1. Learn as much as possible about the wonderful ways that your body is changing and about how your baby is growing. Talk to your mother, your friends, and other women about pregnancy, labor, and birth. Attend an early pregnancy childbirth class, read books and watch videos about normal pregnancy and childbirth.
2. Think about whether you want to give birth at a hospital, at a birthing center or at home. Choose a health care provider who will be able to assist you in your chosen location and who helps build your confidence for pregnancy and childbirth.
3. Eat a balanced diet, paying attention to the recommendations of the food pyramid. Drink more milk, or foods that substitute for milk, and eat extra protein. If you don't eat several servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, take a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid. Drink lots of water 6 to 10 glasses a day and choose real fruit juices instead of sodas.
4. Avoid substances that may be dangerous for you and your baby, such as cigarettes, alcohol, and street drugs. Do not take any medications, even over-the-counter medications, unless you have discussed them with your health care provider.
5. Stay active! Continue exercise programs that you were doing before you became pregnant according to the recommendations of your health care provider. If you were not exercising before becoming pregnant, consider walking or swimming. Start with short periods of exercise, and gradually increase the amount of time you are exercising.
6. Get plenty of rest. Listen to your body to determine if you need short breaks during the day and to determine how many hours of sleep you need at night.
7. Talk to your baby and enjoy your growing bond with him. Research now shows that babies react to the sense of touch as early as ten weeks of pregnancy. A little later, she can react to light, your voice, music and other sounds.
8. Try to minimize the stress in your life and practice stress management techniques such as slow, deep breathing and relaxing various muscle groups when you feel under stress. You can learn these techniques and other strategies for relaxation in childbirth education classes.
9. Plan your baby's birth. For most women, birth is normal, natural and healthy. Learn as much as possible about what birth is like in the location you have chosen. Ask questions about the reasons for and possible disadvantages of any recommended medical procedures. Lamaze classes will help you understand what happens during childbirth and will help you and your partner learn positions which will aid labor and ways to cope with the stress and pain.
10. Enjoy this special time in your life! Your partner, your family and friends can help make the most of this wonderful transition. Have confidence in your body's ability to grow, nourish and give birth to this baby as women have done for centuries.
Compiled by Lamaze International