Jackson Healthcare for Women has trained physicians and nurses with extensive experience in obstetrics—the care and treatment of women during pregnancy, in delivery, and in the post-delivery period. We understand that pregnancy can simultaneously be one of the most wonderful and one of the most uncomfortable times in a woman’s life. Please use this section of our website to find great tips for relieving common afflictions like morning sickness and heartburn, to learn tips on nutrition and exercise, and for general advice. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us.
Weight gain is a matter of course during pregnancy, and 25 to 35 pounds is the optimal, healthy amount most women should expect. If you are thin or a teenager, you should expect to gain a little more. If heavy, you could gain a little less. During the first trimester, you’ll likely gain three to four pounds total. During the last six months, you’ll gain approximately three to four pounds each month.
Here’s a breakdown of where the weight is coming from:
- Your Baby: 7-8 lbs.
- Blood and Fluids: 7-8 lbs.
- Breast Increase: 1-3 lbs.
- Fat Stores: 4-8 lbs.
- Placenta: 1-2 lbs.
- Uterus Increase: 2-5 lbs.
Nutrition During Pregnancy
One of the best things you can do for your baby and for yourself is to eat healthy during pregnancy. By maintaining a well-balanced diet, you’ll ensure that you’re taking in the right amount of vitamins and nutrients your body needs.
You should also begin taking over-the-counter prenatal vitamins as soon as possible. If you feel nauseated, take them with food or just before you go to bed. If the vitamins seem to make you feel even more nauseous, stop taking them and instead try 0.4mg of folic acid daily.
Below, you’ll find a general guideline for optimal nutrition, but remember to ask your doctor for advice if you have specific dietary concerns. As you probably already know, fats and sugars like butter, candy, soda, desserts and bacon give you a high amount of calories but a lack of nutrients. Try to avoid these foods as much as possible.
How much: Protein is an excellent source of iron, and you’ll need about two servings a day. A serving size is approximately two to three ounces, one egg or 1/2 cup of beans.
Try: Dried beans, cheeses, eggs, peanut butter, split peas, beef, cottage cheese, fish, nuts, pork, poultry, tofu, tuna, fish.
How much: Dairy products are also a great source of protein, and you’ll need approximately four servings a day. One serving equals one ounce of cheese, or one cup of milk or yogurt.
Try: Whole milk, low fat milk, skim milk, powdered milk, evaporated milk, cheese, yogurt.
Fruits and Vegetables:
How much: Fruits and vegetables give you a variety of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. For optimal health, aim for five servings a day. Make one serving a source of vitamin A, one serving a source of vitamin C, with three additional servings. A serving is 1/2 of a cup.
For vitamin A, try: Apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, mangos, nectarines, peaches, pumpkin, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, watermelon, winter squash, sweet potatoes.
For vitamin C, try: Juices fortified with vitamin C, orange juice, grapefruit juice, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, oranges, peppers, strawberries.
For other vitamins, minerals and fiber, try: Apples, bananas, berries, celery, cherries, corn, cucumbers, grapes, green beans, lettuce, melons, pears, peas, turnips, zucchini.
Breads and Cereals:
How much: Breads and cereals provide carbohydrates, B vitamins, iron and fiber. You should get approximately six servings a day. A serving size is one slice of bread, a roll or a tortilla, three to four crackers, 1/2 cup of rice, pasta or hot cereal, or 1/4 cup of cold cereal.
Try: Cold cereal, hot cereal, crackers, macaroni, noodles, spaghetti, rice, rolls, tortillas, white bread, whole wheat bread.
A word on alcohol, smoking & substance use: Alcohol, smoking and drug use takes a toll on your health, but the effect is far worse for your baby. To avoid easily preventable birth defects, poor growth and a host of other health problems, quit drinking, smoking and taking drugs immediately.
During pregnancy, many women experience constipation. This is often due to a lack of exercise and/or dietary fiber. Try to exercise regularly (going for a fast walk is a great way to fit it in), drink six to eight glasses of water a day, and add more fiber to your diet. Here are some additional, natural ways to relieve this uncomfortable sensation.
- Eat more raw fruits and vegetables (including the fiber-rich skins). Also try dried fruits, stewed prunes and prune juice.
- Use whole grain breads and cereals, like oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
- Drink more liquids, including water, milk, cocoa, fruit juices and broth. Drinking a glass of warm water soon after you wake up may help greatly.
- Try an over-the-counter stool softener, such as Colace, Metamucil or Fibercon.
During the last month of pregnancy, your growing baby puts pressure on your stomach, often causing heartburn. Here are a few tips to relieve the discomfort.
- Eat five or six small meals a day.
- Avoid fatty, fried or spicy foods.
- Wear clothes that feel loose around your waist.
- Elevate your head when you lie down or go to bed.
The affliction commonly known as morning sickness, when you feel nauseous and vomit frequently, can unfortunately happen anytime during the day. But there is good news: nausea seldom lasts as long as the fourth month. Please call us if you find you can’t keep anything down, even sips of water, after 24 hours.
Here are a few things you can do to help you feel better.
- About 10 or 20 minutes before you get out of bed, eat a few crackers, a handful of cereal, plain popcorn, dry toast or bread.
- Try not to let your stomach sit empty. This may cause more nausea.
- Eat five or six small meals every two to three hours. Take food along if you’re on the go.
- If you have an upset stomach between meals, drink small amounts of apple or grape juice, carbonated beverages, Gatorade, or anything else you like that will keep you hydrated.
- When you cook, open all nearby windows and turn on the stove fan to eliminate odors.
- Cold foods have fewer odors, so they might be easier for you to eat without getting an upset stomach.
- Eat lightly seasoned foods. Avoid dishes spiced with chili, pepper and garlic.
- Avoid fatty foods like butter, margarine, mayonnaise, bacon, gravy, pastries, french fries and fried meats.
- Take 50mg of vitamin B6 up to three times a day.
- Take one half of a Unisom before you go to bed.
Many women experience vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy with no ill effects. Most often, bleeding occurs early in pregnancy when you would either be having a period or ovulating. However, it is never considered normal, and may result in miscarriage. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the cause of bleeding and there is not a treatment that will stop it, so monitor it carefully. Pay attention to the amount of spotting or bleeding (how often do you have to change pads?) and the color. Note the activity you were doing prior to the occurrence (many women bleed after intercourse). Lie or sit down with your feet elevated and see if it helps decrease the bleeding.
If the bleeding is associated with cramping or if the bleeding is heavy, requiring that you change pads every hour or more, go immediately to the emergency room. Please report any cramping or bleeding to your doctor.
Headaches are common during the first trimester, and there are a number of effective relaxation methods you can do. Try taking a warm bath, get a massage, do tension relieving exercises, practice relaxation breathing, or put a hot or cold pack to the back of the neck or shoulders.
Remember: DO NOT take aspirin or ibuprofen! If you’ve attempted to do the relaxation techniques and found they didn’t work for you, take plain or extra-strength Tylenol instead.
Maintain a regular exercise routine to help tone and strengthen your body during pregnancy. Walking and stretching are recommended on a daily basis, but stop if you feel pain or fatigue. Check your prenatal book for exercises that can help with back pain relief, and talk to your doctor during your next visit if you have any questions about your exercise routine.
Pregnancy is thankfully not an illness, and you can continue most of the exercise you were doing before. Of course, this is not a good time for scuba diving, water skiing, snow skiing or other high impact activities. In the last half of pregnancy, you should avoid vigorous sports that require good balance, sudden, jerky movements or bouncing.
Soaking in a hot tub or Jacuzzi should be perfectly fine if the water temperature is at or below 100°F. You may experience lightheadedness more easily, so it’s best to limit your time to ten-minute intervals.
If you are near term (40 weeks) and think you are in labor, observe your contractions and if they are coming at regular intervals and close together, and don’t disappear when you move around or if they are becoming increasingly uncomfortable, please call our office for further instructions. Our office number is (601) 936-9190. We deliver at Woman’s Hospital and St. Dominic Hospital.
You should also call our office for the following:
- Your membranes rupture and you are not having contractions
- You experience vaginal bleeding other than the normal “bloody show”
- You experience constant, severe pain