When you’re pregnant, it’s natural to want to be as healthy as possible. You want to protect and nourish your unborn baby and look after yourself as your body changes.
However, it can feel like everyone is full of advice, and everywhere you look, there is more information than you can take in. To make things easier for you, here are our five top important tips for a healthy pregnancy.
1. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
You probably already know you should be eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day and drinking plenty of fluids to keep your baby healthy.
What you may not know is that these five big nutrients: folate, calcium, iron, zinc, and fibre, are vital for a healthy pregnancy journey.
Healthy Pregnancy Eating Tips:
Eat lentils, beans and legumes, whole grains, wheat germ, asparagus, oranges, fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, poultry, and fish to increase folate intake.
- Calcium-rich foods include dairy, canned fish, and soy products.
- You can get zinc from meat, seafood, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.
- Fibre helps prevent constipation, which is common in pregnancy, so eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Eat more fish since it’s high in omega-3, a nutrient critical to brain development.
- Don’t eat soft or unpasteurised cheese like Brie and feta because they may contain bacteria that can cause fever, miscarriage, or pregnancy complications.
2. Take Folic Acid and Vitamin Supplements
Folic acid is crucial for the proper development of the baby’s neural tube and creating new red blood cells, so you should take this supplement before conception and in the first six weeks of pregnancy.
A pregnancy multivitamin can help you get the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your baby healthy, especially if you don’t always eat a balanced diet.
Talk to your doctor, midwife, or pharmacist about the best vitamin supplement for you.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is important for your general health. Stay active to help control your weight, improve circulation, boost your mood, control stress, and help you sleep better.
Exercise will also help you cope with changes to your posture and strains on your joints during pregnancy. Additionally, exercise can help protect you from complications such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes every day. You could go for a walk or swim, or try yoga, pilates, or an exercise class especially for pregnant women.
4. Practice Kegel Exercises
Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. Even though you can’t see or feel them, if you work them and make them stronger, you can help make your delivery easier and prevent problems with incontinence after your pregnancy.
You can do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles anytime, anywhere because nobody will know you are doing them.
Here’s how to do them:
Imagine you’re on the loo, and you want to stop the flow of urine. The muscles that you squeeze are your pelvic floor muscles. Squeeze, hold for three seconds, then slowly relax. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
5. Eliminate Toxins
For a healthy pregnancy, try to eliminate the following from your lifestyle:
- Tobacco, cigarettes, and secondhand smoke
- Illicit drugs
- Solvents such as paint thinners and nail polish remover
In addition, avoid the following:
- Caffeine — or reduce the amount of coffee and tea you drink.
- Cat litter and cat mess in the garden. This is because cats can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis can lead to miscarriage, or the baby can develop serious health problems.
- Harsh or toxic chemical cleaners
- Saunas and hot tubs in case of overheating
- Juniper, rosemary, and clary sage essential oils because they can cause uterine contractions
When you are pregnant, it’s essential that you attend your prenatal appointments so medical professionals can check your and your baby’s health. You may also have an ultrasound scan to check your baby’s development.