Pregnancy is an exciting yet nerve-wracking time for many expectant mothers – filled with questions about what to expect and how to give their baby the best possible chance at being born healthy. Health expert Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital, offers some tips. 

When does prenatal care begin?

Nurse Rose: Whether you’re a first time mom, or mommy veteran – prenatal care actually starts long before becoming pregnant. In fact, doctors recommend that women begin preparing three months before getting pregnant.

These tips will help prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.

  • Make an appointment with your doctor – this could include your primary care doctor, OBGYN and any other specialists you may see for other health conditions.
  • Take 400-800 mg of folic acid daily for three months before getting pregnant.
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Be sure any medical conditions are under control, like asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Update your vaccinations.
  • Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter or prescription medicines that you may need to stop taking.

What kind of diet should expectant mothers be eating?

Nurse Rose: Once pregnant, you need to ensure that you and your baby get the proper nutrients.

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and foods low in saturated fat.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin. Iron is particularly important to prevent preterm birth and low birth weight.

A lot of women say that they’re “eating for two,” but this is an old myth. While there will be days where you feel very hungry or have cravings, pregnant women really only need about 300-350 calories more than usual per day.

Are there foods pregnant women shouldn’t eat?

Nurse Rose: Absolutely, if you’re pregnant avoid:

  • Food-borne illness by washing fruits and vegetables and fully cooking meats or fish. Always handle, clean, cook and clean foots properly,
  • Fish with lots of mercury, like swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish, and
  • Smoking and alcohol.

The most important advice I can give any pregnant woman is see your doctor early and often before, during  and after your pregnancy. This will help both mom and baby to be as healthy as possible and detect any possible problems as soon as possible.

From prenatal counseling, through labor and delivery and support for new moms – Adventist HealthCare offers comprehensive pregnancy and birth services. Schedule a maternity tour today or view our facilities online today!

Additional Health Tips from Rose

Find more family health tips online or tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to hear Rose live.