Pregnancy and postpartum are some of the most stressful and demanding times a woman can face in her life. Becoming a mom for the first time is a joyful and exciting time, but also comes with a lot of new challenges and change – from preparing the home to the rapid physical body changes. Sheila Devanesan, M.D., obstetrician and gynecologist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialists, gives moms-to-be advice on the importance of staying healthy and self-care during the pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postpartum stages.
Pregnancy and labor put added stress on your body, so entering into pregnancy as healthy as you can be is important. This is the best way to avoid complications during pregnancy.
- Visit your primary care physician to talk about getting pregnant and review your current medical conditions and medications. Confirm with your physician the medications are safe to take before and during pregnancy. If a change needs to be made, it should be done prior to conception as many common medications can have risk to pregnancy.
- Be as close to your ideal weight as possible.
- Start taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid to prevent birth defects, especially related to the brain and spine.
Create good habits you can follow during pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the time to throw away all inhibitions and “eat whatever you want”. You are programming your infant’s metabolism and health for life.
- This is a great time to create good self-care habits, such as healthy diet and exercise.
- Continue taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid diligently.
- If you haven’t already done so, get up-to-date on vaccines, such as the flu shot depending on the season.
Don’t forget to make time for mental self-care! Newborns typically don’t sleep more than two and a half hours intervals in first six weeks, so it is especially important if you are nursing your infant to have your sleep schedule mirror the infant.
- Have a supportive and caring network around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Rest when you can and make sure to take time out for yourself daily – you will need these recharge moments.
- Don’t put too many expectations on yourself. This is a time to bond with your infant and manage the transition to motherhood.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to have everything perfect and lose all the baby weight. Concentrate on healthy eating and bonding with your infant.
- Typically the stressful times are just that, moments. If you feel you are overwhelmed all the time and no relief or you’re starting to lack interest in your newborn, these could be signs of a more severe depression and you should see your healthcare provider.
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital believes healthy families start with mom, that’s why each year the hospital hosts its annual A Woman’s Journey health symposium. Mothers and women in the community are encouraged and empowered to take one day to focus on their own health and have the opportunity to learn, share and explore the latest in women’s health topics. To learn more, visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/AWJ.