As a mum of 3 very young kids, I can honestly say that I found pregnancy equally exciting and overwhelming!
Overwhelming because of the tiny new life growing inside me but also the huge volume of well-meaning advice that I was constantly exposed to.
Caught between “You’re eating for two now!”, bizarre cravings and concerns about what you are and aren’t allowed to eat or do – it’s so difficult to know how to go about staying healthy during pregnancy.
A recent study released this year looked at more than 1 million pregnant women and found that 70% of these women a) put on either too much or too little weight (as recommended by the Institute of Medicine guidelines) and b) the risk of adverse outcomes to both mum and baby was higher in those women.
In plain terms – a healthy pregnancy isn’t about “staying skinny” nor about “eating for two”. If we don’t eat and exercise well in pregnancy, there is not just a risk to ourselves but also to our babies.
So how do you stay healthy during pregnancy? Well, it’s actually easier than you think.
1) Forget this myth
Firstly, eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much! In fact we now know that you don’t need to consume extra calories in the first 2 trimesters (unless advised to by your doctor).
In your third trimester the average pregnant woman actually only needs to consume around 200 extra calories a day! Surprised? I certainly was!
2) Good food
A healthy balanced diet is key. Plenty of fruit and vegetables, avoiding processed food and try curbing those sweet cravings that supposedly indicate you are having a girl! (Alas I’m here to banish that old wives’ tale together with the “eating for two” mantra!)
3) Exercising daily
This means different things for different people. If you are Paula Radcliff, you might wish to continue marathon running whilst pregnant. If Serena Williams, you might win an Australian Open whilst pregnant in your first trimester (without dropping a single set might I add).
The female body is AMAZING. You can still continue doing what exercise you love whilst baking your little baby perfectly at the same time.
Of course if contact sports or downhill slalom skiing are more your bag, you would be encouraged to give those a miss for a little while but with so many exercise options out there, why not look into one of these?
- Try a LeanMums pregnancy workout (the videos are excellent and feature a fellow bumpie working out so you can see perfectly how to carry out the exercise)
- A brisk walk (drag a dog/unsuspecting partner/fellow pregnant buddy along for company)
- Antenatal yoga/pilates
- Ask your local gym/community centre what classes they have for pregnant women
Staying fit and healthy during your pregnancy can appear to be hard (especially if battling first trimester nausea and tiredness) but in truth some gentle exercise and good food will make you feel less nauseous and boost those energy levels too. All you need to do is take that first step, for you and your baby.
Good luck with your pregnancy!
Dr Claudia (@Dr Mummykins)