Planning a pregnancy gives you a great opportunity to prepare yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically for the many changes to come. Your body will provide the environment for the growth and development of a new human being. It is therefore important to focus on your health even prior to pregnancy as your health and nutritional status have a great influence on the development of your unborn baby.
HABITS YOU CAN ESTABLISH IN PREPARATION OF YOUR PREGNANCY:
1) EAT HEALTHY, WELL-BALANCED MEALS
A diet rich in variety, containing foods from all the food groups are a great way to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. Calcium, iron, folic acid and omega 3 are especially important for us when planning a pregnancy.
Try to eat five portions of fruits and vegetables daily. You can eat your vegetables raw, in salads or cooked/ grilled/ baked. There are so many ways to make eating fruit and vegetables fun and delicious. No need to eat boring, taste-less cooked veggies. I have a few recipe books you might want to look at if you need help eating more fruits and vegetables.
If you need help to prepare healthy and delicious recipes, look no further..
I have 4 great recipe books to make sure your family enjoy the most delicious meals.
Limit refined sugar intake and excessive salt in the diet. This simply means do not eat and drink a lot of sugar. Be mindful of the amount of sugar you drink, as cool drinks and fruit juices are very high in sugar. It also means not to add a lot of salt to your food when preparing it and to be mindful of foods high in salt (chips, salted peanuts, gravies, cheese and processed meat). This is the ideal time to start experimenting with herbs and seasonings besides salt!
Focus on good sources of fat such as canola or olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Decrease the amount of saturated fat and trans fat you eat, these fats are found in cream, butter, pastries, cookies, animal fat, deep-fried food and chips.
Make sure to drink plenty of fresh, clean water daily. You will need about two liters or eight cups of water daily. I know getting to these numbers can be difficult, that is why I have a special blog post for you to help you drink more water. Click here to read it.
Eat lean protein and whole-grain carbohydrates.
Protein such as eggs, chicken, meat, fish, beans and legumes can be eaten daily. It is best to choose lean cuts of meat and remove all visible fats before cooking.
Whole-grain carbohydrates are rich in fiber, which helps to prevent constipation, makes us feel fuller for longer and keep our blood glucose levels stable. Whole-grain is therefore a big part of balanced eating. You can include more fiber rich carbohydrates by switching to brown or wild rice, eating low GI whole-wheat bread, whole oats, buckwheat, millet, barley, spelt, quinoa, whole-grain pasta and corn.
Include variety in your meals and make sure you get essential nutrients by eating these foods:
- Calcium-rich food: Milk and cheese products, salmon or sardines with bones, spinach, soybeans, fortified oatmeal and cereals.
- Iron-rich food: Beans, beef, dried fruit, enriched grains, fortified cereals, pork, organ meat, raisins, seeds and nuts, spinach, sardines.
- Folate rich food: Fortified cereal and whole grains, legumes, lentils, beans, spinach, liver, broccoli, oranges.
- Omega 3: salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, nuts and seeds and plant oils like canola or flaxseed oils.
I have a Youtube video for you on how to prepare balanced meals. You can click on the video below to watch it.
2) EXERCISE REGULARLY
You can continue with your exercise during pregnancy if you start before you fall pregnant (unless you are doing excessive training). Being physically active when you’re pregnant can help relieve pregnancy aches and pains. It also boosts your energy, helps you sleep, improves your mood, and helps you cope with stress. Walk, swim, or Pilates (facilitated by a person trained and qualified to give Pilates for pregnant ladies) are safe to do during pregnancy.
3) GO FOR REGULAR CHECK UPS
Regular healthcare visits can help ensure a healthy start to pregnancy. Screening detects problems early leading to timely interventions to decrease the risk of complications for both mother and baby.
4) MANAGE PRE-EXISTING CHRONIC CONDITIONS
The outcome of a pregnancy can be affected by chronic conditions such as cardiac disease, diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension, HIV, etc. therefore it is important to manage these conditions with close medical attention.
5) AVOID DANGEROUS ACTIVITIES
Smoking, alcohol and drug use are all activities that should be avoided when planning a healthy pregnancy. These activities use can lead to infertility and increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and having a low-birth-weight baby. Children of mothers who smoke are at higher risk for many health problems, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
You don’t need to avoid caffeine completely but keep moderation in mind. Rooibos tea is a safe alternative.
6) USE SUPPLEMENTATION WISELY
If you are eating a variety of food and well-balanced meals, you won’t need a lot of supplementation before your pregnancy but 5 mg of Folic acid is compulsory. You can start with it immediately (preferably 3 months before pregnancy) and continue throughout your entire pregnancy. Folic acid protects the mother from common diseases, helps with the development of baby and protects baby from abnormalities.
Make sure to get plenty of rest and minimize stress
Heartburn is common during pregnancy, especially during the last trimester. This blog will help you manage your heartburn: 'Food to avoid if you have reflux.'
All my best wishes xx
Thank you for reading this blog, I hope you found the information useful. Please let me know how you prepared for a healthy pregnancy in the comment section.