How to Have a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

healthy pregnancyBeing pregnant is one of the most precious times in your life, and it’s important that you keep yourself healthy to keep your baby healthy. Follow the tips below to keep yourself happy and healthy during your pregnancy.

#1 Eat Well

There is a myth that you need to eat for two when pregnant. That’s not the case – in fact, for the first six months of pregnancy, you don’t need to eat any more calories per day. In the last three months of pregnancy, you’ll need to eat just another 200 calories a day. Having said that, you need to eat a balanced and healthy diet whereby you eat from all of the major food groups. Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day and base your meals around carbohydrates – potatoes, rice, pulses, pasta etc. Eat plenty of protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses, and have some milk and low-fat dairy. Steer clear of raw eggs and fish and make sure that you eat breakfast so that you have enough energy for the day ahead.

#2 Sort out Antenatal Care

Your antenatal care is vitally important, and the sooner you get it sorted, the sooner you can begin to develop relationships with your obstetrics team – your midwife or nurse and the doctors at the hospital. This means that you’ll feel happier when it comes to the birth and the obstetrics team can answer any questions you may have and alleviate any fears that you may be feeling.

#3 Limit Your Alcohol Intake

I wouldn’t want to tell you to cut out alcohol completely if you enjoy a glass of wine now and then –  and the general consensus of doctors is that if you’re going to drink, you should drink less than one or two units at a time and never more than twice a week – and you should never get drunk. Research shows that women who drink heavily whilst pregnant on a regular basis may give birth to a child with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which can range from mild learning difficulties to severe disability.

#4 Stop Smoking

If you’re a smoker, you’ve no doubt heard this before – quit smoking whilst you are pregnant and whilst your child is very young. Smoking whilst pregnant increases your risk of miscarriage, having a baby that’s born with a cleft lip or cleft palette, premature delivery, still birth and cot death. Ideally, you should stop smoking before you even consider getting pregnant.

#5 Cut Back on Caffeine

Many women enjoy a cup or two of tea or coffee in the morning – which is really common, and that’s fine. Too much caffeine, however, could cause a miscarriage and could make your baby weigh very little when you give birth to them. Some doctors say that less than 2 cups of coffee, which is equal to 4 cups of tea or 5 cans of cola per day is acceptable, but other doctors say that even a small amount of daily caffeine could increase your risk of miscarriage. It’s up to you, but the best advice is to cut down to only a small amount of caffeine, or to switch to decaffeinated tea, coffee and fizzy drink varieties.

#6 Get Plenty of Rest

Getting rest doesn’t necessarily mean go to sleep, but if you’re feeling fatigued, especially in your first and third trimesters, you should put your feet up and rest. It’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down, so listen to it and try to rest – especially if you’re not getting much sleep. If you need to take a nap in the day time, then you should – it will be good for both you and baby.

#7 Keep Exercising

Exercising during pregnancy really helps to keep your energy levels up, as well as helping you to stay in shape. You shouldn’t do anything too stressful or straining on your body – stick to gentle exercise, like yoga or swimming, rather than something like running on a treadmill. Exercising can also reduce your risk of having a miscarriage, and it can also help your labour to be shorter and less complicated.

#8 Exercise Your Pelvic Floor

Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the muscles that are at the base of your pelvis. During pregnancy, these muscles can cause you to leak urine when you laugh or sneeze, which can be very embarrassing. Doing pelvic floor exercises strengthens these muscles, preventing accidents, and they’re also good to practise after pregnancy when you’ve had your child and the muscles are looser. Ask your midwife about how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly.

#9 Take Folic Acid

This is the only pregnancy supplement that is actually considered vital. This can prevent disorders such as spina bifida, as well as other neural tube defects. Women are encouraged to take 400mcg of folic acid every day up until about 3 months into their pregnancy. You can also increase your levels of folic acid by eating food that naturally contains folates. This food includes fish, fish oil supplements, vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals. Again, ask your midwife for more information.

#10 Get Your Partner Involved

It can sometimes feel like you’re going through your pregnancy alone – your body is the one that is changing and you’re the one that isn’t allowed to eat certain foods. You’re also the one who can feel the baby move, and sometimes, you could feel alone. Try as much as you can to keep your partner involved in all aspects of your pregnancy – have them touch your stomach, listen to the baby, come with you to all the scans and try to get them to go through the life changes with you, like eating healthily and quitting smoking.

#11 Talk About it

If you’re feeling lonely or if you feel like you need to talk to someone, try starting up a pregnancy blog or write in a journal. Pour out all of your feelings and you should feel better. It’s common to feel a huge multitude of things whilst pregnant, because of the hormones swirling around in your body. You may feel really sick, you may feel on your own, and you may even feel depressed. Talk to someone about it and you should hopefully feel a little bit better. If it all becomes too much, talk to your midwife straight away and she may be able to recommend something to make you feel better.

#12 Keep a Diary for the Baby

A lovely thing to do whilst pregnant is to write journal entries down for your baby to read when they’re older – or you could give them the journal for their 16th or 18th birthday. It’s a lovely gift and it really cements the bond that you’ll have, because they’ll feel like they knew you even before they were alive. You could extend this idea further and create video diaries for your child to watch when they’re older.

The most important things to do whilst pregnant are to get prepared for the baby and the birth and to enjoy yourself. Prepare by learning everything you can about giving birth, breastfeeding and caring for a child. Go to birthing classes so you get an idea of what happens at the birth and pack an overnight bag ready for your hospital stay.

Other than that, try to relax into your pregnancy and enjoy it. It’s a beautiful experience and it’s an absolute joy to have a child, so try to enjoy it as much as you can.