“What can I eat?” “What exercises can I do?” “How can I give my baby the best start?” - these are all common questions for mums-to-be to ask when they find out they’re quiet. Here’s what you need to know about staying healthy during your pregnancy.
What to eat
You'll require about 300 calories more per day above your normal caloric intake for the next nine months, so forget about the ‘eating for two’ myth.
When it comes to what you should eat, energy boosting foods can be a real asset, so introduce things like wholemeal bread and yoghurt into your diet to keep your body in top shape. Protein-rich foods are also a must, as the amino acids in protein are the body’s building blocks, and will be used to make your baby big and strong.
There is also a risk of anaemia during pregnancy, with vegetarians finding themselves particularly susceptible to low iron levels. However, you shouldn’t take an iron supplement unless recommended by your doctor; instead stock up on iron-rich food like dark green veg and red meat.
Once you discover you’re pregnant, start taking a prenatal supplement and make sure it contains 600 to 800 micrograms of folic acid. Do remember that more is not necessarily better and large doses of vitamins and minerals could be harmful to your developing baby.
Food to avoid
Mums-to-be need to be sure they avoid certain foods when pregnant. Stay away from items that are possible sources of harmful bacteria like:
• Raw seafood such as oysters or sushi
• Unpasteurised milk or soft cheeses such as Camembert
• Raw or undercooked meat and poultry
Limit your consumption of tuna and other cooked fish to about two servings per week as some fish contain methyl mercury; a metal believed to be harmful to the growing brains of foetuses.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause physical defects, learning disabilities, and emotional problems in children and research suggests you should also consider cutting back or skipping beverages containing caffeine.
Dieting and weight gain
The design of many diet plans are more than likely to leave your body low on iron, folic acid, and other important nutrients. It’s important to remember that weight gain is actually a positive sign of a healthy pregnancy. Rather than going on a strict diet, instead you should opt for a healthy eating plan.
If you begin at a desirable weight, you should expect your pregnancy weight gain to be between 25 and 35 pounds. If you're underweight, you can gain a bit more, between 28 to 40 pounds. If you start overweight, the goal should be gain a little less, from 15 to 25 pounds.
Exercise during pregnancy
For most expectant mums-to-be, exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, it’s highly recommended. However, before you start, it is a good idea to check with your obstetrician just to be sure it’s ok for you.
The best types of exercise during pregnancy will get your heart pumping and keep you supple. Exercising will help you to manage pregnancy weight gain and prepare muscles for labour and birth. Safe forms of exercise are walking, jogging, swimming, aqua-natal classes and cycling. Yoga and Pilates are also good with a qualified teacher experienced in dealing with pregnant women.
Read these Dos and Don’ts for pregnancy exercise before you get started.