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In a lot of ways, pregnancy is like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. On one hand, it’s the most breathtaking and majestic thing you’ve ever experienced. On the other, it’s a long way to the bottom—and you can’t help but feel a little anxious about taking a wrong step. Chances are everything will be just fine, and you should take comfort in the fact that statistics are in your favor. So we do want you to embrace the beautiful experience of pregnancy, but we also want you—as your child’s biological suit of armor—to do a few things that can help improve those odds. Keeping yourself healthy will protect both of you at the same time. Here are 11 tips that will help you do just that.
Go cold If you’re experiencing morning sickness, eat more cold foods. Hot foods have a stronger smell, which can trigger queasiness. Soothing, nutritious foods include whole-grain crackers and chilled brown rice or chicken broth.
Friend a mom Stress can be a problem during pregnancy because it helps deplete the immune system, but it’s natural to feel a lot of anxiety. Find a buddy who’s been through it all before. Her experiences and assurances will help take the edge off some of your more worrisome moments.
Just say om Meditation is a great way to manage stress (the No. 1 risk factor for your infant, in our opinion). Simply sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Count from 1 to 4 on the inhale and 5 to 8 on the exhale. Do this for five minutes every day.
Do light weight training We’re not asking you to bulk up, but maintaining muscle is good for a number of reasons. For one, it helps speed your metabolism, which reduces your chances of developing extra fat and gestational diabetes. Two, it will help you prepare for the physical demands of motherhood—lifting car seats and holding your baby in sometimes awkward positions, for example.
Walk Thirty minutes a day, every day. That’s enough to help you maintain a base level of fitness.
Read out loud Even in utero, your baby will respond to stimulation. If you read to her (or play music) before she’s born, she’s likely to recognize your voice and favorite song and find comfort from them as a newborn.
Get enough rest If you have difficulty sleeping, you can try drinking warm milk or ratcheting up the air conditioning to create a cooler environment. If pain is keeping you awake, it’s OK to take Tylenol.
Add DHA We recommend taking 600 milligrams a day of this essential omega-3 fatty acid to help ward off prenatal and postpartum depression and help foster your child’s brain development.
Have sex If you’re in the mood, it’s perfectly fine to have sex—and it can be healthy because the bonding experience helps increase good-for-you chemicals in your body. A position that may be comfortable: lying side by side with him behind you (think of two spoons).
Practice Kegels Take time every day to repeatedly squeeze the muscles surrounding your vaginal area that control urination. These exercises combat pregnancy-related urine leakage while strengthening the entire pelvic floor.
Have a plan It’s good to have a birthing plan for how you’d like things to go (in terms of meds and other decisions), but be flexible because pregnancy and delivery can be unpre- dictable. Most importantly, you need to find a health care provider whose principles are most aligned with yours so you can make decisions together.