The dream of most every women is to have a healthy baby. This is a life long goal that begins at conception. It is the duty of the mother to keep the baby healthy while pregnant as well as when they are born. The prenatal period, some would argue, is the most imperative time to keep a baby healthy. The development of the baby's body and mind are highly dependent on the health choices of the mother at this time.
A healthy pregnant body is a body that pays close attention to what it takes in and the activities it engages in. A healthy pregnant body is mindful of the food it consumes, the exercise it partakes in, the medication it ingests, and the health of its mind. All around awareness of your body is the best way to help your baby to be healthy.
The first step to a healthy pregnant body is fervently watching your diet. It is common knowledge that some substances such as alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, and even some prescription drugs are harmful to the baby during the prenatal period; however, keeping a healthy pregnant body requires more than just refraining from these substances. Remember, you are eating for two people now, that is the fun part. Although, you only need to consume about 300 more calories than you usually would.
Keeping a Balanced Diet
It is important that you pay attention to which of those calories you are feeding yourself and the baby. Researchers suggest the following guidelines:
- Consume 6-11 servings of bread/ whole grains
- Consume 2-4 servings of fruit
- Eat 4+ servings of veggies
- Eat lots of iron-rich foods
- Eat High Fiber foods
- Consume at least one Vitamin C rich food per day
- Consume at least one Vitamin A rich food per day
- Consume at least one Folic Acid rich food per day
- Drink lots of water!
Foods high in fiber help keep your heart strong and healthy which allows the baby to receive the nutrients it needs. High-fiber foods consist of: whole grains, breads, pastas, beans, nuts, seeds, artichokes, pears, peas, oatmeal raspberries, and other fruits and vegetables.
Iron-rich foods are necessary because they help to create hemoglobin, a protein that helps give other cells in the body oxygen. During pregnancy, your blood levels are heightened, therefore, more iron is needed. Iron-rich foods are essential; whereas, if the body has an insufficient amount of iron, the baby can suffer from low birth weight, preterm birth and even death. Foods that are high in iron include but are not limited to: beef, lamb, ham, turkey, liver, seafood, eggs, spinach, sweet potatoes, peas, whole wheat pastas and breads, bran cereals, fruits, beans and tofu.
Vitamin C is an essential element in the diet of a healthy pregnant body due to it being an essential part of tissue repair, bone growth, healthy skin, protecting cells from damage and the immune system.These foods are excellent sources of Vitamin C: peppers, guavas, fresh herbs, broccoli, dark leafy greens, papayas, oranges, and strawberries.
Vitamin A is critical in the diet of a healthy pregnant body because it plays an important role in instrumental processes such as the circulatory system, the central nervous system, the respiratory system, fat metabolism, infection resistance and the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones of the baby. Vitamin A comes from many fruits and vegetables such as, sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, squash, lettuce, apricots, and cantaloupe.
Folic Acid is vital due to its effects on production of red blood cells and neural tube development which turns into the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid comes in many forms including these delicious foods: dark leafy greens, broccoli, citrus fruits, cauliflower, asparagus, beans, seeds and nuts.
Lastly, our body consists mostly of water, therefore, it is imperative to constantly replenish that water that is lost in saliva, sweat and urine. Water is easy to consume, but you need a large amount of it. This can be consumed through drinking water and juices or eating water rich foods such as: melons, berries, apples, soup, grains, peppers and greens. The correct amount of water needed for a healthy pregnant body can be obtained through a combination of drinking and eating water-containing foods.
Maintaining a balanced diet by following the above guidelines will give your baby the best chance at full development and living a healthy life. Your son or daughter will thank you for this later.
A well balanced diet is essential to having a healthy pregnant body; however, exercise is equally important. Morning sickness and the extra weight can make it hard to hit the gym all of the time, but there are many ways to keep your body active during pregnancy.
Exercising while pregnant can be beneficial but dangerous as well. It is possible and common for women to go to the gym and do their normal work outs during the early months of their pregnancy. This is a great way to control your weight and maintain a healthy pregnant body. However, there are concerns as to injuries and the health of the baby while exercising intensely at the gym. While pregnant, your center of gravity may be off, and cause you to lose your balance. Also, when you exercise intensely, your blood is redirected from the baby to your muscles. This causes less nutrients to get to the baby and less oxygen which can be damaging to the baby. Be cautious of these possible effects when exercising intensely. With close attention and good nutrition; however, exercising at a gym can be an excellent way to maintain a healthy pregnant body.
For those of you who are not willing to chance going to the gym or prefer to exercise at home, there are several ways you can keep a healthy pregnant body. Studies show that the best way to maintain a healthy body and a healthy baby while pregnant is to constantly exercise over long periods of time versus doing periods of intense exercise. The best tip is to stay on your feet for as much of your day as possible. Try taking a walk, going to the park, dancing while doing your chores, playing non-contact sports and anything else you can think of to keep you on your feet. Another way to get your healthy pregnant body is to do routine exercises at home. Try following a prenatal exercise DVD program or come up with an exercise routine that works for you. The most recommended exercises are walking, stationary cycling, and swimming. Just be cautious of your limitations, they will be different than they were before you were pregnant. Also, avoid lifting heavy weights, contact sports and doing exercises that could make you fall down.
When done safely, exercise can be very beneficial to your body, your pregnancy, and your baby. According to an article by Thomas W Wang, M.D., and Barbara S Apgar, M.D., titled, “Exercise During Pregnancy,” “Exercise may make pregnancy more comfortable, shorten labor, and reduce the need for obstetric interventions.”
Vitamins and Medications
Eating and exercising are key to having a healthy pregnant body but it is always nice to have an extra cushion of health. You can get this by taking prenatal vitamins. The most important prenatal vitamins are Folic acid, Iron, and calcium. These are to be taken if you are not getting enough of these three vitamins in your regular diet. They will all help prevent birth defects and help your baby grow strong and healthy.
Taking vitamins is a great cushion for your healthy pregnant body, however, medications could present the opposite effect. There are many medications that can effect your baby and many that won't. For that reason, always consult your doctor before starting or stopping new medications. In addition, if you are on medication before you are pregnant, consult your doctor and decide if those medications will affect your pregnancy.
During pregnancy, a women's hormone levels are heightened; this can cause mood swings and even mental illnesses. It is commonly misconstrued that these hormones protect against mental illness during pregnancy, they do not. The most common mental disorders that occur during pregnancy are anxiety disorders and depression.
Depression can occur during pregnancy or afterwards (postpartum depression). This may pass as the pregnancy moves forward but it could also last a while. If you begin having symptoms such as: fatigue, lack of energy, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating, or have recurrent thoughts of death or suicide; speak to your doctor. They can help you decide a treatment course plan that will help you take care of yourself and your baby.
Anxiety is also a commonly experienced during pregnancy. Anxiety disorders can present through panic attacks, hyperventilation, excessive worry, or repeated thoughts or images of something bad happening to your baby. Consult your doctor if you feel you have anxiety problems, they can help you find an action plan to stay calm.
Both of these mental illnesses can be treated through therapy or through medication. It is important that you do not self-medicate, but rather speak with your doctor to find out what is right for you and your baby. Keeping your mind healthy will allow you to assist your baby in living a healthy life.
Keeping a healthy pregnant body and mind will allow you to give your child the best possible chance at a happy, healthy life.
This post was guest-authored by Kali Trost, an employee of Care Club Medical Centers. If you would like to write for HealthResource4u, check our guest submission guidelines.