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Every pregnancy is different and so is every baby. But there is one common denominator in all pregnancies, and that is YOU. This means that it is up to you to take responsibility and know what can really help you. Here are some valuable tips to help you enjoy a healthy pregnancy, provide an optimal environment for your unborn baby and prepare yourself for birth.
Good Nutrition
It is essential to make nutritional and lifestyle changes before conception. Some women eat whatever they desire and justify it as a craving or a need for their baby’s growth. Since pregnancy requires more nutrients than calories, eating right is really important. What you require is an additional 200-300 calories, and more calories will cause weight gain.
Folic acid taken prior to conception ensures that your body has an adequate amount to prevent neural tube defects in baby. Either a daily folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms or foods like fortified cereals, grapefruit, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, lentils and peas are recommended. You will need omega-3 fatty acids in your diet to improve your pregnancy experience and support the growth of baby’s brain and tissues. A daily fish oil supplement of 300 mgs or algae-derived DHA, in case you are vegetarian, is advisable.
Protein helps in organ growth, such as the development of breasts and uterus. It is also required for the growth of the fetus. Good sources of protein are eggs, meat, milk, fish, hemp seeds, quinoa, lentils and beans. Excess sugar intake increases the risk of gestational diabetes. Alcohol and cigarettes should be avoided as they are harmful to your baby’s growth and could lead to withdrawal symptoms in baby after birth.
Practice self-love, and this does not mean the narcissistic or vain type. Simply take the time to indulge in self-care activities. It could mean getting a different hairstyle or a manicure, depending on what makes you feel good. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to get everything perfect for the baby. Have lovely long lie-ins, early nights and cat naps too! Get whatever help and support that is available to you.
You can buy a prenatal yoga DVD to help tone your abdominal and birthing muscles. A short walk or mild aerobic exercise boosts endorphins and keeps you relaxed.
Bonding with Baby
Focus on the baby inside you as it will keep you in a joyful state and reduce stress. You can do this by singing, talking or even massaging your abdomen, while observing your baby’s reaction. Send love to your baby as this can enhance your bond with your little one. Make sure your baby moves at least six times or more in a period of two hours. This means that your baby is doing well.
Ready Daddy
Discuss your options, desires and wishes with your partner and get a birth plan ready. Daddy needs to know how he can support you during pregnancy and childbirth, and it is a good idea to review childbirth preparations and go for visit health appointments together. For specific issues, fears or concerns during pregnancy, it is important to consult an expert in the field who can give sound practical advice to assist you.
Prepare for Baby’s Birth
Get ready for baby’s arrival as early as possible. The choice to have a natural birth, with little medical intervention has several benefits for you and your baby. A natural birth means more control, alertness and bonding with your child immediately after birth. It also means lack of side effects associated with medical intervention and of course, a faster recovery.
Many women nowadays, choose to get an epidural for pain relief. Reliance on medication sometimes leads to a greater likelihood of medical and surgical interventions, such as C-sections, forceps or a vacuum extraction along with side effects from drugs, an uncomfortable long recovery period, and increased risk for adverse outcomes for both mom and her infant. The rapidly rising rate of C-sections in BC is a source of serious concern.
The current health care system provides you with many options. You may choose an OB-GYN, a midwife or a general practitioner as your care provider during pregnancy and birth. Having a care provider who respects your wishes is very important. He/she should support you fully and give you sound medical advice, especially if there are pre-existing medical conditions that might complicate your child’s birth. A hospital birth is a standard experience, but you could choose to have a home birth if you have a midwife as your care provider. A doula is a support person trained to assist you during birth and her services are available on request.
It is easy to get overwhelmed and not do anything. Attending prenatal classes will give you basic birth information but is not guaranteed to solve the issues you may experience and may not necessarily enhance your ability to have an easy joyous childbirth.
If you truly want the best for yourself and your baby, then you really need to address your fears, take responsibility for preparing yourself and leave nothing to chance. An easy birth is totally possible, provided you prepare yourself.

Gurjeet Minhas is a Nurse Educator with master’s degrees in maternity nursing from Mumbai, India and Sydney, Australia. She cares for women in the birthing unit and has developed the Joyous Childbirth home-study program to help women prepare for an easy childbirth.