(BPT) - Did you know that every single minute in the United States a baby is born too early? That's approximately 450,000 born too early each year. A pregnant woman's good health, both physical and emotional, is essential to the health of her baby. You can boost your own chances of having a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby by following a few tips and by learning more about the important development of your baby, even during the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy.
1. Get early prenatal care
Early prenatal care is important for you and your baby. As soon as you find out you're pregnant, contact your health care provider to schedule your first prenatal visit. During that appointment you'll get advice for a healthy pregnancy and be screened for risk factors associated with preterm birth.You can also visit GrowthYouCantSee.com for a checklist of risk factors and example questions to bring with you to help guide the conversation with your health care provider.
2. Make every bite count
What you eat is a key part of pregnancy health. Your baby absorbs everything you eat, so good nutrition is not only essential for your own good health but also for your baby's growth and development. Make sure you eat a well-balanced, healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids to help ensure both your good health and your baby's.
3. Manage stress
Bringing a baby into the world is no easy task. Pregnancy can be nerve-wracking and it's normal to feel stressed. However, too much stress can cause health problems and increase a woman's chances for preterm birth - delivering a baby before 37 weeks or more than three weeks prior to the due date. Taking care of your emotional health by learning to manage stress makes for a healthier pregnancy and is an essential part of taking care of your baby.
4. Exercise regularly
Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy is important for your general health and can help you prepare for labor. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress and help you feel your best. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication. Talk to your health care provider about your fitness routine during pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe.
5. Get plenty of rest
When you're pregnant, discomfort can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress can all help improve sleep during pregnancy. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or a warm bath before bed, may also help you fall asleep. If you're unable to sleep well at night, try resting more during the day.
6. Change your habits
Healthy lifestyle choices directly impact the health of a growing baby and certain habits can cause lifelong health problems for your baby. In particular, smoking, drinking alcohol and using street drugs (also called illegal or illicit drugs) can restrict a baby's growth and increase the chances for preterm birth. Avoiding substances such as nicotine, alcohol and other street drugs during pregnancy gives your baby the time he or she needs to grow and develop. If you need help to quit, talk with your doctor.
7. Learn about the signs and symptoms of preterm labor
Help protect your baby by familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of preterm labor, which can lead to preterm birth, so you can proactively discuss them with your health care provider. Visit GrowthYouCantSee.com to learn more.
8. Enjoy this special time
Forty weeks sounds like a long time, but you won't be pregnant for forever. Enjoy this special time in your life with family and friends.
There's a lot of growth that happens in your baby, even in the last few weeks of pregnancy leading up to your due date. For more information on the risks of preterm birth and the benefits of a full-term pregnancy, visit GrowthYouCantSee.com.