There is no feeling quite like the one you get when you first see that positive pregnancy test: butterflies, shock, elation, and the stunning realization that there’s no turning back. Then comes the question most common in any newly pregnant woman’s mind, “How can I make sure my baby is healthy?” The best way to a healthy baby is a to maintain your own health during pregnancy and we have eight steps towards your healthiest pregnancy ever.
Eat this…not that
To maintain optimal health during pregnancy, it’s more important than ever to maintain a nutritious, well-balanced diet. Your body now requires more folic acid, calcium, iron, and protein than before. The quality of foods you put into your body is way more important than the quantity, and that old adage, “eating for two,” is not quite accurate. The American Pregnancy Association recommends approximately 300 extra calories in your second and third trimesters. That equates to a glass of milk, a medium apple, and a handful of almonds.
While fresh foods like fruits and vegetables are always a guarantee, try these other foods that promote health during pregnancy, like eggs, salmon, almonds, Greek yogurt, and dark, leafy greens. When making food choices, think: what will give my baby the most nutrition? Chances are, it’s the banana over the pastry.
Get Your Sweat On
If you were active before pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association states that it is likely safe to remain active during pregnancy; in fact, exercise is recommended. If you did not exercise much before, start out slow with 30 minutes of walking or low-impact aerobics, such as Pilates or swimming.
Staying fit during your pregnancy will not only make weight loss after giving birth much easier, but may make labor and delivery easier, lowers your risk of gestational diabetes, and boosts your energy and mood—thank you endorphins.
Ugh, Kegels…Do Them!
We may hate them worse than that syrupy glucose drink, but doing Kegel exercises while pregnant can pay off big time during labor and after delivery. Toning your pelvic floor muscles, the ones that support the uterus, bladder, and bowels, will give you more control during labor and delivery, not to mention, strengthen bladder control after pregnancy.
You can do Kegel exercises any time, anywhere—while driving, watching TV, or waiting at the doctor’s office. Start by imagining you are trying to stop the flow of urine; these are your pelvic floor muscles. Squeeze and lift (without squeezing your legs together) and hold for a few seconds before releasing. Do three sets of ten a day.
Drink Water…And Then Some More
Drinking water can help you curb unhealthy cravings, stave off morning sickness, prevent constipation and reduce swelling. Your pregnant body needs 8-10 glasses of water a day.
Water helps your body absorb essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that eventually reach baby via blood cells to the placenta. Now that you have a sweet little passenger aboard, your body is excreting twice the waste as usual and needs water to dissolve waste products and flush them through your digestive system.
Try Natural Remedies for Uncomfortable Symptoms
Rather than worry about which medications are safe for baby, try natural remedies to sooth pregnancy discomforts. For nausea, suck on candied ginger, peppermints, or drink peppermint tea. For heartburn, chewing gum for 30 minutes after a meal can improve acid reflux, or drinking Aloe Vera juice can reduce inflammation in the stomach and esophagus. Constipation can be relieved by exercise, drinking more water, and eating high fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, or prunes.
Read a Parenting Book
Especially if this is your first baby, read up on some parenting literature that can prepare you for your sweet bundle. Some parent favorites include On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep, You: Raising Your Child: The Owner’s Manual from First Breath to First Grad, and Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide.
Get Some R & R
While getting adequate sleep while pregnant may seem like the punch line to a joke, your body needs plenty of rest to create a new little being. To maximize your sleep and minimize disruptions, drink plenty of water early on in the day and less at night to reduce nighttime potty breaks. Stick to a regular sleep schedule and remove distractions from the bedroom, like smart phones, television, or nagging to-do lists.
Smile, Laugh and Remember the Miracle Inside You
It’s easy to get irked by pregnancy discomforts—the sickness, the weight gain, the karate match going on inside of you. But just remember that the little person kicking your ribs is going to have soft skin that smells of fresh rain, and when you hold her close, nothing else will matter. That little person you are growing is going to be your best buddy someday, begging you to catch ants with him and giving you the best slobbery kisses.
Remember that in the grand scheme of things, pregnancy is only a moment, and that soon, all of your efforts to maintain your health during pregnancy will pay off: you will have something miraculous, something precious to show for it. Smile, laugh, and remember, all that hard work is 100% worth it.