Getting sick is never fun. Getting sick while pregnant is even worse. You stress more and become paranoid because it's not just you anymore--there's another life in the picture. You don't want to do anything that could possibly affect your baby in your womb.
Unfortunately, pregnant women are more prone to illnesses because their immune system is somewhat suppressed until the baby comes out. That's because a baby in the womb is still considered a "foreign body," and your defense mechanisms are working extra hard so as not to see it as a threat and release antibodies to expel it.
That said, you can’t live in a bubble for the whole nine months. Even in our own homes, bacteria and viruses can invade. "An ounce of prevention is better than cure," but for a pregnant lady, this saying is twice as important. So what does a pregnant woman need to do to avoid getting sick?
1. Eat healthy
Do not eat for two--eat healthy. It's the first thing you need to do the moment you find out you're pregnant. Your meals should have the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need. This also means choosing healthier drinks-water is always best, having frequent small snacks, and bringing your sugar intake down a notch, to name a few.
2. Take your vitamins and supplements
If your doctor prescribes you prenatal vitamins, then take them as you are told. Your doctor's advice is non-negotiable at this point; he has you and your baby's health on top of the priority list. Think of it as bricks on the wall of defenses your body is building up to fend off the viruses you might encounter daily.
3. Get lots of sleep
Yes, you already heard this from all your parent friends. You won't have time to sleep when the baby arrives. Take heed because sleep is also crucial to your body, what with the demands of pregnancy taking a toll on your body primarily. You need at least eight hours of sleep or so to keep headaches, nausea, back pains, and whatever else comes up at bay.
You're pregnant, not bedridden, so as much as you can, and as much as your body can handle, exercise. But be sure to check with your doctor before you do any strenuous activities. Low-impact exercises such as yoga or Pilates, swimming, and walking are great and beneficial for expectant moms. You're likely to have fewer aches and pains and will have more energy to face the pregnancy challenges ahead.
5. Don't stress
That may be easier said than done, but you have to—it’s for your baby! Your stress levels can directly and indirectly affect your health, so keep it low. You are nurturing a life inside you, so take it easy once in a while. Listen to your body and take a breather when you feel exhausted. Remember to stock up on the positive and happy vibes.
6. Practice hand-washing religiously
Fact: Germs are everywhere, but not all of them are harmful. But are you willing to take the risk? To illustrate, your mobile phone has been in contact with other surfaces other than your hands, surfaces with questionable levels of cleanliness. The only solution is to wash your hands before you touch your eyes, ears, nose and mouth. If soap and water are not available, always bring your anti-bacterial spray or wipes.
7. Get vaccinated
Not all adult vaccines are safe for pregnant women, so consult with your doctor about the ones that can benefit your specific condition. The flu vaccines are great for preggy ladies and can protect them from complications such as premature labor and low birth weight. Getting the flu shot can also protect your baby from the illness in the first six months of life. The measles, mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, for example, is essential but should be given at least month before getting pregnant.
8. Wear a mask when needed
If you're going to crowded places, consider wearing a surgical mask to help you ward off viruses and bacteria. When we say crowded places, that includes schools (sadly, more kids means more germs, and schools are the perfect melting pot for them), hospitals, health care establishments, and transportation hubs like airports and bus terminals. That said, you should also keep your distance from someone who sneezes or coughs.
This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.