Pregnancy is an exciting time for most women, the idea that you have created new life is mindblowing when you think about it- and you know that in a few short months you will have your perfect little baby in your arms. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and pregnancy can come with its fair share of issues. As a mother-to-be, you find yourself questioning every little symptom and overthinking even the most minor of changes.
While it’s important to be aware of your body and seek medical advice when needed, one proactive thing you can do is to really take care of yourself during pregnancy. You have peace of mind that you’re giving yourself and your unborn baby everything they need, and you can avoid all kinds of issues and complications. Here are a few things to think about.
Caffeine is the most loved legal drug in the world- while it’s safe at moderate levels in healthy adults it’s still that- a drug. There have been conflicting findings about whether caffeine in pregnancy is ok or not, but the advice that most agree on is that it should be limited to a maximum of one cup a day. Caffeine is a stimulant as well as a diuretic, meaning it can increase heart rate and blood pressure as well as dehydrate you. There’s also evidence that links caffeine to preeclampsia, a dangerous condition for both you and your baby. You can get your preeclampsia questions answered online, there’s no need to panic about it but it’s worth being knowledgeable.That way you can spot the symptoms and also know the best ways to avoid it.
Alcohol is damaging to the body whether you are pregnant or not. New research has found that there are no safe levels of alcohol consumption, and that every drink puts strain on your body and leads to increased risks of serious health conditions. While the current advice is that a small, occasional drink in pregnancy will pose little risk- are you really willing to take it? Your best bet would be to avoid alcohol completely, there are lots of great non alcoholic alternatives these days if you’re going out and want to enjoy a beverage with friends. Of course, drinking at higher levels is incredibly damaging and you put your baby at risk of things like foetal alcohol syndrome. If you’re alcohol dependent, it’s vital that you’re honest with your doctor so they can give you the right care plan. If you’re not, simply avoiding alcohol completely is the best way to go, that way you have peace of mind that you’re looking after your unborn baby in the best way you can.
If you have a pre-existing health condition which you take medication for, you will need to speak to your doctor to find out if it’s safe to continue. Ideally you will have this chat before conceiving so you can make the switch ahead of time to something suitable, otherwise speak to your GP as soon as you find out that you’re expecting. In some cases (such as pain medication) you might choose to lower your dose and try out natural pain management methods.These could include massage, acupuncture and reflexology- but do speak to a professional beforehand. You need to ensure that anything you’re taking is going to be safe for your baby during the pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Diet and exercise
It goes without saying that when you’re pregnant you need to be eating well. The idea of ‘eating for two’ however has since been disproven. You only need an extra of around 200 calories a day in mid pregnancy, then 400 a day extra later on towards the end. Your diet needs to include plenty of fresh produce, whole grains, lean protein and low fat dairy to give you and your baby everything you need to thrive. You don’t have to deprive yourself and you can still enjoy occasional treats, but eating well and staying active will prevent extreme weight gain which can affect your confidence and be difficult to shed once the baby arrives. Exercise in pregnancy is very important, while you don’t want to be pushing yourself too hard you should aim to stay as active as possible. Walking, yoga, swimming and pilates are all good choices. They won’t be too hard on your joints and back and allow you to burn excess calories, build lean muscle and maintain your cardiovascular fitness.