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You deserve the same TLC as your baby. Taking care of yourself will help you manage any existing health problems and protect you from pregnancy-related diabetes and high blood pressure. And the healthier you are the better it will be for your little one.

Keep up with other doctor appointments. If you have a chronic health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure, be sure you keep up with your regular doctor appointments. Managing your condition before you get pregnant will keep both you and your baby healthy. Be sure to see your dentist for regular exams and cleanings too. Having healthy teeth and gums lessens the chance of preterm birth and of having a baby with a low birth weight.

Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eating a variety of foods will help you get all the nutrients you need. Choose plenty of fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. You should eat and drink at least 4 servings of dairy and calcium-rich foods every day. That way you’ll keep your teeth and bones healthy while your baby develops. Also be sure to include good food sources of folic acid, such as leafy green vegetables, dried beans, liver, and some citrus fruits.

Gain the recommended amount of weight. Talk with your doctor about how much weight you should gain. Women with a normal BMI should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. If you were overweight before getting pregnant, your doctor may recommend that you only gain 15 to 25 pounds. Obese women should gain about 11 to 20 pounds. Gaining the appropriate amount of weight lessens the chance of your baby growing slowly and reduces the risk of preterm birth. You also lower your risk for developing pregnancy problems such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

Exercise regularly. Regular exercise will help you stay at a healthy pregnancy weight, keep your strength up, and ease stress. Just be sure you review your exercise program with your doctor. You’ll most likely be able to continue your normal exercise routine throughout your pregnancy. But your doctor can help you figure out if you’ll need to scale back or modify your routine.

Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Like all pregnant women, you should not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes during your pregnancy. Drinking alcohol increases your baby’s risk for a wide range of mental and physical defects. Smoking increases the chance for delivering a low birth weight baby, which is more common in older women. Not smoking can also help prevent preeclampsia.

Ask your doctor about medications. Talk with your doctor about what meds are safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, supplements, and natural remedies.

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