Every pregnant woman hopes for a comfortable pregnancy and a healthy baby. There are many things that you can do to improve your health and that of your unborn child. Here are five tips for a happy, healthy pregnancy:
1. Pay Attention to Nutrition
It’s always important to eat a well-rounded diet, but nutrition becomes even more vital during pregnancy. You need more calories and higher levels of certain nutrients, like folate, to support the growing baby. High fiber foods like beans, brown rice, and other whole grains can help ease constipation during the later stages of pregnancy and provide nutrients like B vitamins. If you feel sick, try eating unbuttered whole-wheat toast first thing in the morning and gradually eat larger portions of bland food throughout the day as your stomach can handle it. You can also try natural aids for morning sickness like ginger or acupressure.
Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish, are important for your baby’s developing brain. A high-quality fish oil supplement and vegetable sources of Omega-3’s like flaxseed are the safest ways to get this nutrient during pregnancy. Many species of fish contain high levels of mercury that could harm your developing baby.
Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes are all good sources of important vitamins and minerals. You will also need plenty of protein and iron during your pregnancy. Iron from meat is easier for your body to absorb than iron from plants. If you are a vegetarian, you may need to take an iron supplement. Eating an iron-rich food like steak with a food rich in vitamin C can increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. Talk to your doctor about any dietary restrictions you have. She can advise you on what supplements and prenatal vitamins you may need.
2. Consider Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is safe during pregnancy, and it can help you be more comfortable and have an easier delivery. A misaligned pelvis restricts the uterus and can lead to birth defects and difficult deliveries. Problems with the pelvis or sacroiliac joints can also cause low back pain and stiffness, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. Chiropractic care during pregnancy can also help reduce nausea and headaches.
As your belly grows, your spine adapts to balance your weight. These changes are natural, but they can also be uncomfortable. Many women find that chiropractic care during and after pregnancy can reduce discomfort and help them recover.
Studies have shown that women who receive chiropractic care during pregnancy are less likely to have cesarean sections and less likely to go into preterm labor.
3. Protect Yourself from illness
During the COVID crisis, many pregnant women have been concerned about what effect this virus might have on them. Unfortunately, data on COVID-19 and pregnancy is still scarce. Hand washing, mask-wearing, and avoiding crowded environments are the best things you can do to keep you and your baby safe. Other viral illnesses like the flu can also be more serious in pregnant women.
The same measures that protect you against COVID will also protect you from the flu and other contagious illnesses. Be sure to get your flu vaccine if you are pregnant during flu season. Many pregnant women experience colds and other mild infections with no harm to themselves or their baby, so if you do get sick, call your doctor before you stress too much.
You may want to let people know that you can’t be around adults or children who have not been vaccinated for illnesses like measles and chickenpox, as these can pose serious threats to your unborn baby. After your baby is born, don’t be shy about asking loved ones to wash their hands and put on a mask before interacting with your newborn.
4. Exercise Safely
Exercise, even vigorous aerobic exercise, can be safe during pregnancy. Exercising during pregnancy can alleviate aches and pains, reduce swelling and even lead to a healthier infant.
The type and amount of exercise you can do safely while pregnant will depend on what kind of activity level your body was used to before you became pregnant. Women who were regularly participating in vigorous exercise and were in great shape before pregnancy can be more active than sedentary women. You should always talk to your doctor before you undertake any exercise program while pregnant.
Doctors recommend that healthy pregnant women aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a day. If you are in shape to do more than that and have your doctor’s OK, then feel free to work out longer or harder.
Brisk walking, weight lifting, water aerobics, and yoga are all great options for pregnant women. Remember that your joints will be looser during pregnancy, so you need to take care not to overstretch or strain them. You should also make sure that any exercise program you do has been created for pregnant women.
Avoid sports and other activities that could result in falls or hits to your abdomen.
5. Manage Stress
Pregnancy is a stressful time for most women, and all those hormonal changes don’t help. Everyday stress doesn’t pose any harm to you or your baby. Extreme, prolonged stress or stress that leads to anxiety or depression can be harmful. Fortunately, there are many healthy ways to manage stress during pregnancy. Things that have always worked for you, like meditation, exercise, or other positive self-care practices, will also help you deal with pregnancy stress.
If you are stressed out about a never-ending to-do list, try asking for help or cutting out things that aren’t strictly necessary. Most women find that they don’t need as much stuff as they thought they needed for their newborn. The nursery, for instance, may not need to be a priority since your baby will be sleeping in your room for the first year.
It’s especially important during pregnancy not to smoke, drink or engage in other unhealthy coping mechanisms. These can do serious harm to your unborn baby and cause pregnancy complications. If you are feeling overwhelmed and having trouble coping, talk to your OBGYN. He or she may recommend counseling, a support group, or something else that can help you feel better.