Giving birth is a unique experience. You want to traverse the journey from preconception to post-delivery safely and happily. This requires proper health care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth.

Preconception health care is important for both partners. The care is customized to meet individual needs.

In general, Doctors advise couples planning a baby to restrict or stop addictions to cigarettes, alcohol or other such substances. The mother-to-be should start taking folic acid daily at least a month before conceiving and continue with the medicine through pregnancy. In this way, you are assured of proper growth and development of your baby's spine and brain. Never forget to consult your Doctor about taking medication, especially over the counter drugs, as some of these cause birth defects. Live in a happy and stress-free environment.

Pregnancy care includes caring for healthy and well being of the mother and child.

Regular light exercise sustains body weight and blood circulation and prevents mood swings. As the weeks progress, avoid heavy lifting and everyday tasks that involve too much exertion.

Regular sleep provides your body with the stamina to deal with physical changes to your body.

A balanced diet consisting of leafy vegetables, fruits, pulses, protein and cereals are a must for all pregnant women. Switch to a fish diet to increase your baby's IQ level. Indulge in desires but remember to limit portions.

Watch your weight. You will be eating for two and weight gain is expected. It is normal to gain around 35 pounds during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain may make birth difficult.

Wear proper clothes and shoes. Comfortable flat shoes distribute your body weight evenly and prevent ankle swelling and fluid retention. Avoid tight-fitting clothes. This allows your baby to move freely in the womb.

For those of you, who love the spa avoid the sauna and hot tub. Be careful of the essential oils you use; some could trigger undesired contractions. Apply high SPF sunscreen to protect your sensitive skin from sunburn.

Travel with care. Avoid bumpy roads. It is safer to restrict flying to the second trimester of pregnancy.

Monitor your condition and call a Doctor when you notice something unusual.

The Postpartum period is the time your body is returning to its former condition. Physical changes you will feel include contractions, muscle pain and bleeding. Ease pain with warm baths. Drink more fluid to avoid constipation. Be careful about hygiene.

Take care of your breasts and nipples. Expect some soreness once your baby begins to breastfeeding but consult a lactation expert if the condition persists.

Nourish your body with nutritious food. Avoid junk food, alcohol and cigarettes. Keep up with regular light exercise and give yourself adequate rest.

Post delivery depression and mood swings could make you feel teary and inadequate. While feeling low after childbirth results from hormonal changes and is normal, inability to cope up could be a sign of post-birth depression. Ask your Doctor for help.