Being a mother is such an exciting time! But there are some things you should know through this wonderful phase of your life.

Whether or not you want more children or you are finished having babies, your health should always be your main focus. If you choose to have children, you’ve taken the steps towards a safe and trouble-free pregnancy. And if you never have children, taking care of yourself means a longer, healthier and happier life. Regardless of where you are in life, remember to eat a healthy diet, get 30 minutes of exercise a day, take a multivitamin with folic acid, manage your stress, and see a doctor at least once a year. These tips will ensure the healthiest you today!

keys to a healthy you

  • Eat Right

    Proper nutrition habits are the key to more energy, brain & heart health, disease prevention, and weight control. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are healthy choices. Include protein foods such as poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts and lean meats. Make sure to choose foods that are low in saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars.

  • Take Your Vitamins

    Folic Acid is an important vitamin for all women to have. The best way to be sure you have enough is to take a daily multivitamin with 400mcg of folic acid everyday. Folic acid makes your hair shine, your skin glow, & your nails grow. Folic Acid also helps prevent serious birth defects in a developing fetus.

  • Be Active

    Adults need at least 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. It might sound like a lot of time but you don't have to do it all at once. Spread your activity throughout the week and even during the day. Just make sure you’re doing activity at a moderate to vigorous effort at least 10 minutes at a time.

  • Visit a Doctor

    A medical home starts with finding a primary care provider like a doctor, nurse practitioner or other healthcare provider that you trust. You should be able to share your medical history and work together as partners to address all areas of your health. Your medical home should be easy to get to, affordable and comfortable.

  • Manage Your Stress

    Stress is hard on your physical health. It can cause high blood pressure, weight gain and having a premature baby (a baby born too early). Manage your stress by confronting the issue, breathing, getting plenty of rest, talking with a friend, or getting some exercise. See below for additional information to stay healthy depending on your stage of life.

I Do or Might Want More Children

Even if you decide you don’t want more children, it’s important to take care of your health. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you are the healthiest you.

Healthy Body

Taking good care of your health can help you adjust to life post-pregnancy. And it can help you look and feel your best. Here are a few things you can do to get your body in great shape.

Get Help When You Need It

In the beginning, breastfeeding is not always easy for mother or baby. To help with this issue, many hospitals have lactation consultants to help moms learn good breastfeeding skills.

If breastfeeding hurts, if you feel frustrated or if you’re unsure about anything, ask your provider for help. Many hospitals also offer breastfeeding support after you leave the hospital.

Your baby’s pediatrician can be an excellent source of assistance as well.

Visit this page to learn more about the breastfeeding resources available in Waco.

Know Your Stuff

Classes can help give you confidence in your journey. Whether its breastfeeding, childbirth, or parenting- there is a class available for you! Check out the classes that Providence and Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest offer.

Don’t Say Goodbye Just Yet

Six weeks after you have your baby, it’s important to follow up with your provider for a post-partum visit. This is the time to start talking about birth control, going back to work, any depression you may be experiencing and breastfeeding. Even though you’ll be busy, this appointment is not one to skip. Check out this chart to have a better idea on what contraception method may be best for you.

Take Your Vitamins

Start your day with multivitamin that has at least 400 mcg of folic acid. You should do this even if you’re not planning to get pregnant again. Experts believe folic acid helps promote heart health. It also makes your hair shiny and your nails grow.

Start Sweating

You can build a stronger body with at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. Exercise will also help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight if you have recently had a baby. With exercise you can expect:

  • Stronger heart, muscles and bones
  • More relaxed mind and body
  • Better sleep
  • Higher levels of energy
  • Healthier weight
  • Healthier body

Stick With What You Love

Pick an activity you’ll have fun doing and go with it. Try walking with your baby or jogging. Just make sure you get 30 minutes of activity a day.

Don’t have time for the gym? Make exercise part of your daily life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do walk lunges across the living room. Whether it’s 1-minute intervals during the day or a 30-minute full cardio session, staying active is key to staying healthy.

Check out the parks, pools, community centers, and recreation areas for you and your family to be physically active around Waco. Or check out our Pinterest page for exercises you can do from home.

Eat Well

Keep these tips in mind when ordering your next meal:

  • Grains: These foods are made with wheat, oats, rice, etc. Try to make at least half of your servings “whole grain.” This could mean eating oatmeal for breakfast or choosing brown rice over white rice.
  • Vegetables: Eat plenty of them, especially dark-green, red and orange veggies are full of important vitamins and minerals.
  • Fiber: Eating plenty of fiber like beans and peas will help you feel full and keep your digestive system humming. Plus, it’s good for your heart.
  • Whole fruits: These sweet treats provide the most benefit with the fewest calories. Juice gives you the vitamins and minerals, but not the fiber. If you drink juice, make sure that the label says “100% fruit juice.” Otherwise, it’s really a sugar-sweetened drink, closer to a soda.
  • Milk, yogurt and cheese: These can be part of a healthy diet, but switch to fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat versions.
  • Meat: Get the protein, skip the fat. Look for lean, low-sodium choices when possible – baked chicken, lean beef and turkey are great ways to get the nutrients you need. And remember, a serving is only about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Seafood: Try eating fish, shrimp and other shellfish at least twice a week.
  • Water: Drink 8 to 10 glasses a day.

Check out the Waco Downtown Farmers Market (400 South University Parks Drive) year-round every Saturday from 9-1pm for healthy, locally grown foods. SNAP can be used to purchase fresh produce and groceries at the market.

Also visit the Veggie Van, a mobile produce unit that travels all around Waco with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. They even offer discounts to SNAP users and senior citizens.

Check out our Pinterest page for easy, healthy recipes.

Quit Smoking

If you’re a new mom, now is the time to take your health back from smoking. Smoking increases your baby’s risk of death from SIDS and can cause lifelong illnesses, like asthma, for your baby.

No one says it will be easy. But with a proper plan of action and support from people who care about you, your odds of success are very good. If you’re ready to get started, congratulations! We recommend you take a look at My Quit Plan for helpful tips and hints.

Making the commitment is the first step. Now, you need to find the solutions that fit your life and add new ones as you go. Success won’t be too far behind.

Ease The Symptoms Of Withdrawal

There are many medications available that can lessen your cravings for cigarettes. Talk to your provider about options to find the one that works for you, especially if you are breastfeeding.

The Texas Quitline is also a great option. You don’t even have to leave home. Trained counselors call when it’s convenient for you and help you form a personal quit plan.

Get Your Shots

This is an important time to make sure your shots are up to date, especially for Pertussis (Tdap) and flu. Everyone who will spend time with your child needs to be immunized to keep baby safe. Infants don’t have the enough natural protection against these infections, so do what you can to make sure he or she stays healthy.

Visit the Immunization Clinic at the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District to receive all necessary vaccinations.

Learn From Past Pregnancies

If you are thinking about having another child and had complications with a past pregnancy, it’s important you tell your health care provider.

Knowing your full medical history will help your provider ensure your next pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible. There are medications that can help some women avoid going into preterm labor again. Talk to your clinician about any medications you may be taking to be sure they are safe to take during pregnancy.

The Waiting Game

Proper birth spacing not only protects your health, it also protects your baby’s. Experts recommend that pregnancies be spaced no closer than 18 months and no further apart than 60 months.

Women who get pregnant too soon after childbirth have a higher chance of miscarriage and pregnancy complications. Closely spaced pregnancies may also mean the baby has a greater chance of being born too early or too small.

Timing is everything. Your ability to have a healthy pregnancy decreases as you get older, but having a baby before you’re ready can also cause problems. Work with your provider and talk to your partner about your birth control options to decide what will work for you.

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy body, check out our resource map.

Healthy Environment

The items in your home and the people you live with play a big role in your health.

Child Care Challenges?

Selecting child care is one of the most important choices you will make about your baby. Visit our resource map to see the child care locations closest to you.

Keep Your Baby Safe

During the first few months, your baby will sleep between 15 and 20 hours a day. Babies sleep safest when caregivers follow the ABCs of safe sleep:

  • Alone: Babies should sleep alone, without parents, siblings or stuffed animals.
  • Back to sleep: Babies should sleep on their backs. The Back to Sleep national campaign has reduced SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) deaths in America by 50%. When babies sleep on their sides or bellies, they can suffocate.
  • Clean and clear crib: The safest place for a baby to sleep is a crib with a tight-fitting mattress and no toys, blankets or baby bumpers. Dress your baby in a light onesie. Try to keep the temperature around 70 degrees, as babies can easily overheat.

If your baby is not sleeping in a safe place, he or she can easily slide into a position that won’t let him or her breathe. To make sure your baby is safe:

  • Never let your baby sleep unattended in a car seat, swing, bouncy seat or stroller.
  • Never put your baby to sleep on a pillow, sofa, quilt, rug or other soft surface.
  • Never put your baby to sleep on a couch or armchair.

Safe And Sound

As your baby grows, there will be more hazards that present themselves. Avoid danger by always keeping an eye on your baby. Before they can even crawl, babies are still very mobile. They can roll, slide and fall when you’re not looking.

If you need to put your baby down, be sure to use the harnesses or belts that come with changing tables, high chairs and swings. Baby proof your house by getting down on your hands and knees and looking for hazards from your baby’s point of view. They’ll be crawling around before you know it.

Put baby locks on cabinets, drawers and move anything poisonous to a high location that is out of reach. If you have a gun in your home, keep it locked securely and out of reach. Check out our Pinterest page for more tips on how to baby proof your home.

The summer months can be very dangerous to babies — especially in Texas. Never leave a baby in a car unattended. Not only is it against the law, but also it creates a real risk of death — even on a cool spring day.

Always watch children around water as babies can drown in just an inch of water. Bathtubs, pools and even buckets can be threats. It only takes a second, so be sure to always designate an adult to be responsible for watching children while they are playing near water.

Getting Help For Violence And Abuse

Intimate partner violence can have lasting effects on your child’s development. Children who are in a violent home where domestic violence and abuse are present become victims, too.

You may be experiencing abuse if your partner or colleague:

  • Continually monitors your activities, in person or on social media
  • Tries to stop you from going to work or seeing friends and family
  • Accuses you of being unfaithful
  • Tries to control your money, your medications (including birth control), what you wear or your eating habits
  • Hurts you physically or threatens to do so

If you are experiencing violence or abuse, get help in Waco by calling the Family Abuse Center or the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children. The Family Abuse Center provides a 24-hour domestic violence hotline (1-800-283-8401), emergency shelter for victims, children’s services and counseling, crisis intervention, rural outreach, and support groups.

The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children provides a 24 hour crisis hotline service (1-888-867-7233), sexual assault nurse examination, short term counseling and case management, and legal advocacy and assistance.

You may also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or 206-518-9361 (Video Phone — for callers with hearing impairments).

Find Out If You’re Eligible For Texas State Health Benefits

The State of Texas offers several programs to help pregnant women and their babies.

  • WIC (Women, Infants and Children) helps pregnant women eat well, learn about nutrition and stay healthy. There are currently 6 WIC locations in Waco. Visit our resource map to find the one closest to you.
  • Medicaid for pregnant women provides benefits to low-income women during pregnancy. The coverage continues up to two months after birth.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Perinatal pays for qualified, low-income women to get medical care for their unborn children. This includes labor and delivery. It also includes health and medical services for the first 12 months of the baby’s life. A pregnant woman may be eligible even if she does not qualify for Medicaid.

If you don’t have health insurance, your child may be eligible for CHIP or Children’s Medicaid. These programs offer free or low-cost health coverage.

Care Net, Amerigroup, St. Lukes A.M.E. Church, Caritas, and Noah’s Heart can all assist with signing up for benefits in Waco.

Additional Resources

Learn more about SIDS prevention by visiting the Room to Breathe website.

Get dad involved with Maps for Dads, a guide to taking care of your new baby. It’ll provide him with information, tips and other helpful ideas. Download it here.

Learn how to keep you and your baby safe and healthy by downloading the Information for Parents of Newborns. This guide offers helpful information and resources that are great for moms and dads of newborns.

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy environment, check out our resource map.

Healthy Mind

To keep your emotional and mental health from hurting your physical health, you must reduce stress. If you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anyone else. Stress is hard on your physical health. It can cause higher blood pressure, weight gain and skin conditions. Figuring out what helps you reduce stress now will pay off later.

Figure Out What’s Stressing You Out

It’s best to face the issue as soon as possible. Hiding from it only makes things worse. Once you know what is stressing you out, try your best to work through it. Or ask your friends, family or even a counselor or therapist. Sometimes you can’t handle it alone.

Get Moving

Relax your mind with a hard workout or a simple stretch. Whether it’s a brisk walk behind the baby buggy or some other form of cardio, the most important thing is to get moving. Remember to invite a friend. Having a workout buddy makes you more likely to stick with your plan.

Take Time For Yourself

Being a mom is the most demanding — and most rewarding — job there is. Between late-night feeding, changing diapers, making lunches and chauffeuring around town to baseball practice, soccer practice and dance recitals, a mom’s life is nonstop.

You need to take time for yourself and recharge. Use your support network to help when you need it most. And take advantage of those times to give yourself a break. Go get a manicure, a massage or take a walk around the block. Alone time is key to a happy, healthy mommy.

Enjoy One Another

Having a child is hectic. Caring for your children — especially when they are young – leaves little time for anything else. However, it’s important that you and your partner make time for each other. So take little breaks here and there to talk, take a walk, hold hands or tell stories.

Just take the time to nurture the relationship when you can. It will make you a stronger, more connected team. And being one team goes a long way in reducing stress in your home and in your family.

It Might Be Something More

Depression after pregnancy is more common than most realize. The signs differ for everyone, but can include sadness, anger, hopelessness, guilt or lack of interest in the child.

If you begin to feel this way, talk to your nurse or provider about your feelings so they can get you the help you need.

Utilize our resource map to find local resources in Waco that can help support your mental health.

You can also call the National Lifeline for Support at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy mind, check out our resource map.

I Do Not Want More Children
Healthy Body

Taking good care of your physical health can help you prepare for a full and active life ahead. Below are a few tips to ensure your body is as happy and as healthy as possible.

Options Change As You Do

If you’re not planning to have another baby, you need to think about birth control.

As you get older, your birth control needs change. The birth control that worked well for you when you were younger may not work for you now. Talk to your provider to make the best decision for your future. Check out this chart to see the various options available for birth control.

Planned Parenthood offers the full range of available birth control methods, including long-acting reversible options such as IUDs and implants. Additionally, they offer well-woman exams, testing and treatment for STDs, HIV testing, pregnancy testing, clinical breast exams, cervical cancer screens and treatments, and HPV vaccinations. Planned Parenthood accepts most major insurance plans and Medicaid coverage. The Planned Parenthood mission is to provide quality reproductive healthcare to everyone who needs it, no matter what. If you are uninsured or in need of financial assistance, and meet certain eligibility requirements, your healthcare services may be available at a reduced cost. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit ppgreatertx.org.

The Family Health Center of Waco also offers a variety of well woman care including contraception, cervical cancer screenings, breast cancer screenings, and screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infection. The Eligibility Department at Family Health Center is available to help patients apply for financial assistance programs. To learn more, visit connect.wacofhc.org.

30 Minutes to Healthy

Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day builds a strong body. Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress and keep your mind and body sharp. The benefits of exercise include:

  • Stronger heart, muscles and bones
  • Less stress
  • Better sleep
  • Higher energy
  • Healthier weight
  • Fewer illnesses

Stick To It

Choose an activity you enjoy. Try dancing, yoga, walking or practicing a team sport like basketball and soccer. Just make sure you do it for 30 minutes every day. Ask a friend to join you. You’ll be amazed at how fast time flies!

If you can’t get to the gym, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Enjoy a brisk walk after dinner or do squats while watching the nightly news. No matter what you do, the key to staying healthy is staying active.

Check out the parks, pools, community centers, and recreation areas to be physically active around Waco.

Enjoy A Healthy Menu

A great way to be healthy is to eat healthy. Lean protein, vegetables and fruits should be the foundation of your family’s diet. Look for whole-grain options in breads. Stick to fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat versions of dairy products. Drink plenty of water. Avoid foods with high salt content, as well as those high in saturated fats.

Check out the Waco Downtown Farmers Market (400 South University Parks Drive) year-round every Saturday from 9-1pm for healthy, locally grown foods. SNAP can be used to purchase fresh produce and groceries at the market.

Also visit the Veggie Van, a mobile produce unit that travels all around Waco with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. They even offer discounts to SNAP users and senior citizens.

Check out our Pinterest page for some easy, yummy, and healthy recipe ideas.

Put Down The Puffs

Take the first step to a healthier lifestyle with the decision to quit smoking. Do it for yourself and your family.

It’s important to remember that every smoker is different. To be successful, you don’t need a one-size-fits-all plan. You need a one-size-fits-one. If you’re ready to start, we recommend you take a look at My Quit Plan. It can help you choose the plans that make the most sense for your life.

Early withdrawal symptoms are often the biggest hurdle for those wanting to quit smoking. But often, symptoms and cravings will pass in about 20 minutes. If you don’t make plans for handling withdrawal, success will be more difficult.

Medications Can Make It Easier

Medications like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other medications have been shown to double chances for success.

Discuss these medications with your clinician and together you can find the one that works for you:

  • Nicotine patch(available by prescription and over the counter)
  • Nicotine gum(available over the counter)
  • Nicotine inhaler(available by prescription)
  • Nicotine lozenge(available over the counter)
  • Nicotine nasal spray(available by prescription)
  • Bupropion SR(available by prescription)

While the first two weeks are often the most difficult, it’s important to view these times as the beginnings of a healthier life.

Find Support For Success

Quitters who gain the support of family and friends and take advantage of counseling programs have the best chance of success. So, don’t keep your plans to quit a secret.

Resources like the Texas QuitLine are convenient and flexible. Trained counselors talk to you over the phone and help create a quit plan built just for you. You’ll get tips that help you overcome your barriers as well as support that will help offset cravings.

Remember to Reward Yourself for Each Day that You Don’t Light Up

A reward of some kind, like renting an online movie or calling a close friend, helps to remind yourself that what you’re doing is important. And it is!

Manage Your Chronic Conditions Successfully

Problems such as diabetes, mental illness, obesity, high blood pressure and thyroid disorders can be managed successfully. Work with your primary care provider to find a specialist who can help you find solutions to your daily challenges. There are many treatment options that can help you maintain or improve your quality of life.

If you don’t have a primary care provider, check out our resource map to find one closest to you.

Get Checked For STIs

It’s important to have regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs.) Even if you or your partner don’t have symptoms and feel fine, you can still pass on infections. Talk to your provider and seek treatment of STIs if needed. Untreated or undiagnosed STIs can go from treatable conditions to life-threating issues.

Visit the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District (225 W Waco Drive) to get tested today.

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy body, check out our resource map.

Healthy Environment

Make sure your surroundings support your healthy lifestyle. Follow these guidelines to avoid exposure to toxins, hazards and conditions that could affect your health.

When you’re at home or work, avoid dangerous substances. These include pesticides, cigarette smoke, solvents, asbestos, lead and industrial chemicals.

Be sure to cook all meat thoroughly. Avoid raw, unpasteurized milk and cheeses to prevent infections.

Financial issues are one of the leading causes of stress in the home. Work with your partner and learn how to manage your money together. Working together, you and your partner can create a healthy home built on trust, support and respect.

Stay Connected

Before they were your support network, your partner, friends and family were your social network. Remember to take time and enjoy a night out with friends or a movie night with your partner. Go out and have fun every once in a while. It’s good for you.

Getting Help For Violence And Abuse

If your partner monitors your activities, tries to stop you from going to work or seeing friends and family, abuses you or publicly humiliates you, you are victim of domestic abuse. However, these are not the only examples. Violence can take many forms.

If you are experiencing violence or abuse, get help in Waco by calling the Family Abuse Center or the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children. The Family Abuse Center provides a 24-hour domestic violence hotline (1-800-283-8401), emergency shelter for victims, children’s services and counseling, crisis intervention, rural outreach, and support groups.

The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children provides a 24 hour crisis hotline service (1-888-867-7233), sexual assault nurse examination, short term counseling and case management, and legal advocacy and assistance.

You may also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or 206-518-9361 (Video Phone — for callers with hearing impairments).

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy environment, check out our resource map.

Healthy Mind

Reduce stress to make sure your emotional and mental health don’t harm your physical health.

Stress can cause high blood pressure and weight gain. Spend time now to figure out what helps you reduce stress. It will pay off throughout your life.

Face The Stress

Address whatever is causing you stress as soon as possible. Then create a plan to find a solution. Sometimes, this requires the help of friends or family. In some cases, counseling and therapy may be required.

Control Your Breathing

Most people take shallow breaths when stressed. However, deep breathing is much more effective. Using abdominal breathing helps your body relax and mange a stressful situation. You can also try a meditation or yoga class to learn additional ways to relax.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

It’s not enough to sleep. It has to be a good sleep. Experts say a good night’s sleep lasts seven to eight hours. To fall asleep faster, relax long before the lights go off. Turn off your computer or mobile device. Read a magazine. Sing your children a lullaby. Get some fresh air. And remember to turn those lights and television off. A dark room makes for better sleep.

Get Your Sweat On

Grab some sweats and get ready to move. Whether it’s a long walk, a hard cardio workout or some simple yoga positions, exercise makes you feel better and happier. Want to make it more enjoyable? Invite a friend or start tracking your workout progress through an online fitness tool.

Could It Be More Than Just Stress?

Sometimes it’s stress. And sometimes it’s something more.

It’s important to know when stress starts becoming something more serious, including depression and anxiety. These are critical medical problems that affect many people each and every year.

If you are feeling sad, hopeless or have empty feelings that won’t go away, these could be symptoms of depression. It’s important to remember that there are many other possible symptoms including, but not limited to, having trouble sleeping and feeling detached.

You may be suffering from anxiety if you find yourself worrying too much, feeling powerless and having panic feelings that won’t go away.

And while it’s not easy, the right thing to do for yourself and your family is to ask for help. Discuss your feelings with your nurse or provider. They can get you the help you need.

Utilize our resource map to find local resources in Waco that can help support your mental health.

You can also call the National Lifeline for Support at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy mind, check out our resource map.

Life Planning Tool

Identify your goals for the future. Discuss with your partner and see where you want to go, what you want to see and where you want to end up. With the Life Planning Tool, you and your partner can plan for a future based on your hopes and dreams. You can download it here.