Secrets for a Healthy Early Pregnancy
Secret #1: Acupuncture may help relieve your nausea
Although medical studies on acupuncture and morning sickness are few, many women who've been through severe nausea and vomiting swear by it. "When I was pregnant with my son, I had terrible, terrible morning sickness -- like Duchess Kate Middleton!" says Kathy Morelli, a licensed marriage and family counselor in Wayne, NJ. "My doc wanted to hospitalize me, as I wasn't even drinking fluids and couldn't go to work. I was laying on the couch and felt like I was on a boat. I had one acupuncture treatment, and boom -- no more nausea, and suddenly I was hungry! I went for one more follow up visit and I had a great pregnancy after that." Anne Rust, a birth doula and founder of online mom-to-be support site MamaSeeds.com, says that she's seen clients cured even when prescription medication wouldn't work. "Acupuncture really is a miracle cure for some people. We had one client who was on a pump so she could self-administer nausea medication, and she was still throwing up three times a day. After her acupuncture treatment, she didn't throw up for a week. Her doctor was impressed and wrote her a prescription for it so it would be covered by her insurance."
Secret #2: Chewable vitamins may be easier for you to swallow
Many women with morning sickness find that swallowing pills can be hard, or trigger a gag reflex -- but taking prenatal vitamins is key to making sure your developing fetus has the building blocks it needs. Thankfully, there are lots of new chewable prenatals out there, like ones from BellyBar and Vitafusion. (Some vitamin stores carry liquid versions, too.) Choose an iron-free formulation until your morning sickness passes, since iron can make nausea worse.
Secret #3: Exercise is a pregnant mom's best medicine
Mom of four and M.D. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson says daily exercise will help you sleep better so that you're not so exhausted during the first trimester. Not only that, but regular activity also helps improve your mood and will help get you in condition for labor. "Try to exercise outside, right after you wake up, no matter the weather. Fresh air reduces morning sickness and improves circulation, too." Dr. Thompson found that the more she moved during the day in general, the better she tended to feel in general. "I always tried to stay on my feet and move around. The more I sat in one place, the more nauseated I seemed to get." If it's been awhile since you worked out, just ease yourself into it, starting with about 5 minutes a day, until you can exercise for 30 minutes at a time, and always get the greenlight from your doc before starting any fitness regime.
Secret #4: Clean teeth are more important than ever
Pregnancy hormones can make your gums temporarily swollen and sensitive. But that doesn't mean you can postpone your regular twice-a-year professional cleanings, since the inflammation caused by gum disease has been linked to preterm birth. "One of the best things a mom-to-be can do in early pregnancy and throughout is brushing and flossing regularly," says Virginia Hughson-Otte, DDS, a dentist in Valencia, California. Another tooth tip: Don't brush your teeth right away if you vomit from morning sickness -- the acids can harm your enamel. Instead, rinse with warm water and brush your tongue. You can go back and brush your teeth after about 10 minutes, says Dr. Hughson-Otte.
Secret #5: You still have to come first.
"Healthy mom equals healthy baby," says Juli Fraga, Psy.D., a psychologist in San Francisco who specializes in maternal mental health. "During early pregnancy and through your whole term, it's important to receive prenatal care for your baby but it's also an important time to devote to your own emotional self-care. While it can be exciting, pregnancy is also stressful. It represents a life-change that no amount of reading or work can really prepare you for as you get ready for parenthood. Check in with your OB about workshops and classes that your hospital may offer that address emotional well-being during pregnancy and preparing for parenthood. Perinatal mood concerns are the number one complication of pregnancy. It's important to check-in with yourself about how you are feeling, and to let your physician know if you are feeling anxious, worried, sad or depressed."
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