A Guide to Healthy Pregnancy
Looking after your health and wellbeing is always important, but caring for yourself emotionally and physically during pregnancy is vital. Ensuring that you remain relaxed and problem-free, as well as physically fit can greatly improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
It’s a common misconception that pregnant women need to eat for two, this is wrong. Your body’s energy needs will not change during pregnancy other than very slightly in the last 3 months, so the amount you eat should remain the same. Your baby will get all the nutrients it needs from your regular diet.
Try to maintain a balanced diet, containing plenty of fruit and vegetables, ideally 5 a day, and base your diet on foods such as pasta, rice and bread, which all contain healthy levels of carbohydrates. Foods containing protein such as fish, meat, eggs and nuts are also important to a balanced diet during pregnancy.
Exercising regularly during pregnancy will help you build the strength you’ll need to carry the extra weight of your bump as well as help the body to cope with the physical strain of labour.
It is also believed that regular exercise can lift your mood and reduce the chance of developing depression during pregnancy. Studies show that this is partly due to the effect that exercise has on certain brain chemicals, including serotonin and dopamine.
All forms of exercise and sport are safe during pregnancy, so long as they don’t carry any risk of knocks of falls. Recommended activities include yoga, swimming, aqua-aerobics and walking.
Cut back on alcohol
Alcohol can reach your baby very quickly via your bloodstream and the placenta. For this reason, many expecting mothers decide to cut out alcohol altogether; a decision which is recommended by the Royal College of Physicians and the Department of Health.
However, if you do decide to continue drinking alcohol during pregnancy, then it is advised that you limit your intake to one or two units, consumed no more that once or twice a week. Studies have shown that women who drink excessively during pregnancy have an elevated risk of giving birth to a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), which causes learning difficulties and other serious defects.
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth and cot death.
Ideally you should quit smoking before trying to conceive in order to provide a more hospitable environment for your baby to grow. However, the more you can cut back during pregnancy, the better your chances are of giving birth to a healthy baby.
Get plenty of rest
Pregnancy can create strain on your body, so getting plenty of rest is vital to your health and wellbeing. Where possible, try to have a short nap during the day, or if this isn’t possible then at least relax for 30 minutes or so.
If you experience trouble resting then try relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and light stretching to help relieve stress, this should help you to rest easier.