Women's Healthcare Topics

Lifestyle Choices are Important in Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Avoid Bad Habits When you are Pregnant

Now that you think you might be pregnant, you need to start examining your health and lifestyle choices. A healthy lifestyle is key for a successful pregnancy. The choices you make now in your daily life can affect both your health and the health of your unborn child.

You should avoid bad habits when you are pregnant. These include smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Not only do these habits expose your baby to harmful chemicals that can be detrimental to his/her health and development, they can also affect your overall health and well-being.

Smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, vaginal bleeding, stillbirths (delivering a baby with no heartbeat), and delivering a low-birth weight baby.

Drinking any alcohol during pregnancy is not recommended. Chronic alcohol abuse early in pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, an increased risk of a miscarriage, and delivering a premature baby.

Abusing drugs during pregnancy is extremely detrimental to your baby. It can lead to long-term health problems, and your baby may need special care after birth. During pregnancy, drug use can stunt fetal growth as well as brain growth. You are also at an increased risk of delivering a premature baby.

In addition to avoiding bad habits, remember to eat a balanced and healthy diet. Maintaining a healthy diet will give your little one the nutrients and vitamins he/she needs to develop into a healthy baby.

You should avoid bad habits when you are pregnant.

Exercise also has many benefits during pregnancy.

If you don't exercise regularly, now would be a great time to start. Not only will exercise prep your body for labor and delivery, it can increase your energy level; relieve constipation, bloating, swelling, and leg cramps; help you relax and feel better; improve your sleep; and control gestational diabetes.

As with any kind of exercise program, be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor.

If you are over 35 years old, you might be concerned about the health of your pregnancy. You may have read or heard a rumor that older women have a higher risk of miscarriage and birth defects. While this is true, pregnant women over age 35 do face increased risk for pregnancy complications; there are plenty of older moms who have perfectly healthy pregnancies.

Receiving prenatal care as soon as you discover that positive home pregnancy test offers an easy way to detect potential complications early on. In some cases, complications and problems can be fixed early on.

Try not to feel too stressed. Enjoy pregnancy while it lasts!