So you've found out your pregnant and you want to start thinking about how best to look after yourself. We often get bombarded with information on how to keep healthy in pregnancy, what are the key messages?
Keeping healthy in pregnancy is vital to ensure that your baby has the very best start in life. The lifestyle choices that you make during pregnancy can affect your baby for the rest of his or her life, so it is very important to know a few tips on keeping healthy in pregnancy.
The first thing to consider is your diet. You don’t necessarily need to embark on a special diet to keep healthy in pregnancy, but you will need to eat a wide variety of different foods each day to get a good balance of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are needed for both you and your baby during pregnancy.
Try to eat lots of vegetables and fruit and avoid fatty foods wherever possible. The chances are that you will feel more hungry than usual during pregnancy; this is completely normal, but try to avoid overeating to compensate. Also try not to snack on foods that are very high in fat and sugar as they are considered to be ‘negative’ foods i.e. they have little or no nutritional value for you or your baby.
Eating healthily means that you will have to alter the amounts of different foods that you eat in order to get a more varied diet, but you don’t have to sacrifice all of your favourite foods – moderation is the key!
In addition to eating vegetables and fruit when you are keeping healthy in pregnancy, also make sure that you eat some carbohydrates; starchy foods are a great source of vitamins and fibre and they should help you feel fuller for longer. Examples of carbohydrates are breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, bread and potatoes.
Also keep your protein levels up by eating fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, beans and pulses. Meat is also a great source of protein and iron, but always ensure that any meat that you eat is cooked all the way through. Also keep your daily dairy intake high; milk, cheese and yoghurt are great examples of foods that contain calcium and other effective nutrients that your baby needs for bone development.
It is also recommended that folic acid supplements are taken by women during pregnancy as it has a range of benefits for babies i.e. it can help to ensure correct brain function, red blood cell formation and even aid the building of DNA.
You may also want to consider taking a multivitamin tablet if you feel that your diet is lacking in certain nutrients; however, before taking any new supplements while pregnant, you should always consult your doctor or medical practitioner for further advice.
Finally, you should keep your exercise levels reasonably high, without overdoing it and avoid putting anything negative into your body i.e. drinking or smoking. In particular, smoking is very bad for both you and your unborn baby and can cause a number of serious health problems.
If you find that you are having problems giving up smoking, ask your doctor for help. By implementing a few small changes to your lifestyle, you can help to keep both you and your baby healthy during your pregnancy.