It’s Women’s Health Week
By: Sarah Gilland
Happy Women’s Health Week!
This week (May 14-20) is Women’s Health Week! What are you doing to be your healthiest you? Check out the list below to learn more about healthy choices related to nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and preconception health.
1. The CDC recommends getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
Did you know that more than 60% of women in the United States don’t get enough physical activity each week? Exercising is important because it helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints; helps control weight; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; helps reduce blood pressure; and can reduce your risk for a number of diseases. Physical activity is also important for pregnant women. The CDC recommends activities like brisk walking to keep your heart and lungs healthy during and after your pregnancy.
If you’re struggling to make physical activity a priority, try these tips from the Office on Women’s Health:
- If you can’t set aside one block of time for exercise, do short activities throughout the day, such as three 10-minute walks.
- Choose activities that you enjoy and vary them so that you don’t get bored.
- Make it a social activity by joining a club or working out with your partner or friends.
- If you have children, make time to play with them outside. This will help you both squeeze in some physical activity!
2. Trying to eat healthier? Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, especially if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Following a healthy diet can help you avoid weight gain and obesity, as well as reduce your risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. According to the National Institute on Health, a healthy eating plan includes:
- Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
- Limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars
- Controls portion sizes
If you are pregnant, speak with your health care provider about your diet and nutritional needs. Pregnant women need more protein, iron, calcium, and folic acid than they did pre-pregnancy. You will also need to eat more calories, about 300 more per day.
3. Be aware of the warning signs of mental health illnesses. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
It’s important to know the warning signs of mental health illnesses. According to the National Institute of Health, symptoms include:
- Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Excessive fear or worry
- Seeing or hearing things that are not there
- Extremely high and low moods
- Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear cause
- Social withdrawal
- Thoughts of suicide
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your health care provider immediately. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
There are actions you can take to maintain good mental health. The Office on Women’s Health suggests following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep each night, and making time for self-care as methods to help keep your mind healthy.
4. Would you like to become pregnant in the next year? If your answer is “yes”, take a prenatal vitamin each day. Talk to your health care provider. Take good care of your health. Stop drinking alcohol.
If you would like to become pregnant in the next year, you should talk to your health care provider. According to the CDC, your doctor will want to discuss your health history, any medical conditions you have that could affect a pregnancy, vaccinations that you might need, and steps you can take before pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects, such as not drinking alcohol in order to prevent FASD.
Ask your doctor about taking a prenatal vitamin, particularly one that includes folic acid. The CDC recommends taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
Making healthy lifestyle choices now will help you have a healthier pregnancy. Maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, seek help if you have concerns about your mental health, and make sure you are getting enough sleep each night.
Another important lifestyle choice you can make if you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant is to stop drinking alcohol. Drinking during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). If you are trying to get pregnant and cannot stop drinking, read how to find help here: http://bit.ly/concerned2017
5. If you’re unsure whether you would like to become pregnant in the next year, then talk to your health care provider about how to prepare for pregnancy and how to prevent it until you are sure you are ready.
Whether or not you want to become pregnant, talk to your health care provider about how to prepare for pregnancy and how to prevent it until you are sure you are ready. Even if you are not actively trying to get pregnant, following the recommendations for planning a healthy pregnancy will ensure the best health for you and your baby if it does happen.
The best advice is to stop drinking alcohol when you start trying to get pregnant. You might not know you are pregnant for 4-6 weeks after conception. If you continue to drink during this time, you could be harming your developing baby without even knowing it.
6. If you do not want to become pregnant within the next year, talk to your health care provider about all of your family planning and prevention options. Make sure you are consistently using a prevention method that works for you.
If you do not want to get pregnant in the next year, talk to your health care provider about all of your family planning and prevention options. You have an 85% chance of getting pregnant if you are sexually active and are not using birth control, so make sure that you are using a method that works for you. There are several safe and highly effective methods of birth control available to prevent unintended pregnancy that you can discuss with your health care provider. Using effective birth control methods can greatly reduce the chances of having an unintended pregnancy.
If you drink alcohol and do not use contraception when you have sex, you might get pregnant and expose your baby to alcohol before you even know you are pregnant. Nearly 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned, and many women do not know they are pregnant for 4-6 weeks after conception. If you are not trying to get pregnant but you are having sex, talk to your health care provider about using contraception consistently.
This site is provided to families and professionals as an informative site on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). It is not intended to replace professional medical, psychological, behavioral, legal, nutritional or educational counsel. Reference to any specific agency does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by MOFAS.