Pregnancy is the perfect time to make a few changes and pick up a few healthy habits that you will carry with you long after the arrival of your little one. It may seem like extra work that you have neither the time nor the energy for at first, but once you get into it you will notice a significant difference.
These five steps are great to start to keep you (and your baby) healthy throughout your pregnancy. Try them and you’re likely to have fewer aches and pains, less stress, and more energy to boot.
Cut out junk food
Ditch all the sugar, salt, sweets and junk food and replace them with something a little healthier. For moms-to-be, eating well at mealtimes is essential, but what you nosh on in between is important too. Start smart snacking and stash nutritious snacks in all sorts of places — in your pantry and fridge, and even in the car, on the job, and in your purse. This way, you’ll be less tempted to grab a bag of chips or a chocolate bar when hunger strikes. Snacks with the most staying power are carb-and-protein combos, for example, a mix of dried fruit and nuts, whole-grain crackers and cheese sticks, yogurt with granola. Those keep blood sugar stable so you can avoid sugar highs and lows. Get into the habit now so that when baby does arrive, you’ll be able to whip up something healthy in no time.
Enjoy plenty of exercise
Whether it’s just for a walk or a swim staying fit and healthy during your pregnancy is good for both you and baby, and a habit that you should always have. However, the bigger your belly, the harder it can be to exercise, so consider the pool a refreshing refuge. A water workout — whether it’s swimming laps or taking aqua aerobics — helps relieve aches and pains (especially in the third trimester) and improves circulation and endurance. And the best part is no matter how mammoth you may be, you’ll feel weightless in the water.
Drink lots of water
While it is important you stay hydrated throughout your pregnancy and beyond, particularly if you are breastfeeding, getting into the habit of drinking water will keep your skin and body happy and healthy. You don’t have to ditch coffee and soda completely when you’re pregnant, but cutting back is a good move. Caffeine and sugar can act as diuretics, washing out important nutrients like calcium before your body has a chance to absorb them. If you’re a diet-soda drinker, stick to brands that contain safe artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Xylitol. Of course, the safest drink of all is water, be it plain or sparkling. Spice it up with a slice of orange, lemon, or lime or pour in a splash of 100% fruit juice.
Not much of a flosser? Pick it up pronto. Pregnancy hormones make your mouth more susceptible to plaque and bacteria, which in turn lead to inflamed and bleeding gums. Flossing and brushing help prevent gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis, a more serious gum disease that can up your risk of preterm labour and preeclampsia. For healthy gums, floss once a day (and brush twice). And make sure you keep doing it long after you have given birth.
Relax and breathe
Pregnancy is hard work. You’re building a life-support system for your baby, and in turn, that growing baby is putting a lot of demands on your body. Mix in a hormone-induced lack of energy and it’s no wonder you feel seriously sapped. That’s why getting enough rest is crucial. Downtime not only helps curb early-pregnancy nausea, but it also reduces back pain as your baby grows, lowers your blood pressure, eases headaches, and helps you sleep better at night. So listen to your body and make a point of slowing down during your lunch break or for a half hour in the late afternoon. It’s difficult to enjoy relaxation time when you have a baby to care for but getting into the habit now will mean you will be more likely to schedule in downtime – no matter how busy you are.