Your first pregnancy can be an anxiety-fuelling time, concerns arising about both your and your baby’s health. Although this is natural, it may be worth considering following the following seven tips on nutrition, safety, and staying healthy from prenatal development until the birth of your baby.

Do remember though that if you have serious concerns, your community midwife should be on hand to answer any questions. In an emergency, you should have the number of the local hospital’s on-call midwives who will be there to support you.

1. Take Prenatal Vitamins

The safest thing for you to do is to already start taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid when you’re trying to conceive. Your unborn child’s neural cord develops within the first month of pregnancy, so getting essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and folic acid is extremely important from the start. The neural cord becomes your unborn child’s spinal cord and brain. You can purchase prenatal vitamins over the counter, or alternatively by a doctor’s prescription. If prenatal vitamins cause you to have nausea, take them with a light snack or in the evening before going to bed.

2. Stay Active

It’s important for you to stay active, there are many benefits other than general health and well-being. Exercising will boost your mood, control your weight, reduce your stress, improve your sleep and circulation. Walk daily between 15-20 minutes at least, or take a pregnancy exercise class. Other great alternative activities include swimming, Pilates, and yoga. Of course, always consult your GP or midwife first before starting any new exercise regime. Remember to always listen to your body and avoid overdoing it.

3. Practise Pelvic Floor Exercises

Practising pelvic floor exercises will strengthen those all-important muscles. This is very important as these muscles support your uterus, bladder, and bowels. By doing this simple exercise you can prevent experiencing problems later down the line with incontinence and you will make the delivery of your baby much easier. The best part about these pelvic floor exercises is that you can do them practically anywhere and nobody can even tell.

4. Check Your Medications

Before you take any supplements, natural remedies, over-the-counter medications and prescription medications – first check with your midwife or doctor if it’s risky to your unborn baby. For instance, ibuprofen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) has to be avoided due to the risk of damage to your baby’s blood vessels and the risk of miscarriage.

5. Eliminate Toxins

The damage that certain toxins can cause when you are trying to fall or are pregnant is serious. Things such as illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol and solvents must be avoided. Toxins are linked to miscarriages, birth defects, and other health problems in unborn babies. For instance, smoking while pregnant decreases your baby’s oxygen flow.

6. Know When It’s Time to Call the Doctor

Pregnancy can be confusing, especially if it’s your first pregnancy. You might be wondering how to tell what’s normal and what isn’t, you should call the doctor if you experience any of the following: strong cramps, pain, fainting or dizziness, leaking of fluid or vaginal bleeding, 20-minute interval contractions, shortness of breath, swelling, difficulty walking, regular vomiting or nausea, heart palpations, or decreased movements by your baby.

7. Track Your Weight Gain

Yes, you’re eating and drinking for two (but you should actually only be doing this in the third trimester) but gaining too much weight may make it hard for you to lose later. Likewise, not gaining enough weight can cause your baby to have development problem and a low-weight birth.

These are the weight gain guidelines based on your body mass index from the Institute of Medicine before you become pregnant:

• Gain between 28-40 pounds if you’re underweight

• Gain between 25-35 pounds if you’re normal weight

• Gain between 15-25 pounds if you’re overweight

• Gain between 11-20 pounds if you’re obese

If you are concerned about your weight gain, speak to your midwife who will be able to offer advice and support. They are their from discovering you are pregnant until you have a newborn, with a wealth of experience.

Hopefully these seven tips have offered you some words of wisdom. We wish you luck in your pregnancy and beyond. It truly is a wonderful time, though we understand how worrisome it can be, too.