Pregnancy is a start of an exciting journey called motherhood. You grow and nurture a life inside your body. And when the time is right, you welcome your newborn into the world.
But is it just that simple? Only a pregnant woman can tell that it’s not. Pregnancy transforms a woman’s body drastically. Pregnancy bears its rollercoaster of challenges, from backaches and morning sickness to mood swings and exhaustion.
And so, to ensure a safe and healthy journey, pregnant women need to make certain lifestyle adjustments. What are these adjustments? Let’s take a look.
Ensure Drinking Clean Water
Sometimes, the most basic things can pose the biggest risk. Dehydration can affect your overall well-being. So, you must drink plenty of water. Doctors recommend between 64 and 96 ounces of water every day.
But you must ensure that your drinking water is free of toxins. If not, you may risk your baby for congenital disabilities or birth defects.
It is especially true for pregnant women living near a military base, as most contain contaminated water. For example, the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination caused many people to be exposed to toxins linked to birth defects.
Any baby born between 1953 and 1987 was at risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease and spina bifida! Hence, even today, Camp Lejeune water and birth defects victims can hold the government accountable for their negligence and seek compensation.
Nevertheless, you must still be careful about the water you consume since you’d want your baby to be healthy rather than filing lawsuits later. Have it tested regularly, invest in a water filtration system, and, if necessary, purchase bottled water.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight gain is an inevitable part of pregnancy. But that doesn’t mean you should overindulge in food and gain extra pounds. Being overweight can put you at risk for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.
The Institute of Medicine has recommended the following guidelines:
- Underweight moms should aim to gain 28–40 pounds
- Overweight moms can safely gain between 15 and 25 pounds
- Obese women mustn’t gain more than 11-20 pounds
Eating nutritious foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins is ideal for maintaining a healthy weight.
The best source of protein for pregnant women is fish. But you must be careful as some varieties may contain mercury, which can cause serious health problems in babies if consumed during pregnancy.
Make Prenatal Vitamins Part of Your Daily Routine
Pregnancy comes with its own set of nutritional needs. A balanced diet should provide the necessary nutrients for a healthy pregnancy, but prenatal vitamins can act as an insurance policy in case of any nutritional deficiency.
Your doctor will recommend a multivitamin that contains folic acid, iron, and calcium. Folic acid is essential for pregnant women because it prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida or anencephaly. However, don’t take more than the recommended dosage, as too much of specific vitamins can cause serious health problems.
Other essential vitamins and minerals for pregnant women include zinc, choline, iron, magnesium, and vitamin D.
Here’s how much of each vitamin you should take daily:
- Folic acid – 600 micrograms
- Iron – 27 milligrams
- Calcium – 1000 milligrams
- Vitamin D – 600 IU
Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercising regularly during pregnancy is good for both you and your baby. It increases flexibility and strengthens your body, making it better prepared for labor and delivery. More importantly, it boosts your mental health and helps you deal with all the hormones coursing through your body.
But not all exercises are safe during pregnancy. You must avoid contact sports and anything that involves lying on your back or stomach. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, and lightweight lifting are good alternatives.
If you were exercising prior to your pregnancy, it’s usually safe to continue at the same intensity. But if you’re a beginner, start slow and gradually increase the intensity.
Experts recommend a combination of strength training and aerobic exercises. For example, you can do squats and lunges to strengthen your lower body. Kegels can also be beneficial for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and aid in post-delivery recovery.
However, always listen to your body and take breaks when necessary. If you feel pain or discomfort, stop and consult your doctor.
Reduce Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
Just like certain foods are recommended during pregnancy, there are also some you must avoid. Alcohol and caffeine top the list.
Alcohol is toxic to unborn babies. It can cause serious health problems like birth defects or fetal alcohol syndrome. That’s why it’s recommended that pregnant women avoid alcohol altogether.
Caffeine can be consumed in moderation, but not more than 200 milligrams daily. Excessive caffeine can cause low birth weight and increase the risk of miscarriage. So, it’s best to limit your intake or switch to decaffeinated beverages such as fruit juice, milk, or herbal teas.
If you’re struggling with cravings, try to distract yourself with other activities. It can be anything from reading a book, meditating, or doing yoga. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to suppress cravings if nothing works.
Learn to Manage Stress
There’s a long road ahead of you, and it can be exhausting. Today it’s sleepless nights because you need to urinate frequently. Tomorrow it will be morning sickness. From hormones to aches and pains, there’s never a dull moment in pregnancy.
And once the baby arrives, you’ll have much more on your plate. All of this can take a toll on your mental health. You might feel emotionally detached from your partner and overwhelmed by all the responsibilities. You might feel unsure about having a baby or worry about the changes in your body.
It’s critical to manage these emotions before they spiral out of control. Talk to someone you trust and try to relax. A relaxing bath or a massage can help relieve tension. You can also practice yoga, walk in nature or listen to calming music.
Pregnancy can be an exciting but overwhelming time for expecting mothers. Making a few lifestyle changes can help make your journey smoother and safer for you and your baby.
Start by making small changes like increasing your water intake and including prenatal vitamins in your diet. And gradually, you can switch to healthier foods, a more active lifestyle, and stress-free life.
However, don’t be too restrictive. You can enjoy some moments of indulgence and laziness as well. Above all, listen to your body and trust your instincts. That’s the best advice you can get!