Tag Archives: pregnancy

Pregnancy Diet and Exercise

Pregnancy Diet and Exercise

Taking care of yourself with a healthy pregnancy diet and exercise routine is an important part of a healthy pregnancy overall. These tips can help you plan a balanced diet, exercise routine, and more.

Eat a Balanced Diet

While it’s normal to have crazy cravings while you’re pregnant, it’s also important to get plenty of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Together, you and your baby have different nutritional needs than you do separately.

It’s less like eating for 2, and more like eating for yourself and 1/8. You’ll need to get around an extra 300 calories a day. For example, if you’d normally drink a 10-oz. glass of juice, now you should drink an 11- or 12-oz. glass.

Most pregnant women need about:

  • 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester
  • 2,200 calories per day during the second trimester
  • 2,400 calories per day during the third trimester

ChooseMyPlate.gov can help you make the right food choices, and you can enter in your info to create customized daily food recommendations in a helpful checklist for each stage of your pregnancy.

You should also be careful when eating out because you’ll be more susceptible to foodborne illness while you’re pregnant.

Take a Prenatal Vitamin

Pregnant women need more folic acid, iron, and calcium. Folic acid, a B vitamin, can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken early in your pregnancy.

Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day during early pregnancy as part of a healthy diet. Avoid any supplements that give you more than 100% of the daily value for any vitamin or mineral.

Keep Moving

While you may not always feel like it, moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day during pregnancy can benefit both you and your baby. It helps you prepare your body for labor, and it will help you feel better before and after birth.

Safe Exercises to Try

  • Walking
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Swimming
  • Water aerobics

Activities to Avoid

  • Bouncing
  • Leaping
  • Too much up and down movement
  • Exercise that could make you lose your balance
  • Laying flat on your back after the first trimester
  • Anything where you could get hit in the stomach
  • Sitting in saunas, hot tubs, or steam rooms

Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine, drink plenty of water, don’t get overheated, and be sure to listen to your body.

Handy Apps

Recognizing Early Labor

Recognizing Early Labor

Early labor begins before you’ve finished 37 weeks of pregnancy, and babies born this early can have lifelong or life-threatening health problems.

What Happens

If you go into early labor, you will likely be given meds to delay or stop it. In some cases, it can be delayed long enough to transport you to a hospital that has a . You may also be given medications that can improve the baby’s health if they come early.

Warning Signs

  • Contractions – Your abdomen will tighten like a fist every 10 minutes or more.
  • Change in Vaginal Discharge – You might leak fluid or bleed from your vagina.
  • Pelvic Pressure – This might feel like your baby is pushing down.
  • Cramps – These might feel like your period or like abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea.
  • Backache – You might feel a low, full backache.

What to Do

Call your doctor or go to the hospital right away if you’re going into labor or have any of the warning signs. They may tell you to:

  • Come into the office or go to the hospital for a checkup
  • Stop what you’re doing and rest on your side for an hour
  • Drink 2 to 3 glasses of water or juice

If your symptoms get worse or do not go away after an hour, call your doctor back or go to the hospital. If the symptoms improve, relax for the rest of the day.

Pregnancy Health Problems

Pregnancy Health Problems

If you have a preexisiting health problem or develop a new one during your pregnancy, you may need more care. Pregnancy health problems that can occur include:

Blood Pressure Related Conditions

While your blood pressure is always an important part of your overall health, when you’re pregnant, it becomes even more important to monitor it. High blood pressure can constrict the blood vessels in your uterus that supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

Chronic Hypertension

This is high blood pressure before you become pregnant. If you have it, it won’t go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Your doctor may prescribe medication or liestyle changes. If you’re already on hypertension meds, talk to your doctor before trying to conceive. ACE inhibitors, a common kind of blood pressure meds, can be bad for your baby.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Some women develop high blood pressure about 20 weeks into their pregnancy. PIH will usually go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

PIH can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia

This is high blood pressure and protein in your urine that usually develops after 30 weeks. 25% of women who have PIH develop this too.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Preeclampsia can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

HELLP syndrome

This is a variation of preeclampsia that’s diagnosed by blood tests. It stands for the conditions you develop:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Low platelets

Most women with HELLP have high blood pressure, and other symptoms include fatigue, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and swelling.

The only treatment is to deliver your baby. HELLP is very serious and requires care from a doctor.

Gestational Diabetes

Even if you don’t have diabetes before you get pregnant, you can develop gestational diabetes. It will go away after you have your baby, but during your pregnancy, you may be required to follow a special diet, exercise, or take insulin.

Environmental Risk

Certain substances can be harmful to your baby, raising the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Chemicals to avoid include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Lead in water or paint
  • Some cleaners
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury in tuna and other fish
  • Cat litter boxes

Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these chemicals and what to do if you come in contact with any of them.

Chicken Pox

While most women are immune if they’ve had chicken pox or the vaccine before, it can be dangerous if you catch it while pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you come in contact with someone who has it or if you believe you have it.

HIV/AIDS

You can pass HIV/AIDS to your baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery if you already have it. You can take meds to protect your baby during your pregnancy, just talk to your doctor about it.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you have an STI, it can cause your baby to be born blind, deaf, or even stillborn. Medication can usually help protect your baby during pregnancy and delivery. Tell your doctor right away if you have an STI or develop one while you are pregnant.

Your Prenatal Care

Your Prenatal Care

If you’re newly pregnant, we can help you make sense of your prenatal care. Prepare for your prenatal visits, tests, and medications you should avoid.

Prenatal Care Visits

Regular prenatal care from your doctor while you’re pregnant is key to the health of you and your baby. You should go to all of these visits, even if you feel fine. They will help you track the progress of your pregnancy and keep your baby healthy. If you’re having a low-risk pregnancy, your schedule will look like this:

  • First Visit – Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you think you’re pregnant to confirm your pregnancy. At this appointment, you can expect to:

    • Review your health history, current health status, and medications
    • Find out your due date
    • Go over possible health risks
    • Have blood and urine tests and a pap smear to make sure you’re healthy and rule out anemia and infections
    • Plan out your future appointments
  • Weeks 4 to 28 – 1 visit a month

  • Weeks 28 to 36 – 2 visits a month

  • Week 36 to Giving Birth – 1 visit a week


Check our Preventive Care Guidelines to see more recommended care and our wellness benefits for more of what’s covered for you during your pregnancy.

Prenatal Tests

During your appointments, you will have certain tests done to make sure you’re healthy and help you know what to expect.

Ultrasound

Also called a sonogram, this test is usually done at 18-20 weeks to:

  • Make sure your baby’s growing at a normal rate
  • Confirm your due date
  • Record the baby’s heartbeat
  • Check for more than one baby
  • Find out your baby’s gender if you want

Glucose Screening

This test is usually done at 12 weeks for high-risk pregnancies and at 24-28 weeks for low-risk pregnancies and will tell you if you’ve developed gestational diabetes.

Blood Tests

Regular blood tests can be done at any point during your pregnancy, as recommended by your doctor, to:

  • Determine blood type
  • Screen for:
    • Anemia
    • Diabetes
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Sexually transmitted diseases

Urine Tests

Your doctor will ask you for urine samples, usually at each of your checkups, to test for:

  • Excess protein bacteria
  • Ketones, which can tell you if your body’s not producing enough insulin
  • Signs of gestational diabetes

Medication to Avoid

Make sure you talk to your doctor about the meds you’re currently taking. Certain prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs could harm your baby.

Meds to Avoid

  • Accutane® (isotretinoin, Amnesteem, and Claravis)
  • Soriatane® (acitretin)
  • Thalomid® (thalidomide)

Over-the-Counter Drugs to Avoid

  • Aspirin
  • Advil® (ibuprofen)
  • Herbal supplements
Recipes High in Folic Acid

Recipes High in Folic Acid

We’re helping you eat a diet high in folate for National Folic Acid Awareness Week. These recipes high in folic acid are the perfect way to get more in your life.

First up is a Creamy Farro with Pesto, Asparagus, and Peas that can satisfy your pasta craving.

Creamy Farro with Pesto, Asparagus, and Peas

 

This warm and delicious Vegetarian Lentil Tortilla Soup is the perfect winter meal.

Vegetarian Lentil Tortilla Soup (Instant-Pot + Slow Cooker)

 

This light and tasty Green Salad with Oranges, Beets, and Avocado is packed with folate-rich foods.

Green Salad with Oranges, Beets & Avocado

 

Skip the takeout and make Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry for a healthy night in.

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
Image and Recipe via Dinner at the Zoo

 

Make easy Thai Style Papaya Salad Rolls for a light snack or appetizer.

Thai Style Papaya Salad Rolls
Image and Recipe via The Wanderlust Kitchen

 

This Spicy Black Bean Soup will hit spicy pregnancy cravings and help you get your folic acid.

Spicy Black Bean Soup
Image and Recipe via Little Spice Jar

 

Get out your grill pan to whip up this delicious Grilled Eggplant and Spinach Salad.

Grilled Eggplant and Spinach Salad
Image and Recipe via Potluck at Oh My Veggies

Folic Acid Awareness

National Folic Acid Awareness Week

It’s National Folic Acid Awareness Week, and folic acid is a B vitamin that helps cells grow. Getting enough of it can help prevent birth defects.

Protecting Your Baby with Folic Acid

 

Getting 400 mcg of folic acid a day can help prevent up to 70% of serious birth defects of the brain and spine, like anencephaly and spina bifida.

Preventing Birth Defects

 

Even if you’re not planning on getting pregnant, women should be getting enough folic acid. It helps your body make new, healthy cells every day, like for your hair, skin, and nails.

Healthy Cell Growth from Folic Acid

 

Birth defects of the brain and spine happen in the first few weeks of pregnancy, and half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Getting enough folic acid can help protect your baby even before you know you’re pregnant.

One of the easiest ways to get enough folic acid is to take a daily multivitamin with folic acid. You can also eat foods like enriched breads, pastas, and cereals that have added folic acid.

Folic Acid in Your Vitamins

 

Once you know you’re pregnant, pay careful attention to if you’re getting enough folic acid in your diet. Knowing how to read food labels can help you check for folic acid.

Breaking Down Food Labels

 

You can also eat a diet rich in folate to help get enough folic acid. Foods like beans, lentils, citrus, and dark leafy greens have high amounts of it.

Check out the recipes high in folic acid we also shared this week!

Eating Your Folic Acid

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager – Ages 15 to 17

Yearly well-child visits for your teenager help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Your teen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your teen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Teenager’s Development

Your teen’s doctor can help you keep track of their key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you and your teen questions to help make sure your teen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each teenager grows differently. Some kids take longer to hit puberty, to be romantically interested in peers, or to worry about their future. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most teens ages 15 to 17 include:

  • Spending more time outside the family, like with friends, peers, and dates
  • Worrying about their future, like going to college
  • More interest in romantic and sexual relationships
  • Wanting to try new things, which could include tobacco, drugs, or alcohol

See more milestones for your teens.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your teenager, your doctor will ask you and your teen to answer some questions about your teen’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do you often get any type of pain or headaches?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do you have trouble following directions?
    • Do you often feel sad or bored?
    • Is there someone you can talk to about your problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do you eat on a normal day?

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do you like going to school?
    • What do you like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do you participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Do you always wear a seatbelt in the car?
    • Are you experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Do you or your friends use any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friends questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in your family recently?
    • Do you have close friends?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Do you have any questions about your body?
    • Are you dating?
    • Do you know how to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy?

  • Future questions, like:

    • Have you started to think about what you want to do after high school?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your teenager, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your teen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your teen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your teen’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your teenager.

Know Your Family and Teen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your teen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, a new school, or the serious breakup of a relationship or a friendship.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your teenager’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health so that you’re always organized to talk to your teen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Teen Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your teenager by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or acne
  • Talking to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your teens eat right and get enough exercise
  • Changes in their behavior or mood or loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sexual development
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Helping them drive safely
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

After starting puberty, your teen’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your teens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your teenagers. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your teen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your teen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your teenagers or start searching for doctors in our network.