Take good care of yourself and your baby

Taking care of yourself while you’re pregnant is vital for you and your baby. It can help prevent complications during your pregnancy and childbirth. Friends and family may be full of advice about what you should be doing or not doing. But their information may not be accurate—and it’s often conflicting. Turn to reliable sources and talk to your doctor instead if you have any questions or concerns.

Here are some tips to help you and your baby have a healthy and safe start.

First, some important “don’ts”

Drinking, smoking or using recreational drugs while you’re pregnant can harm your baby. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting. Caffeine may be safe in small amounts if your doctor approves, but drinking caffeine-free beverages — such as water — should be the general rule. Talk to your doctor before you take any medication or supplement.

Also, avoid saunas, hot tubs or steam rooms, and don’t stay outside for long on hot days. Stay comfortable for your safety and your baby’s.

Keep your prenatal appointments

Seeing your doctor and your obstetrician regularly is critical. They will monitor your health and weight, check on your baby and address any questions or concerns you may have.

Eat healthy foods in healthy amounts

You indeed need more nutrients and calories while you’re pregnant, but eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much. How much weight you should gain depends on your weight before pregnancy and other factors, so speak to your doctor. If you’re on a special diet, are lactose-intolerant or if you’re a vegetarian, talk to your doctor about how to get the nutrients you need. If nausea is a problem, small meals and easy-to-digest foods may help, and your doctor may have suggestions. As far as what to eat:

  • Get plenty of lean protein, fruit and vegetables, pasteurized dairy products and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of caffeine-free fluids. Dehydration is bad for you and your baby.
  • Avoid raw sprouts or unpasteurized milk or cheese.
  • You don’t have to give up seafood—it’s a great source of protein and other nutrients. But you should avoid fish that can contain high levels of mercury, including swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel or shark. Have no more than six ounces of albacore tuna per week. (Regular canned light tuna is okay.)
  • Avoid raw meat or fish, such as oysters or sushi.

Take a prenatal vitamin supplement containing folate or folic acid

Low folate levels are linked to birth defects such as spinal bifida. Make sure your doctor approves any vitamin or herbal supplement for use during pregnancy.

Stay active

It’s fine to stay moderately active while you’re pregnant, and it’s good for your body and mind. Walking, yoga and water aerobics are excellent choices. Avoid any activities that require you to lie on your back or that commonly cause falls, such as skating or skiing. Stop if you feel dizzy, out of breath, overheated or tired. And talk to your doctor before you begin any new exercise program or activity.

Get plenty of rest

You may need a bit more sleep than usual, or a nap during the day. Talk to your doctor if you feel overtired or have trouble sleeping or staying awake.

Find healthy ways to manage stress

If you smoke or drink when you’re stressed, it’s time to form new habits. Find relaxing activities such as meditation or mindfulness exercises to help you stay calm.

These tips don’t replace prenatal care that’s vital for you and your baby. Find an obstetrician

For even more answers to your everyday pregnancy questions enable the "40 Weeks" skill on Amazon to get answers from Alexa. You can also explore our maternity center, and register for classes.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Health tips for pregnant women. Accessed September 19, 2019.

Office on Women’s Health. Pregnancy: Staying healthy and safe. Updated March 14, 2019.