Hesperian Health Guides
Staying healthy during pregnancy
Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!
Make a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.
If you can take good care of yourself while pregnant, you are more likely to have a safe pregnancy and birth, and a healthy baby. Try to:
- Sleep and rest whenever you can.
- Go for prenatal (before-birth) checkups.
- If you have never had a tetanus immunization, get one as soon as you can. Get at least 2 before the end of your pregnancy.
- Keep clean. Bathe or wash regularly and clean your teeth every day.
- Practice squeezing exercises, if you can, so the muscles in your vagina will be stronger. This will help them recover more quickly after the birth.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water or juice each day and pass urine frequently to prevent bladder and kidney infection.
- Exercise daily.
- Get treatment if you think you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other infection.
- Avoid taking modern or plant medicines, unless a health worker who knows you are pregnant says it is OK.
- Do not drink alcohol, smoke, or chew tobacco. They are bad for you and will harm the baby.
- Avoid pesticides, herbicides, or factory chemicals.
- Stay away from a child with a rash all over its body. The rash may be caused by German measles (rubella), which can harm the baby.
- If you use a bowel program to pass stool, do it regularly.
Eat a variety of foods
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you need to eat more than usual. The extra food will give you enough energy and strength, and will help your baby grow. As much as possible, try to eat different kinds of food: main foods (carbohydrates), grow foods (proteins), glow foods (vitamins and minerals), and go foods (fats, oils, and sugar), along with plenty of fluids. (See more information on eating well for good health.)
Prevent anemia (weak blood)
It is especially important for you to get enough food with iron so your blood will be strong. If a pregnant woman has anemia and she bleeds heavily during childbirth (hemorrhage), she is more likely to become seriously ill or even die.
Folic acid (folate)
Not getting enough folic acid can cause anemia and can also cause severe birth defects in the baby, such as growths on the spine or in the brain. To prevent these problems, it is most important for you to get enough folic acid before you get pregnant and in the first few months of pregnancy.These foods contain a lot of folic acid: