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NYS Parent Guide

Prenatal: Growth and Development

Baby On the Way

While You're Pregnant

Important Additional Information Specific to Pregnancy

Here are some other tips and facts about how you can protect your baby and communicate with her starting today. Make sure you check with your doctor before making any changes in your diet, prescribed medications, or exercise routine.

To Protect Your Baby:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet, including a vitamin supplement that contains vitamins you need for a healthy pregnancy, such as calcium, iron and folic acid. Folic acid has been shown to promote healthy development of the brain and spinal cord (neural tube).
  • Exercise regularly with your doctor’s permission. Stop if you feel faint, overheated or in pain. Drink plenty of water. Walking, yoga and/or swimming are some of the most popular ways to safely exercise.
  • Do not drink alcohol, smoke or take drugs (unless recommended or prescribed by your doctor) and limit caffeine. When you drink, smoke and/or use drugs, so does your baby. No amount of alcohol while pregnant is safe! And even second- hand smoke is dangerous for both mom and baby. If you are taking prescriptions, talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any prescribed medications. Pregnant women should not stop or start taking any type of medication that they need without first talking with a doctor.
  • Avoid x-rays, hot tubs, and saunas. Warm baths are OK if the water is at body temperature. If any of your health care providers recommend an x-ray, be sure they know you are pregnant (including at the dentist’s office).
  • Manage your stress. Everyone worries. But stress that is hard for you to manage (chronic stress) is not good for the baby —or you. Even without words, your baby can sense if you are angry, fearful or anxious. It may help to talk with family, friends and other moms. If that doesn’t help, talk with your health care provider. Lowering stress increases the chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
  • Adjust your seatbelt shoulder strap so it crosses above your belly. The lap belt should be below your belly.
  • Get enough sleep. Shut-eye is easier said than done when baby decides to stretch and kick. Or your bladder is full—again. It might help to read before bed, listen to white noise or relaxing music. Take “breaks” during the day. Sleep on your left side as your baby—and you—grow bigger.
  • Be aware how your changing body might affect your balance. Be especially careful in shower and bath, on icy sidewalks and wet floors.
  • Stay away from pesticides, lead and strong household cleaning supplies.
  • Keep your hands clean. Have a cat? Leave cleaning the litter box to someone else. Be cautious handling foods, especially raw meats, fish and eggs. Wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Plan to breastfeed if at all possible. Breast milk provides what babies need to grow and thrive. It helps protect babies from illness and lowers the chances of colds, allergies, ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, diabetes and cavities. It is cheaper than formula and always ready to serve.

To Communicate With Your Baby

  • Talk, sing and read to baby—about anything and everything. Baby begins to hear by the 23rd week of pregnancy and your voice is the most often and best heard sound. At birth, your baby will know your voice.
  • Gently massage your belly or rock back and forth gently to calm and soothe baby.
  • When she moves or kicks, touch your belly and talk to your baby. “Well, hello to you too! I was wondering when you wanted to play!”

Useful Resources:

Breastfeeding Information

La Leche League Offers information and free advice on breastfeeding.


NYS Growing Up Healthy Helpline

Contact the NYS Growing Up Healthy Helpline to find your local WIC office for support, information and resources for breastfeeding.



additional resources My E-Journal

Did you know

A pregnant woman needs about 300 extra calories a day. A 300 calorie snack is 1 cup of low-fat milk with a banana & egg. For more snack ideas, go to: Ask your medical provider for more information about healthy nutrition and food choices.

Did you know

Communication begins before birth. A baby in the womb can see light, hear sounds and respond to noises, tastes, smells, mom’s movements. A child’s journey to language begins before birth, as babies in the womb hear clearly enough in the last few months of pregnancy to distinguish their mother’s voice (HAMER C., 2012)