Starting prenatal care
Early prenatal care is important to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. If you haven’t already done so, start taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 0.4 mg (400 mcg) of folic acid. The extra iron and folic acid is critical to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. The Student Health Center does not provide prenatal care at our facility. Schedule an appointment with a prenatal care provider in the community as soon as possible and see that person regularly. Call us if you need help finding a local provider.
Your body will start changing in many ways. Early symptoms of pregnancy can include:
- Missed period or unusual spotting
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Food aversions or cravings
- Mood swings
- Faintness and dizziness
The following tips can help you to stay as healthy as possible during your pregnancy:
- Sleep - Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Try to avoid long day time naps. Sleeping on your left side with pillows between your legs and under your belly can help you get comfortable later in pregnancy.
- Stress - Try to control the amount of stress in your life if possible. Setting limits on your time and saying “no” to requests can help your stress and energy level. Be realistic on what you can and can’t do when it comes to family and work responsibilities.
- Exercise - Regular, low-impact exercise is good for you and your developing baby. Ask your prenatal care provider about types of recommended and safe exercise.
- Healthy diet - Make sure you get plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Calcium rich foods are important for your baby’s developing bones and teeth. Eating small, frequent meals may help nausea. Avoid a lot of fatty foods. Don’t gain an excessive amount of weight. On average, a healthy weight gain for pregnancy is 25-30 pounds. Ask your prenatal care provider how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. You can make an appointment with a dietitian in Health and Wellness for specific dietary counseling (812-855-7338).
Ask your prenatal provider before taking any prescription, over-the-counter or herbal medications. Anything you take can affect and possibly harm your baby. Ask if you should continue taking routine medications that you are already on and discuss existing health problems with your prenatal care provider. Tylenol may be used for pain and fever in pregnancy, although it should be limited to the shortest duration necessary.
Things to avoid while pregnant:
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. Anything you put in your body can affect your baby. Smoking causes low birth weight and increases risk of stillbirth and premature birth. Alcohol and drugs can cause serious birth defects. Ask your prenatal care provider if you need help to quit.
- Avoid fish with high levels of mercury. This includes tile fish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel.
- If you eat tuna fish, limit your intake to two 6 oz. servings of canned light tuna or one 6 oz. serving of albacore (white) tuna per week. Albacore tuna is higher in mercury than canned light tuna.
- Avoid raw fish and raw milk. Make sure any milk product has been pasteurized before you consume it and avoid raw fish (raw sushi) to decrease your risk of food borne illness. Make sure all foods are handled safely and cooked thoroughly.
- Avoid chemicals. Pesticides, herbicides, some paints and cleaning solutions can cause harm to your baby.
- Avoid the litter box. Have someone else clean the cat’s litter box to avoid the illness Toxoplasmosis, which is spread through cat feces, and cause death or brain damage of the baby.
- Avoid hot tubs or saunas. High temperatures can harm the baby and cause you to faint.
- Avoid douching and scented feminine hygiene products. These products can increase your risk of vaginal and urinary infections.