Pregnancy is an exciting time for a woman that includes many physical and emotional changes as her body prepares for the upcoming birth. During this time, it may be necessary for a woman to make a few changes to her health and diet regimen to provide optimum nourishment to the developing baby while safeguarding her health. Here is everything a woman should know about what to expect from the beginning of pregnancy to the days following delivery.
Signs of Early Pregnancy
Shortly after conception, a woman’s body will begin to experience hormonal changes that can be felt as early as the second week of pregnancy. For most women, a missed menstrual cycle will be the first sign of early pregnancy. However, there are several other symptoms of pregnancy a woman may experience. According to WebMD, spotting and cramping are two of the earliest signs of pregnancy that can begin soon after conception. Unusual fatigue, nausea or vomiting, and soreness of the breasts are a few more symptoms a woman may experience. While these signs of early pregnancy may be uncomfortable, most women will find they ease up shortly after the first trimester. However, some symptoms of pregnancy may continue until the baby is born such as back pain and changes in the breasts.
Common Tests Administered During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, there are several tests that will be administered to assess the health of the mother and the unborn baby. The first test a woman will take is to determine if she is pregnant. Pregnancy tests are either administered using a urine or blood sample. Many women use a home pregnancy test that uses urine to check for pregnancy hormones, and they are then given a blood test from a physician designed to measure the levels of these hormones and confirm the pregnancy. Amniocentesis, ultrasounds and gestational diabetes screenings are a few more tests commonly administered at various points during the pregnancy.
Exercises for Expectant Mothers
Pregnant women are encouraged to exercise throughout their pregnancy. This serves the dual benefits of maintaining the mother’s health while helping her to develop the strength she will need to progress through labor and delivery. Those who engaged in physical activity before pregnancy will usually be able to continue with their regular fitness routine. However, some women may need to modify their workout by using pregnancy exercises. Prenatal yoga, swimming and other moderate activities are among the best pregnancy exercises for women. Expectant mothers who are new to exercise may find it helpful to talk to their physician regarding what types of exercise will work best for their current level of fitness.
Best Foods for a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is essential for providing the developing baby with the nourishment it needs to grow. Women should aim to eat a combination of healthy fruits, vegetables and proteins every day. Although pregnancy cravings may be hard to ignore, it is also recommended for women to avoid too much sugar or fat during this time. Avocados, eggs and nuts are all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are important during pregnancy. Women who experience anemia during pregnancy will also need to eat foods that are rich in iron such as meat and spinach.
Activities and Food to Avoid
To protect the developing baby, it is recommended for all expectant mothers to stop certain activities during pregnancy and avoid foods that could be harmful for the baby. Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and the use of certain medications must be stopped the moment a woman determines she is pregnant, if not before conception. If a woman takes any type of medication, whether it is prescription or over-the-counter, then she will need to inform her physician to determine if it is safe to take during pregnancy. Those who work in careers that involve exposure to toxic chemicals or dangerous environments may also need to modify their working conditions to safeguard their health.
In addition to specific activities, there are several types of foods to avoid during pregnancy. According to WebMD, soft cheeses, such as Brie and queso blanco, can be a source of listeria bacteria that can be detrimental to the baby. However, hard cheeses can be eaten such as cheddar. Women should also limit seafood consumption during pregnancy, and they should always avoid any seafood that is not fully-cooked such as sushi. Any foods made with raw eggs, such as tiramisu, should also be avoided. Even if a woman craves raw cookie dough, this is another one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy due to the inclusion of raw eggs. Uncooked deli meats are another food that can harbor listeria; however, these can be eaten in moderation if they are heated and fully-cooked.
From the first pregnancy symptoms to the day a woman delivers, her body will undergo many physical and emotional changes as the developing baby grows. During this time, it is essential for a pregnant mother to take extra precautions in the decisions she makes regarding her health so the baby can have everything it needs to develop according to schedule. By including some exercises for pregnancy in her workout routine and knowing which foods to eat and which ones to avoid, a woman can maintain her health throughout the next nine months while knowing that she is physically and emotionally ready to welcome her newborn baby to the world.
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