To Your Health
March, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 03)
Pregnancy Do's and Don'ts
By Dr. Claudia Anrig
While having a baby is the most natural thing in the world, our Western culture has essentially turned it into a multi-million dollar "disease" industry, convincing women that natural is no longer possible. What used to be a simple process is now complicated by products and services, options and choices. Before you make what are some of the most important decisions of your life, make sure to gather all the information you can. Here's a good starting point for a conversation you should have with yourself, your significant other and your doctor(s): pregnancy do's and don'ts.
DO practice wellness, not "fadness": Just because it's the latest thing doesn't mean it's the greatest - or the safest. Be sure to carefully consider every option presented to you during your pregnancy. Whether it's a new vitamin or exercise regimen, or a new medical procedure, take a moment to discuss your options with your health care provider first.
DON'T get overscheduled: Stress can have a negative impact on your pregnancy, causing health problems such as hypertension, and may potentially cause a miscarriage. It's important to look at your life realistically and not get overscheduled. Spreading yourself too thin during these important nine months won't just negatively affect you, but your unborn child as well.
DON'T be sedentary: What's a sedentary lifestyle? If you aren't active for a sustained 20 minutes at least three days a week, you're living it, which may lead to weight gain. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy has been linked to labor difficulties and gestational diabetes. If you're typically a person who doesn't move a lot, now is the time to change. Consistent (safe) movement is so important for you and your developing baby.
DO a combination of exercises: Regular exercise such as walking, water aerobics, prenatal yoga or riding a recumbent stationary bicycle will increase your heart rate, which will increase your blood flow. However, these types of activities aren't so stressful that they're unsafe for you or your baby. Also, remembering to take deep, even breaths during exercise will increase the oxygen content in your blood.
DON'T forget the importance of good nutrition: Diet plays an important role during pregnancy. Eating whole, living foods begins by understanding that if it's in a box, a can or package, there's a good chance it's been nutritionally compromised. Processed foods are generally less healthy and have already had most, if not all, of their important vitamins and minerals processed out of them. Remember, without sound, complete nutrition, you and your developing baby will suffer.
DO consider the source of your prenatal vitamins: Good prenatal vitamins will have everything your body needs to help your baby develop. Of course, you need the standard prenatal vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin B, iron, etc.) but you also need calcium/magnesium, choline and fish oil (omega-3). More important than the right vitamins and minerals is the right quality. It is always best to purchase your vitamins from a reputable health food store or your health care provider, not your local corner store or department store. Paying a little more for quality prenatal vitamins will ensure you're getting what you and your baby need.
DO reduce your caffeine intake: Research suggests caffeine can cause miscarriages if you're already pregnant and, if you're not already pregnant, can interfere with conception.
DON'T get a "routine" ultrasound: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that ultrasound examinations only be performed for specific reasons, but many health care professionals include at least one ultrasound at 18-20 weeks as part of their routine prenatal care. Since there haven't been any documented negative effects, it's considered safe. The problem is, just because the effects aren't documented doesn't mean they don't exist. Even the Food and Drug Administration says, "While ultrasound has been around for many years, expectant women and their families need to know that the long-term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known."
DON'T take medication unless absolutely necessary: While it's true that your health is paramount, you need to carefully consider any drugs you take during pregnancy. Studies have shown that many drugs will cross the placenta and negatively affect your baby; these include antibiotics, antihistamines, diuretics, anticonvulsants and diabetes treatments. (Ask your doctor for more information.) While it has generally been thought that if there were only trace amounts of the chemicals you were given in your baby's blood, then the baby was OK, recent studies are proving this to be untrue.