Tips on Caring for Yourself


Food Tips

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods and foods low in saturated fat. Also, make sure to drink plenty of fluids—especially water.
  • Get all the nutrients you need each day, including iron. Getting enough iron prevents you from getting anemia, which is linked to preterm birth and low birth weight. Eating a variety of healthy foods will help you get the nutrients your baby needs. Take a prenatal vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, before and during pregnancy. Folic acid can help prevent certain birth defects.
  • Protect yourself and your baby from foodborne illnesses. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating. Don’t eat uncooked or undercooked meats or fish. Always handle, clean, cook, eat and store foods properly.
  • Don’t eat fish with lots of mercury (a contaminant found in fish that can harm brain development and the nervous system), including swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish.

Lifestyle Tips

  • Gain a healthy amount of weight. Your doctor can tell you how much weight gain you should aim for during pregnancy.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs. These can cause long-term harm or death to your baby. Ask your doctor for help quitting.
  • Talk to your doctor about any medications, dietary or herbal supplements you are taking.
  • Unless your doctor tells you not to, try to get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. It’s best to spread out your workouts throughout the week. If you worked out regularly before pregnancy, you can keep up your activity level, as long as your health doesn’t change and you talk to your doctor about your activity level throughout your pregnancy.
  • Don’t take very hot baths or use hot tubs or saunas.
  • Get plenty of sleep and find ways to control stress.
  • Get informed. Read books about pregnancy and parenting, watch videos, go to a childbirth class, and talk with moms you know.
  • Ask your doctor about childbirth education classes for you and your partner. Classes can help you prepare for the birth of your baby.

Environmental Tips

  • Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika virus.
  • Stay away from chemicals such as insecticides, solvents (like some cleaners or paint thinners), lead, mercury, and paint (including paint fumes). Not all products have pregnancy warnings on their labels. If you're unsure if a product is safe, ask your doctor before using it. Talk to your doctor if you are worried that chemicals used in your workplace might be harmful.
  • If you have a cat, ask your doctor about toxoplasmosis. This infection is caused by a parasite sometimes found in cat feces. If not treated, toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects. You can lower your risk by avoiding cat litter and wearing gloves when gardening.
  • Avoid contact with rodents, including pet rodents, and with their urine, droppings or nesting material. Rodents can carry a virus that can be harmful or even deadly to your unborn baby.
  • Take steps to avoid illness, such as washing hands frequently.
  • Stay away from secondhand smoke.

Watch this video to learn more about Tips on Caring for Yourself from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: