This post created in collaboration with Michele Wright.
The joys of pregnancy cannot be denied. All the planning and dreaming for the future combined with the excitement of bringing a new life into the world can make pregnancy a dream-come-true for expectant moms. However, as all moms know, pregnancy can be as challenging as it is rewarding. When it comes to health, for example, pregnancy can involve a number of changes and restrictions, some of which can be a little confusing. Thankfully, prenatal health doesn’t have to be difficult. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide to prenatal wellness, which includes information on diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices.
Diet: How to eat healthier when your body isn’t your own anymore.
In the not-so-distant past, pregnancy was a considered a time to throw dietary caution to the wind, and eat whatever the heart desired. However, we now know that a healthy prenatal diet is a little more complex than double servings and odd cravings. Thankfully, though, getting the proper nutrition during pregnancy doesn’t have to be so challenging. The following tips will help you eat for two the right way.
- Find balance. The key to any healthy meal plan is the proper balance. During pregnancy especially, it’s important to take in a variety of vitamins and minerals, which can be done by enjoying foods of all different types, tastes and textures. Fill your plate with bright, colorful produce, and consider experimenting with different types of cuisines and cooking styles.
- Manage cravings. Sometimes, odd or unhealthy cravings can point to a nutrient deficiency. For example, yearnings for ice cream can simply be the body’s way of saying it needs more calcium. Likewise, cravings for greasy burgers or fried chicken can mean you need to up your intake of protein and healthy fats. So, when unhealthy cravings strike, try calming them with healthy options.
- Eat more often. During pregnancy, fluctuating glucose levels can result in symptoms like dizziness, drowsiness and light-headedness. Prevent these complications and stabilize blood sugar by eating several small meals and snacks each day.
- Go fresh. Packaged, overly-processed meals and snacks are typically full of sugar, trans fats, sodium, preservatives, dyes and other unhealthy ingredients. Avoid complications like high blood pressure, unhealthy weight gain and fluctuating glucose by enjoying meals and snacks with fresh, whole ingredients.
Exercise: Keep Moving!
Unless forbidden by a doctor, physical activity is a crucial component of prenatal health. Indeed, exercise during pregnancy can prepare expectant moms for labor and delivery, as well provide benefits like reducing the risks associated with gestational diabetes, promoting healthy pregnancy weight, and enhancing emotional and psychological well-being. However, when it comes to prenatal workouts, safety is a primary concern. Tips like the following can help ensure safe, effective workouts throughout your entire pregnancy.
- Safety first. Avoid potentially dangerous activities like horseback riding, surfing and even cycling. Also, the proper workout gear can help protect your body from undue stress and injury. For example, wear the proper footwear and supportive underwear, and to enhance circulation and prevent swelling consider compression leggings and other protective garments.
- Enjoy low-impact workouts. While running, aerobics and other high-impact activities are safe for some women, low-impact exercise is suitable for most everyone. Walking, swimming, hiking and yoga, for example, provide all the benefits of more intense activities, but without the added stress to the body.
In addition to diet and exercise, a healthy pregnancy can involve a number of lifestyle changes. And in addition to obvious changes like cutting out alcohol, nicotine and excess caffeine, factors like learning to manage stress are extremely important to prenatal health. Indeed, too much stress during pregnancy can lead to a number of complications, including pre-term labor and increased risk of hypertension. When stress and frustration strike, expectant moms can keep it at bay with techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or simply taking a short break to de-stress and regroup.
Pregnancy is one of the most special and exciting times of a woman’s life. We hope that the tips provided here will help you to ensure a safe, healthy, happy pregnancy.