Everything You Need to Know About Pregnancy

With advances in pregnancy and child birth happening every day, there can be so much to learn about those 9 months. Here's the best advice you'll ever get.

Everything You Need to Know About Pregnancy Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock

Since we launched our first issue of Fit Pregnancy magazine in 1993, pregnancy has become positively hip. Just look at what expectant moms are wearing today: form-fitting little dresses, mini-skirts, sleek swimsuits. But maternity wear isn't all that has changed.

Over the past couple decades, nutritionists, obstetricians and researchers have gathered much more specific information about having a healthy pregnancy.

In possibly the biggest pregnancy-related discovery of the 20th century, researchers confirmed that taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily before becoming pregnant, and 600 micrograms a day during pregnancy, reduces the chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects such as spina bifida.

And now exercise is not only allowed, it's recommended for pregnant women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists changed its guidelines on exercise during pregnancy now that working out has been shown to help women stay healthier during pregnancy, weather childbirth better and bear healthier babies.

We've learned that emotions, too, play an important role. Research shows that in some cases, a woman's feelings can even affect her ability to conceive. "Depression, distress and stress can affect reproduction by both increasing infertility and decreasing the efficacy of high-tech treatments like in vitro fertilization,'' says Alice Domar, Ph.D., director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF and author of Conquering Infertility.

So much has improved in prenatal health and baby care that now truly may be the best time ever to have a baby. But the most powerful gifts of pregnancy and birth will never change: simple hope and faith in the future.

"Having a child is a beautiful kind of alchemy. What this soul brings to you—and what you bring to the soul—transforms you both for all time. Our power as women to form another life within our bodies is almost too vast to comprehend. In our current culture, we too often forget this is a sacred miracle."—Gurmukh from her book Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Your Pregnancy With Kundalini Yoga