Taking care of yourself during pregnancy is more important than ever. It is crucial to learn as much information as possible about ways to keep you and your baby healthiest. Here are some tips:

Get regular prenatal care:

If you think you may be pregnant, contact your health provider sooner rather than later to schedule an examination. If you are healthy and there are no complications, your health care provider will likely want to see you every four weeks until the 28th week, then every two until the 36th week, then once a week until the baby is born.

There are a number of healthcare providers qualified to counsel you during pregnancy, ranging from obstetricians/gynecologists to family practitioners, to certified nurse-midwives. Choose whoever you are most comfortable going to ensure you get the regular care that you need.

Keep in mind nutrition:

Nutrition and keeping your body healthy is imperative, especially when carrying a baby. It is important to maintain a balanced diet that incorporates the nutrients you need, especially calcium, iron, and folic acid. If you are worried about consuming the appropriate amount of nutrients, consult your doctor about prenatal vitamins or pick up some over the counter supplements.

That being said, it is also important to acknowledge that during your pregnancy, especially later, you need approximately an extra 300 calories per day to support your growing baby.

Avoid drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and large amounts of caffeine:

Recreational drugs, alcohol, and nicotine could be very harmful to your pregnancy. Alcohol is passed easily to the baby from the mother and stays in the baby’s system for much longer than it would the mother. If you had a few drinks before you knew you were pregnant, don’t stress about it, but it is safest to avoid alcohol overall during your term. Pregnant woman, as well, should not use recreational drugs, as it puts the unborn baby at risk for premature birth, birth defects, behavioral and learning problems.

Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes pass the nicotine and carbon monoxide to their unborn baby. The risks of smoking during pregnancy include prematurity, low birth weight, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, and miscarriage. Lastly, high caffeine consumption is linked to increased risk of miscarriage. Caffeine, of course, does not just mean coffee, but also sodas, teas, and energy drinks. Cutting down to one or two cups per day could be extraordinarily beneficial to your baby.