Ah pregnancy! Such a beautiful process. It's so amazing what the human body is capable of.
Pregnancy and birth is one of the most wonderful things in life.
Unfortunately there is also much controversy surrounding what is most important during pregnancy. All of a sudden there are opinions flying around, old wives tales, not to mention the "recommended rules" keep changing as science develops.
So today we work through all the data to show you 7 tips to a healthy pregnancy that are tried and true. They stand the test of time!
The most important thing is to really listen to your body, seek professional advise and work with what is best for you.
7 Tips for your Healthy Pregnancy
1. Pay Attention to your diet
It's a fallacy that pregnant women should eat for 2. Studies have shown that women only require an average of 200-300 additional calories per day, over the course of their pregnancy. Consuming calories over and above this, will not help your baby with any extra nourishment. However, you should be focusing on getting all the necessary minerals, vitamins and proteins that are important to build your baby and its health.
These additional calories should not come from chips or chocolate, but from fresh produce and whole foods. Whilst seeking out a professional nutritionists guidance for a tailored food plan is recommended, as a general guide eating 5-6 small & well-balanced meals every day will help keep your energy levels up and ensure that your nutritional intake is high. If this sounds daunting, think of it as breakfast, lunch and dinner with a couple of snacks in between.
It's also very important that you increase your water intake, to stay hydrated and minimise constipation. Consuming a minimum of 8-10 glasses of water a day on top of caffeinated beverages and sodas is a general guide. If you find it hard to drink so much water, start by having a glass or bottle of water near you at all times and sip regularly. We always recommend adding a slice of lemon or lime to your water to assist with the absorption and hydration.
2. Take Supplements
It's important to have a good mineral and multivitamin supplement program that should be tailored and prescribed by a professional nutritionist.
If you are planning to start a family, the recommendation is that you get started with these supplements before you have fallen pregnant. As a general guide having both folic acid and Omega - 3 fatty acids at the beginning of your pregnancy is often recommended.
3. Minimise the Nasties
We all want to be as healthy as possible during our pregnancy. Sometimes though, we can be prone to drinking too much coffee, having a little too much wine or smoking.
Quitting everything cold turkey as soon as you find out you are pregnant, may not be the best way to go either.
Research does show that continuing with a small amount of caffeine and alcohol is ok. So perhaps being mindful of the quantities is the best way forward.
The list of foods one should not consume during pregnancy always evolves, the hard and fast rule is to avoid things that can cause food poisoning. Stay away from soft cheeses, limit the raw seafood etc.
Just be mindful and thoughtful about the classic "nasties"
If you find it hard, crowding out is a good strategy. Consume as much healthy food as possible and then you wont have room for the "bad stuff"
4. Quit Smoking
If you smoke, the recommendation is to stop as soon as you realise you are pregnant. Please do speak to your GP about the best support available for you to help you quit. If your partner is a smoker, the evidence currently supports a greater likelihood of ceasing smoking if your partner also quits! Make it a game and support each other!
If you are willing to give up smoking, it's not just the baby that benefits when you quit, but you do too. Women who smoke are more likely to give birth either to premature or underweight babies, so the incentive is definitely there!
Some studies indicate that women who don't smoke have less morning sickness and will experience fewer complications. Just as it's important to stop smoking, it's equally important to stay away from second-hand smoke as this can be equally harmful for you and your baby.
If struggling to quit smoking there are plenty of support services, like hypnotherapy, available to help you on your journey.
Please consult with your GP for further advice.
5. Keep Exercising
There is a lot of debate around acceptable levels of exercise in pregnancy. Whilst people have a lot of opinions, and there are old wives tales aplenty, we recommend the science!
Having consulted with a GP on this matter, here is what we found:
- Being sedentary is worse for you then being active.
- There is no evidence to show that exercise is unsafe or detrimental during pregnancy!
- The general rule is that you stay within your fitness capacity prior to falling pregnant and work within your body's needs.
- If you were participating in cross fit and you are healthy and have been given the all clear by your doctor, then as long as you wish to continue to, do so!
- Stick with your training style, if you were doing yoga regularly then don't suddenly decide to run a Marathon!
Be safe with exercise, work within your fitness limits and continue doing the exercise you were prior to your pregnancy for as long as it feels good for you to do so. That is the official word!
If exercise has never been your forte, but you are keen to start now, then working to a 30 min per day general rule will be good for you.
Consider doing 30 mins of walking or bike cycling.
Yoga (not heated) can be up to 60 mins is gentle, not high impact and can be very nourishing for you.
Keeping yourself moving is helpful with sleep, pregnancy constipation and general feelings of well being.
6. Have Adequate Rest
Ideally, you should be getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep. But we do know that as pregnancy progresses, this can get significantly harder if you are uncomfortable. Also initially, in the first trimester, women do report an increase in their fatigue levels.
Sometimes, sleep just cannot be enough, but there are other ways that you can rest to recharge your batteries.
Here are our best tips:
- In the evening before bed, start dimming your lights and lowering your noises (like TV) to assist in winding you down for a great sleep.
- Decrease ingested stimulants. So eat a light meal, avoid curries, coffee etc. There are herbal teas and remedies that are safe to drink during pregnancy that help promote a good nights sleep.
- Try to have a gentle stretch or use the foam roller to ease any discomfort.
- During the day, when feeling tired, sit down for 15 - 20 mins and take a few deep breaths, just allow your body to naturally recharge itself.
- Try services like Floatation Therapy. It is excellent in easing discomfort, promoting rest and facilitating a great sleep.
If you want to know more we have an excellent blog on the Benefits of Floatation Therapy during pregnancy.
7. Receive Therapy as you need to
As your pregnancy progresses, your body is going to change quite a lot.
The uterus itself expands by up to 1000%
Your center of gravity changes, as does your posture and your hips and ribs need to expand to allow the growth of the bub.
This means you can get quite sore, in lots of places. Allow yourself to be supported by a team of professionals to look after you during this precious time.
Pregnancy Chiropractic to provide in depth support and rehab during your pregnancy. Our team can assist with pubic symphysis pain, any sciatic discomfort or other Lumbar and Sacro Iliac issues.
Pregnancy Massage to provide support throughout your whole pregnancy. Massage can help decrease any fluid retention in your legs, decrease generalised soreness and most importantly facilitate a great nights sleep after the massage.
Floatation Therapy; we've already mentioned, but it is so good it requires a second mention! Think floating in luscious warm water where you are completely supported and weightless. You just blend with the water and drift off into a beautiful sleep effortlessly. Honestly, it's that good