Want to keep your pregnancy as problem-free as possible? You know that eating well, exercising and avoiding tobacco and alcohol are important for a healthy pregnancy, but do you know why?

These basics are the best and easiest way to prevent possible complications that can arise for you and your baby. Though some complications occur without warning or explanation, simple healthy behaviors are your best insurance for optimal pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Also read: Try a birthing ball for labor

Get Prenatal Care

Getting healthcare early in your pregnancy and keeping your appointments throughout pregnancy is important, as is taking responsibility for your own health when preparing for and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

Related: How to choose the right prenatal vitamin

Stay active

Regular walking or low-impact exercises like yoga or swimming are great for keeping your blood flowing and moving your baby into the right position. Just be sure to check with your provider before you start, especially if you have any history of premature labor or birth.

Eat right

It’s no secret that good nutrition is extremely important for you and your baby. Eating healthy foods will not only help your baby grow, but it will also enhance your pregnancy health. Pregnant moms should eat plenty of iron through dark, leafy greens and protein either from meat, fish, eggs, or tofu as well as beans and green leafy vegetables. Skip simple carbs and processed foods, and focus on getting healthy carbohydrates in fruits and veggies, brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa.

Related: Smart eating by trimester

Get support

Emotional support that is. Group prenatal programs can be a great way to learn from and talk with other moms. You’re more likely to stick with healthy habits and avoid unhealthy ones if you have support from others who are craving ice cream as much as you are. Look for a local practice that offers “centering pregnancy” or “group prenatal care.”

Consider hiring a doula. Even if your partner will be at the birth, having a trained labor support person with you during labor and delivery has been shown to reduce your need for pain medication and other interventions that could lead to complications. Too expensive? There may be volunteer doula programs available in your area.

Don’t forget to take a labor preparation class either from the facility where you will give birth or from an independent group.

Complications can arise in pregnancy, but if you focus on what you can control, such as practicing healthy behaviors and learning what to expect, then you’re doing all you can to create the safest environment for yourself and your little one.

Related articles: Understanding Your Different Birthing Options

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