Becoming a new mom is a thrilling yet daunting experience! From the moment you find out you’re expecting a little bundle of joy, you need to make numerous life changing decisions – even before the big arrival. Choices need to be made – everything from what colour to make the baby’s room, to who will take care of your baby once (or if) you return to work, and of course, one of the most important decisions – choosing a name.
However, despite all these important choices you need to consider, often it’s the moments ‘in between’ that really count – like your health and lifestyle choices which could directly affect your unborn child. If you have been taking your health for granted, well then now is the time to assess your current lifestyle to see if any changes should be made.
Your unborn baby will rely on you for all essential nutrients, which are important for his/her development, and by eating well, exercising and taking your prenatal vitamins you can decrease your risk of a complicated pregnancy. It is for this reason that as an expectant mom you should prioritise your health, and looking at an exercise and eating plan can go a long way here.
The Importance of Exercising
How long can I jog for? Am I able to lift weights? These are some of the questions that a lot of pregnant women are unsure of when it comes to exercise. Many expectant moms want to jump in and exercise to ensure to keep the extra weight off, but sometimes it’s not a good idea to start something your body isn’t used to. Despite all the myths that surround exercising during pregnancy, health practitioners encourage moderate exercise, as it is highly beneficial for both mom and growing baby. So, how will exercise benefit you and baby?
- Increases your energy levels
- Improves sleep
- Strengthens muscles and builds endurance
- Reduces backaches
- Relieves constipation
Eating Right – For You and the Baby
There will always be contradicting ideas from friends and family on what an expecting mother should eat or drink, however, it is always important to do personal research and get advice from your doctor or clinic. Of course, there are certain foods that should be completely avoided by a mom-to-be (like raw meat and uncooked seafood). Ideally, expectant moms should aim to eat foods that are high in calcium, antioxidants and nutrients, as regularly as possible. And before you get carried away and utter the words “I’m eating for two”, remember that eating too many calories is also harmful to you and baby. You might even struggle to lose the post pregnancy weight which can be frustrating.
In terms of the food you eat, make sure you get enough:
- Vitamin D – which helps with the absorption of calcium
- Iron – is vital for creating the baby’s blood supply
- Vitamin C – improves the uptake of iron from non-meat sources
- Omega 3 fats – are important to ensure optimal brain development of the baby
- Calcium – which helps develop the baby’s bones and teeth
Antenatal Visits and Appointments
As soon as you find out that you are pregnant, schedule appointments with a reputable gynaecologist/mid-wife who can help you plan your antenatal care. This will ensure that you are getting the right advice for a healthy pregnancy, right from the get go. Antenatal care is an essential part of pregnancy, and on days where you are tempted to skip your appointment and rather relax on the couch – remember that sticking to appointments is essential in assessing your unborn baby’s health, and to examine whether the pregnancy is progressing well. And of course, the absolute best part of an antenatal visit is hearing the heartbeat and getting a visual ‘sneak peek’ of your growing little one during an ultrasound.
Of course your hormones are a factor during your pregnancy, but with moderate exercise, plenty of sleep, healthy eating and making use of your support system, you can help ensure that your pregnancy is healthy and that you give your baby the healthiest start. Enjoy this time – it’s the start of a truly wonderful journey!
Article courtesy of Diana Du Plessis, on behalf of Philips Mother and Child Division (Avent)