4 min read
by Suzi Smith •
How to have a healthy pregnancy with Marie Louise, The Modern Midwife
It’s really important to look after yourself during this time. If you have anxiety it can affect you and your baby. Sometimes it can be difficult sleeping, struggling to eat, so here are some tips on how to have a healthy pregnancy.
Everyone has an opinion on what you should and shouldn’t be doing during pregnancy. A lot of the time people aren’t trained to give advice, so it’s important to note the advice politely but then double check that it’s correct advice by asking your Midwife.
Your nutrition, the food you put in your body, the chemicals you’re exposed and stress, all tell your baby a story of the world that they’re being born into. Food goes into the amniotic fluid, so it’s been proven that babies who are exposed to foods in the womb, often like the food once they try it. So be mindful of what you’re putting into your body, but don’t fixate on it.
Your need for micronutrients increase during pregnancy but you don’t need to eat for two. This is a really common myth which you should ignore. You should be taking supplements, ideally take a food grown supplement because it’s thought that the body absorbs it better than man made supplements. Ensure that you take vitamin D, no matter the season. Pregnant women do need to take it daily and in winter it is more important.
All pregnant women should take folic acid for the first three months of pregnancy only, this is when the baby’s spine is forming so the most amount of growing and developing happens. If your baby grows as it does in the first three months throughout pregnancy it would be 1.5tonnes. Pregnancy supplements are really great as they include all of the vitamins that you need but you can buy them individually.
It’s important to get a really balanced diet, so know your food groups. You need to make sure that you’re having protein with every meal, they include amino acids. They are the building blocks for life. If you are vegan, you need to pay attention to this. Good sources of protein include chickpeas, lentils, protein from nuts and remember that you can eat nuts during pregnancy, unless you’re allergic. Lean meats are a great source of protein as are fish and eggs. Get them in every meal if you can.
Carbohydrates are important when it comes to your diet. You can get carbs from vegetables, fruit, brown bread, pasta and oats. Ideally it’s good to avoid white or processed bread because they don’t have many nutrients. Opt for wholegrain carbs and whole grain breads. Try not to cut out food groups during pregnancy and especially after birth as they are great for energy.
Healthy fats are found in natural food whereas trans fats are found in biscuits for example, so opt for natural fats. Olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados all contain healthy fats. You can also use these ingredients to make a smoothie.
Ensure that you’re well hydrated, it’s so important. You need to be drinking at least two litres per day. It’s great for your whole body. Your blood volume increases by 50% in pregnancy and you have more hormones in your body which can increase headaches, so drink lots of water to prevent this.
Try to avoid take outs! Make your favourite take outs at home with natural ingredients so that you avoid food colourings, bad fats etc… Try making fish and chips without the batter, create a Chinese takeaway by seasoning lots- get adventurous!
Bulk cooking is great to do ahead of your baby coming as it will be hugely helpful once you come home. If you have time, cook lots of healthy hearty meals and freeze them. It won’t as much of pleasure to cook when you have a newborn.
Moneywise, the healthier options of organic are often more expensive and now there’s lots of financial pressure so make sure that you check to see if you’re eligible for any food grants during pregnancy to help.
Vitamin B12 is essential to take if you’re vegan or veggie. You can get it in marmite and eggs but you can get little drops that you put under your tongue.
Iron rich foods are important to ensure that you’re getting enough iron. That’s why Midwives do your blood tests at 28 weeks, they give you a Full blood Count. They are looking for your iron level and antibodies. Dark leafy green veg are a great source of iron. Make sure you have iron rich foods with vitamin C as this helps with the absorption. Take them with a glass of orange juice and ensure not with milk as it actually prevents the absorption.
It’s a myth that you can’t eat runny eggs in pregnancy. Guidelines used to say that you couldn’t but research has proven that it’s safe as long as they have the red lion stamp on the egg.
Diet can help with constipation, making sure that you’re having enough fibre. It’s so important and chia seeds, flack seeds , fruits, wholegrain carbs, all of these will help getting your bowel going.
When you eat a healthy diet it can increase and enhance your mood. It does make a difference to how you feel so please take note of what you’re eating. However, remember not to become obsessed with your diet. Follow the 80:20 rule; 80% of the time eat as healthy as you can and then 20% of the time have a break and fully enjoy your biscuits, chocolate and treats!
When it comes to have a alcohol, it’s up to you. Know that whatever you put in your body, it will affect your baby, there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink but it is common for pregnant women to have the odd glass. Current NHS guidelines say to avoid altogether but do what works for you.
Body scanning is a good way to check in with your body through pregnancy so that you really understand all of the changes that are happening. Do it everyday maybe when you’re in the shower and just focus on every part of your body to see how it feels. It will help you focus on relaxing parts of your body.
Lastly, exercise. A bit of stretching and yoga is great for blood flow and it’s great for mental health and a way to look after your body. Women who eat well, and exercise regularly have a reduced rate of c sections. Be mindful of getting some sort of exercise in, even a few stretches can be great.