“You can’t eat that.
Why aren’t you eating this?”
“You definitely shouldn’t be doing that.
You should be doing this.”
The initial joy and excitement of your pregnancy can soon become an overwhelming barrage of do’s and don’ts. From advice from other mothers to numerous online articles, it can be hard to establish what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
Yes – the foods you eat, the exercises you do, and how you manage your stress levels can impact your pregnancy. Thankfully, with a few simple lifestyle changes, it couldn’t be easier to remain happy and healthy prior to giving birth.
How can you discern what’s best for you?
We wade through all the “noise” to find the best natural tips for your pregnancy.
1. Eat Well, Don’t Just Eat for Two
You’ll often hear moms-to-be say, “I’m eating for two!” However, this doesn’t mean you need to double your usual calorie intake.
Rather, it’s about eating the right foods for you and your baby.
During your pregnancy, your body needs additional minerals, vitamins, and nutrients to aid your baby’s development and keep you healthy. Putting on too much weight and eating the wrong foods increases your chance of pregnancy or birth complications, and your risk of gestational diabetes. Additionally, if you eat well during your pregnancy, you’ll often find it much easier to lose weight afterward.
What foods should you reach for during your pregnancy?
Fruit and vegetables (the five-servings-a-day rule is very important now), starchy carbohydrates (pasta, rice, and bread – whole grain rather than white), proteins (lean meat, fish, nuts, beans, or eggs), dairy, and fish twice a week with at least one portion of oily fish (mackerel, sardines, or salmon).
It’s important to stay well hydrated by drinking eight glasses of fluids per day (water, fresh fruit juice, or skimmed or semi-skimmed milk). You should avoid alcohol completely, while caffeine is thought to be safe in small amounts (200mg per day).
2. Practice Good Food Hygiene
While you’ll (hopefully) already practice good habits like washing your hands before preparing food, it’s now even more vital to be vigilant when it comes to food hygiene.
Make sure you’ve washed your hands after petting animals, changing diapers, and handling raw meat. Keep raw meats separate from other ready-to-eat foods.
Also, you may want to avoid certain foods which pose a risk while pregnant. These are foods which can contain listeria bacteria, including paté, unpasteurized milk, blue-veined cheese (e.g. Roquefort), soft cheeses ripened with mold (e.g. brie), and undercooked ready-to-eat meals.
An infection from this type of bacteria is rare but can lead to listeriosis, potentially causing stillbirth, miscarriage, or your baby being seriously ill when born.
Raw shellfish and raw or undercooked meat are best avoided due to the risk of salmonella. Eggs which have passed the right safety checks tend to carry a very low risk of salmonella, as do properly accredited foods that are made using raw eggs, e.g. mayonnaise.
3. Enjoy Regular Exercise
If you’re used to exercising regularly, you may need to adapt your regimen to suit. Vigorous exercise isn’t recommended but is something you can discuss with your doctor.
However, gentle exercise is highly recommended. It’ll help you maintain a healthy weight, help keep aches and pains at bay, protect you against issues like high blood pressure, boost your mood, increase the chances of a straightforward labor, and help you get back into shape once your baby arrives.
Try yoga, swimming, brisk walking, Pilates, and other classes aimed towards pregnant women.
4. Do Pelvic Floor Exercises
Beginning pelvic floor exercises is a great idea, too. These muscles help support your back passage, vagina, and bladder. During pregnancy, they can often feel weaker because of the extra pressure being placed on them.
Weakened pelvic floor muscles can make you more susceptible to stress incontinence, meaning you may leak when you exercise, laugh, or sneeze.
To help prevent this, you can do approximately eight pelvic floor squeezes three times a day.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
Throughout your pregnancy, you’re going to feel tired for different reasons. At the beginning, fatigue sets in because of the pregnancy hormones your body produces. Later, discomfort during the night and needing to get up to go to the bathroom can disrupt your sleeping pattern.
Sleeping on your side is a good habit to get into from the onset as, come your third trimester, this is the recommended sleeping position. Sleeping on your back or oversleeping at this time can increase your risk of stillbirth.
Still getting disturbed during the night?
If you can, start napping during the day or try to go to bed earlier/get up later to make up for your lost sleep. If you can’t do either of these, just putting your feet up and resting for 30 minutes will work wonders.
Getting into Good Habits for Life – Not Just Your Pregnancy
All the above are simple lifestyle changes any one of us can make. However, pregnancy often gives us the excuse we need to change our bad habits and replace them with better ones.
After nine months of better eating, exercising, and good sleep, you’ll most likely want to maintain these good practices – especially when you need the extra energy to run around after your little one!