Immediately after the excitement of seeing the pink line on the pregnancy test, comes the realization that how you live, eat and think can greatly influence the well-being of your growing baby inside. The following are our top seven tips for staying healthy for you and your baby during your pregnancy. For more information on your most pressing questions as new parents, continue to check out HUGGIES® Mommy Answers.
1. GIVE YOURSELF AN “OIL CHANGE”
When you’re pregnant, your baby needs you to make a smart oil change. For smarter baby brain growth, eat a right fat diet, not a low fat diet. A growing baby’s brain is 60 percent fat and the smartest fats are those found in fish oil – omega-3 fats DHA and EPA. Omega-3 fats are to the brain what calcium is to the bone.
Mothers who eat sufficient fish oil supplements during their pregnancy are more likely to have babies that are less premature, have better vision and fewer allergies. Consult your doctor on how much fish oil you should be consuming.
2. JUST EAT REAL FOODS
Try eating food that goes from sea, tree, or farm to your plate, and spends little time, if any, in a food-processing factory. Remember, real food has a crave-control perk called a high-satiety factor, while fake food is less filling and has an addictive nature, prompting you to overbuy and overeat. When you’re pregnant it’s important to select foods based on quality and “nutrient density” – the most nutrition in the smallest volume. Our favorite super foods are wild salmon, nuts and greens.
3. GRAZE THROUGHOUT THE DAY
A growing baby pressing on an already queasy tummy will change the way you eat: graze, sip, and dip. Grazing on nutritious mini-meals throughout the day keeps your stomach satisfied and your blood sugar steady. Follow our rule of two’s:
• Eat twice as often
• Eat half as much
• Chew twice as long
• Take twice the time to dine
4. GAIN THE WEIGHT THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
You and your baby are growing together. The closer you are to your optimal weight gain, the healthier you and your baby are likely to be, and the less complicated your delivery is likely to be. Obstetricians currently recommend that most women gain 25-35 pounds. Whether you gain at the low end or high end of this range depends upon your individual body type and whether you were a lot overweight or underweight initially. Average weight gain in the first trimester for a woman of medium build should be four pounds (3-6 pounds).
Weight gain during the next six months should average a pound a week. But, gaining more than 4-5 pounds in one week could be an unhealthy sign.
New studies confirm what pregnant women have long suspected: the more you move, the healthier you are. Active mothers reduce leg swellings, boost their immune systems and are prepared for an easier birth. For the newly pregnant beginner, many obstetricians recommend exercising for 30 minutes three times a week, gradually increasing the duration and intensity. Short, frequent, consistent exercise routines are healthier than sporadic bursts. You may find outdoor exercises, such as swimming or brisk walking in a park, to be much more mentally relaxing than a gym full of sweaty bodies and loud machines. You’re training for one of the most body-challenging marathons of your life – childbirth, so the right exercise program for you is the one you enjoy and will stick to.
6. STRESS LESS
Don’t worry, be pregnant! Unresolved stress can weaken baby’s already fragile immune system. Research, though still in its infancy, suggests that persistently high levels of toxic thoughts can be toxic to a baby’s vulnerable and growing brain. Learning to reduce stress now is good practice for maintaining serenity as a new mother. Try listening to relaxing music, focusing on the big things, not small or renting a funny movie.
7. SLEEP PEACEFULLY
As your pregnancy progresses and your little passenger starts taking up a lot more room, quality sleep becomes more of a challenge. You get more tired and need more sleep, but the changes of pregnancy can keep you from enjoying a good night’s sleep. To get a better night’s sleep:
Have a peaceful day. Keep stress to a minimum – a day filled with emotional ups and downs is likely to carry over into a fitful night.
Enjoy some exercise. The more you move during the day, the better you’re likely to sleep at night.
Eat smart for sleep. Your sleep can be highly affected, for better or worse, by what you eat. Discover which foods help you sleep, and which ones keep you up.
Enjoy an evening massage. Put your mate to work to help you relax mind and body with a back massage.
Set the mood. Dim the lights and don’t use the computer or watch TV within an hour of going to bed. The sleeping position that is usually most comfortable is on your left side, supported by pillows between your knees, against your back, one or two supporting your head and neck, and one between the “bump” and mattress.
Dr. Bill and Martha Sears are the co-authors of over 40 books on parenting and health, including the bestselling The Baby Book, The Birth Book, and the upcoming The Healthy Pregnancy Book, due out September 2013. With the experience of over 40 years in pediatric practice while raising 8 children, Dr. Bill and Martha stay busy as frequent guests on television and radio programs and speakers at conferences, as well as running their own parenting website, www.AskDrSears.com.