Taking Proper Care of your Body While Pregnant

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Pregnancy Nutrition

All through life, a healthy lifestyle is important but when pregnant, it can mean the health of you and your baby. To ensure you are doing everything possible for you and your unborn child, it is important to understand what it takes.

Unfortunately, many pregnant women do not get good prenatal care, something you need to make sure you get. This would include regular visits with your doctor to ensure everything is going according to plan. Your first doctor’s visit while pregnant will be around six to eight weeks. At that time, the doctor will check your health, making sure there are no risks and checking your week by week pregnancy progress. The doctor would also confirm your pregnancy due date. From that time forward, you would have once a month visits until you reach the 28 weeks, switching to bi-weekly appointments until week 36. Then, you would visit your doctor weekly until the baby arrives.

Proper Nutrition

It is critical that you get proper nutrition during pregnancy. The foods you eat should be high in vitamins and minerals and there are even some foods to avoid. Eating right will help you feel better, have more energy, and deliver a healthy baby. The calories that go into your body should be good calories, not from foods with no nutritional value. Keep in mind, because you are feeding two, your caloric intake will increase. After all, the baby is going to use a lot of nourishment during the pregnancy so you need to make sure you and the baby are getting everything needed.

Each pregnant woman will have different calorie needs. For thin women or those having a multiple birth, the number of calories being consumed would obviously be greater than someone of average weight and carrying only one child. On the other hand, if you are overweight, you still need more calories than usual but you will need to be careful not to gain too much weight during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor so a good nutritional plan can be devised.

The growth and development of your baby will be impacted by what you eat. Therefore, be sure your diet is well balanced, including fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.

A misconception is that good food tastes bad. The truth is that good food can taste delicious, it is easy to make, and even easier to incorporate into your pregnancy. Of course, while proper diet is very important for pregnant women, particularly for breastfeeding this is something every person should consider. As mentioned, stick with lean meats, whole grains, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and only low fat dairy. These foods are high in nutrients that will keep you healthy while pregnant and benefit the baby.

Additionally, with pregnancy, you need certain foods that will provide high levels of calcium, iron, and folic acids. These essential nutrients are essential for the pregnancy and to ensure you get the level needed, your doctor will get you started on prenatal vitamins and in some cases, may prescribe additional supplements.

One of the most important nutrients is calcium. Typically, a non-pregnant woman would take 1,000 milligrams daily but while pregnant, you need an even higher dose. This will stop bone loss, help with the development of breast milk, and give your baby strong bones.

The great thing about calcium is that it comes in so many different forms. The most common is with yogurt, milk, and cheese but you will also find that soy milk, orange juice, kale, spinach, broccoli, dried beans, cereal, tofu, and almonds also contain calcium.

Iron is another area that pregnant women need to be aware of. This is used for making haemoglobin, a necessary substance that makes it easier for red blood cells to carry oxygen to the various parts of the body. During your pregnancy, you need to take between 27 and 30 milligrams daily to avoid a deficiency. If you do not get enough iron while pregnancy, red blood cells will die, which means vital organs and tissue are being deprived of oxygen.

The best source of iron is in meat. However, you can also boost the level of iron while pregnant by eating eggs, tofu, dark meat poultry, salmon, spinach, dried fruit, dried peas, beans, and even iron fortified cereals.

We now want to address the need for folic acid during pregnancy. Most doctors will recommend you get no less than 0.4 milligrams daily and if needed, a supplement can be taken to ensure you are getting the level required for you and the baby.

A tremendous amount of research has been done on nutrition and pregnant women and what has been discovered is that a woman that consumes folic acid one month prior to getting pregnant and then in the first trimester of pregnancy has a lower risk of neural tube defects. In fact, these studies have shown the decrease to be as great as 70%. This tube forms in a pregnancy’s first month, usually a time when the woman has no clue she is with child. Over time, the neural tube is what forms into the baby’s spinal cord and brain. Therefore, if the pregnant woman has a folic acid deficiency during these critical times, the baby is at higher risk of being born with spina bifida.

Fluid intake should also be increased throughout the pregnancy. While carrying a baby, blood volume increases and fluid is needed to help manage this increase. Additionally, most pregnant women deal with bouts of constipation and dehydration, both problems that are easily managed with increased fluid intake.

Finally, every pregnant woman should exercise unless her doctor has advised her not to. Actually, exercising and being physically active during pregnancy has a number of benefits. For instance, this will keep excess weight from being gained, constipation is less a problem, the woman has more energy, mood swings will not be as drastic, she will have an easier pregnancy and delivery, and her recovery time will be much less.

Other benefits of getting exercise while pregnant include better sleep. Most pregnant women agree that as the baby grows, finding a comfortable position to sleep becomes harder and harder. The less sleep the woman gets the less energy she has. However, exercise does help with sleep and with increased energy levels.

Just remember, eating a healthy diet, incorporating about 30 minutes of exercise into the daily regimen, drinking more fluids, and getting proper sleep will make the pregnancy much more enjoyable. This will also make the delivery of the baby easier and the recovery period shorter.