To support your goal of having a stress-free pregnancy, you need to be educated, supported and empowered. The decisions you make pre-conception and during your pregnancy will ultimately determine the wellbeing of your child and of course, your health – during and post pregnancy.
REMEMBER: There is no one right way to be pregnant, to give birth or to be a mother. You need to explore what works for you, your baby and your family.
As a mother-to-be, the following essential tips on nutrition and exercise are very important for a healthy and stress-free pregnancy, delivery, baby and postpartum period.
Let’s clear one thing up first – the whole ‘eating for two’ theory is just a myth. We only need to increase our calories by 300-350 in the second trimester and an extra 100 calories on top of this if you’re in your third trimester. And that is quite easy to do for most pregnant women. Your nutrient intake does need to increase though as your body will need extra nutrients to pass on to your growing baby. If you are deficient in any key nutrients, you will quickly start to feel lethargic and unwell in pregnancy.
Some key nutrients which we need in abundance during pregnancy are folate, iron and calcium. Additional folate is needed for healthy growth and development and to help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Extra iron is needed to make extra blood for you and your baby during pregnancy and to avoid anemia. And more calcium is needed to help your baby have a healthy heart, bones and teeth.
Eating a varied healthy wholefoods diet and decreasing processed foods is a great way to ensure we are getting everything required. Some of my favorite meals when I was pregnant were smoothies, roasted vegetables (especially root vegetables), fresh fruits and chia puddings. Prepare chopped fruit and vegetables to have on hand in the fridge, and make healthy snacks such as oat bars and bliss balls and keep them in the freezer.
Try this recipe – Peanut Butter Oat Bars here it was one of my go-to snacks.
If you are deficient in any key nutrients, you will quickly start to feel lethargic and unwell in pregnancy.
Some women will need to supplement to ensure they are meeting requirements. Your chosen medical professional will be able to assist you with this along with any symptoms, struggles or any pre-existing conditions that may affect your pregnancy.
Some women find they have strong cravings during pregnancy. Some may (like me) crave nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables and some crave substances like alcohol, chalk, clay, detergent, or starch which are obviously best to avoid.
The theory is that your cravings are for foods with certain nutrients that you lack and therefore, your body needs to replenish them, though there is no factual evidence showing this link yet.
Giving into healthy cravings like fruit and vegetables is great. Try not to overindulge in the not so healthy cravings, like sweets, chocolates, sugar, etc. as these can have an adverse effect on you and the baby.
Everything in moderation is key.
To reduce cravings, eat a healthy well balanced diet and eat meals regularly. Keep healthy snacks on hand and eat enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Consumption of water regularly and getting enough sleep are also very important to reduce cravings.
Both prior to and during pregnancy, sleep is very important. Ensure you have an optimal sleep routine and are not burning the candle at both ends.
Once pregnant and in your first trimester, you will need to slow down and make rest a priority. This is important as it gives your body the chance to focus on keeping yourself well and nourishing and growing your baby.
If you’re a busy women, it’s worth considering integrating some mindfulness practices and self-care strategies into your day to day routine. Such as:
Most people find that they want to start exercising once they fall pregnant if they aren’t already, and that’s totally fine.
There are just a few key things to keep in mind. First and foremost, make sure you speak to your doctor and be cleared medically.
Don’t rush into a vigorous exercise routine – start small and increase your duration and intensity as your fitness increases.
Focus on how you can incorporate your new exercise routine into your lifestyle so it is enjoyable is key.
Some great exercise ideas for pregnancy are: restorative yoga, strength training, walking and swimming.
Find something you enjoy, remember you are pregnant so it’s not about “getting results”.
Always listen to your body and only do exercise which makes you feel good and is pain and symptom free. Your exercise preference will change drastically over the course of your pregnancy as your energy levels and capabilities will change, which is totally fine. Everything is modifiable. If you have any symptoms such as leaking (urine, stool or blood) or pain (back, hip, pelvis, tailbone or pubic bone) you need to address it with a health professional and it is then best to seek help from a qualified trainer upon continuing.
Exercising during pregnancy can help you improve your sleep, boost your mood, decrease aches and pains, keep you strong, reduce the risk of pregnancy and delivery complications and help shorten your postpartum recovery. It will also help with your first few months as a new mum, where there is a lot of new loads on the body, such as carrying your new baby and lifting the pram and capsule in and out of your car.
Pregnant or not, I am a huge believer that our bodies will send us warnings and clues in regards to what it needs. We need to listen and respond to these in order to maintain our health. This is extremely important during pregnancy so if something doesn’t feel right to you, always check in with a health professional and then get a second opinion if you need to. No one knows your body as well as you do.