Pregnancy can be an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful. Maintaining your well-being can aid in optimizing your baby’s health, bonding with your baby and continue positive relationships with those around you.
Different Elements of Well-being
Well-being is a difficult term to define as it relates to various aspects of life. Well-being is achieved through different elements:
- Physical. Includes lifestyle choices such as nutrition, physical activity and other behaviors.
- Emotional. Ability to cope with everyday life and the way we think about ourselves.
- Social. Sense of belonging and being included.
- Spiritual. Ability to experience and integrate meaning and purpose in life. This can be through religion or being connected to our inner self or nature.
- Intellectual. Helps to expand our knowledge
- Economic. Is the ability to meet basic needs, and feel a sense of security.
Having a balance in all of these areas can be challenging, especially during and after pregnancy, but it isn’t impossible. Pregnancy can be a great opportunity to start and maintain overall well-being.
The economic element can cause stress and create imbalance in all of the other elements as a result.
- Illinois Department of Human Services’ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is made available for pregnant women. The service provides financial assistance to help pay for shelter, food, utilities and other expenses. If you qualify for TANF you could also receive medical assistance and SNAP benefits.
Make your health a priority during pregnancy. Creating life is a big responsibility and requires making the right choices for your baby’s health. Pregnancy is also about making the right health choices for your well-being. This can include:
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs
- Eat healthy meals
- Rest when you need it
- Get adequate sleep
Making time for yourself can support your mental health. Self-care can take different forms and is not limited to only face masks and bubble baths. Below are other forms of self-care:
- Spend time with the people who make you feel good about yourself
- Baking, or cooking for enjoyment
- Taking some time to engage in activities that you enjoy
- Take a step back if you become overwhelmed
Tips for Parents
Being able to take your baby home after 9 months in the womb and delivery can be an exciting time. It can also be stressful, especially with the lack of sleep caring for your baby. The lack of sleep can cause stress and compromise your well-being. Below are some helpful tips manage lack of sleep:
- Catch up on sleep when you get the chance.
- Cut out or reduce caffeine. Caffeine is a great short-term solution to giving you energy, however they can affect your quality and duration of sleep in the long-term.
- Relax when you can! You don’t necessarily have to sleep when your baby sleeps during the day. Resting during this time can also benefit you.
- Share the workload with your partner if possible. Taking turns or shifts ensures that you both get adequate sleep.
- Take a time out when you are able to. Ask a friend, spouse, family member to stay with your baby for a while so you can relieve some stress. Taking time out can help your mental health in turn help your baby so you can be refreshed when you return.
Vitamins and Minerals During Pregnancy
Folic Acid is a B vitamin that is essential for healthy growth and development and helps prevent heart and birth defects.
It is recommended that 400 mcg of folic acid should be taken every day before pregnancy and 600 mcg during pregnancy.
Good sources of folic acid include:
- Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, cabbage)
- Chickpeas and kidney beans
- Inadequate folic acid intake can lead to:
Iron is a mineral to help with blood supply for you and your baby. It is recommended that pregnant women need twice as much compared to healthy non-pregnant women.
It is recommended that 27 mg of iron is needed every day during pregnancy.
Good sources of iron include:
- Leafy greens
- Lean meat, poultry and seafood
- Beans, nuts, raisins, and dried fruit
Inadequate iron intake can lead to
- Premature birth and low birth weight
Calcium is a mineral that helps in developing the baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves.
It is recommended that 1,000 mg of calcium is consumed every day during pregnancy.
Good sources of calcium can be found in:
- Milk, cheese, yogurt
- Orange juice
- Broccoli and kale
- Inadequate calcium intake can lead to osteoporosis in the mother.
Vitamin D is a hormone that helps the body absorb calcium.
It is recommended that 600 IU of vitamin D is taken every day during pregnancy.
Good sources of vitamin D include:
- Milk and cereal with vitamin D added
Inadequate vitamin D intake can lead to:
- Increased risk for cesarean birth
Iodine is a mineral that makes thyroid hormones to use and store energy from food and is essential for brain development in the fetus.
It is recommended that 220 mcg of iodine is consumed daily for pregnant persons.
Good sources with iodine include:
- Milk, cheese, yogurt
- Iodized salt
Inadequate iodine intake can cause:
- Preterm delivery
- Hearing or learning problems
Where can I get these vitamins and nutrients?
- Prenatal Vitamins is a multivitamin for pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant. They provide you with the essential vitamins and minerals needed to have a healthy pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins can be bought over-the-counter or prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Avoid taking more vitamins and minerals than needed. Although they are beneficial for the growth and development of your baby too much can cause harm. If you are unsure of how much you should be taking, talk to your healthcare provider.
- Eating a well- balanced diet can help in getting essential vitamins and nutrients needed for pregnancy into your body. Prenatal vitamins compliments healthy eating during pregnancy, therefore both should be practiced.
- Doctors usually recommend not taking medicine during the first 3 months of pregnancy when the baby is developing organs. However, sometimes this is unavoidable if treating a health or mental disorder like high blood pressure or depression. If you are taking medication and are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant talk with your healthcare provider.
- Medicine safe for pregnant women to take:
- Acetaminophen for fever or pain (Ex. Tylenol)
- Penicillin and a few antibiotics
- HIV medicines
- Some medicines for high blood pressure, asthma, depression
- Medicine not safe for pregnant women
- Bismuth subsalicylate (Ex. Pepto-Bismol)
- Phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine used in decongestants
- Guaifenesin used in most cough and cold medicines
- Doxycycline and tetracycline
- Visit, LactMed a drugs and lactation database for information on medicine and how it might affect you or your baby through breast milk. All information and data are derived from scientific literature and peer reviewed. Talk with your healthcare provider before stopping or continuing any medication.