Pregnancy Information Guide

The Things You Should Do

• Get all essential vitamins and minerals every day. Women need a lot more iron when pregnant. And sometimes it's hard to get enough by eating alone. Ask your doctor if you should be taking a daily prenatal vitamin or multivitamin.

• Get 400 micrograms (or 0.4 mg) of folic acid daily. Getting enough folic acid (or folate) reduces the chances of some birth defects. Some women eat lots of certain foods and others take multivitamins to get enough folic acid during pregnancy. Find out how to get you're your daily dose of folic acid.

• Eat a healthy diet. Load up on fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains (such as whole-wheat breads or crackers). Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods (such as non-fat or low-fat yogurt, milk, and broccoli) that your baby needs for strong bones and teeth. If you live in areas where fruits and vegetables aren't in season, frozen vegetables are a good option. Avoid eating a lot of fatty foods (such as butter and fatty meats). Choose leaner foods when you can (such as skim milk, chicken and turkey without the skin, and fish). Get more tips on healthy eating for two.

• Gain a healthy, not excessive amount of weight. Research shows that women who gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy have an elevated risk of obesity. On average, 25 to 30 pounds is a healthy weight gain over the 40 weeks of pregnancy. Check with your doctor to find out how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.

• Get enough sleep (try to get seven to nine hours every night). Aches, pains, anxiety and bathroom runs keep many pregnant women awake at night. To get some zzzzs, eat any large meals at least three hours before going to bed, get some easy exercise (like walking) and avoid long naps during the day. Sleep on your left side and use pillows between your legs and under your belly to help you get comfortable.

• De-stress. If you can, control the stress in your life. When it comes to work and family, figure out what you can really do. Set limits with yourself and others. Don't be afraid to say NO to requests for your time and energy.

• Get Moving! Getting regular, low-impact exercise is good for you and your baby. Talk to your doctor about what is safe. Get more guidelines on exercising while pregnant.

• Get a handle on health problems. Talk to your doctor about how your health problems can affect you and your baby. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels. If you have high blood pressure, monitor it closely. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about whether you should lose weight.

• Ask your doctor before taking any medicines. Prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medicine all can harm your baby. Find out if should continue taking prescription medicines. Get more facts on taking medicine during pregnancy.

• See your doctor regularly. Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy, spot problems if they occur and prevent difficulties during delivery.

• Consider getting a flu shot. The flu can be dangerous for some moms-to-be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests vaccinations for all women who are at least 14 weeks pregnant during the flu season. Ask your doctor if you should get a flu shot.

• Wear your seat-belt correctly. Seat belts used correctly protect you and your unborn baby during a crash. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that pregnant women use seat belts that have a lap belt and a shoulder strap (3-point restraint). Seat belt straps should never go across your belly. The lap strap should go under the belly, across the hips. The shoulder strap should go off to the side of your belly and between your breasts. If you are not driving, the back seat is the safest place to sit.

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