Staying healthy while pregnant isn't as hard as you think. Check out these tips on how to stay healthy during your pregnancy! (But remember to get the green light from your doctor for everything first)
1. See Your Doctor Regularly
To ensure a healthy pregnancy, as soon as you find out you're pregnant, get in touch with your doctor and set up a prenatal care plan. See I told you the first few were going to be easy...
2. Take a Prenatal Supplement
Pregnancy vitamins are usually recommended even before you actually get pregnant. I've heard doctors recommend to start taking prenatal vitamins three months before you start trying to have a baby. I didn't and my doctor said I was fine as long as I started as soon as I found out. Sometimes things happen quickly and we can't plan ahead. Remember that prenatal vitamins aren't a substitute for a balanced diet but they can help--especially at the beginning of your pregnancy when you may not be able to stomach much.
At the beginning of my pregnancy (the first trimester) I took a prescribed prenatal vitamin called Citranatal (your doctor will tell you what's right for you). Once I was through my first trimester I switched to a more natural supplement. My personal choice (which I okay-ed with my doctor) is Baby and Me Herb Free Prenatal Vitamin. This vitamin is made from real food and more natural than many other brands. They call it "Farm to Tablet." And since I'm into that, I was sold. It's easy to digest and I can take it with food or without (in case you forget and have to take it right before bed some nights like me). It has lots of Folic Acid (which my doctor said is the most important thing). Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect.
The downside to this type of natural supplement is that you have to take 4 very large pills each day. They may be difficult to swallow if you're experiencing nausea. You may also need to supplement additional pills like me (extra calcium, iron & DHA).
Since I don't eat much fish (especially since I've been pregnant--yuck!), I take a DHA supplement. I take Bluebonnet's Natural Omega-3 Vegetarian DHA 200mg. I also take an iron supplement of 25 MG each day. I take Solgar's Gentle Iron, which doesn't hurt my stomach. If you didn't read about it in my last post for new moms about what you need to know when you find out you're pregnant, your body's processes slow WAYYY down. That means your digestive track. So you may wish to take a supplement like Colace to keep things moving.
Again, talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.
3. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
The healthier you can eat the better. Shocker, right? Well it may be easier said than done? My first trimester (and then some) were ROUGH. Some days the only thing that sounded good were burgers and fries, other days it was Kraft mac and cheese. As someone who starts her days usually with green smoothies, this made me really worried. I spoke to my doctor though who said the prenatal vitamin had everything the baby needed. He told me to eat what sounded good and not to berate myself for failing to give my baby an A+ diet. I had always judged all those preggos who were chowing down on garbage...but you truly don't understand until you have bad nausea.
Eating this way (the Shake Shack diet, I mean) also scared me because I was ingesting a billion calories more a day. And this was only the first trimester when I didn't even need anything extra! But it was all that I could eat and I was super hungry. I couldn't help myself. I was terrified that I was going to gain 80 pounds if I kept eating at that rate! But as my doctor assured me, the nausea would subside and so would my food aversions. It wasn't long until I was back to craving kale salads and eating my normal diet (for the most part).
Eat what you need to eat and don't be so hard on yourself. I promise that after the first trimester (for most) the nausea will dissipate and you won't feel the need to stuff your face with junk in the same way. Ask your doctor for specifics about what you should eat but you know the gist. Lots of fruits, veggies and protein.
4. You're Not Eating for Two
I will repeat this again. Whoever came up with the mantra, "You're eating for two" probably had a hell of a time losing her baby weight! You are not eating for two. In fact, you don't need any extra calories in the first trimester. The second trimester you only need about 300 extra and in the third trimester you only need about 500 extra. That really isn't very much at all. 300 calories is just a couple pieces of fruit! So don't use it as an excuse to eat junk, these extra calories should come from healthy snacks and meal additions. But you can treat yourself every once in a while, don't let me fool you. I have had plenty of ice cream, it's just all about balance.
5. Be Vigilant About Food Hygiene
You may have heard of Listeria. It's a bacteria that is rare and doesn't usually pose too bad of a threat for those with healthy immune systems. However, when you're pregnant it can pose a risk of serious health issues, birth complications and even miscarriage. There are certain foods that you should absolutely avoid like unpasteurized dairy, undercooked meats and fish. There are more of course, I recommend asking your doctor for a full list but you can check this list of
out for quick reference.
Also, I signed up for FDA email alerts of food recalls. This way you're up to date on things you shouldn't eat. Foods are recalled all the time for various reasons, listeria being one of them.
6. Exercise Intelligently
You may want to just kick up your heels now that you're pregnant but just remember, every session you skip at the gym now is one you'll have to make up after the baby is born. Plus there are tons of benefits of exercising for moms-to-be. Working out can help keep you strong for labor, make it easier to get in shape after the baby is born, keep your pelvic floor strong (muscles you'll need to help you push) and even help ward off depression (hello, endorphins!).
To ensure a healthy pregnancy for the long run though, don't overdo it. I have several friends who injured themselves during pregnancy or developed hernias from exercising too hard. Remember that you're pregnant now. For most of us, we should be taking it easier on ourselves. Yes, I've heard of those women who run half-marathons during pregnancy--good for them! Not for me. That's some sage advice I learned from Amy Poehler in her book, Yes, Please. That was pretty much her mantra. "Good for you, not for me." Listen to your body and not to what other people say.
Healthy pregnancy exercise cardio choices for pregnancy include low-intensity aerobics: brisk walking, swimming, yoga and pilates. If you're already a runner, you can probably continue for as long as it feels comfortable for you. That's what my doctor told me. However, when you're super nauseous running isn't always the most soothing activity. Also, be careful about playing sports that have a high risk of falls or bumps.
Something that may surprise you is that working out may help relieve nausea. When I was feeling my most nauseous, working out was one of the few things that made me feel a little better. Do what feels right for you, but I have heard this from others as well. Venture out for a walk with your crackers and ginger ale and you may come back feeling a little better.
7. Do Pelvic Floor Exercises
Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles at the base of your pelvis. These muscles support your bladder, vagina and back passage. They may feel weaker during pregnancy because of the extra pressure your baby is placing on them. Pregnancy hormones also cause your joints to loosen (they're making way for your baby to be able to come out after all). Weak pelvic floor muscles put you at risk of developing the pregnancy issue where you pee when you sneeze, laugh or exercise. Good times. Check out the Mayo Clinic's advice for
8. Rest for a Healthy Pregnancy
You'll feel the most exhausted during your first and third trimesters--this is your body telling you to take it easy. Nap when you need to--if you can. If you can't--just try to relax. You may be experiencing sleep disruption. Try relaxation techniques like stretching, meditation and deep breathing before you go to sleep. Exercise may also help with sleep problems. It helps you tire out those muscles so you're ready to rest. Just one more benefit!
9. Kick Your Vices to the Curb
You're a mommy now! That means the fun stops here. Just kidding. But you do need to quit many of your favorite bad habits like alcohol, excessive caffeine and of course smoking. These usually go without saying...but in case it doesn't. Quit it!
10. Take Care of Your Teeth
Overall health is strongly linked to oral health if you haven't heard. So having a healthy mouth is very important during pregnancy. Most dentists recommend coming in at least once during pregnancy and then again soon after the baby is born. Many pregnant women develop dental issues so it's essential to make sure your dentist is on top of them. Dental issues can lead to other health issues so this is important.
11. Clean Up Your Beauty Routine
I don't want to freak you out but there are so many scary ingredients lurking in your everyday beauty products and household items. If you haven't heard of the
, I suggest visiting its website and checking out their search function. You can check for your favorite products and see what level of toxicity they have. You may be surprised to find how many of them have poor ratings. That's why I made the switch when I found out I was pregnant to healthy and toxic-free makeup brands like
(I swear by its foundation and bronzer sticks) and
. Sally B's was recently verified by EWG as having many approved products under their strict criteria. You can rest easy using these products--I did extensive (Type-A, psychotic, overkill) research making sure I chose products that were clean according to the EWG.
I also recommend changing soap, household cleaners, deodorant, toothpaste and other items to healthier alternatives. I happen to be obsessed with this Weleda deodorant. However, switching to an aluminum free deodorant may cause some smell issues. Give your body a little time to adjust and just be sure to bring it along to reapply if necessary.
Have any other healthy pregnancy tips? Please let us know in the comments! And don't forget to check out our video above! And please share the love!
Note: Please consult with a doctor as I am not a medical professional. Pregnancy is all about your personal, unique journey.
Travelingpanties.com is embarking on the trip of a lifetime--a journey to motherhood! Join her as she quests for all the best things life has to offer.