Pregnancy can put a huge spotlight on your own health and well-being. How you look after yourself impacts your growing baby! From nutrition and exercise to stress management and taking care of your emotional well-being, there are a few pregnancy habits to adopt in order to make this journey a more comfortable one.
- Understand The Importance Of Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnancy eating habits are one of the driving forces of a healthy pregnancy.
Even before becoming pregnant, women should eat folate-rich foods for the future health of their children. “It’s important to take a 400 micrograms folic acid tablet every day before you’re pregnant and until you’re 12 weeks pregnant. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida,” tells the NHS.
You can get folate into your diet through beans and legumes, eggs, asparagus, leafy greens, beets, and citrus fruits.
During pregnancy, it’s important to focus on whole foods and make sure you’re consuming the vitamins and minerals you need:
- Meats for its content of iron, choline, and B vitamins.
- Salmon and other pregnancy-safe fish and seafood for omega-3 fatty acids.
- Dairy products for calcium.
- A variety of fruits and vegetables for fiber, vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, and potassium.
- Whole grains for carbohydrates which can help you with your energy levels.
- Healthy fats like olive oil and avocado for folate, vitamin K, and vitamin E.
- Stay Active Throughout Your Pregnancy
Working out while pregnant has so many benefits, such as:
- Exercise can help prepare your body for labor.
- It can reduce your risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
- Working out is a healthy way to destress and promote relaxation.
- It can also relieve constipation, back pain, and swelling.
“Healthy pregnant women need at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week,” says March Of Dimes. You can break this down into 30-minute intervals. If you’re new to exercise, start small (like five to 10 minutes) and then gradually build it up.
It’s important to check with your healthcare provider to make sure exercise is safe – every pregnancy is unique!
- Change Your Schedule To Avoid Harmful Activities
Cleaning with toxic chemicals can be harmful to pregnant women. Opt for non-toxic, natural cleaning products for your home, and get help from your partner, family member, or a cleaning service.
“Even everyday tasks, like scrubbing the bathroom or cleaning up after pets, can become a little riskier when you’re pregnant. Exposure to toxic chemicals or coming in contact with certain germs can harm you and your baby,” explains Parents.
As a pregnant woman, you shouldn’t change cat litter (this is to avoid toxoplasmosis). You should also avoid standing for long periods of time and climbing on ladders.
- Stay Hydrated
It’s essential to make hydration a priority when pregnant. According to the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, expecting women should drink eight to 12 cups (64 to 96 ounces) of water daily. This is to assist the body in building your cells, eliminating waste, transporting nutrients throughout your system, and regulating your internal body temperature.
Your hydrating needs increase during pregnancy. This is in order to support your baby’s blood circulation, create more blood, and form amniotic fluid.
So, start carrying a water bottle around with you and switch from caffeinated beverages to herbal teas. Include fruits and vegetables that have a high water content in your diet, too. Think watermelon, strawberries, celery, oranges, and cucumbers.
- Wear Sunscreen Daily
Did you know that you can be extra sensitive to sunlight during pregnancy? “Since your skin tends to be more sensitive when you’re pregnant, melasma and other kinds of hyperpigmentation — blotches, patches, dots or lines that can vary in color from reddish-purple to brown, blue or gray — are more of a possibility and can become more pronounced when you’re exposed to the sun,” says What To Expect.
Healthline has a list of pregnancy-safe sunscreens to choose from.
- Learn About Sleep And Breastfeeding Before Your Little One Arrives
Educating yourself is one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for motherhood. Approaching motherhood with the mindset, “This is natural I’ll learn as I go” can set you up for a frustrating start to your journey. Understanding the link between feeding and sleep, and learning about breastfeeding and feeding your newborn as well as newborn sleep can help you feel way more prepared.
You can get so many pregnancy tips for first-time moms through online courses, classes, and moms’ groups.
To get started, download the free mini course, Prepare for Baby. Through this course, you’ll learn how to advocate for yourself the moment your baby is born, establish healthy sleep habits from day one, and more.
- Meet Other Pregnant Mamas
If you’re the only pregnant woman in your circle of friends or family, you can feel quite alone. Joining a pregnancy group can provide you with support and reduce feelings of isolation, recommendations for baby-related services and products, can lessen anxiety and stress, and you can get extra postpartum support down the road from other new moms.
- Sleep And Rest
There’s a lot out there about expecting mamas being able to do exactly what they used to do pre-pregnancy. And while this is true to a certain extent (depending on your pregnancy) it’s important to allow yourself to step back and rest more than you usually would.
“New research suggests that women who don’t get enough sleep during pregnancy may have higher risks of developing pregnancy complications including: Preeclampsia, or high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and longer labors and higher rates of cesarean section,” says Johns Hopkins.
Get into the habit of getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night and maybe fit in a nap during the day.
Whether you’re a first-time mom or have experienced the wonders of pregnancy before, the above habits can be invaluable tools. Adopt healthy habits to help you thrive during this remarkable chapter of your life and set you up for a more comfortable fourth trimester.