Women's health during pregnancy

Important steps for a healthy pregnancy

When you're pregnant, it's more important than ever to stay healthy. Your baby is relying on you for its health and wellness. You can help take care of your baby in a number of ways, including providing good prenatal care, eating healthy and exercising during pregnancy. 

Giving good prenatal care

Taking care of your baby's health during pregnancy is just as important as taking care of your child after she's born. Scheduling regular prenatal checkups throughout your pregnancy is one important way to support your health and your baby's health too. 

Follow your doctor's guidance on diet, exercise and wellness

General guidelines include:

  • Take your prenatal vitamins every day. They can help prevent birth defects and nourish your baby. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy.
  • Don't use drugs, drink alcohol or smoke. It's best for your baby
  • Be careful with medicine. Consult your doctor about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep. If you feel tired, get some rest. Don't push yourself to maintain your usual pace.

Eating healthy for your baby

When you're pregnant, what you eat affects you and your baby. You provide the vitamins and minerals that help your baby grow and develop. Get off to a good start by taking in the right nutrients.

Folic acid helps prevent birth defects. Get it from:

  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Orange juice
  • Fortified foods, including cereals and breads
  • Black beans
  • Nuts
  • Black-eyed peas

You also need 1,000 mg of calcium each day – equal to two to four servings of dairy. Ask your doctor if you plan on taking calcium supplements.

Exercising during pregnancy

As long as you're medically able, exercising while pregnant can be good for you and your baby. It helps prevent excessive weight gain. And it may keep your baby's size within the normal range. Other benefits include:

  • Reduced backaches, swelling, bloating and constipation
  • Improved sleep, increased energy and improved mood
  • Shorter labor and post-delivery recovery times

Ask your doctor to help you develop an exercise plan – including activities, durations and recommendations about when to start – and stop – exercising. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Participating in low-impact or aqua aerobics

When to call your doctor

See your doctor for regular checkups. Seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your baby is moving less than usual
  • You're bleeding or fluid is leaking from your vagina
  • You have strong cramps, a lasting backache or bellyache
  • You have contractions that continue for 30 minutes after you exercise
  • You experience dizziness, chest pain or severe headaches following exercise

Scheduled Ceasarean deliveries

Most women have a normal labor and delivery. Sometimes, however, giving birth requires some help. If your health, or your baby's health, is in danger, your doctor may induce labor or perform a Caesarean section (C-section). It's important to know that research has shown that babies born before 39 weeks gestational age without a medical reason for early delivery are at increased risk for complications. Common complications include breathing problems, infections, low blood sugar, and the need for the neonatal intensive care unit. If you are scheduled to deliver before 39 weeks gestational age, be sure to talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits to both you and your baby.

The March of Dimes also has information on why the last weeks of pregnancy count

Get help staying healthy during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting time, whether it’s your first baby or you’re adding another little one to your family. If you're expecting, our nurses are here to help guide you throughout your journey.

The Maternity Program is available to eligible members, and offers access to a maternity nurse before, during your pregnancy and after delivery. The nurse will check in with you regularly to answer questions and provide helpful information. Learn more about doctor visits, common symptoms, what to expect during labor and more.

You’ll receive:

  • Support for pre-conception counseling
  • Tips to help keep you and your baby healthy
  • Help preparing for prenatal and other doctor visits
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Post-delivery support

See if you're eligible for the Maternity Program and enroll today by calling the phone number on the back of your health plan ID card.

We look forward to supporting you and your growing family.

How UnitedHealthcare can help

Download the UnitedHealthcare Healthy Pregnancy app. Available to UHC members of an employer-sponsored plan. 

Now you can use your phone to track pregnancy milestones, set reminders, get daily tips, find UnitedHealthcare® resources and more. All at no additional cost to UHC members.

Available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store


App Store is a service mark of Apple, Inc. Android is a registered trademark of Google, Inc.

The UnitedHealthcare Healthy Pregnancy application is only available to eligible members of certain employer-sponsored plans. Application registration is required.

The Healthy Pregnancy Program follows national practice standards from the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. The Healthy Pregnancy Program cannot diagnose problems or recommend specific treatment. The information provided is not a substitute for your doctor’s care.

The information provided under the Maternity Support Program is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical and/or nutritional advice. Participants should consult an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for them. Employers are responsible for ensuring that any wellness programs they offer to their employees comply with applicable state and/or federal law, including, but not limited to, GINA, ADA and HIPAA wellness regulations, which in many circumstances contain maximum incentive threshold limits for all wellness programs combined that are generally limited to 30 percent of the cost of self-only coverage of the lowest-cost plan, as well as obligations for employers to provide certain notices to their employees. Employers should discuss these issues with their own legal counsel.