Taking Control of your Health During Pregnancy

When Serena Williams was pregnant with her daughter Olympia, she suffered a complication: a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot in her lungs. Pulmonary embolisms can be deadly, and Williams knew this: After all, she frequently suffers from potentially dangerous blood clots. Knowing her medical history, she went to the emergency room. She told them what was happening. She told them what she needed.

They did not believe her.

In her case, she was able to convince them that the pain in her chest was real and she needed medical attention — but not before they ran other tests. Williams took control of the situation and her pregnancy and potentially saved both her life and her child’s. She’s a great example of why people need to be in the driver’s seat in their own pregnancies. It’s important for expecting parents to be educated, informed, and their own best advocate. So how do you do that? How do you take control?

Connect With Your Partner

Pregnancy can put strain on a relationship. You may be exhausted, emotional, sick, or just not feel “sexy.” This is all completely normal. However, it’s still important to put effort into nurturing your relationship as lack of intimacy can have a negative effect on the mental health of both you and your partner.


If things are feeling a bit tense between you and your partner, there are a few things you can do to liven things up. Start by scheduling a weekly date night. It’s easy for intimacy to fall through the cracks when you’re busy with life. Having a dedicated time to spend together ensures your relationship doesn’t get put on the back burner.


On the flip side, it’s also important to be spontaneous with your affection as well. Surprise your partner by flirting, touching, cuddling, or a spur-of-the-moment romp in bed. Pregnancy sex can still be fun and pleasurable even when keeping an eye on safety.


Finally, make sure to keep the lines of communication open. When pregnancy is on the table, things can change pretty quickly. Talk through these changes so your partner knows how you’re feeling and what kind of intimacy you’re most comfortable with.

Be Critical of Your Doctor

Stories of women not being taken seriously by their healthcare providers are so ubiquitous that it has a name: healthcare gaslighting. Women’s pain is undervalued, and their knowledge of their own bodies is often completely dismissed. A pregnant woman doesn’t have the luxury of being dismissed by her doctor. You’re caring not only for yourself but for your child as well.

It’s important to be critical of your doctor. Do they listen to you? Do they take time to answer your questions? Do they treat your thoughts and questions as valid? Making sure the doctor is the right fit for you not only makes your pregnancy easier and gives you peace of mind, it can literally save both your and your baby’s lives.

Know What to Avoid

Awareness of the dos and don’ts of pregnancy is a must. A lot of guilty and not-so-guilty pleasures are off-limits to pregnant women. From certain foods to activities like changing the cat litter, you need to be aware of things to avoid for your health. Likewise, some medications might be bad for you now that you’re pregnant.

Tailor Your Healthcare to your Stage in the Pregnancy

Your needs can shift depending on what phase of pregnancy you’re in. It’s helpful to keep an eye on how far along you are. Pregnancy and due date calculators can help with that.

For the first trimester, you’re typically setting up the good habits that will carry you through your pregnancy. Obvious things, like drinking and smoking, become off-limits. You start taking prenatal vitamins. By the third trimester, you’re adding in behaviors like sleeping on your side and curtailing air travel close to your due date.

Create Your Birth Plan

It’s important to decide how you want your birthing process to go, and even more important to make sure everyone involved is aware of your wishes. Whatever you feel is right for you, be firm in your plan. Be assertive in the way you want it followed out. As long as your plan accommodates your health, your baby’s well-being, and any potential complications, you should be fine — and confident that your control over the situation means the best for both of you. However, it is important to be aware that in emergency situations, you may need to discard your birth plan in order to protect both yourself and your child.


Pregnancy is already a stressful, life changing event — the last thing you need is to feel as if you have no control. Knowing what medications you can take, what food and situations to avoid, how to best care for your body during each trimester, and most importantly, how to advocate for yourself is key to a happy, healthy outcome for both you and your baby.