Health Tips for Pregnancy

Health Tips for Pregnancy

Outlined in the following article will be health tips that will be helpful for women that are pregnant and women considering having a baby. By following some of these tips, you will give your baby an excellent start in life and be a healthy example for your family. 

Healthy Weight 

Gaining appropriate amounts of weight during pregnancy will help your child grow to a healthy size. Too much or too little weight may lead to health problems for you and your baby. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy raises one’s chances of developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure with an increased risk later in life. 

Gaining a healthy amount of weight can aid in having an easier pregnancy and delivery. Getting into these practices could even help the mother get back to their normal weight after delivery. Research has proven that recommended amounts of weight gain during pregnancy can also lower the chances that you or your child will have weight-related problems later in life (1).

The amount of weight needed to be gained during pregnancy depends on one’s body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy. BMI is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. The general weight- gain advice can be seen in the table below for women having only one baby. 

 

If you are  You should gain about
Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) 28 to 40 pounds
Normal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) 25 to 35 pounds 
Overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) 15 to 25 pounds
Obese (BMI of 30+)  11 to 20 pounds

In order to pace correctly try and gain 1 to 4 pounds total in the first 3 months and 2 to 4 pounds each month from 4 months until delivery. Remember everyone is unique, please consult with your doctor to see how much weight gain is appropriate for you.

Healthy Eating

How much to eat and drink? 

Consuming healthy foods and low – calorie beverages, particularly water, and the number of calories may help you and your baby gain the proper amount of weight. Again, this all depends on things such as weight before pregnancy, age, and metabolism. If at a healthy weight the CDC recommends no need for extra calories in the first trimester, about 340 extra calories a day in your second trimester and around 450 extra calories a day in the third trimester. Always check in with your healthcare professional with a consultation before determining how much weight you need to put on. 

What kinds of foods and beverages? 

A healthy eating plan for pregnancy includes nutrient-rich foods and beverages. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends these foods and beverages each day: 

  • Fruits and vegetables (provide vitamins and fiber) 
  • Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and brown rice (provides fiber, b vitamins, and other needed nutrients) 
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or non-dairy soy, almond, rice or other drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
  • Protein from healthy sources, such as beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood that is low in mercury (up to 12 ounces per week), and unsalted nuts and seeds, if not allergic. 

A healthy eating plan also limits salt, solid fats (shortening, lard, IE), and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods. Ask yourself a few of these questions: does your eating plan measure up? How can you improve your habits? Think about new healthful foods and beverages you can try. 

What if I’m vegetarian? 

A vegetarian eating plan during pregnancy can be a healthy option. Consider the neutral value of each meal and consult with a healthcare practitioner to help ensure you are getting enough calcium, iron, protein, vitamin b12, vitamin D, and other needed nutrients either through well-balanced meals and or supplements. 

Do I have any special nutrition needs now that I am pregnant?

During pregnancy, one needs more vitamins and minerals such as folate, iron and calcium. Getting the appropriate amount of folate is very important. Folate, a B vitamin also known as folic acid, may help prevent birth defects. Before pregnancy, you need 400 mcg per day from supplements or fortified foods, in addition to the folate you get naturally, you need 600 mcg during pregnancy. While breastfeeding, one needs 500 mcg of folate per day. Foods high in folate include orange juice, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, beans, fortified breads, and fortified low- sugar cereals. These foods may even provide 100% of the daily value of folic acid per serving.  Prenatal vitamins are also standard when fulfilling nutritional needs. Ask your doctor in which you should supplement with.

What other new habits may help with weight gain?

  • Eat breakfast every day. If feeling sick to your stomach every morning, try dry whole-wheat or crackers when you first wake. Eat them before you get out of bed and eat the rest of your breakfast later in the morning. 
  • Eat high-fiber foods. Eating high-fiber foods, drinking water, and getting daily physical activity may help prevent constipation. Eating whole-grain cereals, brown rice, vegetables, fruits, and beans. 
  • If you have heartburn, eat smaller meals spread throughout the day. Try to eat slowly and avoid spicy and fatty foods. Have drinks between meals instead of with meals, also try to lie down soon after eating. 

What foods and drinks should I avoid? 

Certain foods and drinks can harm a developing baby. Here is a list of items you should avoid. 

  • Alcohol. Do not drink alcohol, such as wine, beer, or hard liquor. 
  • Caffeine. Enjoy decaf coffee or tea, drinks not sweetened with sugar, or water with a dash of juice. Avoid diet drinks, and limit drinks with caffeine to less than 200mg per day – the amount in about 12 ounces of coffee. 
  • Fish that may have high levels of mercury. Limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week. Do not eat king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, or tilefish. To get the helpful nutrients in fish and shellfish, 12 ounces per week is ideal. 
  • Foods that may cause illness in you or your baby. Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized or raw milk; raw cookie dough; undercooked meats, eggs, and seafood; and deli salads. Take great care in choosing processed meats and foods. 

Physical Activity 

Should I be physically active during my pregnancy? 

It is recommended that women should be physically active during pregnancy. Research shows that  regular physical activity may 

  • Help you and your baby gain the appropriate amount of weight 
  • Reduce backaches, leg cramps, and bloating 
  • Reduce your risk for gestational diabetes
  • Reduce risk for postpartum depression

Research also shows that physical activity may reduce the risk of problems during pregnancy such as high blood pressure, length of labor and postpartum recovery, and reduce the risk of a cesarean section. 

You may not need to change your workout habits if you were physically active before being pregnant. Consult a healthcare professional about how to change workouts during pregnancy.

What type and How much physical activity is needed? 

According to guidelines, most women need the same amount of physical activity as they did before becoming pregnant. Try for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Try and use large muscle groups to increase heart rate and breathing. 

One way to gauge if you are doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity is to take the “talk test”. If you are breathing hard can still conversate -but not sing- then you are in the moderate-intensity range. 

It is always recommended to talk to your health care professional about whether to adjust your physical activity while pregnant. If you have health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, or anemia, ask your health care professional about a level of physical activity that is safe for you and your baby. 

How can I stay safe while being active? 

For you and your baby’s health and safety, you should not do certain types of physical activities while pregnant. Refer to the table below for the safety does and don’ts. 

Do… Don’t…
Choose moderate activities that aren’t likely to hurt you, such as walking or water or chair aerobics. Don’t engage in sports where you are at risk to fall or injure your abdomen, such as basketball or soccer. 
Drink fluids before, during, and after being physically active. Don’t overdo it. Avoid exercising outside during very hot weather.
Wear clothing that is comfortable, fits well, and protects your breast. Do not use steam rooms, hot tubs, and saunas.
Stop exercising if you feel dizzy, short of breath, tired, or sick to your stomach. Avoid exercises that call for you to lie flat on your back after week 12 in your pregnancy, 

After Baby Birth

How can I stay healthy after my baby is born?

Following delivery, your health may be better if you try to return to a healthy weight slowly. Not losing your “baby weight” could actually lead to recurring obesity later in life. Exercising and eating right to a lower weight in a controlled manner will lower your chances of diabetes, heart disease, and other weight-related problems. Be sure to eat food and beverages that meet your caloric needs and continue with a healthy amount of physical activity.   

Tips on breastfeeding 

For moms that breastfeed, experts advise that feeding their babies only breast milk for the first 6 months, no other food or drinks at this time. It is recommended to breastfeed for at least a year.  Talk with a healthcare professional on how much calories you need while you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been known to give your baby an appropriate mix of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients that are easy to digest, which in turn boost their immunity and protects them from common health problems. 

Summary of Tips for Pregnancy 

  • Talk to your healthcare professional about how to manage weight during pregnancy 
  • Consume foods rich in folate, iron, calcium, and protein. Prenatal supplements may also be prescribed
  • Eat breakfast regularly 
  • Eat foods high in fiber and drink fluids to avoid constipation 
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, raw or uncooked foods ( especially fish) and soft cheeses
  • Do moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 150 minutes a week 
  • Gradually return to a healthy weight 

References

[1] Rasmussen KM, Yaktine AL, eds; Institute of Medicine (U.S.) and National Research Council (U.S.) Committee to Reexamine IOM Pregnancy Weight Guidelines. Weight gain during pregnancy: reexamining the guidelines. Washington, DC: The National Academies, 2009. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK32813 NIH external link. Accessed April 15, 2019.

[2] Folate: fact sheet for consumers. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-Consumer/ NIH external link. Updated December 7, 2018. Accessed April 15, 2019.

[3] You’re pregnant: now what? Staying healthy and safe. Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/staying-healthy-and-safe External link. Updated January 30, 2019. Accessed April 15, 2019.

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Health Tips for Pregnancy
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Health Tips for Pregnancy
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Health tips for pregnancy regarding weight, diet, exercise, and early care.
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CardioTech
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