Staying Healthy Before, During and After Pregnancy

Taking care of your health is always worthwhile. But it takes on a whole new level of importance when a baby enters the picture. It’s vital to step up your selfcare while you’re trying to get pregnant, during your pregnancy and after you give birth.

Think of it as your before, during and after wellness plan. There are a lot of steps you can take, and there are ways your family and friends can join in to help.

“Pregnancy is a life-changing experience, and it’s important that you have the best information from the start,” says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsleaving site icon

Before Pregnancy

Some things are important from preconception until after the baby is born:

  • Good eating habits
  • Regular activity
  • Taking care of your mental health

Get started by focusing on good health to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. These five steps can help while you’re trying to get pregnant:

  1. Make sure any health issues you have are under control.
  2. Take folic acid every day.
  3. Avoid being around chemicals.
  4. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
  5. Talk to your doctor about OTC or prescription medicines you take and make sure they will be safe during pregnancy.

Download our Perinatal Wellness Guidelines leaving site icon  for more information about staying healthy during pregnancy.

During Pregnancy

Your Health
Living a healthy life and keeping doctor’s visits are key while you’re pregnant. You’re more likely to have a healthy birth if you have a healthy pregnancy, says the American Academy of Family Physiciansleaving site icon Some items to talk to your doctor about:

  • Healthy weight gain
  • What you eat
  • How much and what types of exercise you can do
  • What drugs and vitamins you take
  • The impact of your job on your health

Baby’s Health
Your doctor will track your baby at all stages during your pregnancy, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. leaving site icon This may include:

  • Ultrasound exams to track your baby's growth and organs with images made from sound waves.
  • Nonstress test to electronically track the baby’s heart rate and movements.
  • Other tests that may be needed based on your own health and family health record. That can include checking for high blood sugar levels, which could be a sign of gestational diabetes.
After the Baby Comes: Mom’s Mental and Physical Health

New moms worry about many things. Being responsible for a baby can be stressful and overwhelming.

“Disrupted sleep and being overtired can amplify these feelings. The best thing you can do is accept help from your partner, family and friends — even if they’re not doing things exactly the same way you do — and then rest and recharge while someone else is caring for your baby,” says Shari Lawson, M.D., medical director of general obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins Medicineleaving site icon

Lawson suggests additional tips leaving site icon for feeling better mentally and physically:

  • Be reasonable about your weight loss expectations. It takes time to get your body back to where it was before pregnancy.
  • Ease back into working out, focusing on your core. And try Kegel exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Eat healthy foods. If you’re nursing, you may need extra calories. Talk to your doctor about a healthy eating plan.

You may have heard of the “baby blues.” If you’re feeling very sad and anxious, and it doesn’t go away, you might have post-partum depressionleaving site icon If you think you may have post-partum depression, it’s important to get help. Talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling and what kind of help you may need.

Start off Right: Get Your Baby’s Vaccinations

From babyhood to preschool and beyond, keeping your child healthy means following a vaccine schedule. It’s designed to protect against serious diseases, like polio, whooping cough and mumps. Those diseases can result in a hospital stay, or even death.

It’s important to make sure your child is fully vaccinated against these vaccine-preventable diseases. That means finishing the whole series of recommended shots at the right time. Studies have shown leaving site icon they are safe. But veering from the shot schedule is not.

For quick reference on the immunization schedule for children and more, download our Children’s Wellness Guidelines. leaving site icon  

Sources: Pregnancy, leaving site icon American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); How can I tell if my sadness after pregnancy is normal or a sign of depression? leaving site icon ACOG, 2020; Prenatal Care, leaving site icon U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Women’s Health, 2019; Taking Care of You and Your Baby While You’re Pregnant, leaving site icon American Academy of Family Physicians, 2020; What Really Helps You Bounce Back After Pregnancy, leaving site icon Johns Hopkins Medicine
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