In the not-too-distant past, expectant mothers didn’t give too much thought to diet and nutrition. Since they were eating for two, most thought it fine to throw caution to the wind and eat whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Plus, until recently, exercise during pregnancy was pretty much unheard of. Expectant moms were instructed to rest and avoid strenuous activity in the interest of prenatal health. However, in recent years, we’ve learned a lot about pregnancy and what it takes to ensure health for both mother and baby. Keep reading to discover tips and advice on enjoying a happy, healthy pregnancy!
Diet and Exercise
Nutrition and physical activity are extremely important during pregnancy. Without balanced nutrition and regular exercise, expectant moms run the risk of complications like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, premature birth and more. When it comes to diet, fresh, all-natural foods are recommended; ideally, a prenatal diet should consist of fruits and veggies, fortified whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.
As for prenatal fitness, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous in order to be effective. In fact, mild workouts are best, especially for moms unaccustomed to regular exercise. For healthy women who are not considered high-risk, walking, swimming and prenatal yoga are great options.
Calming Pregnancy Cravings
Pregnancy cravings can be intense, to say the least. For many women, cravings for strange snacks and bizarre food combinations are just par for the pregnancy course. Unfortunately, most women report cravings that are less than healthy; for example, ice cream, greasy fast food and baked goods are just a few of the foods commonly craved by expectant moms. Thankfully, though, there are ways to calm those unhealthy cravings without worrying about poor nutrition.
While cravings may seem like mild annoyances, they may be the result of nutrient deficiencies. For example, ice cream cravings may be the body’s way of letting an expectant mom know that she should increase her calcium intake, just as a craving for oily french fries may signify the body’s need for healthy fats. Therefore, when cravings for unhealthy foods strike, calm them with healthy alternatives. For example, ice cream cravings can be quelled with yogurt and other low-fat dairy foods, yearnings for a greasy cheeseburger can be satisfied with lean proteins, and cravings for sweets can be calmed with fresh fruits and healthy whole grains.
Some medications are safe during pregnancy, while others can lead to severe side effects. When it comes to prescription drugs, speaking to a doctor about use during pregnancy is essential; for over-the-counter medications, avoidance is usually best. For expectant moms who suffer from chronic back pain and other uncomfortable ailments, there are plenty of natural ways to reduce discomfort. For example, Mahir Reiss, a physical therapist based in San Diego, recommends massage, acupuncture and other all-natural methods of treating chronic pain as opposed to using prescription or OTC pain-relievers.
It’s a given that nutritional supplements can’t take the place of a balanced, healthy diet; however, many pregnant women find that getting the recommended nutrition through diet alone can be challenging. For this reason, expectant moms are usually instructed to supplement their diet with daily prenatal vitamins. Prenatal supplements are packed with folic acid, iron and other vitamins and minerals necessary to a healthy pregnancy.
Since many women report symptoms like nausea and indigestion after taking prenatal supplements, taking them on a full stomach or with a teaspoon of peanut butter is recommended.