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The science-based resolutions you should make this year

Posted by Lara Salahi  January 2, 2014 08:21 AM

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How inconvenient that the first of the year happened to fall right in the middle of the week, especially since research shows that people are most likely to start new resolutions on a Monday. I guess that means there's still time to make and keep some resolutions. Resolve yourself to these research-based promises a healthy pregnancy this year... starting Monday, of course. 

I will... 

1. Drink more of this... 

Your difficult to manage bowel will thank you for it now, and your postpartum body will thank you for it later. 

2. ... And none of that.

It doesn't matter what the other women did in your life with their pregnancies and "it all turned out fine." Forget the headlines that tell you that a little -- whatever that means -- is perfectly okay, or what a certain economist wrote a book saying that the odds would be in your favor. The truth is many studies that find moderate amounts of alcohol consumption during pregnancy to be safe have severe flaws. 

Many studies that look into women's alcohol consumption during pregnancy rely on the women in the study to report how much alcohol they drank during their pregnancy -- that's because it wouldn't be ethical to give women alcohol during pregnancy and then study the effects. So instead you're left relying on their word. Also, some studies don't quantify the amount of alcohol that was found safe to consume. Two glasses of vodka is different from 2 glasses of beer. And how large is a glass anyway and how full does the glass have to be in order to be considered a full drink? Studies don't address these questions. And seriously, how many of us really use measuring cups to pour our wine? 

3. Kick this. 

Even if you weren't pregnant, the health dangers of smoking far outweigh any benefits for yourself. Smoking while pregnant, however, poses an even greater risk to the baby. These risks include stillbirth, miscarriage, and preterm birth and respiratory problems after birth. The more cigarettes you smoke, the greater the risk to the baby. 

Yes, smoking rates among pregnant women have significantly decreased over the last few decades. Still, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 30 percent of pregnant women smoke in West Virginia. In Massachusetts, up to 15 percent of women still smoke during pregnancy.  

4. Invest in healthy relationships.

It can be friends. It can be family. It can even just be your partner. A crucial part of a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period is having stable relationships and great support around you. Women in unhealthy relationships, such as those experiencing intimate partner violence, are more likely to terminate otherwise healthy pregnancies. They are also at increased risk for postpartum depression. 

Pregnancy is an emotional time and it's normal for even women in healthy relationships to experience ups and downs. However, having a stable support and positive reinforcement in place, whether it's through a family, friends, or a group of other new moms, can help them overcome and transition into motherhood more smoothly. Get rid of the negative in your life and assemble your army of positive support. 

5. Think less about this. 

Seriously. You do not need to be raising your stress levels any higher by sweating all the things that baby needs. The nursery does not have to be perfect. The onesies do not have to organized by size, color, or occasion (was that just me?). You'll be surprised by how simple a baby's needs are the first year. There's no scientific studies supporting that having a certain toy will put your child over another -- not even Baby Einstein goods pass scientific muster. Skip the anxiety-ridden run through the baby store with the registry gun. Or at least don't go overboard. Your cankles will thank you. 

6. Be present in the journey.

Get out of town. It doesn't have to be far, but it's a wonderful way to be present in the moment. Sure, pregnancy can be uncomfortable at times, and there are some special travel tips you should follow -- but it's also exciting and promising. For all the bumps in the road and the uncertainties that come with pregnancy, there's also an amazing journey of growth and discovery about your body and yourself.

You are carrying a baby. Celebrate that. 

Is there something you'd like me to write about? Like UltraSound Pregnancy on Facebook and leave a message or Email me
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Lara Salahi is an award-winning multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health and medical stories. She has worked in local, network, and cable television, international print, and documentary film. She More »

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