Now that you have a baby in your belly, being healthy has taken on a whole new meaning. You're no longer simply looking after yourself; you've got a little one inside you to consider! Pregnancy can be a wonderful yet confusing time – there is so much information available it can be difficult to know when you're making the right decision. You will get advice from family members and friends about what you should and should not do while pregnant, but absolutely it's up to you – it's your baby afterall! It's important to be informed about your health as a mother to be and to keep you and baby as healthy as possible. Here are some pregnancy health tips to consider:
Being pregnant may not be a license to over indulge on your favorite treasures, but you will need to consume more calories to keep up with the demands of your body. It's important to fuel your body with plenty of nutrients and most importantly discuss your diet with your doctor. They may recommend some restrictions (such as avoiding certain seafoods) and more careful food handling practices (avoiding pre-made salads). To give your body the nutrients it needs, keep these foods at the top of your list:
- Fruit and vegetables (green leafy variety) prepared at home and rinsed well
- Low-fat dairy, pasteurized milk
- Lean meats in moderate amounts
- Wholegrain breads and cereals
- Ensure that any fish you consume is low in mercury, you may need to consult your doctor for individual advice
- Lentils, nuts and beans
Vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid is a B-group vitamin found in a variety of foods. A mother to be will need to consume higher levels of folate during pregnancy so aim to incorporate at least 600mcg (micrograms) of it into your diet. Foods containing folic acid include; Vegemite, herbs like spearmint, rosemary and coriander, soy beans, leafy vegetables like spinach, peanuts, asparagus, oranges, broccoli, avocado and kiwi fruit.
Foods to avoid
One of the downfalls of being pregnant is learning what all the high risk foods are, and then avoiding them for the duration of your pregnancy. The number one rule to follow is avoid anything raw, like meat and eggs (think again before taste-testing the cake batter!)
- Unpasteurised milk
- Processed meats, raw or undercooked meat
- Raw seafood such as sushi, prawns or oysters, if you do eat seafood ensure that it has been properly cooked
- Anything that high in fat, sugar and salt (check all labeling) should be taken in small amounts
It's important to understand that crash diets can seriously compromise the heath of your child. You will put on weight as your belly grows and this is perfectly normal and healthy.
Pregnancy creates higher demands for nutrients to ensure the growth of your baby. If you are struggling to get all the required nutrients into your diet, your health care provider may suggest vitamin supplements. There are prenatal as well as postnatal supplements on the market to help with things like conceiving, morning sickness, breastfeeding feeding and nutrients support.
Common health conditions during pregnancy
Problems during pregnancy are common, even in healthy women. Some are not serious but it's important to always be on top of things by consulting your doctor if you are worried. Here are some common health issues:
- Anemia – being iron deficient during pregnancy can easily be remedied with iron supplements
- Depression or intense, long periods of sadness – hormones can affect your mood, talk about what you're feeling or join a support group for mothers
- Gestational diabetes – Follow a health plan as outlined by your doctor or nutritionist
- High blood pressure
- Infections, influenza