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You and Your Health

Enjoy a Healthy Pregnancy!

THE BASICS

It’s important to take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy. To keep you and your baby healthy:

  * See your doctor or midwife regularly.
  * Get important prenatal (“pree-NAY-tuhl”) tests.
  * Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
  * Prevent infections.
  * Eat healthy foods and stay active.

To get more tips for a healthy pregnancy:

  * Take this quiz to test your pregnancy know-how.
  * Learn more about Pregnancy Dos and Don’ts [PDF - 96 KB].

See your doctor or midwife regularly.
Plan on visiting your doctor or midwife at least every month for the first 7 months and more often during the last 2 months. A midwife is someone who is trained to provide prenatal care (care during pregnancy) and help women during childbirth.

Talk with your doctor or midwife about:

  * Questions about your pregnancy
  * Your plan for giving birth
  * Anything that’s bothering or worrying you

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these physical signs of a problem.

Enjoy the benefits of prenatal care.

The best benefit of a healthy pregnancy is having a healthy baby. Women who get prenatal care have healthier babies and are less likely to give birth prematurely (before the baby’s due date).

Doctors and midwives can find health problems sooner when they see mothers regularly. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others.

Prenatal care can help you:

  * Feel less worried or tired
  * Prevent health problems like diabetes and heart disease

Get important prenatal tests.
During your pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will recommend medical tests as part of your prenatal care. These routine medical tests give your doctor or midwife important information about you and your baby.

Your doctor or midwife will check your blood and urine for:

  * Blood type and Rh factor
  * Hepatitis B
  * Anemia
  * Urinary tract infection
  * Syphilis
  * HIV [PDF - 39 KB]

If you are younger than age 25 or have certain risk factors, your doctor or midwife may check for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Some tests will be done more than once. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you have questions about which prenatal tests are right for you.

Not pregnant yet? Plan ahead.

  * Find out what to do before you get pregnant.
  * Schedule an appointment with a doctor or midwife.
  * Make sure you are getting 400 mcg of folic acid every day. Folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects.
  * Talk with your doctor or nurse about getting shots (vaccinations) before you get pregnant.

There are lots of things you can do today to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Get prenatal care.
If you know you are pregnant or think you might be, call your doctor or midwife to schedule a visit.

What about cost?
Women in every state can get help to pay for medical care during pregnancy.

These programs give medical care, information, advice, and other services important for a healthy pregnancy. To find out about the program in your state:

  * Call 1-800-311-BABY (1-800-311-2229).
  * For information in Spanish, call 1-800-504-7081.

Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
One of the best ways to protect your health and the health of your baby is to stop smoking and drinking during your pregnancy. Secondhand smoke can also put you and your baby at risk for health problems. Stay away from cigarette smoke.

Be honest with your doctor or midwife about how much you are drinking. There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink while you are pregnant.

Learn more:

  * Pregnant? Learn How and Why to Quit for Good
  * Quit Smoking
  * Alcohol Use and Pregnancy [PDF - 145 KB]

Prevent infection.
Infections can harm your baby. To prevent infections you can:

  * Wash your hands often.
  * Avoid certain foods [PDF - 125 KB], such as lunch meat and soft cheeses.
  * Prepare food safely. Don’t forget to rinse fruits and vegetables.
  * Have someone else empty your cat’s litter box. Dirty cat litter has bacteria that can harm pregnant women.

Get more tips for preventing infections during pregnancy.

Eat healthy and stay active.
Eating well can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Use these tips on healthy eating during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor or midwife about your nutritional needs during pregnancy.

  * Ask if you need to take a daily prenatal vitamin.
  * Find out about healthy weight gain during your pregnancy.

Being physically active may help you have a more comfortable pregnancy. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking fast, dancing, or swimming. Do aerobic activity for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Get more tips to help you stay active during pregnancy.

To get more information about diet and exercise during pregnancy, visit:

  * Fit for Two: Tips for Pregnancy
  * Eat and Exercise for Two

Take charge of your health care.
Speak up and ask questions when you are at the doctor. When you play an active role in your health care, you help make sure that you and your growing family will get good care.

Know your family’s health history.
Use this family history tool to keep track of your family’s health. Share this health information with the doctors and nurses who take care of you and your family.

Plan ahead for the first few weeks with your new baby.

  * Get tips to help you prepare for your new baby.
  * Talk with your doctor or midwife about newborn screening tests.
  * Get more information about how to breastfeed your baby.
  * Talk to friends and family about helping out after the baby arrives. Having a new baby is exciting, but it can be stressful.
  * Know the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. More than 1 in 10 women suffer from depression after they have a baby. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you have any questions or concerns.