Hesperian Health Guides
Staying Healthy during Pregnancy
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If you take good care of yourself while pregnant, you are more likely to have a safe pregnancy and birth and a healthy baby.
- Try to eat enough nutritious foods. Good nutrition gives strength, prevents infection, builds a healthy baby, and helps prevent too much bleeding during birth. Remember that you are feeding both yourself and your baby. Use iodized salt so your baby will not suffer from mental slowness.
- Sleep and rest more. If you work standing up, try to sit or lie down several times during the day.
...but rest whenever you can.
- Go for prenatal (before-birth) check-ups to make sure there are no problems, and to find problems before they become serious. If you have never had a tetanus immunization, get one as soon as you can. Get at least 2 before the end of the pregnancy (see Vaccinations Against Tetanus).
Read about the `Danger signs during pregnancy' to learn when it is important to see a health worker.
- Keep clean. Bathe or wash regularly and clean your teeth every day.
- Practice squeezing exercises, so your vagina will be stronger after the birth.
- Try to get daily exercise. If you sit down at work, try to walk a little every day. But try not to tire yourself.
- Get treatment if you think you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other infection.
- Get tested for HIV. Prevent HIV infection during pregnancy by using condoms when you have sexual intercourse.
- Avoid taking modern or plant medicines, unless a health worker who knows you are pregnant says it is OK.
- Do not drink alcohol or smoke or chew tobacco during pregnancy. They are bad for the mother and can harm the developing baby.
If there is malaria where you live, sleep under a bed net to avoid being bitten by mosquitos.
- Avoid pesticides, herbicides, or factory chemicals. They can harm the developing baby. Do not touch or work near them, or breathe in their fumes. Never store food or water in their containers.
- Stay away from a child with a rash all over its body. It may be caused by German Measles, which can harm the baby.