Make Healthy Choices
Whether you feel confused, worried, scared, or excited, you’ll want to know how your life will change, what you can do to have a healthy baby, and what it takes to become a good parent. The most important thing you can do is to take good care of yourself so that you and your baby will be healthy. Girls who get the proper care and make the right choices have a very good chance of having healthy babies.
One part of prenatal care is attending classes where expectant mothers can learn about having a healthy pregnancy and delivery and the basics of caring for a new baby. These classes may be offered at hospitals, medical centers, schools, and colleges in your area. The GENESIS Program offers childbirth education classes for clients.
If you are sexually active while you are pregnant, you must use a condom to help prevent getting an STD. Some STDs can cause blindness, pneumonia, or meningitis in newborns, so it’s important to protect yourself and your baby.
The risks of smoking during pregnancy include stillbirths (when a baby dies while inside the mother), low birth weight (which increases a baby’s risk for health problems), prematurity (when babies are born earlier than 37 weeks), and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant who is younger than 1 year old.
Doctors now feel that it’s not safe to drink any amount of alcohol when you are pregnant. Drinking can harm a developing fetus, putting a baby at risk for birth defects and mental problems.
Using illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, prematurity, and other medical problems. Babies can also be born addicted to certain drugs.
Your doctor will want you to start taking prenatal vitamins that contain the minerals folic acid, calcium, and iron as soon as possible. The vitamins may be prescribed by the doctor, or he or she may recommend a brand that you can buy over the counter. These vitamins and minerals help ensure the baby’s and mother’s health as well as prevent some types of birth defects.
Constipation can be a problem during pregnancy. Eating foods rich in fiber can help prevent it. Choose whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables several times each day to ensure your fiber intake is adequate. High fiber breakfast cereals can be helpful. Read labels to find a cereal that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Again, water intake is important to help fiber keep intestines moving.
Weight gain for a pregnant teen is very important. If your weight was within the recommended weight range for your height when you became pregnant, you should gain between 28 and 40 pounds (13 to 18 kilograms). If you are more than 2 years past your first menstrual cycle and overweight or under 62 inches (157.5 cm) in height, you should gain at the lower end of this range.
Most women benefit from getting some exercise during pregnancy, although they might have to modify their activity. Low-impact exercises, such as walking and swimming, are best.