Pregnancy hasn’t changed, but the way in which many women approach pregnancy has. Instead of staying on bed rest and awaiting their due dates, some women are choosing to live active and healthy lifestyles. This can lead to healthier babies and quicker postnatal recovery times.
Here are some practical tips to help you experience a healthy pregnancy that allows both mother and baby to thrive.
1. Eliminate All Drinking and Smoking
While it’s commonly known that drinking alcohol and smoking during pregnancy are bad, people don’t always seem to take this to heart. They assume that a little bit won’t hurt, and they drink and smoke in moderation. The problem is that every little bit matters.
“When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it travels through her bloodstream and into the fetus,” explains Mercy Hospital in Chicago. “That means that when mom has a glass of wine, her baby has a glass of wine, too. In addition, drinking alcohol can lead you to eat less, thus losing sources of nutrients.”
Too much alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol effects (FAE), which are both linked to developmental delays and behavioral problems.
2. Perform Moderate Exercise
While morning sickness means you probably won’t be very active during the first trimester of pregnancy, you should make it a point to be as physically active as possible during the last two trimesters.
Contrary to popular belief, exercise is good for you. It has no harmful effects on the baby and helps you keep off the excessive pounds that can pile on during pregnancy. The key is to keep the exercise moderate and avoiding straining yourself too much. Light cardio and weight lifting are ideal.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Everyone likes to joke about “eating for two,” but taking this too far can be a recipe for disaster when you’re pregnant. The problem with eating for two is that pregnant mothers often take this as a free pass to eat whatever they want.
While cravings are real – and it’s okay to occasionally feed these cravings – don’t overindulge. An extra 340 to 450 calories per day is all that is recommended during pregnancy for women who start at a healthy weight (and only during the second and third trimesters). If you’re consuming an extra 1000 calories per day for the entire pregnancy, you aren’t being healthy.
4. Get Adequate Sleep
While being pregnant may not give you a free pass to eat whatever you want, it does give you permission to be restful. Naps are a good thing for pregnant mothers and will ensure both you and the baby are getting the rest required to develop.
If naps aren’t an option, at least make sure you’re enjoying some idle time where you can read, meditate, or simply listen to music. These periods of inactivity allow your body to rejuvenate.
5. Remove Unnecessary Stress Triggers
“High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems, like high blood pressure and heart disease,” March of Dimes explains. “When you’re pregnant, this type of stress can increase the chances of having a premature baby (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or a low-birthweight baby (weighing less than 5½ pounds).”
The key is to remove stressful triggers. These could be toxic relationships, unnecessary responsibilities, disorganization in the home, or anything in between. By removing these triggers – as opposed to just treating the symptoms – you can have a healthier pregnancy.
Make the Most of Your Pregnancy
You can buy a lot of things in life, but health isn’t one of them. If you want to have a healthy pregnancy that yields a healthy baby, you need to make sure you’re making smart choices.
Keep these five tips in mind as you anxiously await the arrival of your baby!
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