Pregnant woman doing yoga.


How to Boost Your Prenatal Health

Whether you’re thinking about getting pregnant or have recently conceived, prenatal health is of utmost importance. Although vitamins and minerals are essential to any healthy individual, you should be focusing on them even more during pregnancy. In order to support your baby’s development, you need more folic acid, iron, calcium, and even protein! However, what you eat is only one part of the prenatal puzzle. There are several things that you should do to improve your overall wellness and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. To help you get started, here are some of the best ways to boost your prenatal health. 


11 Ways to Boost Prenatal Health

There are some essential things you can do at home to help improve your overall prenatal health. The following list is meant to be used as a guideline, but every woman is different. Always discuss any changes to your diet, exercise regimen, or medications (both prescription and over the counter) with your doctor ahead of time.

1. Eat for Nutrition

One of the best ways to boost your prenatal health is to eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s focused on nutrient-dense ingredients. One of the easiest ways to do this is to try to fill your plate with the rainbow—fruits and vegetables of all different colors—and stick to whole, unprocessed foods. You should also include plenty of whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy products, and even a little bit of fish.

While you should avoid high-mercury content, other types of fish can provide you with essential omega-3 fatty acids for fetal development. Also, try to avoid sugar-laden beverages and processed foods as much as you can.


2. Consume the Right Amount of Calories

You’ve probably heard the saying, “you’re eating for two now” if you’re pregnant. Although it can be a nice way to justify eating bigger portions, the saying can be dangerously misinterpreted. You shouldn’t be doubling your caloric intake; your baby doesn’t need that many additional calories.

During the first trimester, you actually don’t need any additional calories at all. During the second trimester, you should increase caloric intake by about 300-350, and during the final trimester an additional 450 calories a day is recommended. These numbers vary by individual, so talk to your doctor for a better understanding of your personalized needs.


3. Abstain from Alcohol and Tobacco

You probably already know this, but alcohol and tobacco are extremely dangerous for your baby. With the scientific backing regarding the harm that alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can do to your baby, there should be absolutely no question of indulging in these substances throughout your pregnancy. In doing so, you can increase your baby’s risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, sudden infant death syndrome, and several other intellectual and developmental conditions. They also increase your chances of a stillbirth and are simply not worth the risk. 


4. Take Prenatal Vitamins

Taking prenatal vitamins is a great way to keep your body nourished with everything it needs to support a healthy fetal development. Most importantly, you should be taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. If you’re planning on getting pregnant, start doing this ahead of time for even bigger benefits. Folic acid can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects and is easy to get through folate-fortified foods and supplements.start your order

5. Adjust Your Medications

There are millions of people on prescriptions across the world, some of which are necessary for daily functioning. However, certain medications can affect fetal development. While this doesn’t mean that you’ll need to forego treatment for underlying conditions throughout your pregnancy, it’s important to work with your doctor to determine which medications are safe, and which ones are not. If you rely on medications that could harm your baby during pregnancy, your doctor will discuss alternative options with you.


6. Avoid Certain Foods

Pregnancy cravings are real, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for us. You should avoid certain foods at all costs, as they may contain harmful bacteria or substances. This includes any type of raw or rare fish or shellfish (i.e., sushi and oysters), soft or unpasteurized cheese, rare or raw meats and eggs, pre-prepared salads, deli meats and hot dogs, raw sprouts, and any type of unpasteurized juice or milk. 


7. Avoid Exposure to Toxic Substances

Some chemicals and substances should be avoided during pregnancy. These primarily include lead, radiation, and certain chemicals or solvents. All of these substances have been found to increase the risk of development problems or complications in babies. During pregnancy, you should also try to adopt a safer cleaning regimen (or have your partner take over these chores). If you have a cat, avoid coming in contact with the litter box to reduce your risk of toxoplasmosis.


8. Limit Caffeine Intake

There are some studies that suggest consuming a high amount of caffeine during pregnancy can increase your risk of miscarriage. To be on the safe side, try to limit your intake to a maximum of 200 milligrams per day. This is about one, 12-ounce cup of standard coffee. However, caffeine is often present in other foods and beverages, so make sure that you take it into consideration when calculating your daily intake.


9. Move Your Body

Staying active during pregnancy is a great way to boost your prenatal health and lower unnecessary weight gain. If you already exercise regularly, you should be able to continue your normal amount of physical activity into your pregnancy. However, if you’re not so active, don’t jump into anything strenuous or overbearing. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new regimen and slowly ease into working out. 


10. Don’t Forget to Rest

It’s equally important to listen to your body and give yourself plenty of time to rest. This is especially true if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Try to ease anxiety by practicing some deep relaxation techniques and don’t feel like your day wasn’t productive if you spent it lounging on the couch. Carrying a developing baby takes a lot of energy and it’s okay to listen to our bodies and rest when we need it.


11. Go to the Dentist

Finally, make sure you schedule a dental checkup during pregnancy. The fluctuation of hormones and changes to our circulation can result in inflammation of the gums or other infections. When left untreated, this can lead to serious problems. Going to the dentist is completely safe for your baby during pregnancy, but you can always get additional reassurance from your doctor if needed.


The Importance of Prenatal Appointments

One of the pillars of making sure your health is on track is staying on top of prenatal care appointments. During these check-ups your doctor will perform a few tests to monitor your baby’s development, your overall health, and perform routine testing to check for any possible complications. The first appointment is a little more intensive to create a baseline for your health and make sure you don’t have any underlying conditions (i.e., gestational diabetes) or infections, but subsequent prenatal care visits will focus on monitoring your body and your baby’s development. These visits are also a great time to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns that occur during your pregnancy.

Ideally, if you’re planning for a healthy pregnancy in the future, you should start attending prenatal appointments before conception. These are sometimes referred to as preconception planning and they help you and your doctor assess your health and make sure your body is ready for pregnancy. If you don’t attend preconception planning appointments, don’t worry. You can begin your doctor’s visits as soon as you find out you’re pregnant and still have a perfectly normal, healthy development.

Your doctor will work with you to determine the frequency of your prenatal care appointments. A typical prenatal care schedule involves appointments scheduled as follows:

  • Conception to Week 32: once every four or six weeks
  • Week 32 to Week 37: once every two or three weeks
  • Week 37 to Delivery: once every week


Women who have a high-risk pregnancy will likely schedule more frequent appointments, just to keep a more watchful eye on development and any potential complications. This should include women with geriatric pregnancies and pregnancies after a premature birth. Work with your doctor to determine something that will make you feel comfortable and cared for. Once you set your schedule, it’s important to keep it and try not to miss any appointments.

To help prepare you for parenthood, don’t forget to order an insurance covered breast pump from Byram Healthcare. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all new and expecting mothers are eligible to receive one at zero out of pocket costs. To learn more about your options and get started with the ordering process, check out our product selection guide today.