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TOP TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PREGNANCY

blog post abut top tips for a healthy pregnancy, with the planet mama logo and an image of a pregnant woman

PLANET MAMA’S TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PREGNANCY

Today we wanted to talk to you about how you can stay healthy in both your mind and body throughout pregnancy. In this post we’ll give you some tips to help you on your journey and then on our Instagram we’ll debunk some long-standing myths about what you can/can’t, should/shouldn’t do whilst pregnant. 

When you first find out you’re pregnant, being healthy and taking care of yourself is probably at the forefront of your mind. Your mind fills with questions about what you can do: What can I eat? Can I still exercise when pregnant? Which can quickly become confusing and overwhelming with all the different information out there!

Here at Planet Mama we have taught thousands of hours of pre and postnatal fitness and yoga classes and have guided hundreds of women through their pregnancy journeys. In doing so, we have certainly picked up some wisdom for a healthy pregnancy along the way. 

Here is our guide on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy through nutrition, supplements, exercise, lifestyle and more. 

NUTRITION: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT – and so is your baby.

Everything you eat when you’re pregnant quite literally builds your baby, so what you eat is super important. Not only has eating a nutrient-dense diet been linked to good fetal brain development and birth weight, but it can also reduce the risk of many birth defects.  

A balanced diet can also vastly improve your pregnancy experience – giving you energy and keeping your immune system strong. It can also reduce the risk of anaemia and gestational diabetes. Try to have a diet that is rich in nutrient-dense foods; fresh fruit and veg, lean protein, whole-grains and good fats, plus some important micronutrients. The most important ones being Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Folic acid and Vitamin D. See this paper by RCOG for more information.

Let’s be realistic too: all good intentions can be thrown out the window with morning sickness and excessive tiredness, so try these tips to help you stay healthy and hydrated.

PREGNANCY NUTRITION TIPS

  1. PAUSE BEFORE YOU CAVE TO A CRAVING: Have a look at what your body is craving and see if you can have a healthy option. Ie if you’re craving a burger and chips; maybe your body is calling out for some iron and you could have a lean steak instead. If you just want sugar could you have a banana or fruits, or maybe a protein shake? Or if it’s chocolate you are after could you have a hot cacao drink? We love Aduna’s Super Cacao for hot chocolates or overnight oats.
  1. SMOOTHIES FOR MORNING SICKNESS: If you’re struggling to have meals and keep things down, how about you get the blender out and make some nutritious smoothies? These can be great to sip on slowly throughout the morning to give you energy for the day and fill you up slowly if a big meal is overwhelming right now! The Doctor’s Kitchen has some good smoothie recipes and lots of other healthy, delicious recipes inspiration. 
  1. STAY HYDRATED: Find a favourite water bottle and keep it on you at all times. Maybe add in some lemon, cucumber and mint to make it a bit more exciting. Fresh ginger can help with nausea too if morning sickness is affecting you badly!

HEALTHY WEIGHT GAIN

Gaining weight while pregnant is completely normal and expected If you have a normal BMI now is not the time to try and lose weight. RCOG guidelines state that if you have a normal BMI you can expect to put on between 11-16kg.

However, you don’t actually need to eat for two: research has shown that your body’s absorption of nutrients adapts when pregnant. 

Whilst you should monitor your weight and nutritional needs with your healthcare provider, in most instances your calorie consumption doesn’t need to change for the first 6 months. It’s only in the last trimester when it needs to increase by 200 calories a day, so eating for two is just a myth!

SUPPLEMENTS

Most nutrients needed during pregnancy should come from food, however there are some vitamins that are vital for health fetal development.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) recommend expectant mothers to take Folic Acid and Vitamin D. Folic acid (folate) is a B vitamin that is very important for pregnant women. Folic acid supplements taken several weeks prior to pregnancy and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy have been found to lower the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.

Most of us living in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D, which has a vital role in many processes in the body and in particular helps us absorb calcium. Calcium is especially important in pregnancy as it helps your baby’s bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system to develop.

If you are struggling to eat a balanced and nutritious diet, please chat to your Healthcare provider about taking a prenatal supplement. Be mindful of normal multivitamins as they sometimes have levels of Vitamin A above the RDA for a pregnant lady. 

PREGNANCY SUPPLEMENT TIPS

  1. If possible, start taking a daily dose of 400 micrograms of folic acid before getting pregnant, and continue taking them until 13 weeks’ gestation. 
  2. Take a daily dose of 10 micrograms of vitamin D during your pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.
  3. Chat to your Healthcare provider if you are worried that you’re not eating a balanced diet. A prenatal supplement does not make up for a balanced diet but can support your journey if required.

MOVING DURING PREGNANCY

Firstly, exercising: Moderate exercise is not only considered safe for pregnant people, it’s encouraged and thought to benefit both you and your growing baby.

RCOG recommends aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, with 2x strength sessions to be included. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise regime, particularly if you have any risk factors. If you were not physically active before getting pregnant, talk with your doctor about what safe exercise you can do during your pregnancy.

For the majority of normal pregnancies, exercise can:

  • increase energy levels
  • improve sleep
  • strengthen muscles and endurance
  • reduce backaches
  • relieve constipation
  • increase circulation
  • decrease stress 

Secondly, stretching: Historically there have been some mixed messages about stretching in pregnancy. Some guidelines used to warn against stretching due to the rising levels of relaxin and progesterone which increase laxity in the connective tissue. 

It is still recommended to not “hang out in your joints”, or go to your maximum range of flexibility, however more recent research has shown that stretching is good for you and I’m sure if you’re reading this pregnant you know this already! Stretching to find space, release tension and just feel gooooooooood! Check out out our morning and evening stretching routines over on IGTV. Both will be released this week, w/c 18th Jan 2021.

PREGNANCY EXERCISE TIPS

  1. Move everyday; stretch, strengthen and cardio.
  2. Listen to your body
  3. Don’t set yourself any challenges!

HEALTHY HABITS

As well as building good eating habits and exercise routines there are some everyday things you can do to help improve your overall health and wellbeing:

  1. Try to get outside everyday and get a daily dose of nature.
  2. Spend some time connecting to your baby. Sitting in silence visualising your baby and connecting your heart with your baby.
  3. Practise daily mindfulness – maybe using a meditation app such as Calm, Headspace or Insight Timer so you can find 5-15 minutes daily to sit in silence and feel the emotions in your body.
  4. Try to identify and label your fears and anxious thoughts as they arrive.

FINALLY, WHAT NOT TO DO

When it comes to food, there are some things you should avoid while pregnant. To protect you and baby from a bacterial or parasitic infection, such as listeriosis, make sure that all milk, cheese, and juice you consume are pasteurised.

Don’t eat meat from the deli counter or any meat unless it is thoroughly heated. Also avoid refrigerated, smoked seafood and undercooked meat and seafood.

If you or someone in your family has had a history of allergies, speak to your doctor about other foods to avoid.

Then try wherever possible to limit toxins in and around you and the baby. So as well as refraining from smoking and avoiding alcohol, you should try and eliminate any fumes you might breathe in. This includes things such as breathing in paint fumes, burning paraffin candles, toxic cleaning products or other household or beauty products with parabens in. Finally, where you can, try to eat organic.If you would like support along your pregnancy journey, please reach out to us at hello@planet-mama.co.uk.

Lettie, Founder of Planet Mama x