Beyonce’s pregnancy photo shoot in which she wears a veil and is surrounded by flowers has been one of the most liked pictures on Instagram. No real wonder there, it’s Queen B after all. Beyonce has been such an inspiration that many women in 2017 and 2018 have chosen to copy her picture to share their good news with their relatives and friends. The pregnancy announcement photo is, by far, one of the most popular family portraits for Millennials. It has to contain elements of either romantic, cheeky, or glamorous visuals – Three guesses as to what Beyonce’s intentions were. As a result, the abundance of positive pregnancy news on social media can make you forget that being pregnant is not always fun. Your body goes through a lot of changes during the pregnancy, and these changes can cause health issues. High blood pressure, heart disease, rash, depression, diabetes, and even breast cancer can be consequences of pregnancy. Some of these issues can disappear at the end of the pregnancy, while others affect your body permanently. But the bottom line is that pregnancy and health don’t always go hand in hand.
However, it would be a mistake to let this knowledge affect your desire to have children. But, instead, you could use it to build the best possible plan for a healthy pregnancy. Being pregnant and healthy is a challenge for every future mom-to-be, especially during your first pregnancy. It can be hard to identify health issues and pregnancy-related symptoms, for instance. But this little guide can, hopefully, help you to take control of your body during pregnancy.
What can you eat?
When you get pregnant, you know that you need to adjust your diet to the new requirements of your body. And what your body needs is for you to stop eating some of your favorite food until the end of the pregnancy. Soft white and blue cheeses have to disappear for the next 9 months. Indeed, they provide an ideal growth environment for listeria – infection with listeria can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth. If you were a poached egg gourmet, you need to stay away from runny yolks to prevent risks of salmonella food poisoning. Finally raw and uncooked meat and fish could put your baby at risk too. These are some of the most common foods you need to avoid. But, if you want to be perfectly in control of what you eat, you need to make sure that you’re also avoiding processed foods – which can affect both you and your baby –, high amount of sugar and fat – both present in processed foods – and high amounts of salt – which you can get from chips and other packed snacks. It might not leave you with many healthy options if you don’t like cooking from scratch. As a rule of the thumb, you want to prepare meals that include highly nutritious food to support you and your baby. Dairy products, and especially probiotic products, are an essential source of calcium and vitamins that meet the need of a growing fetus and reduce the risk of health complications. Legume, salmon and leafy greens should also be on top of your list. And if you have sweet cravings, try to snack on berries to boost your immune system!
No, morning sickness is not mandatory
If reading about food makes you feel queasy, you’re probably worried about the infamous morning sickness. Morning sickness is there to protect your baby. From a biological perspective keeping simple foods means that you reduce the risk of contracting foodborne diseases. Your pregnancy hormones actively protect the fertilized egg – however, it doesn’t mean that feeling fine during your term implies there’s a risk for the fetus. Even when morning sickness exists for the best of reasons, there’s no fun in feeling nauseous for months on end. But, you can help your body to reduce the symptoms with little tricks. Overeating can worsen symptoms, so pay close attention to your portions. Similarly, try to eat small portions frequently as an empty stomach will make you feel queasy. You can keep a box of plain crackers by the bed so that you can nibble a few before getting up.
Be aware of your body
As mentioned earlier, your body goes through a lot of changes. For instance, you might discover that some of your favorite foods are now triggering morning sickness symptoms – it’s a sad but frequent scenario for many women. As there is no way of knowing in advance how your body will handle pregnancy, you need to learn to recognize small changes. The way your body used to behave may not be the same, and consequently, staying tuned can help you to make the right decisions. For instance, many women experience leg pain during pregnancy – sometimes as early as the second trimester. Combined with weight gain and the fatigue of carrying a growing fetus, it can be tricky to find ways to alleviate leg pain during pregnancy. However, more often than now, you’d find that the opposite of the natural reaction to pain – which would be to avoid movement – is the better solution here. Gentle exercise can help to improve your circulation and decrease leg swelling.
Getting fit will help
Carrying a baby is exhausting. Therefore, pregnant women tend to naturally reduce movements – which can lead to the leg pain mentioned above. This is not always the best solution, and unless your doctor recommends you not to move, you can’t afford to develop sedentary habits. Indeed, your body goes through a lot during pregnancy, and if you want to stay on top of your health, you should get fit even before you get pregnant. Losing weight before pregnancy means that you are more likely to develop a healthy lifestyle, which is easier to maintain when you’re pregnant. Additionally, you need to remember that labor deserves its name. It’s hard work. The fitter you are, the easier it will be.
Staying active is key for delivery
Admittedly, getting fit ahead of your pregnancy doesn’t mean that you should stop any physical activity from the moment you are pregnant. On the contrary, keeping active – within reason – is essential to support your body through most of the transformations. As you maintain your muscle mass, your body is stronger, healthier and ultimately a better carrier for your baby. You will need to transform your workout — it’s best to work with a personal trainer who can encourage you with safe exercises. Thankfully, many low-impact activities are considered safe for pregnant women. So if you can’t find a PT, you can find comfort in yoga and swimming without putting yourself at risk.
You’re NOT eating for 2
Staying fit during pregnancy comes at a cost, which is your diet. While it’s not recommended to go on a diet when pregnant – the fetus needs all the nutrients it can get –, paying attention to portion size can make a great deal of difference. A common mistake is to eat twice as much as you would otherwise. A growing fetus requires energy, but this comes in the form of extra 340 to 450 calories in the second and third trimester. Another important tip here: The extra calories should come from a mixture of vegetables and lean proteins. Overeating could have a negative effect on your health and the health of your baby.
The pregnancy brain isn’t a myth, but it’s not a fatality either
If you’ve decided to carry on working until the last moment – it’s a good idea for pregnant women who are worried about getting unfit as a result of inactivity –, you might experience what is called the baby brain. Don’t be alarmed; your body is going through a lot, and while hormones are firing around, you might find yourself getting a little forgetful or unable to focus. You’re not losing your mind. Until your gray matter is fully restored, you can develop supportive strategies such as keeping to-do lists and getting regular sleep and exercise.
Reduce your stress levels
Dealing with memory issues during your pregnancy is stressful, especially if you’ve decided to stay at work. As workplaces are naturally hectic environments, they can affect your baby brain dramatically. So, the first lesson for you to remember is to look after yourself. Don’t try to be the work hero who does everything. Instead, take regular breaks and set clear limits on your tasks. You can also develop a similar strategy at home – by delegating some household chores to your partner, for instance.
Avoid the emotional rollercoaster
Last, but not least, hormones can be a nightmare during pregnancy. They induce morning sickness. They are responsible for your baby brain. They can also affect your mood and cause dramatic mood swings. Anger and anxiety, for instance, can lead to lower birth weight and even premature delivery. There’s no miracle recipe to make it go away. You need to look after yourself: Rest and recharge as much as you can.
Pregnancy puts your body through a lot of pressure, transformation, and effort. Consequently, women who have failed to prepare themselves for this adventure might struggle with health complications that can affect both the mother and the baby. Staying healthy through your pregnancy by taking control is the safest path to an emotionally, mentally and physically enriching experience.