How to prepare for a healthy pregnancy

  • Fri Sep 14th, 2012 2:18pm
  • Life

By Debra Smith, Special to The Herald

Gabriela Estrada is doing everything she can to get ready for another baby.

The Everett mom is eating lots of fruits and vegetables, walking and taking prenatal vitamins.

She’s updated her immunizations and visited her health provider.

All that’s left is to wait for another baby. Estrada and her husband already have two boys, ages 8 and 5.

“My husband and I would like to get a girl,” she said. “But another boy also would be great. I know how to handle them.”

It sounds like Estrada is doing all the right things to get ready for a healthy pregnancy, said Jamie George, a certified nurse-midwife with the Providence Medical Group Midwifery Clinic.

“Preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy is very important,” George said.

The clinic she works for provides prenatal care and deliveries at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

She estimates about half the women at the midwifery clinic plan their pregnancies. For those that do, the clinic offers pre-conception visits. There, women can get the facts on what they might need to cut back on during pregnancy.

Is coffee OK? How about hair coloring and pumping gas?

Pregnant mothers should limit coffee — and other caffeine-laden beverages — to about one serving a day, George said. Hair coloring is fine as long the salon is well ventilated. Pumping gas should be fine, too.

Here are some other guidelines she offered:

Visit a health care provider. At a pre-conception visit, a professional can help identify potential health or genetic risks that might affect a pregnancy.

This is particularly important for women who face higher risk pregnancies. That includes women 35 years and older or those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Make sure immunizations are up-to-date. In particular, women who want to become pregnant should make sure they have received their rubella, hepatitis B and pertussis vaccinations.

Eat a healthful diet loaded with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. The majority of the plate should be produce. A quarter of the plate should be grains and the last quarter, protein.

Take a prenatal vitamin. Folic acid is essential to the development of the fetus. Women trying to become pregnant should take a prenatal vitamin with 800 micrograms of folic acid daily in addition to eating a healthy diet.

Maintain a healthy weight. Starting at a healthy weight makes for an easier pregnancy and reduces the chances for complications. It also can be more difficult for obese women to become pregnant.

The best measure of where a women’s weight should be before pregnancy is a Body Mass Index of 20 to 25. A BMI is a measure of weight and height. Charts are available online.

Exercise at least five times a week. Sedentary women could start by walking 30 minutes daily.

Stop smoking. Smoking has been linked to lower birth weight in babies. Perhaps it goes without saying, but women should also stop drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs.

Take precautions around chemicals. Those who work around chemicals, such as factory workers or women who work in nail salons, should wear a mask and work only in well-ventilated spaces.

Finally, as soon as a woman becomes pregnant, she should make a prenatal visit with her health care provider as soon as possible.

To learn more

For more information on the Providence Medical Group Midwifery Clinic, call 425-303-6500.

From Herald Health magazine, available in the Sunday, Sept. 23, edition of The Herald.