When most women find out they're pregnant, first comes excitement, then comes the sometimes overwhelming reality of all the changes that are to come. We want to take care of ourselves and our changing body to promote the best health for ourselves and our babies, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. There’s advice everywhere, and it’s often contradictory. As someone who’s delivered babies for over 20 years, here are my top 5 behaviors for keeping you (and baby) healthy through your pregnancy:
1) Eat well – We all know that pregnancy is a time when we need more calories for the development of the growing baby. Mamas need an extra 300 calories a day. An average apple has 95 calories, a banana 105, and a ½ cup of cucumber only 8. We also need a lot more protein than most of us usually get. You need 2-3 servings of meat and/or legumes a day to get the recommended amount. Eggs and peanut butter are also good sources of protein.
2)Move Your Body– Exercise is always important. It’s also a lot easier to say, than do. During pregnancy, exercise helps keep your weight healthy and safe for you and baby. It has also been shown that women who exercise during pregnancy tend to have an easier time with labor. Yoga can be particularly helpful, especially to maintain flexibility while building strength. Some studies even show that women who exercise during pregnancy have babies who are healthier during their first year of life, compared to babies of women who don’t exercise.
3) Sleep – Over the course of pregnancy, this only gets harder, both because of body discomfort and the need to empty your bladder in the middle of the night. Sleep is when our bodies rejuvenate themselves. Things are much more tolerable when we have had plenty of sleep.
4) Find a community – It’s easy to start to feel isolated. Finding support with people going through the same thing gives you a place to get questions answered about the changes that go with pregnancy. Find a community of other mothers or mothers to be (Blooma is a great place to do this!)
5) Communicate with your partner – Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to your body and mind, and it’s easy to internalize a lot of those changes and the thoughts that go with them. Remember that your partner wants to know what’s happening. Together you are the base for your family, so make sure to carve out time to maintain the relationship that existed before pregnancy.
Written by Laura France, MD, FACOG, obstetrician/gynecologist, Senior Medical Director – Women and
Children’s Service Line at HealthEast. Learn more at www.healtheast.org/maternity.