Pregnancy is unexplored terrain for most women. It’s not like anything we’ve ever experienced before. If you’re like me when I found I was pregnant, you might have a million questions racing through your mind. Especially when it comes to the question,
‘what do I need to do now to have a healthy pregnancy?’
Here are 5 things to do to get you on track for a healthy pregnancy:
Start a prenatal multivitamin
A prenatal supplement is your “insurance policy” for all the important nutrients your baby needs for healthy development. A deficiency in some nutrients have been linked to birth defects and complications like preterm labor, so it’s always a good idea to start a prenatal multivitamin even if there’s a risk of becoming pregnant. Think of it as an insurance policy to fill in any “nutritional gaps” in your diet alone.
Invest in a good quality prenatal vitamin. Not all vitamins are created equal and the quality of ingredients makes a difference to how your body (and baby) absorbs them. Some of my favorite brands include: PreMama Wellness, Naturelo, and Garden of Life.
Book an appointment
Most health care practitioners will want to see you by Week 8 so they can perform a blood test to test your hormones and thyroid function – and to see if you’re lacking in specific nutrients like Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, or iron. Don’t be afraid to ‘shop around’ until you find a provider you’re comfortable with. After all, pregnancy and childbirth is a life-changing experience so you’ll want to walk through it with someone you respect and trust.
If you’re on any prescription drugs, call your health practitioner to make sure they’re safe to take during pregnancy. Some drugs, like painkillers containing ibuprofen, are contraindicated during pregnancy because they may cause birth defects.
Meal prep nutritious meals
It’s a good idea to meal prep nutritious meals before nausea or fatigue can prevent you from cooking. Bone broths, folate-rich minestrone or lentil soups, casseroles and stir-fries, are great to cook in large batches so you can freeze them for a time you don’t feel like cooking. Experiment with frittatas, healthy muffins, and energy date balls for quick and easy breakfasts and snacks.
Get familiar with foods to avoid
Get familiar with the foods you should avoid over the next 9 months. Raw or undercooked foods are more likely to harbor dangerous bacteria called listeria. Listeria can cross the placenta and be life-threatening to your baby. To be safe, avoid raw and undercooked meat and seafood. Stay away from unpasteurized cheeses. If you’re ever in doubt if something is pasteurized, check the label or ask your waiter if you’re eating out. Avoid deli meat unless you can heat it until its steaming, and don’t eat pre-prepared salads that have been left out for more than 2 hours (yep, this includes salads at buffets).
Just like some foods are harmful during pregnancy, so are some herbs. Avoid herbal teas unless you’ve checked with your health practitioner and know that they’re safe to take during pregnancy.
Start a pregnancy journal
Even if it’s a few short words on paper, the early weeks of pregnancy (especially before you announce it to family and friends), can be overwhelming, or lonely at times. I found that journaling helped me focus and ground my thoughts in a very emotional time. Get your thoughts, fears, and worries on paper. Talk to someone you trust. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel all the feels you need to during this time.