Did you know that having a healthy pregnancy can affect your baby’s health, and the ease or difficulty of your birthing time?
It’s true! Staying healthy during pregnancy encourages the best possible outcomes for birth and beyond.
So what are the keys to a healthy pregnancy? Some of the most important factors are balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, good hydration, gentle exercise, and mental/emotional peace. I believe these puzzle pieces of health are even more important than any medical procedures that care providers might recommend. That’s not to say that prenatal care from a competent provider is not important, because it is. But your health, especially during pregnancy, is in your hands more than anybody else’s.
You can learn more about staying healthy during pregnancy in any Better Birthing online course. Here are the basics to get you started!
Balanced nutrition is not as complicated as it sounds either. A diet focusing on protein and including plenty of whole grains, veggies, and fruits is optimal during pregnancy. Some foods that are fantastic for pregnant women include: fish such as salmon and tilapia, avocados, beans, eggs, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and berries. Salt should not be limited during pregnancy, and water should be the main beverage. Vitamin D from sunshine is needed, as well.
Getting enough sleep is an often overlooked part of individual health. It is so very important for all of us, even more so during pregnancy! Sleeping for at least eight hours each night is not being lazy, it’s giving your body the rest that it needs to build another human being. Some pregnant women can manage to get in even more hours of slumber, and that’s all the better. Even though sleep may be interrupted by bathroom breaks (or nighttime parenting of older children), getting a good quantity of it goes a long way towards staying healthy.
Hydration is super important as well. It may be one of the most frequent things pregnant women are reminded of. Drinking enough water is easy for some, but can be challenging for others. Not only is the amount of water needed up for debate, but some of the recommendations are downright outlandish. This can be discouraging for moms who are trying to do their best with staying hydrated. My rule of thumb is to drink enough water so that you don’t become thirsty, and your urine is pale or light yellow. Some ways to increase water intake are to keep a cup of water or water bottle with you at all times, to drink other fluids that you find more enjoyable (such as tea, electrolyte water, or even juice or milk), and to use a hydration tracking app to remind you to drink enough.
Gentle exercise during pregnancy can help keep the body fit and strong for birth. Some excellent prenatal exercises include walking, prenatal yoga, and swimming. There are also specific targeted exercises that help strengthen and prepare mothers for birth, such as kegel exercises, safe core-activating exercises, squatting, and pelvic tilts (also known as cat and cow poses).
Mental and emotional peace are an often ignored, but vital component of having a healthy pregnancy and birth. The mind is powerful! When we believe we should feel miserable during pregnancy, we are more likely to; then, we are less likely to take optimal care of ourselves during this special time. When we believe birth is going to be dangerous and painful, it is more likely to be so, even when it doesn’t have to be. That fear can add stress to a pregnancy, and stress is not a helpful ingredient to health!
Hypnosis and meditation are great ways to reduce fear and stress during pregnancy and birth. Using other self-care techniques to stay emotionally balanced is also effective. Make time for whatever you enjoy doing for self-care activities, whether it’s journaling, taking quiet walks, reading, dancing, reading your Bible, or something else. Speaking with a therapist can also be helpful for many people, during any season of life.
Having a healthy pregnancy is not as difficult as it may seem, but it does require making mindful and intentional decisions about self-care. If you put the effort in, the rewards will be great! You and your baby deserve the best.
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