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Best Physical Therapy's Health Information Library

Here, we have gathered health articles on almost every major subject in healthcare. Please explore, enjoy, and share this free resource provided by Best Physical Therapy

Pregnancy and Drug Use

When you are pregnant, you are not just "eating for two." You also breathe and drink for two. If you smoke, use alcohol or take illegal drugs, so does your unborn baby.

To protect your baby, you should avoid:

  • Tobacco.Smoking during pregnancy passes nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other harmful chemicals to your baby. This could cause many problems for your unborn baby's development. It raises the risk of your baby being born too small, too early, or with birth defects. Smoking can also affect babies after they are born. Your baby would be more likely to develop diseases such as asthma and obesity. There is also a higher risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Drinking alcohol. There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe for a woman to drink during pregnancy. If you drink alcohol when you are pregnant, your child could be born with lifelong fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD). Children with FASD can have a mix of physical, behavioral, and learning problems.
  • Illegal drugs. Using illegal drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines may cause underweight babies, birth defects, or withdrawal symptoms after birth.
  • Misusing prescription drugs. If you are taking prescription medicines, carefully follow your health care provider's instructions. It can be dangerous to take more medicines than you are supposed to, use them to get high, or take someone else's medicines. For example, misusing opioids can cause birth defects, withdrawal in the baby, or even loss of the baby.

If you are pregnant and you are doing any of these things, get help. Your health care provider can recommend programs to help you quit. You and your baby's health depend on it.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Pregnancy and Nutrition

What is nutrition, and why is it important during pregnancy?

Nutrition is about eating a healthy and balanced diet so your body gets the nutrients that it needs. Nutrients are substances in foods that our bodies need so they can function and grow. They include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.

When you're pregnant, nutrition is more important than ever. You need more of many important nutrients than you did before pregnancy. Making healthy food choices every day will help you give your baby what he or she needs to develop. It will also help make sure that you and your baby gain the proper amount of weight.

Do I have any special nutrition needs now that I am pregnant?

You need more folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D than you did before pregnancy:

  • Folic acid is a B vitamin that may help prevent certain birth defects. Before pregnancy, you need 400 mcg (micrograms) per day. During pregnancy and when breastfeeding, you need 600 mcg per day from foods or vitamins. It is hard to get this amount from foods alone, so you need to take a supplement that contains folic acid.
  • Iron is important for your baby's growth and brain development. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases, so you need more iron for yourself and your growing baby. You should get 27 mg (milligrams) of iron a day.
  • Calcium during pregnancy can reduce your risk of preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that causes a sudden increase in blood pressure. Calcium also builds up your baby's bones and teeth.
    • Pregnant adults should get 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium a day
    • Pregnant teenagers (ages 14-18) need 1,300 mg of calcium a day
  • Vitamin D helps the calcium to build up the baby's bones and teeth. All women, pregnant or not, should be getting 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day.

Keep in mind that taking too much of a supplement can be harmful. For example, very high levels of vitamin A can cause birth defects. Only take vitamins and mineral supplements that your health care provider recommends.

You also need more protein when you are pregnant. Healthy sources of protein include beans, peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Hydration is another special nutritional concern during pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your body needs even more water to stay hydrated and support the life inside you. So it's important to drink enough fluids every day.

How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?

How much weight you should gain depends on your health and how much you weighed before pregnancy:

  • If you were at a normal weight before pregnancy, you should gain about 25 to 35 pounds
  • If you were underweight before pregnancy, you should gain more
  • If you were overweight or had obesity before you become pregnant, you should gain less

Check with your health care provider to find out how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy for you. You should gain the weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last trimester.

Do I need to eat more calories when I am pregnant?

How many calories you need depends on your weight gain goals. Your health care provider can tell you what your goal should be, based on things like your weight before pregnancy, your age, and how fast you gain weight. The general recommendations are:

  • In the first trimester of pregnancy, you probably do not need extra calories
  • In the second trimester, you usually need about 340 extra calories
  • In the last trimester, you may need around 450 extra calories per day
  • During the final weeks of pregnancy, you may not need extra calories

Keep in mind that not all calories are equal. You should eat healthy foods that are packed with nutrients - not "empty calories" such as those found in soft drinks, candies, and desserts.

What foods should I avoid during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, you should avoid:

  • Alcohol. There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe for a woman to drink during pregnancy.
  • Fish that may have high levels of mercury. Limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Do not eat tilefish, shark, swordfish, or king mackerel.
  • Foods that are more likely to contain germs that could cause foodborne illness, including
    • Refrigerated smoked seafood like whitefish, salmon, and mackerel
    • Hot dogs or deli meats unless steaming hot
    • Refrigerated meat spreads
    • Unpasteurized milk or juices
    • Store-made salads, such as chicken, egg, or tuna salad
    • Unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as unpasteurized feta, Brie, queso blanco, queso fresco, and blue cheeses
    • Raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean)
  • Too much caffeine. Drinking high amounts of caffeine may be harmful for your baby. Small or moderate amounts of caffeine (less than 200 mg (milligrams) per day) appear to be safe during pregnancy. This is the amount in about 12 ounces of coffee. But more research is needed. Check with your health care provider about whether drinking a limited amount of caffeine is okay for you.

Premature Babies

Almost 1 of every 10 infants born in the United States are premature, or preemies. A premature birth is when a baby is born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks.

Important growth and development happen throughout pregnancy - especially in the final months and weeks. Because they are born too early, preemies weigh much less than full-term babies. They may have health problems because their organs did not have enough time to develop. Problems that a baby born too early may have include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delay
  • Vision problems
  • Hearing problems

Preemies need special medical care in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. They stay there until their organ systems can work on their own.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. You usually get the patches on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but they can show up on other parts of your body. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis.

A problem with your immune system causes psoriasis. In a process called cell turnover, skin cells that grow deep in your skin rise to the surface. Normally, this takes a month. In psoriasis, it happens in just days because your cells rise too fast.

Psoriasis can be hard to diagnose because it can look like other skin diseases. Your doctor might need to look at a small skin sample under a microscope.

Psoriasis can last a long time, even a lifetime. Symptoms come and go. Things that make them worse include:

  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Dry skin
  • Certain medicines

Psoriasis usually occurs in adults. It sometimes runs in families. Treatments include creams, medicines, and light therapy.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. You usually get them on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but they can show up on other parts of your body.

Some people with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. It is often mild, but can sometimes be serious and affect many joints. The joint and skin problems don't always happen at the same time.

Your doctor will do a physical exam and imaging tests to diagnose psoriatic arthritis. There is no cure, but medicines can help control inflammation and pain. In rare cases, you might need surgery to repair or replace damaged joints.