Pregnancy and Childbirth Have a Safe Pregnancy by Looking After Your Health By UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, April 25, 2015 Pregnancy is one of the most important times to look after your health. Your wellness affects not only your baby’s health, but also your experience while being pregnant and your health after giving birth. Eating a nutritious diet, exercising, and managing any chronic health conditions are key to helping you have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. This means you can better enjoy your time bonding with your child after you’ve given birth and your baby is also likely to enjoy better health, too. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle Having a healthy weight before getting pregnant lowers the risk of complications. Being obese during pregnancy can lead to complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and infection as well as a higher chance of delivering by C-section. All women should watch their weight gain during pregnancy. Indulgence in treats is certainly part of being pregnant, but that doesn’t make it OK or safe to eat fried foods and ice cream daily. Poor nutrition during pregnancy can increase your baby’s chances of developing long-term chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Moderate exercise is also a great way to keep your baby happy and help you handle labor and delivery. Also, avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy. These could cause serious harm to your baby. Manage Health Conditions that May Complicate Pregnancy Even with a healthy lifestyle, sometimes moms-to-be have health conditions that can increase the riskiness of her pregnancy. With proper care and preventive measures, you can still have a safe experience. Chronic conditions Be sure to manage chronic conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, and asthma. If these conditions get out of control, they can lead to complications for your baby, such as poor weight gain and preterm labor. Some of these conditions can lead to preeclampsia, a serious condition where the mother has high blood pressure. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery, which can increase the risk of problems for the baby if earlier than 37 weeks. Infections Taking care to avoid infections and treating any that occur will help your baby. Some sexually transmitted infections can be passed to the baby during pregnancy or delivery. Be sure to practice safe sex while pregnant to lower the risk of infection. Other infections can come from being out in crowds during flu season or handling cat waste. If possible, have someone else change the cat’s litterbox or be sure to always wear gloves. Maintaining good hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices throughout each trimester will give you the best chance of avoiding complications. If you have concerns about your pregnancy or your developing baby, be sure to talk to your doctor. Make an appointment to speak with an expert at the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. Want to learn more about maternal fetal medicine and preterm birth? Check out our Medical Monday’s post on Newborn Medicine.