Staying healthy while pregnant is important not only for your physical and mental well being, but also for your growing baby’s. Follow these 4 crucial tips to stay in good shape while pregnant.
1. Exercising regularly. Carrying around extra mid-body weight, morning sickness, and aching muscles can all combine to make exercise sound incredibly unappealing. However, keeping active while you are pregnant will ensure not only your health, but your baby’s as well. Regular exercise can make delivery less difficult, make losing your baby weight easier, aid in post-birth physical recovery, and encourage healthy fetal growth. Aim to do thirty minutes of low-impact exercise such as swimming, riding a bicycle, lifting weights, or yoga a day. Walking is a good option too.
- Don’t participate in any high-impact exercises (workout classes, long runs) or contact sports (soccer, rugby, football), as these put you at a high risk for injury.
- Always stretch before you exercise while pregnant; a hormone called ‘relaxin’ is released to prepare your body for labor, but this can weaken your muscles and joints. Without stretching, you increase your risk for muscle or joint injury.
- Avoid activities or stretches that require you to lie down on your back, because this puts pressure on a major vein that reduces blood flow to the uterus, which may make you feel dizzy and lightheaded.
- Overheating can be dangerous to your baby, so make sure you always keep cool by having a fan and cold water at the ready.
2. Get plenty of sleep. Not only are you eating to nourish you and you baby(ies), you’re resting for both of you as well. Getting lots of good sleep while pregnant will give your body the time it needs to help develop your growing baby, making you feel better in the process. Aim for eight hours of sleep minimum a night, and try to snatch a mid-afternoon nap as well. Going to bed at a consistent time every night (preferably before midnight) will also help to regulate your sleep schedule, making your sleep more restful and deep.
- Sleeping on your left side is recommended for pregnant women, as this relieves pressure from your back and prevents a major vein connected to your uterus from having the circulation cut off.
- Waking up for a short (5-10 minute) walk in the middle of the night may help to reduce or remove any morning sickness you experience.
- Don’t take any sleeping pills while pregnant, unless prescribed and approved by your doctor.
3. Keep an eye on your weight.
- Underweight women (BMI less than 18.5) should gain 28-40 pounds.
- Women at a healthy weight (BMI between 18.5-24.9) should gain 25-35 pounds.
- Overweight women (BMI between 25-29.9) should gain 15-25 pounds.
- Obese women (BMI higher than 30) should gain 11-20 pounds
4. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C. The recommended amount of vitamin C for pregnant women is 70mg per day. However, it is best to get this from natural foods rather than pills and supplements. You can get lots of vitamin C from citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and red peppers (among other foods). Aim to eat 3-4 servings of these foods per day.
- Eating protein is always important, but when you’re pregnant you should aim to eat 2-3 servings of protein a day. Protein is primarily responsible for blood production and cell growth, both your own and your baby’s. Great sources of healthy proteins include eggs, Greek yogurt, legumes (beans), tofu, peanut butter, and lean meats.
- Calcium is vital to pregnant women, and many don’t get nearly as much as they need. Although there is normally some calcium in prenatal supplements, you should try to consume an additional 1000 milligrams of calcium per day. Great sources of calcium include yogurt, hard cheeses, milk, and spinach. By consuming more calcium, you’ll be aiding in your child’s bone and nerve development. Vitamin D is important to consume as well, as it is required for your body to absorb calcium. It is found in most of the same foods as calcium is, as well as in cereals and breads.