Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. It is important to stay healthy and give your baby a great start in life.

Share responsibilities with your spouse- so that you have time for yourself and enjoy his support and encouragement. Focus on a complete health routine that includes a healthy diet and exercise. Schedule regular health checks.

Caring for yourself:

Your diet: It is important to take Folic Acid, a B vitamin that can help prevent major birth defects. Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, before and during pregnancy.

A diet rich in iron is important and supplements of iron will be prescribed for you.

Protein in your diet is important for your baby’s growth especially in the second and third trimesters.

A diet that provides a rich source of calcium is important and supplements of calcium may be required.

Quit smoking even before you become pregnant. It is the single most preventable cause of growth retardation in the fetus and illness in mothers.

Do not consume alcohol at all. There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.

Having the right vaccinations will help keep you and your baby healthy.

Stay away from infections. Infections may harm your unborn child.

If you have diabetes, make sure it’s under control. Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chance for birth defects and other problems for your baby and can cause serious complications for you as well.

Make sure you have regular check- ups. Existing high blood pressure can increase your risk of problems during pregnancy.

Taking certain medications during pregnancy might cause serious birth defects for your baby. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking. These include dietary or herbal supplements.

Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals and radiation.

Important growth and development occur throughout pregnancy until the final weeks. Babies born three or more weeks earlier than their due date have greater risk of serious disability or even death. Learn the warning signs and how to prevent a premature birth.

Learn about the stages of labour and what to expect at your antenatal classes.

Don't wait for your routine prenatal appointment and call your doctor right away if you experience severe abdominal pain, bleeding, severe dizziness or rapid weight gain or too little weight gain.

Your family history

It is important to understand genetic factors and genetic disorders that may exist in order to prevent birth defects or developmental disabilities.  Consider having Genetic Testing if you are worried about passing on a disorder to your child.

Your family history may help identify possible disease risks for you and your baby.

Other considerations:

Travel: If you are planning a trip by air, talk to your doctor first. There are periods during your pregnancy during which it may not be advisable to travel.

Balancing a career and pregnancy: It is possible to have a baby and a career-don’t assume that you need to drop back. Ask for pregnancy benefits from your organization. Balance and prioritize- being a supermom is not the objective, having a healthy happy life is. Ask for help- don’t suffer in silence. This is the time your support structure will prove to be very helpful. Do not compare yourself with other working mothers; work out your own lifestyle and develop your priorities with your spouse, boss and doctor.

Plan to breastfeed your baby. It has tremendous benefits for both you and your baby.  Consult your doctor and a Lactation Consultant to prepare for successful breastfeeding.