5 Healthy Habits To Feel Your Best During Pregnancy
One of the most important lessons I learned while carrying my boys was how crucial it was to take care of myself when pregnant; my well-being directly impacted the new life growing inside of me. At the time, it felt like every choice mattered, from the foods I ate to exercising to the activities I engaged in regularly. But, with a bit of research, I was able to figure out where to put my energy, as I prepared my body to grow and birth a baby. In this blog, I’ll share five essential habits to help you care for yourself during your pregnancy so you can better navigate this special time with confidence and ease.
Why It’s Vital to Take Care of Yourself During Pregnancy
Prenatal care is vital for your baby’s health; it reduces risks of complications and helps promote healthy development. Proper care during pregnancy also has long-term beneficial health effects for the mother — and promotes postpartum health.
Let’s look at five essential habits to help you feel your best during pregnancy.
Eat Healthy, Nutritious Foods
Eating a balanced diet during pregnancy is important for your health and your baby’s development. Especially, if you’re having morning sickness, it’s important to get foods in your body that nourish you and your baby. Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products into your diet. These foods are rich in essential nutrients, supporting fetal growth and your overall well-being.
- Fruits and Vegetables: They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and they aid digestion. Opt for colorful options like berries, spinach, and carrots.
- Whole Grains: Whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal are excellent sources of sustained energy and fiber, supporting digestion and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
- Lean Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks of the baby’s development. Choose options like chicken, fish low in mercury (like salmon or trout), beans, and lentils.
- Dairy Products: Rich in calcium and vitamin D, dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese help develop your baby’s teeth and bones.
While pregnant, it is important to avoid foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats or pose a risk of food-borne illnesses. These would include unpasteurized cheese, sushi, raw or undercooked meats, and fish that are high in mercury, such as tuna, sardines, marlin, shark, swordfish, mackerel, and orange roughy. Talk to your doctor about these options, if you would like to include them in your diet regularly.
Regular exercise is essential to your health. Activities that boost your cardiovascular health, strengthen your muscles, and enhance your flexibility will also support your mental health. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce pregnancy-related discomfort, and even make labor and delivery easier. As your pregnancy advances and your body changes, you will need to adjust your physical activity, always emphasizing safety and comfort.
Ideal exercise includes:
- Walking: Walking offers a low-impact way to stay active, improve circulation, and manage weight gain.
- Prenatal Yoga: Focusing on gentle stretches and breathing techniques benefits mental well-being and physical flexibility.
- Swimming: Swimming offers a full-body workout that can reduce swelling and ease the pressure on your joints.
- Low-Impact Aerobics: Keep your heart and lungs healthy without straining your joints.
Listen to your body as you exercise. If something feels off, stop and rest. As always, discuss your exercise plan with your health care provider to ensure it’s safe for you and your baby.
Your abdominal muscles become more compromised as your abdomen grows with the baby, so remember to avoid exercises that can increase diastasis recti, which are exercises that put pressure on the front of your abdomen like traditional push ups, traditional situps, and reverse crunches. Your abdominal muscles become more compromised as your abdomen grows with the baby, so remember
Take Prenatal Vitamins
Taking prenatal vitamins is critical to your baby’s health and the ease of your pregnancy. They are specifically formulated to support your health and your baby’s development.
Key components include:
- Folic Acid: This prevents neural tube defects and aids the baby’s brain and spinal cord development.
- Iron: Iron supports the increase in blood volume and is vital for preventing maternal anemia. Iron also helps the baby’s growth and development.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: These are essential for the baby’s bones and teeth development. They also help maintain the mother’s bone health as the baby relies on calcium from the mother.
- DHA: This omega-3 fatty acid is critical for developing the baby’s brain and eyes.
If possible, begin taking prenatal vitamins before conception and continue through your pregnancy, even into the postpartum period. Consult your healthcare provider to choose the right prenatal vitamin for you.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Most adults in the U.S. need better sleep, but it’s particularly crucial when you’re pregnant. During sleep, your body works to support healthy brain function and physical restoration. New research indicates that getting insufficient sleep while pregnant correlates to higher risks for complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. For your health and your baby’s, make a point of getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep every night.
Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Listen to your body and give yourself permission to take naps as needed.
Be Aware of Safety When Cleaning
House cleaning is generally safe while pregnant, so long as you take certain precautions. Follow these safety measures:
- Choose Safer Cleaning Products: Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia. Instead, opt for natural, non-toxic cleaners or homemade vinegar or baking soda solutions.
- Ensure Adequate Ventilation: When cleaning, open the windows or use fans to circulate fresh air and prevent inhaling fumes.
- Wear Protective Gear: Use gloves and a mask, especially when using products that irritate your skin or respiratory system.
- Avoid Climbing or Heavy Lifting: Delegate or skip any tasks that require reaching high or awkward locations or lifting heavy weights. Avoid the risk of falls or strain.
- Take Regular Breaks and Stay Hydrated: Take frequent breaks and stay well-hydrated when cleaning the house.
Adapting your cleaning routine ensures your well-being and safeguards your baby’s healthy development.
The Importance of Healthy Habits During Pregnancy
Adopting these healthy habits during pregnancy protects your well-being and promotes healthy development for your baby. What could be more important? A healthy pregnancy is the best start to your baby’s life.