5 ways to keep yourself well during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting and miraculous time in a woman's life, but it can also be incredibly taxing. In order to stay healthy and ensure proper baby development during these months, it's important that you take proper care of your body and defend yourself from external threats when necessary. Here are five tips to keep you feeling healthy and strong while you're pregnant.

1. Avoid those who are sick
It may sound like a no-brainer, but moms-to-be often find themselves acting with a motherly instinct toward other family members and friends. As tempted as you may feel to nurture and care for your loved ones, pregnancy is a time when you should be thinking about the health and safety of yourself and your unborn child. Let someone else act as the caretaker, and keep your distance from those who are ill.

2. Wash your hands religiously
Washing hands regularly will provide pregnant women with dual benefits. First, as hand contact is among the leading ways to spread and contract infections, frequent hand washing can help reduce your likelihood of becoming ill. Second, there's a large list of substances that pregnant women are advised not to come into contact with, and in many cases, women touch these items without even realizing it. One example may be handling lead paint when opening or closing older windows. Another is handling trace residue of food borne bacteria while moving about the kitchen. Washing your hands at regular intervals will help ensure that your contact with these restricted substances is limited.

3. Keep household germs as contained as possible
Germs are everywhere, and that isn't always a bad thing - unless you're pregnant. Many people will share a cup or a bite of food with their spouse or child without thinking twice, but women who are expecting should refrain from these activities. In addition, make sure you're not sharing your toothbrush, or even leaving it in a container where it might bump bristles with another. Make sure the towels you use are clean, and use disinfectant spray on commonly handled items such as doorknobs, telephones, computer mouses and keyboards.

4. Make sure your pets are healthy
See to it that all of your household pets are healthy and up to date on immunizations. If you have a family cat (or a few), be aware of a cat-related disease called toxoplasmosis, which is sometimes transmitted through cat feces. According to the pregnancy resource What to Expect When You're Expecting, it's estimated that 40 percent of Americans are already exposed to this disease and have built up an immunity to it, however, infection can still be an issue for unborn children. That doesn't mean you have to get rid of Fluffy, though. Have your cat tested by your veterinarian to see if the disease is active within them. If the test is positive, consider boarding your feline with a friend or family member, or else at a kennel, during the six-week quarantine period, until Fluffy is no longer contagious. If your cat doesn't show signs of toxoplasmosis, have another family member take charge of litter-box duties and continue as usual.

5. Keep your immunity levels up
A strong immune system is essential during pregnancy. Keep your resistance levels up by eating a balanced diet full of essential nutrients that your doctor has deemed safe during your pregnancy. Taking care to exercise and make time for relaxation will also help you stay healthy and fight illness and fatigue.

Do you have more advice on how to stay well during pregnancy? Share your tips in the comments section!