A healthy pregnancy is important..

… Because one day you might be hoofing it up a 500 metre steep incline next to a very nice 19 year old who is nattering on about the exam you both almost missed because you mixed up the location and you will feel like you can’t breathe and might pass out.

And no one wants to get CPR from a 19 year old with a soulful chin strap, no matter how sincere he may seem.

How does a mama go about doing this?

1. Get thee to a doctor. This is especially important if you are (as one site put it) “really young or really old”. That’s nice. Despite the awful sentiment and obvious ageism/judgey mc judgerson going on with this statement, it is clear that a Dr is necessary if you believe you are in the family way. This applies to you whether or not you intend to take your pregnancy full term, keep the baby or not. Call your GP or get a hold of a sexual health clinic (here is the contact page for all Canadian Federation of Sexual Health Members) like Planned Parenthood or if you are local in Halifax, the Halifax Sexual Health Clinic.

What to expect:

If you intend on carrying your pregnancy full term, expect to see the smiling face of your GP once every four weeks until you are 28 weeks. Your appointments will be upped to once every two weeks until you are 36 weeks and after that? Once a week until delivery. I’m not kidding. Your doctor is there to help you and babe remain healthy, assuage your fears and give you some much needed health advice like the best maternity vitamin and how many times you can expect to donate blood to the lab and the myriad of tests you can choose from. Remember, these tests are your choice but it is important you stay well informed. I declined some of the genetic testing for personal reasons but I didn’t do it blindly, I educated myself and made an informed decision.

2. Take an appropriate maternity multivitamin. Babies need a lot of nutrients. So do you. I’ve been placed on an iron supplement with my previous pregnancies despite taking a multi vit every day and eating healthy (my anemia was discovered at a blood test). Anemia is quite common in pregnancy as iron is one of the building blocks upon that bun in the oven’s growth. The baby is going to get the nutrients no matter what, whether that means leaching them directly from your body or from the nutrients you ingest. To ensure your own health during the pregnancy and postpartum, it is vital you take a vitamin. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.

3. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Pregnant mamas don’t poop well. Why no one goes into much detail about this is beyond me. Perhaps it is because I have children already and pooping schedules are a matter of every day conversation. You need fibre when you are pregnant. Lots of it. Why? Because when you don’t poop it is uncomfortable and when a mama is uncomfortable she’s bitchy.

One reason for your slow moving innards is your body’s increase in progesterone which relaxes the muscles in your body, slowing down your digestive tract. Later in your pregnancy those same innards will be squished and we all know working in small spaces is a difficult process.  You can ease the discomfort by eating a diet high in fibre (like the aforementioned fruits and vegetables) as well as whole grains (read the ingredient lists to make sure it contains the germ) and beans.

4. Drink water. This pertains to #3 as well as to the fact that the baby needs a bucket of water (so scientific) to float in lest he or she gets squished up against the placenta which is neither comfortable or safe for growing limbs. It is mighty easy to get dehydrated when you are pregnant, your blood volume increases by 50% and you need water to help generate some of that. If you feel a slight headache coming on, reach for a glass of water. While thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration (seriously), a headache is a warning sign that you are not doing so hot and need to drink some water, you better make it two glasses to be safe.

True story: I had horrifically dry skin with Boy’s pregnancy and drinking water helps keep your body hydrated from the inside out. I would rub a tablespoon of straight Vitamin E oil into my belly and then seal it with Eucerin for dry skin every morning after my shower because my skin was so dry. I still had the itches.

5. Exercise. Nothing strenuous, you don’t want to start training for a marathon during your pregnancy but this is also not the time to laze about on the couch all day (unless you’ve been ordered to do so by your doctor). Light exercise, like prenatal yoga or swimming are good choices but be sure to enroll in a prenatal-specific class and take it easy. Even a walk around the block will lift your spirits and generally help your body stay healthy. If you exercise now your labour and postpartum period will eased to some degree. Also, remember #3? Yes, exercises helps move things along in that department too.

Obviously, it is disclaimer time. I am not a doctor but the point is that you ought to be in communication with a health care professional, whether that is your GP, a doula or a midwife. Take care of yourself, mama.


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