Having a baby is an exciting time that often inspires women to make healthier lifestyle choices. Before you can take care of your new baby, you need to take care of yourself and your unborn child. If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, you probably already know the most basic pregnancy advice: Don’t actively or passively smoke. Don’t drink or consume other dangerous substances, and get enough rest. But what else do you need to know?

From taking vitamins to what to do with the kitty litter, here are more than pregnancy tips that can help ensure safe and healthy prenatal development.

  1. Eat healthy foods.

Now that you are eating for two (or more!), this is not the time to cut calories or go on a diet. Your baby needs nutrients to grow healthy and strong in the womb. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods and foods low in saturated fat.

  1. Stay hydrated with fluids.

It’s important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, during pregnancy. A woman’s blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy, and drinking enough water each day can help prevent common problems such as dehydration and constipation. Aim for eight or more cups each day.

  1. Avoid certain foods.

There are certain foods that women should avoid eating while pregnant. Don’t eat:

  • Raw or rare meats
  • Liver, sushi, raw eggs (also in mayonnaise)
  • Unpasteurized milk

Raw and unpasteurized animal products can cause food poisoning. Some fish, even when cooked, can be harmful to a growing baby because they’re high in mercury.

  1. Don’t drink alcohol.

Although it may seem harmless to have a glass of wine at dinner or a mug of beer out with friends, no one has determined what a “safe amount” of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. One of the most common known causes of mental and physical birth defects, alcohol can cause severe abnormalities in a developing fetus.  Therefore, don’t drink alcohol before and during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

  1. Get moving.

Daily exercise or staying active in other ways can help you stay healthy during pregnancy. Check with your doctor to find out how much physical activity is right for you.

  1. Get plenty of sleep.

Ample sleep (7 to 9 hours) is important for you and your baby. You’ll probably feel more tired than usual. And as your baby gets bigger, it will be harder to find a comfortable position when you’re trying to sleep. Try to sleep on your left side to improve blood flow.

  1. Go to your prenatal care checkups.

If you think you’re pregnant, call your health care provider to schedule your first prenatal appointment. At this first visit, your health care provider will probably do a pregnancy test, and will figure out how many weeks pregnant you are based on a physical examination and the date of your last period. He or she will also use this information to predict your delivery date. Women who don’t get regular prenatal care are much more likely to have a baby with low birth weight or other complications



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