The dos and don’ts of pregnancy
By Cradlewise Staff
The dos and don’ts of pregnancy
By Cradlewise Staff
When it comes to pregnancy, thankfully, there aren’t many things you need to abstain from except maybe alcohol and smoking (which goes without saying).
You’ll probably be able to continue with most of your pre-pregnancy activities. But, because the safety and health of your growing little one is essential, we’ve consulted with Dr. Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, MS, MBA, FACOG, double board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine, and Director of Perinatal Services/Maternal Fetal Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln in the Bronx.
Read more about what Dr. Gaither has to say on the dos and don’ts of pregnancy below.
Should you be taking vitamins when pregnant? If yes, which ones?
Prenatal supplements should not be confused with multivitamins. They differ in that prenatal vitamins contain higher amounts of folic acid and iron.
Folic acid can help reduce the risk of birth defects, while iron helps produce the extra blood cells you need when pregnant.
Your doctor will likely recommend a prenatal vitamin. Dr. Gaither advises that the highest quality supplements will contain both folic acid and iron as well as:
- Vitamin C – This helps boost your immune system, reduces the risk of iron-deficiency anemia, and assists in the production of collagen that can help with your healing after birth.
- Thiamine or vitamin B1 – Helps support your baby’s brain development and helps your muscles, heart, and nervous system to perform normally.
- Vitamin B6 – This is another vitamin that contributes to the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system.
- Vitamin D – Can help improve fetal growth and reduce the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm birth.
- Niacin or Vitamin B3 – Aids in the prevention of birth defects and miscarriages.
- Calcium – This will help to strengthen your baby’s muscles, bones, and teeth and support their heart, nerve, and muscle development.
What types of activities are allowed during pregnancy?
While staying active during pregnancy can be good for both you and your little one, Dr. Gaither recommends first clearing exercise with your healthcare provider.
She suggests activities such as walking, swimming, and low-impact aerobics and advises that it’s best to keep well hydrated, not to overheat oneself, and to wear garments that allow for adequate aeration — like cotton.
As for contact sports, it’s best to avoid them altogether. According to Dr. Gaither, contact sports could cause accidental trauma to the abdomen. For example, diving may cause a shearing force to the placenta — increasing the risk of placental abruption.
Should you keep track of your baby’s movements at home?
According to Dr. Gaither, fetal movement gives a lot of information. For instance, it shows that your baby is alive, and well-oxygenated and that their CNS (central nervous system) is intact.
When you become pregnant, you’ll first begin to feel your baby’s movements around the 18 to 25-week mark. While at first, you won’t be able to distinguish between gas and your baby stirring, you’ll eventually notice a pattern forming. You’ll become attuned to your baby’s waking and sleep cycles and even be able to tell when they are most active.
The American Pregnancy Association states that being attentive to your little one’s movements can help you track significant changes, identify potential risks, and prevent stillbirths.
As per The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you should feel a minimum of 10 movements (kicks, rolls, or flutters) within 2 hours. If after 2 hours, you have not felt your baby move, wait a few more hours before tracking your baby’s movements. If you still do not feel anything, you should contact your doctor immediately.
How can you facilitate comfortable sleep in the third trimester?
In your third trimester, you’ll notice sleeping with a heavy belly is uncomfortable. To facilitate better sleep, Dr. Gaither recommends sleeping on your side and using a pregnancy pillow. Place the pillow between your legs and under your abdomen.
She also recommends sticking to a bedtime routine, going to sleep at the same time each night, and keeping cell phone usage down to a minimum (blue light from cell phones hinders the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone).
What vaccinations are offered during pregnancy, and should you accept them all?
The reason these vaccines are offered is because your body can create and pass on protective antibodies to your baby. When your baby is born, these antibodies passed on during pregnancy will protect your little one from these diseases in their first few months.
It’s up to you if you want to accept these vaccinations. But, keep in mind that the side effects from these vaccines are usually limited to tiredness, body aches, fever, and tenderness at the injection site.
How should you prepare to travel when pregnant?
If you intend to travel while pregnant, Dr. Gaither suggests speaking with your doctor to determine if you are medically able to travel and to check if vaccinations are needed.
If you’re cleared to travel, she advises wearing comfy clothing, staying hydrated, consuming plenty of snacks, and moving around often to stretch your legs and feet. Check your airline policy if you’re traveling post 28 weeks because some airlines require a medical note stating that you aren’t at risk of complications.
What are red-flag symptoms, and how can you identify them?
When you’re pregnant, there are certain things to look out for that require immediate medical attention, Dr. Gaither lists the following symptoms to look out for:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Decreased fetal movement
- Blurred vision
- Abdominal pain
Remember, if you’re unsure if a symptom is something to worry about or not, it’s better to contact your doctor or midwife regardless, to be safe.
Should you ‘eat for two’?
Simply put, the answer is no. While your baby depends on you for nutrition, there is no need to double your food intake when pregnant—eating more than you normally would could put you and your baby at risk of pregnancy complications.
If you’re at a healthy weight when you get pregnant, your doctor may recommend 200 extra calories in your second trimester and perhaps 500 more in your third. This will vary depending on your weight and if you’re expecting twins/triplets.
If you intend to breastfeed your baby, that is when your doctor may recommend an increased caloric intake as producing breast milk takes a lot of energy.
Rather than eating more, Dr. Gaither recommends consulting your doctor about nutritious foods that you should be consuming to aid your pregnancy. For instance, nutritious meals consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are recommended.
Foods that are rich in the vitamins we listed earlier like vitamins D, B, and C, calcium, Omega-3, folic acid, and iron will contribute to fetal development, breastfeeding, and the prevention of anemia.
Why shouldn’t you lose weight when pregnant?
Just as gaining weight during pregnancy is not recommended, neither is losing weight. According to Dr. Gaither, decreasing your calorie intake can cause fetal growth issues. It is better then, to maintain a balanced diet with foods from all of the major food groups.
More posts you might like:
- Most popular things to pack in your hospital bag (that you’ll actually use!)
- What to ask your doctor when pregnant?
- Foods to eat or avoid when pregnant
- Calcium needs when pregnant. 2022. What to expect. How much calcium do you need during pregnancy.
- How much vitamin B3 do you need when pregnant? 2017. NSW Health. Vitamin B3 supplementation in pregnancy.
- Should you eat for two when pregnant? 2021. UNM Women’s Health. Are pregnant women really eating for two? Not quite.
- Things to do or avoid when pregnant. 2022. Tommy’s. Dos and don’ts for a safer pregnancy.
- Which vaccines are offered during pregnancy? 2023. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Vaccines and Pregnancy: Things to know.
- How to count baby kicks. American Pregnancy Association. Counting baby kicks.
- How do prenatal vitamins help pregnant women? 2022. Mayo Clinic. Is it OK to take prenatal vitamins if I’m not pregnant, and I don’t plan to become pregnant.
- Vitamin C and how it helps your pregnancy. Aptamil. Why is vitamin C so important during pregnancy?
- Why is thiamine important for pregnancy? 2021. Babycenter. Thiamin during pregnancy.
- Vitamin B and pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. Natural Sources of Vitamin B During Pregnancy.
- The importance of vitamin D during pregnancy. National Library of Medicine. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: an overview.