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Even before our children enter the world we can make choices that will help them grow up healthy and successful.

There is so much advice out there: “Eat this.” “Don’t eat that!” Pregnant women are bombarded with Dos and Don’ts. It’s hard to keep it all straight. Here are the most important things to do (and not do) to take care of yourself and your baby:

Pregnancy Dos

  • See your doctor regularly.
  • Continue taking folic acid every day.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods.
  • Ask your doctor about a prenatal vitamin or iron supplement.
  • Drink extra fluids.
  • Gain a healthy amount of weight.
  • Wash hands, especially after handling raw meat or using the bathroom.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Always wear a seatbelt.
  • Get a dental check-up.

Pregnancy Don’ts

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals like paint or cleaning solvents.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Don’t use illegal drugs.
  • Don’t change a cat’s litter box.
  • Don’t eat swordfish, king mackerel, shark or tilefish, which are high in mercury.
  • Avoid contact with rodents, including guinea pigs and hamsters, rats and mice.
  • Don’t take hot baths, hot tubs, or saunas.
  • Don’t use scented feminine hygiene products.
  • Don’t douche.
  • Avoid x-rays.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has lots of information resources for expectant mothers on the website. As always, consult your doctor if you have specific questions or concerns.