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Diet and Lifestyle Changes Ė What to Change When You're Expecting

When youíre pregnant, youíll want to do everything you can to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. This means making some specific changes in your diet and lifestyle. The following are some of the changes youíll want to make.

First of all, when you begin trying to conceive, go ahead and make the changes youíll need to have in place when youíre pregnant. For example, if you smoke, stop. If you drink alcohol, stop. This way you won't have to worry if you had those two margaritas before or after you conceived.

In addition, you should see your health care provider for a pre-conception check-up. If you have any chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes, get them under control. Or, if youíre taking any prescription medications, talk with your health care provider about whether theyíre safe to use during pregnancy or if you should change medications. Start taking prenatal vitamins now so that youíll be sure to have enough folic acid available when you conceive.

Other lifestyle changes you may need to make could include your work environment. If youíre regularly exposed to chemicals that could be hazardous to your baby, for example, you may need to change your work environment. If your work requires you to stand for long periods of time, you may need an adjustment as your pregnancy progresses. Or, if your work is physically demanding, you may need to be accommodated as your baby grows. And if youíre exposed to loud noises, speak with your supervisor; after all, your baby will soon be able to hear too.

Youíll also need to eliminate certain foods from your diet while youíre pregnant. For example, no more sushi, no unpasteurized fruit juices, no soft or unpasteurized cheeses, no raw eggs, no uncooked or undercooked meats, and no fish that could carry heavy metals. Itís also a good idea to avoid luncheon meats and other foods processed with nitrites and nitrates. Avoid swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, as these fish may contain mercury.

In addition, donít eat raw fish, raw seafood or ceviche. Unpasteurized cheeses you should avoid include brie, feta, blue cheese, camembert, queso blanco, queso fresco, and panela (the last three of which are Mexican-style cheeses). Itís safe to eat small quantities of liver, but you should otherwise avoid eating large quantities of any organ meats. Make sure any fruits and vegetables are thoroughly washed before consuming them and donít eat raw sprouts, as they can harbor dangerous bacteria.

Give up junk food as much as possible Ė it contains no nutritional value and keeps you from eating foods that are better for you. Also, choose whole grain products over products made with enriched wheat flour whenever possible.

Being pregnant also means giving up or greatly reducing your intake of beverages with caffeine, including coffee, tea and soft drinks. If you arenít already in the habit of drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water each day, begin to get into the habit Ė pregnancy will be very demanding on your body and itís important to stay hydrated as much as possible.

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