When you find out you’re pregnant, a whirlwind of emotions run through your body. The pure joy and excitement is a feeling like no other. But a common thought amongst pregnant women is ‘how can I help to make sure I have a healthy pregnancy?’
A woman knows her body and the importance of staying healthy while pregnant. Understanding how to keep yourself well can be more challenging, especially when there are potential health issues that might crop up.
Here we explore some of the essentials for experiencing a healthy pregnancy.
Regular doctor or midwife appointments
During your pregnancy, checking in with health professionals is essential, and you need to attend your prenatal appointments and ensure that you are signed up for antenatal care.
By organising this care early, you will be blessed with a wealth of sound advice on how to stay healthy, how to help avoid any issues, and you will get your dates for the essential ultrasound scans and tests.
A careful diet
Now you are eating for your child and yourself, you need to be more cautious than normal. Eating healthily in pregnancy follows many of the same rules as eating a normal balanced diet. There needs to the five portions of fruit and vegetable, preferably with fruit in its own water.
It’s recommended that carbs should only be a third of your diet and getting wholegrain varieties of bread, pasta, and rice is important as it gives your body the fibre it needs.
Fish is an excellent inclusion in any diet, but you can eat many of the same omega-3 fatty acids from nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables if you don’t like fish.
Only in the last three months of pregnancy will you need to increase your calories, as this is when you start eating for two. Another 200 calories a day will cover the needs of your pregnancy.
There are foods and drink that you should avoid in pregnancy. The NHS has put together a list of advisories that can guide you. It reminds you not to drink coffee and alcohol and avoid blue cheeses, but it also gives more subtle guidance on the type of eggs you can eat and the amount of oily fish you should consume.
Even if you eat a balanced diet, taking folic and Vitamin D supplements is important. Folic acid is useful when trying for a baby and in the first trimester, and this supplement reduces the chance that your baby develops a neural tube defect. Check with your midwife about the suitable dose for you.
Vitamin D helps your baby’s bones and teeth develop. Check with a healthcare professional before taking it to ensure a correct dosage and that it’s suitable for you.
There are other supplements you might want to take if you struggle to maintain a healthy diet. Speak to your midwife about pregnancy multivitamins, especially if you suffer a lot from sickness.
Being more careful than ever with food hygiene is essential in pregnancy. Listeriosis caused by the listeria bacteria can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth; other rarer bacterial infections can lead to food poisoning. Therefore, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and use antibacterial cleaners on surfaces and utensils.
It is also a good idea to be more careful than normal when reheating food – some may advise avoiding this altogether.
Maintaining a routine of exercise throughout your pregnancy is good for you, and so it is good for your baby.
By undertaking a gentle routine, you will cope better with the changes to your posture and strains on your joints.
There are more fundamental reasons to exercise. First, it can protect you from pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It will also help you deal with labour and birth and boost your mood when you feel low.
For much of your pregnancy, the exercise you can do includes walking, swimming, aqua classes, yoga, and Pilates. It is always best to let your teacher know you are pregnant to adapt their instructions for you.
It’s always best to check in with your midwife or healthcare professional if you’re unsure of what you can/can’t do.
Pelvic floor exercises
The muscles around your pelvic floor may feel weaker than normal during pregnancy, as there is extra pressure on them. The hormones running through your body also soften and slacken the muscle as it prepares you for birth.
A weak pelvic floor can lead to incontinence. Therefore, doing pelvic floor exercises regularly throughout your pregnancy will save you a lot of problems in the future.
Remember to rest
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself in pregnancy. You will feel fatigued more than usual, and soon your nights will be disturbed.
First, you will be up and down for the toilet and struggle to get comfortable in bed. Then, the baby will arrive, and sleep becomes a rare commodity.
Therefore, doing what you can to get into good sleep hygiene and taking naps when necessary, will prepare you for the times to come.
*Please note, we are not medical professionals, this is simply advice based on our own experiences and professionals we have spoken with. Please consult you’re midwife or healthcare professional if you have any concerns.