Pregnancy Wellness: Steps for a Safe and Healthy Pregnancy
Staying healthy during pregnancy is the best way to set the stage for a healthy delivery and easier recovery. Yet knowing how to have a healthy pregnancy can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you maintain healthy living while growing your baby.
1) Focus on Your Diet
Pregnancy is not a time to count calories, but it’s also not a time to eat anything and everything. Your baby uses the nutrients from the foods you eat to grow, so focus on healthier food choices but not limiting quantities. Eat foods rich in calcium, and choose dark green vegetables to increase your folate intake. Limit saturated fats, and select produce and lean meats whenever possible.
Some foods need to be avoided during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about this, but in general, you will need to avoid raw or rare meats, raw eggs, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized milk. In addition, some doctors will recommend that you do not eat lunch meat during pregnancy unless you warm it first.
While eating healthy foods is essential, having the right balance of foods is also important. First, don’t skip breakfast, but use this as a time to have whole grains and a little protein. Eat plenty of fiber throughout the day, and opt for healthy snacks when cravings hit. Aim for 12 ounces a week of low-mercury fish, like salmon and catfish, to increase your Omega-3s.
2) Add Enough Water
Hydration is vital during pregnancy; you need more water than when you aren’t pregnant. However, getting dehydrated puts both you and your baby at serious risk. Ensure you drink at least eight cups of water daily to protect both of you.
3) Take Your Vitamins
You need to be taking prenatal vitamins every day during your pregnancy. They have the right balance of nutrients that a baby needs, including folate, which helps reduce the risk of severe congenital disabilities, as well as iron and calcium. Prenatal vitamins also avoid dangerous supplements, so make sure your supplement is formulated for your needs.
4) Avoid All Drugs, Smoking, and Alcohol
If you use recreational drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol, you must stop during pregnancy. These substances cross into your baby while pregnant and can cause serious harm. Recreational drugs can cause your baby to be born addicted, which creates the need to detox from drugs as a newborn. Alcohol consumption can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, characterized by learning disabilities, facial deformities, and behavioral problems. Smoking increases your risk of premature delivery and miscarriage, and if your baby is born healthy, it may be at higher risk for SIDs.
5) Get Your Sleep
Sleep is crucial for you and your baby. If possible, sleep on your left side. Aim for seven to nine hours every night. Move bedtime earlier if you can’t sleep later due to work and family responsibilities.
6) Keep Moving
Exercising can feel difficult as your baby and body grow, but find safe ways to keep your body moving. Having strong muscles and endurance will help you prepare better for delivery. You’ll also find that regular exercise improves your sleep, keeps you more frequent, and gives you energy and mood boosts. Always talk to your doctor to ensure a healthy pregnancy that allows for exercise. Don’t overdo it with extensive, grueling workouts, but do keep your body moving.
Walking is one of the best exercises during pregnancy. Strength training with low weights is also relatively healthy. Swimming and low-impact aerobics can also be great. Avoid exercise that puts you at risk for a fall, like riding a bike or playing contact sports, or makes you lie flat on your back, such as sit-ups.
7) Lower Your Stress Levels
Stress hormones can make birth complications more likely. As much as possible, find healthy ways to manage your stress. A pregnancy-safe massage, a safe person to talk to, and lowering your responsibilities during pregnancy can all help.
8) Consider Safe Vaccinations
Talk to your doctor about any vaccinations you may need, including the flu shot. Some of these illnesses can make you very sick and increase the risk of complications. Having preventive vaccines can help you enjoy a healthier pregnancy and delivery and reduce the risk of illness for your baby.
A healthy pregnancy requires some planning and discipline, but it is possible. Take these tips to heart, and you and your baby will have the best possible start.