Get a checkup as soon as you know you are pregnant. Regular weight, blood pressure and fetal heart-rate checks, as well as other monitoring, will help detect any medical complications early.
Take care of your teeth; mouth infections are linked to prematurity. Get X-rays before you conceive.
Take it easy at work. If you’re on your feet all day, look for ways to sit down as often as possible. Prolonged standing may cause pregnancy complications.
Seek treatment for infections, asthma, lupus, thyroid disease, hypertension and other conditions you may have. Left untreated, these may pose risks to your fetus.
Bring your partner to your appointments so he can stay informed and support you.
Call your doctor or midwife immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Calf pain or swelling
- Chest pain
- Decreased fetal movement
- Vaginal bleeding
- Labored breathing without exertion
- Persistent headache
- Leakage of amniotic fluid
- Muscle weakness
- Uterine contractions, abdominal pain or increased pelvic pressure
- Don’t take any medication—prescription, over-the-counter or herbal—without checking with your doctor or midwife.
- Don’t take aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) unless they’re prescribed by your doctor, as they may cause fetal bleeding. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is usually OK, but ask your doctor.
- Don’t stop taking medication for a chronic condition such as asthma without checking with your doctor.
- Don’t smoke or use any type of illicit drugs.
- Don’t forget to wear gloves when changing the cat litter or gardening. Cat feces in litter or soil may transmit toxoplasmosis, which can cause neurological problems in your baby.
- Don’t sit in hot tubs or saunas. Hot environments can raise your body temperature and interfere with fetal brain development.
- Don’t handle oil-based paints or materials containing lead or mercury. Avoid chemical solvents, oven-cleaning products and dry-cleaning chemicals.
Do Manage Stress
Research suggests that stress—both chronic (from lack of money or marital conflict, for example) and sudden or acute stress (from an accident or loss of a job, say)—can contribute to premature birth, low birth weight and problems with fetal development. Signs that your stress level is too high include constant fatigue and worry, feeling out of control and being overactive.