What can you do to have a healthy pregnancy?

You may be happy and excited to find out that you’re pregnant. And you may be a little nervous or worried.

If this will be your first child, you may even feel overwhelmed by all of the things you need to know about having a baby. There is a lot to learn. But you don’t have to know everything right away. You can read all about pregnancy now, or you can learn about each stage as your pregnancy goes on.

Pregnancy is measured in trimesters from the first day of your last menstrual period, totaling 40 weeks. Most babies are born at 37 to 42 weeks. There are many discomforts that can be common in pregnancy. Some women have nausea, heartburn or cravings while other women may not feel anything at all. Aches and pains and skin and hair changes can also happen. You may also feel very tired or even have difficulty sleeping at night.

Taking great care of yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby. Everything healthy that you do for your body helps your growing baby. Rest when you need it, eat well, and stay active. Drink plenty of water, especially when it’s hot out.

It is important to avoid tobacco, vaping, marijuana, alcohol and drugs. These are harmful to you and the baby.

What kinds of exams and tests will you have?

Your first prenatal exam gives your doctor or midwife important information for planning your care. If you have any medical conditions or take any medications or supplements this is a good time to discuss them with your doctor or midwife. Many medications are still safe during pregnancy, especially if they help you stay healthy.

Every visit your doctor is watching for both common pregnancy issues, such as low iron levels (anemia) or a bladder infection as well as serious complications like high blood pressure.

At each prenatal visit you’ll be weighed, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, and have your blood pressure and urine checked. Sometimes blood samples or pelvic exams may be performed if needed. It is important to go to all your appointments. While these quick office visits may seem simple and routine, they are important for keeping you and baby healthy.

Screening is available in the first or second trimester to see if your baby has a higher than normal chance of having Down syndrome or another genetic problem. These tests usually include a blood test and an ultrasound, which can look for any signs of birth defects in the baby. Genetic counselors are available to help you decide what tests may give you the information you need.

Late in your second trimester, your blood sugar will be checked for diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Your doctor or midwife will see you more frequently as you get closer to delivery. With all the tests you’ll have, you may worry that something will go wrong. But most women have healthy pregnancies. If there is a problem, these tests can find it early so that you and your doctor or midwife can treat it or watch it to help improve your chance of having a healthy baby.

What changes can you expect in your body and your emotions?

You will go through some amazing changes during pregnancy. Your body, emotions, and relationships will all do some growing. These changes are common, but some may be a challenge. Even women who are happy about their pregnancy may worry a lot about their babies. They may even feel some sadness at the coming changes in their lifestyles. Feelings of anxiety and depression can be very common. Talk with your partner and with your doctor if you have concerns about how you’re feeling.

Every woman feels these changes in her own way. Even the way she changes can change. All pregnancies are different so don’t be alarmed if what you’re experiencing is different from other people you know. Keeping open lines of communication with your doctor or midwife can help you stay on track for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Services across Greater Houston

UT Physicians provides women’s health services across the Greater Houston area. Learn more about the Women’s Health Centers or call (832) 328-7131 for an appointment.