Your health never comes into sharper focus than it does when you’re pregnant. Because your decisions directly affect your baby, it’s worth adopting positive habits to give you both the best chance at good health.
Here are 6 healthy behaviors to practice when you’re expecting:
1. Keep the water flowing. You’ll need to drink more water when you’re pregnant to support your body and your growing baby. Plus, good hydration will help you avoid hemorrhoids, constipation, urinary tract infections, bladder infections, excessive swelling, and premature labor.
Everyone needs a different amount of water based on their size, activity level, and the weather. How do you know what’s right for you? Try the urine test—when you pee, it should be clear or pale yellow.
2. Stay active. Exercise is healthy for most people who are pregnant. Aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity activity a week. (Think cycling, swimming, dancing, and low-impact aerobics.) This can help prevent back pain, reduce your anxiety, improve your sleep, and prepare you for delivery.
3. Quit your vices. If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Smoking during pregnancy ups your chances of having a baby with a low birth weight, which puts them at greater risk for health problems.
You should also stop drinking. There is no safe amount of alcohol while pregnant. Those who drink risk having a baby with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which can cause abnormal facial features, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues.
4. Pay attention to your plate. When you’re eating for 2, nutrition matters more than ever. Eat a healthy variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, along with protein foods and low-fat dairy products. Check out MyPlate to find out how much you should eat from each food group based on your age, height, weight, trimester, and physical activity level.
5. Take a prenatal vitamin. When you’re pregnant, certain nutrients are especially important. You’ll find these in a prenatal vitamin. For example, folic acid helps prevent some birth defects, while iron and iodine are key to staying healthy.
6. Stretch your legs. Sitting for long periods of time can affect the blood flow to your legs. This can be a problem when riding in a car or on an airplane. Make sure you take frequent breaks to walk around and get the blood circulating. Consider wearing support hose while traveling, which can help with blood flow.