vitamin D3, Patricia suggest that women also consider Magnesium. It’s known to help with insomnia, constipation and mental acuity. So an extra magnesium supplement of 500 mg a day on top of your prenatal vitamin is acceptable.
There is a lot of advice out there about things to do for a safe and happy pregnancy. And it’s impossible to read it all. But the tips above will form a solid foundation that all pregnant women can definitely use.