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Three steps to a healthy pregnancy

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Thursday, February 4th, 2016
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Pregnant woman

When you’re four weeks pregnant, the baby in your belly is the size of a poppy seed. This little one has a lot of growing to do, and it needs your help.

During your first doctor’s appointment you learn about the healthy pregnancy trio: sleep, food, and vitamins. All three are equally important—for both the baby and you—so pay attention.

But if you stopped listening after the doc said, “You’re pregnant,” here’s a refresher course.

Sleep
Your body is working overtime to protect you and the baby, and it’s exhausting. During early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone soar and your metabolism is running high, according to the Mayo Clinic. This can drain your energy. At the same time, lower blood pressure and increased blood production team up to sap your energy, so getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night is crucial.

Plus: Poor sleep can have an effect on labour and delivery. Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco found that women who slept fewer than 6 hours per night had longer labours and were 4.5 times more likely to have cesarean deliveries. If the fear of having a longer labour doesn’t put you to sleep, I don’t know what will!

Food
Eating a tub of ice cream wasn’t healthy before you got pregnant, and it’s not healthy now. In fact, it’s never been more important to eat healthy. Not sure what to eat and how much? That depends on your age, gender, height, weight, physical activity level, and stage of pregnancy. Calculate your daily needs with your doctor and for those days when ice cream cravings are stalking you, try going with frozen yogurt and be mindful of toppings.

Vitamins
When you’re pregnant, your standard multivitamin does not provide you and your baby with necessary amounts of folic acid and iron, which are super important. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects, which are serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord, according to the Mayo Clinic. And iron supports the baby’s growth and development along with preventing anemia, a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells.

Still not convinced? There have also been numerous studies touting the benefits of prenatal vitamins. One study, published in Epidemiology, found that mothers who took prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant or during the first month of pregnancy were half as likely to later have a child with autism as those who didn’t.

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