Some of the most important changes you make before and during pregnancy have to do with exercise, smoking, using drugs or alcohol, reducing stress, and making sure you are safe at work. Changing certain habits can be stressful, so it may be easier to start now, rather than waiting until you are pregnant.
Exercise will make you feel better and give you more energy. It can help to make you stronger and better able to handle delivery.
If you do not exercise now, talk to your health care provider about the best way to start. Many women enjoy walking, swimming, yoga, and other moderate exercise while pregnant. And most women can continue moderate exercise throughout their pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about what type of exercise is right for you.
Quitting smoking is a lifestyle change that can help everyone — women and men — improve their health. Many women are especially motivated to quit smoking when planning a pregnancy. There are many reasons to stop smoking before becoming pregnant.
Women who smoke
- take longer to get pregnant than nonsmokers
- have higher rates of miscarriage than nonsmokers
- expose the growing fetus to dangerous chemicals
- are more likely to have low birth weight babies with serious health problems
|If you need help to quit smoking … Many Planned Parenthood health centers sponsor smoking cessation programs. You can also talk to your health care provider,or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
Remember, "passive smoking," or breathing secondhand smoke, can also have negative effects on pregnancy. If you live with someone who smokes, ask him or her to smoke outside.
STOP DRINKING ALCOHOL.
Most health care providers tell women not to drink at all during pregnancy. There is no known safe amount you can drink during pregnancy. There is also no safe time to drink during pregnancy.
Women who drink put their babies at risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which can cause serious physical and developmental harm.
It is a good idea to cut down or stop drinking alcohol around the time you are trying to get pregnant. This is because you will not know right away that you are pregnant.
|If you need help to stop drinking alcohol … Talk to your health care provider or find help in your local area by visiting Alcoholics Anonymous.
DON'T ABUSE DRUGS OR PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS.
Using addictive or habit-forming illegal drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin, crystal meth, LSD, and marijuana can cause serious problems for a developing fetus.
Legal prescription drugs can also be addictive and cause harm during pregnancy. You should check with your health care provider before taking any medications.
|If you need help to stop using drugs … Talk to your health care provider or contact a local self-help program in your area, such as Narcotics Anonymous.
REDUCE STRESS AND AVOID DANGERS.
Get plenty of rest and relaxation. Be sure to take the time to do things that you enjoy and that relax you. Enjoy your sexuality, too. Having sex can help reduce stress and the tensions that can build up when planning for and during a pregnancy. Most women who want to are able to enjoy sex throughout pregnancy.
Beware of dangers on the job. Some jobs may be harmful before and during pregnancy. Talk with your boss and health care provider to figure out how you can avoid dangerous substances and situations, such as standing too long or working too many hours in a row. Try to find ways to reduce job stress, too.