Pregnancy is the most natural thing in the world and women have been giving birth successfully since time began. As you are bringing a new life into the world it is important to take care of yourself during pregnancy in order to care for the precious bundle you are carrying. In fact it is also important prior to conception to be in optimal health.
Whether it is your first pregnancy or you are already a mother it is important to consider making positive life changes in order to care for yourself. This will enable your baby to be nurtured within your womb. A healthy, happy mother is conducive to experiencing a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. If you experience any complications during your pregnancy the healthier you are, the better equipped you will be to deal with them.
When considering what changes you would like to make during pregnancy it is important to be aware of current health advice, which changes often. This is particularly important when considering nutritional changes. It is important to eat a healthy balanced diet, but there are certain foods that should be avoided due to health implications to the baby. This article will discuss this in further detail. The mental health of a mother during pregnancy is also very important, hormones play havoc during pregnancy which can cause alarming mood variations. Finally Body changes can cause symptoms affecting skin, hair and nails.
Eating a wwell-balanceddiet during pregnancy is essential for maintaining the health of yourself and your baby. A diet that contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients promotes good fetal brain development, reduces the risk of birth defects and is conducive to a healthy birth weight.
Often women worry about gaining too much weight during pregnancy, but this isn’t a time to be on a restrictive diet. The old adage “you are what you eat” is never more true than during pregnancy, except the saying is relevant for both yourself and your baby. During pregnancy, weight gain varies from individual to individual, but if you’re having a single birth pregnancy you should gain between 25 – 30 lbs. Your weight gain could differ if you suffer from complications such as diabetes or if you are having a multiple birth, such as twins, triplets or more!
Good nutrition should preferably begin prior to conception by including lots of folic acid in your diet. The correct dosage of folic acid is more achievable if taken via a supplement. You should continue to take the supplement during your pregnancy. Folic acid helps to prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord, such as spina bifida. You can buy special pregnancy vitamins that will ensure you are taking the correct vitamins for health. It is important to get medical advice on what is safe to take during pregnancy.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy
There are foods which should be avoided during pregnancy as they may have a detrimental effect on the health or you or your baby. According to research this list can change, so ensure you stay up to date with recent advice.
Soft cheeses are best avoided as they are often unpasteurized meaning that there is a risk of harmful bacteria. Raw or undercooked eggs are also best avoided due to the same reason. Most foods should be avoided if they are raw such as meats. Toxoplasmosis is a parasite found in raw meat, cat faeces, unpasteurized foods and untreated water. Toxoplasmosis causes an infection, which can be harmful to your baby, but shows no outward symptoms.
Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin A can be harmful, these foods include liver, pate and vitamin supplements not specifically prepared for during pregnancy.
There are certain types of fish that should be avoided or restricted these include tuna, you should only eat the equivalent of two tuna steaks per week, or two cans as tuna contains high levels of mercury. Other kinds of oily fish such as salmon and trout also contain toxins. Most other fish is fine to eat during pregnancy, just ensure everything is thoroughly cooked.
Peanuts are currently safe to eat, advice changes so always check current recommendations.
Ensure that all salads, veg and fruits are washed thoroughly, even if it is stated that they are ready washed. Avoid eating anything with visible soil on it due risk of bacteria and parasites.
Caffeine is best avoided or kept to a minimum. High levels of caffeine can cause a low birth weight or miscarriage.
Healthy foods in pregnancy
Eating a healthy well balanced diet is best for you and the baby, just be sure to avoid the foods listed above.
Fruit and vegetables should be eaten in abundance and can be fresh, canned or juiced. Fruit and veg will ensure you receive many vitamins and minerals as well as keep your digestive system healthy as they contain lots of fibre.
Carbohydrates give you energy as well as fibre, vitamins and minerals. You will need lots of energy whilst you’re supporting the growth of your baby. Excellent foods containing carbohydrates include bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals and oats. If you choose whole grain options rather than refined carbohydrates, the benefits will be greater.
Protein should be included in every meal as protein will help your baby grow. Good sources of protein include eggs, fish, meat, cheese, yogurts, beans and nuts.
Dairy contains calcium, which is essential for bone development. Your calcium requirements will increase a lot during pregnancy.
Be sure to eat little and often and don’t skip meals. Healthy snacks to keep energy levels constant could include cereal, sandwiches, fruit etc Try to avoid high fat foods such as chocolate and crisps.
Keep hydrated during pregnancy by drinking lots of fluids, not including caffeinated drinks, alcohol and tea and coffee. Stick to fruit juices and water. Your fluid requirements increase during pregnancy and drinking enough will help you avoid headaches, tiredness and lack of energy.
Skin, hair and nails
All sorts of changes occur to your body when you’re pregnant, mainly due to fluctuations in hormone levels. It is not always predictable as to how your body will react, as everyone’s does in a different way. Some women are lucky enough to develop a “pregnancy bloom”, this normally occurs during the second trimester and is thanks to hormonal changes causing increased blood flow and slight fluid retention giving skin a smooth appearance. However this isn’t always the case as you are just as likely to experience spotty, dry skin as a result of the hormones too!
Rapid weight gain and hormones can cause stretch marks, They appear as purple lines, which fade after pregnancy. Many creams and preparations have been developed to help prevent stretch marks and it is worth learning how to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy by incorporating creams containing vitamin E in your daily routine.
It is also possible that your skin develops chloasma, which is a darkening of the pigmentation of the skin on your nose, chin and cheeks. To lessen the effect you should consider using a high factor sunscreen in the summer months.
One of the benefits of the effects of pregnancy hormones on your body is that your hair and nails will grow quickly and strongly. The normal rate of shedding hair is slowed right down meaning that your hair will become much thicker. Make the most of it as after your baby is born, the drop in hormones will cause your hair to shed rapidly, this can actually be quite alarming, but is perfectly normal.
By keeping your diet well balanced and being aware of the effects pregnancy has on your body you will be able to relax and enjoy this very special time.