7 Quick Health Tips For Every Expectant Mum
Put these bite-sized tips into practice today for a happier, healthier pregnancy.
1. Take a supplement
A prenatal vitamin should be taken as soon as you start trying for a baby, and your health professional will be able to recommend the right one for you.
Available over the counter, a good prenatal supplement typically contains a range of vitamins and minerals that are super important for an expectant mum to have, that benefit her and the developing baby, such as folic acid, iodine, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin D.
2. Get moving
Everyone from your sister to your aunt Sally has probably told you to put your feet up while you’re pregnant. While regular rest is a must for expectant mums, regular exercise has a number of benefits including improved mood, sleep and circulation. It may also boost your body’s stamina and help prepare you for labour, reduce stress, prevent aches and pains and help you get in shape after pregnancy.
Walking and swimming are excellent activities for most pregnant women, as are yoga and Pilates sessions designed for expectant mums by a qualified fitness professional. Aim for 30 minutes a day, though listen to your body and stick with light or moderate forms of exercise so you don’t overdo it – anything too strenuous generally isn’t recommended. Have a chat with your doctor or health nurse before starting any new exercise routine.
3. Hit the floor
The pelvic floor, that is. When you’re pregnant, it’s important to squeeze in (oh, pun very much intended) Kegel exercises regularly to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and prevent urinary stress incontinence (we’re talking the glamorous reality of involuntarily peeing when you sneeze or jump on a trampoline, for example).
To do a Kegel, squeeze the muscles of the pelvic floor as though you’re trying to stop an imaginary flow of urine. Hold for a count of five, then relax. That’s one Kegel. During pregnancy, try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day. Reckon that sounds like a lot? Any time you’re sitting down is a great opportunity to do a set – think mealtimes or time spent commuting, watching TV or even sitting at your desk.
4. Stay hydrated
Your body has so much extra work to do when you’re pregnant – you are growing and supporting a whole new person, after all. Staying well hydrated will help your body do its job and keep fatigue at bay.
While your daily intake depends on a variety of lifestyle and environmental factors such as the climate you live in and the amount of exercise or activity you do, it’s important to watch your body’s cues and sip on water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
If you find it difficult to get excited about plain old H2O, try adding slices of cucumber, a wedge of orange or some fresh berries to your water for a flavour and nutrient boost. Include milk and healthy soups in your diet to further help keep dehydration at bay, limit caffeine intake and, of course, avoid alcohol.
5. Make friends with fruit
And lots of other fresh, healthy wholefoods for that matter. While the ‘eating for two’ mantra shouldn’t be taken literally (boo! Who wasn’t looking forward to a second serving of pud?), it’s important to have small, regular meals throughout the day and include a wide range of healthy starches, protein, dairy, fruit, veg and legumes in your diet to nourish your body and your baby.
As long as you eat a mostly healthy diet, it’s okay to succumb to the odd indulgent craving. Look up credible sites such as nhs.co.uk to find information on healthy eating for pregnant women, as well as info on foods you should avoid – things like raw eggs (in homemade mayonnaise, for example), soft mould- ripened cheeses, certain kinds of fish and other items will be off the menu for now.
Small healthy tweaks to every meal will make a difference, so think about adding ‘one good extra’ to every dish. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or tricky – a cup of peas added to a batch of soup, some grated carrot in the spaghetti Bolognese and a handful of cherry tomatoes as a side to a grilled cheese sandwich will quickly boost your intake of fresh veg and a host of good-for- you nutrients.
6. Be sun smart
Your skin can become more sensitive during pregnancy, meaning it needs extra TLC when you’re out and about – particularly on sunny days. Get into the habit of applying sunscreen to your face, neck and arms, and anywhere else that might be exposed to the sun, before you leave the house. A hat is also a smart option in warm weather.
Keep sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more close to the front door so you’re reminded to apply it as soon as you see it. A mineral or physical sunscreen containing zinc oxide is a good choice, as it blocks UV rays rather than absorbing them as some chemical sunscreens do.
7. Treat yourself to a spa day
While treatments or group fitness classes that involve heat – saunas, steam rooms, Bikram yoga – are all a no-no for now, you don’t have to forgo all your favourite treatments while you’re growing that bump.
Many spas offer massages and other treatments specifically designed for pregnant women. If you’ve been missing the simple pleasure of lying on your tummy as you’ve advanced through the months, find a therapist who has a massage table that can accommodate your bump so you can lie face-down.
Just make sure you find someone qualified to work with pregnant women so you can relax knowing you’re in safe hands when you book in for that much-deserved pampering.
A bit about Moment Health…
Moment Health is a technology company that aims to prioritise Maternal Mental Health and provide new parents with the tools and knowledge they need to sustain good mental wellbeing – from pregnancy through to parenthood.
The Moment Health app has been developed with clinicians and healthcare professionals. It screens for perinatal, postnatal and associated anxieties, and includes additional features such as a helpful guide to practical and accessible coping strategies.
At Moment Health, our mission is to make maternal mental health mainstream #MakeItMainstream.
Download our App today