A healthy lifestyle is a key to a healthy pregnancy. The choices you make have a direct bearing on the health of your unborn baby. Simple adjustments can improve your chances of a safe pregnancy.
There’s a lot of excellent expectant mother advice out there like starting prenatal care early, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and never missing a doctor’s appointment.
Avoiding polluted air and water, and getting a decent air purifier for your home can also help you avert health risks.
10 Best Health Tips For Pregnancy And Moms Of Newborns
Remember, your baby is healthy if you are healthy. So take good care of yourself and do not cut corners. Here are 10 of the best health tips for pregnancy and moms of newborns.
1. Consult a good physician
Prenatal care is all about making smart choices for a trouble-free pregnancy. It starts with seeing a qualified physician as soon as you know you are pregnant.
The doctor will check your body weight, blood pressure and conduct some routine blood and urine tests to find out if you have any infections or disorders.
They will record you and your family’s medical history to understand if you have any special requirements. They may also perform additional tests if they detect symptoms of any serious illness.
Ideally, you need to see your doctor once every 4 weeks until the sixth month of your pregnancy. During the seventh and eighth months, you need to see them once every 2 weeks, and during the ninth month, it has to be once a week until you give birth.
At any point during the pregnancy, if you experience any discomfort or pain, immediately notify your doctor. If you have any questions and doubts, do not hesitate to discuss them with your physician. It might just help avert serious mishaps.
2. Maintain a wholesome diet
Your diet is the first thing you need to take care of when you are pregnant. As an expectant mother, it is vital that you eat the right things, in the right portions and at the right time.
Keep in mind you are eating not just for you, but for two. According to health experts, a pregnant woman needs about 300 calories more than women who are not pregnant.
There are a number of foods you should avoid in pregnancy, and some you should consume in limited amounts. Here’s a look at what you should eat and what you should not.
- Meat, fish and eggs
Meat, fish and eggs are major sources of protein which is essential for tissue-building. Include plenty of organically sourced animal protein, fresh fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains and cereals in your meals.
These foods are rich in nutrients like complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. As a pregnant woman, you need to consume about 70 grams of protein a day as opposed to 45 grams before. So fill your plate with foods that are high on protein and munch away.
Stay away from uncooked and undercooked meat, poultry and raw seafood. Avoid fish like king mackerel, swordfish, tilefish and shark as they contain unsafe levels of mercury which can be bad for your baby.
In tuna, go for light tuna. You can have around 12 ounces of canned tuna per week but do not eat more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna and tuna steaks per week.
Milk and dairy products are good sources of calcium and calcium is needed for strong bones and joints. Consume around 4-5 servings of dairy every day.
However, avoid unpasteurized milk and milk products as they may contain harmful bacteria. This means you need to keep your distance from soft cheeses like feta, Brie, Camembert, blue cheese and queso fresco.
Opt for foods that have low levels of refined sugar. Avoid junk food as they are packed with saturated fatty acids and triglycerides which clog your blood vessels.
Pregnant women naturally suffer from iron deficiency, and caffeine makes it further difficult for the body to absorb iron. Caffeine does not have any nutritive value. On the contrary, it keeps you up at night and causes headaches and drowsiness during the day.
Studies have also found that a high intake of caffeine can lead to miscarriage. Expecting mothers are advised to limit their caffeine consumption to 200 mg per day which is about one cup (8 ounces) of strong coffee.
Also, before you buy products like tea, coffee, soft drinks, ice cream and chocolates, check them for their caffeine content.
Above all, drink lots of water. Doctors recommend drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water every day for pregnant women. Water helps maintain amniotic fluids in your body. Lack of water can induce morning sickness, cramps and tiredness.
3. Say no to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs
Smoking is extremely injurious to your unborn child. Even passive smoking is harmful both for the mother and the baby. Avoid being around people who smoke, and public places that allow smoking.
Alcohol is equally harmful to the fetus. It has been found to cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a disorder that impedes the baby’s mental development. Drugs, of course, are a complete no-no. It is fatal for your baby and you too.
4. Exercise regularly
As the life inside you grows, your body also grows in size and changes in shape. An active lifestyle will help you stay flexible and agile. Follow these exercise tips for a healthy pregnancy.
A moderate amount of exercise every day can go a long way in uplifting your mood, reducing stress, improving blood circulation, keeping your weight in check and ensuring a good night’s sleep. It also eases your labour and delivery.
Before getting started, consult your doctor and discuss what kind of exercise is best suited for you. Due to the unique nature of your pregnancy, certain exercises might be out of bounds for you.
Walking is a good way to keep yourself active. Try walking for around 15 to 20 minutes every day in a cool and shaded place. You can also swim, do yoga, pilates and free hand exercises.
Exercise enhances your strength, conditioning and flexibility and alleviates the common aches and pains of pregnancy. Keep in mind not to overdo any work-out. Listen to your body, take breaks in between and keep yourself hydrated.
5. Prenatal supplements
You baby’s nervous system develops early. The formation of the neural cord, which later metamorphoses into the brain and the spinal cord, begins in the first month itself.
During this time, folic acid plays a pivotal role in the development of fetal nervous tissue. An expecting mother needs around 400 mg of folic acid per day and the best way to get it is through prenatal multivitamins.
Multivitamins are a great source of folic acid, iron, calcium and other nutrients essential for your growing baby. Speak to your doctor about what supplements you need to take.
6. Take adequate rest
Sleep and rest are very essential for a healthy pregnancy. Make sure you get at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Take naps during the day if you feel tired.
Limit your nocturnal social engagements and retire to bed early. Stay off of your phone and laptop as much as you can just before going to bed. It will help you fall asleep faster.
7. Educate yourself
Sign yourself and your partner up for childbirth classes. Talk to other mothers and get their inputs too. Read up on pregnancy literature and keep yourself up to date on the latest findings and research on childbirth.
Find out more about your family’s medical history to be better prepared for the delivery. If it is not your first pregnancy and you have had complications in the past, discuss it openly with your doctor and seek their advice on the best way forward.
8. Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
To get your body ready for the strenuous task of childbirth, you need to do certain exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support the uterus, the urinary bladder and the bowels.
With proper exercise, these muscles can help you have a smooth delivery and also keep incontinence at bay. The exercises are called Kegel exercises and you can do them anywhere without anybody noticing.
Just squeeze your muscles as if you are trying to stop yourself from peeing, hold for 3 seconds, and relax. Repeat the process 10 times.
9. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
Wear loose comfortable clothing. Avoid body-hugging clothes as it might suffocate your baby. Wear comfortable shoes with soft soles and ample ventilation. As your weight increases, the pressure on your feet also increases.
This might lead to swollen ankles and feet, and painful over-pronation. Therefore, it is essential that you take good care of your feet and rest them often to avoid fatigue and inflammation.
10. Breathe clean air
With the new life blossoming inside you, the importance of breathing fresh and clean air cannot be stressed enough. But with the growth of industries and our own urban existences, it is nearly impossible to stay away from polluted air.
The best thing we can do is get a home air purifier. An air purifier uses advanced technology like HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting), ionization, activated carbon filters and UV light to remove impurities from the indoor air.
It contains multiple filters that trap and eliminate noxious substances like sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, methane, ozone, lead, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, tobacco smoke, pollen, fungal spores, bacteria, viruses, pet dander and dust mites.
They retain the debris and release the fresh purified air back into the house. Breathing clean air will make sure you do not develop complications during your nine months and even after you give birth. An air purifier will be good not just for you and your baby, but for your entire family.
Priya Florence Shah blogs about off-grid living, renewable energy, green living, and eco-friendly products at LifeOffGrid. Learn how to go green and reduce your ecological footprint in the Free How To Go Green course.
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