4 Steps to a healthy pregnancy
There is no time in your life like being pregnant!
This is a unique period where, over the course of nine months, a tiny little embryo grows from the size of a poppy seed to a watermelon. Is there anything else like that?!
Of course, pregnancy is a time when many changes happen for your body. This is, after all, the only way to accommodate a growing baby. Amongst the changes include a protruding stomach, swelling in various parts of the body, and hormones raging on a rollercoaster. No one said that pregnancy was smooth sailing, did they!
Since there is so much going on during pregnancy, it is of the utmost important to take care of your body. This is the body that is growing a baby, so it deserves plenty of attention and wellbeing.
Beyond just the physical changes that happen throughout pregnancy, there are many other things going on for you. Realistically, your entire life is about to change and there is so much to prepare. This can take a toll on your mind as well as your body. Therefore, it is important to look after yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially.
So, just how are you supposed to look after yourself when there is so much else going on? Consider some of these useful steps in guiding yourself along the path of a healthy pregnancy.
#1 Follow a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
The saying ‘you are what you eat’ has a lot of relevance when it comes to pregnancy.
As well as that expression, think about the one ‘I’m eating for two’ because you literally are. When you’re pregnant, everything that you eat gets divided through the bloodstream and makes its way into the placenta, via the umbilical cord.
This is literally how your growing baby gets its nutrients.
So, you want to ensure the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are being filtered through.
This chart gives you a better idea of what vitamins and minerals you should be having, how you can get them, and how they help create a healthier pregnancy.
|Vitamins or Minerals||Foods Commonly found in||How much to take||Positive Effects|
|Folic acid||Broccoli, Spinach, Lentils, Chickpeas, Citrus fruit(orange)||0.4 mg/d for 12 weeks or as prescribed by your doctor
|It helps prevent Neural tube(brain) defects in babies|
|Calcium||Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt, Bok choy, Okra, Green Beans, Almonds||1200-1500mg/d or as prescribed by your doctor||It helps in strengthening of mother’s bones and baby’s growing skeletal system.|
|Vitamin D||Fish, Soy milk, Beef liver, Cheese, Egg yolks||1000 IU/day||It is used to make bones strong with calcium or alone.|
|Iron||Brown rice, Cereals, Grains, Apples||0.8mg/d in first trimester, requirements increase as pregnancy progresses||It helps in blood formation.|
#2 Sleep and rest well during your pregnancy
It goes without saying that pregnancy is exhausting.
It is also somewhat contradicting to encourage you to get a good night’s sleep when there are so many factors and changes that make this hard to do.
However, rest and recovery are highly important!
You will notice within the first trimester of pregnancy that you are more tired than usual. This is totally normal and you will continue to get more tired.
Although your sleep might be interrupted by muscle aches, nausea, or mood swings, you need to acknowledge how important a good night of rest is.
If you feel tired through the day, you should acknowledge your fatigue and take the time to rest. Your body has endless processes going on inside it and all the cells need time to adapt and strengthen to help the baby grow. There is no better time than pregnancy to make the most of afternoon naps!
Read more on the best positions to sleep during pregnancy here.
#3 Exercise during pregnancy
Although it might sound unappealing to exercise as your stomach starts protruding outwards over the months, it is highly important.
Staying fit and active during pregnancy will help keep the baby strong and healthy as well as make it easier for you to lose the baby weight after the birth.
Now, you don’t want to overdo the exercise during pregnancy, given how tired you’re going to feel!
Rather, focus on doing simply exercises, such as a light walk, for just 30 minutes a day.
Swimming is one of the best exercises to do during pregnancy as it involves no pressure on the joints and muscles. A light jog is also fine, but might be uncomfortable as your breasts swell and become tender.
Prenatal yoga classes are worth considering as well, as they are excellent for your mind, body, and spirit holistically.
Read more on best exercises to do during pregnancy here.
#4 Regularly visit the doctor
As part of a healthy pregnancy, you should make sure you visit the doctor regularly.
Your prenatal doctor appointments will help keep track of your baby’s growth and your physical progression. This is also a good time to check in with the doctor about any concerns if they arise (which hopefully they won’t!).
During doctor appointments, it is important to be thorough and make sure you discuss all aspects of your health.
This includes family history, genetic conditions, and mental health conditions. The more that your doctor knows about you as a person, the better they can assist your pregnancy to progress as expected.
Now, with all that in mind, the overall aim is to have a healthy pregnancy. Of course, all pregnancies are different and unique to an individual woman. This is why it is important to find a health routine that works for you personally. What keeps you fit and healthy might not be the same for someone else!
Some general tips, in summary, for a healthy pregnancy include:
· Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
· Hydrate regularly with lots of water.
· Avoid caffeine and alcohol totally.
· Exercise lightly and regularly, but not too intensely.
· Have a sturdy social network of friends and family to talk to.
· Give yourself plenty of rest and recovery time.
· Be patient with your body as it goes through changes.
· Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
· Put yourself first!