Surprising Pregnancy Tips for New Moms

If you’re pregnant, you’re probably familiar with the standard list of dos and don’ts to ensure your baby’s safety: Steer clear of alcohol and sushi, maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of vitamins, and avoid certain medications. But every day, new information is coming out on how a mother’s behavior during pregnancy directly affects her new baby both in the womb and later in life. Here are some surprising facts about what you should -- and shouldn’t -- do when having a baby.

Indulge in your chocolate craving.
What you eat during pregnancy may determine the palate of your new baby. Research suggests that eating excessive junk food during pregnancy can result in children who also crave unhealthy options. Instead, choose healthy desserts and snacks like fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t satisfy your brownie craving. In fact, it was discovered that women who eat five or more servings of chocolate a week during their third trimester have a 40 percent lower risk of developing dangerous high blood pressure (or preeclampsia). And it could be good for your growing baby, too: It’s been found that moms who eat a daily dose of chocolate during pregnancy have infants who are less fearful and laugh more at their six month checkups.

Try to not stress over stress.
Contrary to popular belief, a little stress will not threaten your baby’s safety in the womb. Low to moderate levels of stress during pregnancy could actually benefit your baby’s nervous system and accelerate his development. But since too much stress is unhealthy, try to find a way to minimize your anxiety, such as enlisting help from friends and family.

If you’re tossing and turning in the later parts of your pregnancy, don’t be afraid to sleep in. A healthy amount of sleep -- experts suggest seven to nine hours a night -- is good for new moms. And sleeping on your left side can actually prevent swelling and encourage blood flow to you and your baby. If the position doesn’t feel comfortable, invest in a pregnancy pillow to help support your body.

Enjoy a light sweat.
As a new mom, you’re not just eating for two but exercising for two as well. In fact, an active lifestyle boosts your baby’s cardiovascular health in the womb and encourages lower, healthier weight. Aim to hit the gym or the walking trails multiple days a week.

The list of pregnancy questions can seem long, and you’re sure to have friends and even strangers chime in on what you should and shouldn’t be doing to take care of your new baby’s health and yours. But keep in mind that their well-intended advice may not always be accurate, so when in doubt, ask your doctor. And always remember: You know your body best.