To help ensure a safe and happy pregnancy for you and your baby, and so that your child has a healthy foundation, here are some tips for a healthy pregnancy. These lifestyle changes can (and should) begin before you decide to become pregnant, but if you are already pregnant, simply adopt as many of these steps as you can.
1. Stay active.
Exercise is good not only for mothers-to-be, but also for their developing babies. Consistency is key here, as studies have shown that women who exercise at the same rate throughout their pregnancies have larger placentas than their more sedentary peers. Why is that important? Well, the volume of the placenta is a general marker of its ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to your baby. Research has also shown that exercising during pregnancy can benefit both a mother’s heart and her developing baby’s heart.
So what type of activity should you do? If you’re having a normal, healthy pregnancy you can continue to do just about any exercise that you enjoy, as long as you follow the most important principle: listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, don’t do it. (Remember: pregnancy is not the time to set any personal records or run any marathons.)
2. Reduce toxins.
Reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals during your pregnancy is important for the health of you and your little one.
- Food and Drink: The easiest way to avoid toxins is to eat real food (organic as much as possible). Also, avoid BPA and try to reduce any canned foods.
- Personal Care Products: Avoid using any product that lists “fragrance” or “parfum” as an ingredient. Luckily, many products are now scented with natural essential oils.
- Cleaning: Use natural cleaning products or make your own. These include vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, and castile soap.
3. Eat whole foods.
In general, choose fresh, organic foods whenever possible. Aim for a well-balanced diet consisting of adequate protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Be sure to include plenty of leafy green vegetables, because they are loaded with folate, a B vitamin that studies have shown reduces the chance of your child being born with neural tube defects. It's important to note that there is a substantial difference between folic acid (the synthetic form) and folate (the natural form), including concerns about the safety of chronic intake of high levels of folic acid from fortified foods, beverages and dietary supplements. Bottom line: get your folate from real food sources.
During pregnancy, your body needs rest to rejuvenate during this time of increased demand and it's important to avoid excess thinking and worry which also drains vital energy. Pregnant women often need several more hours of sleep during their first three months of pregnancy. Try to rest and nap anytime you can. If you can catch a 15-minute rest during the day, you'll find that you're much more relaxed when night comes. Also, when you get in bed to sleep and find that you're unable to relax, try to find a relaxation technique that works for you. Some ideas: reading before going to sleep, mediation, or listening to music.
5. Right mindset.
Through chiropractic philosophy, we learn to respect the body's natural design and function in all processes—including pregnancy and birth. This is so important to remember, that our bodies are intelligent and pregnancy is a natural process, NOT a condition or illness. Trust in your own body's ability to accomplish this incredible feat. (This is easier said than done. And yes, I realize I am a man... I'll shut up now.)
6. Consider chiropractic care.
A Wester Certified Chriopractor has advanced training in prenatal chiropractic care. Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy removes interference to the mother's nervous system—enhancing baby development and uterine function. It balances her pelvis, eliminating undue tension to muscles and ligaments and enhances optimal fetal positioning. Better positioning and proper nerve system function improve the mother's ability to birth naturally.
This highly effective technique is safe and gentle and should be a first approach before considering more invasive methods. As a Webster Certified Doctor, I have seen countless situations where a baby has changed position and a mother was able to avoid a C-section or medical intervention. (Locate a Webster Doctor here.)
7. Educate yourself.
There tends to be a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, especially on the internet. That said, it's vital to do research on your own and not agree to or refuse any test without researching both sides first. While it can be hard to refuse a test or care—especially if there is pressure from a doctor - ultimately you have the responsibility for your pregnancy, your health and your baby. You have the right to refuse or consent to any procedure and you certainly have the right to make an informed decision.
8. Supplement your diet.
Omega-3s play a pivotal role in fetal growth and development, and are particularly essential for brain and nervous system development. Taking a high quality, purified fish oil supplement, as well as eating foods that are rich in omega-3s. In addition, research has found that women who consumed greater amounts of omega-3 fatty acids during the third trimester were less likely to show signs of major depression during pregnancy, and for up to eight months after the birth.
Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of many pregnancy related complications including gestational diabetes. It is important for your baby’s muscle, bone and hormone development and helps support your immune system during pregnancy.
Probiotics are also critical, especially during pregnancy. Babies are born with a completely sterile gut and they culture their beneficial gut bacteria from what the receive from their mother when passing through the birth canal and from nursing in the months afterward. A high quality probiotic will help ensure that your baby will get a good dose of beneficial bacteria, which can reduce risk of illness in the first few years.
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