Women's Health During Pregnancy

When you're pregnant, it's more important than ever to stay healthy. Your baby is relying on you for its health and wellness. Be mom of the year before giving birth by:

  • Providing good prenatal care
  • Eating healthfully
  • Exercising during pregnancy

Giving good prenatal care

Taking care of your baby's health during pregnancy is just as important as taking care of your child after she's born. Schedule regular prenatal checkups throughout your pregnancy.

Follow your doctor's guidance on diet, exercise and wellness. General guidelines include:

  • Take your prenatal vitamins every day. They can help prevent birth defects and nourish your baby.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy.
  • Don't use drugs, drink alcohol or smoke. It's best for your baby.
  • Be careful with medicine. Consult your doctor about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep. If you feel tired, get some rest. Don't push yourself to maintain your usual pace.

Eating healthfully for your baby

When you're pregnant, what you eat affects you and your baby. You provide the vitamins and minerals that help your baby grow and develop. Get off to a good start by taking in the right nutrients.

Folic acid helps prevent birth defects. Get it from:

  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Orange juice
  • Fortified foods, including cereals and breads
  • Black beans
  • Nuts
  • Black-eyed peas

You also need 1,000 mg of calcium each day – equal to two to four servings of dairy. Ask your doctor if you plan on taking calcium supplements.

Exercising during pregnancy

As long as you're medically able, exercising while pregnant can be good for you and your baby. It helps prevent excessive weight gain. And it may keep your baby's size within the normal range. Other benefits include:

  • Reduced backaches, swelling, bloating and constipation
  • Improved sleep, increased energy and improved mood
  • Shorter labor and post-delivery recovery times

Ask your doctor to help you develop an exercise plan – including activities, durations and recommendations about when to start – and stop – exercising. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Participating in low-impact or aqua aerobics

When to call your doctor

See your doctor for regular checkups. Seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your baby is moving less than usual
  • You're bleeding or fluid is leaking from your vagina
  • You have strong cramps, a lasting backache or bellyache
  • You have contractions that continue for 30 minutes after you exercise
  • You experience dizziness, chest pain or severe headaches following exercise

Scheduled Ceasarean deliveries

Most women have a normal labor and delivery. Sometimes, however, giving birth requires some help. If your health, or your baby's health, is in danger, your doctor may induce labor or perform a Caesarean section (C-section). It's important to know that research has shown that babies born before 39 weeks gestational age without a medical reason for early delivery are at increased risk for complications. Common complications include breathing problems, infections, low blood sugar, and the need for the neonatal intensive care unit. If you are scheduled to deliver before 39 weeks gestational age, be sure to talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits to both you and your baby.

The March of Dimes also has information on why the last weeks of pregnancy count.

Get help staying healthy during pregnancy

When that maternal instinct kicks in, you may also begin to develop some unique health care needs. That's why UnitedHealthcare offers specialized resources for mothers and mothers-to-be.

From pregnancy through delivery, get personalized help with the Healthy Pregnancy Program. Enrolling in our free program is one way to help ensure a smooth pregnancy and delivery. Benefits include:

  • Personalized support through each stage of your pregnancy
  • Education materials and resources about nutrition, exercise and childbirth preparation
  • 24-hour maternity nurse line
  • Free gifts and savings for you and your baby

Get more information at healthy-pregnancy.com. Call 1-800-411-7984 to enroll in the Healthy Pregnancy Program.

How UnitedHealthcare can help

Enroll in the Healthy Pregnancy Program. Go to healthy-pregnancy.com to learn about benefits available to you, including:

  • 24-hour toll-free access to experienced neonatal nurses
  • Identification of your risks and special needs
  • Pregnancy and childbirth education materials and resources