When it comes to health and fitness, pregnancy causes a lot of internal conflict for most of us.
We desperately want to have a healthy pregnancy that leads to an easier recovery and a healthy baby. But we’re also absolutely exhausted and immensely uncomfortable, and many days we just want to drink milkshakes and lie on the couch.
It can be quite a predicament!
No pregnancy would be complete without a bit of junk food and a few Netflix marathons, of course, but overall it’s really important to maintain your healthy habits. That’s because a mother’s nutritional status at conception, during pregnancy, and throughout breastfeeding plays a key role in her health and well-being, as well as that of her child.
So before you reach for that second helping of French fries or ditch your gym membership, consider adopting these five habits for a healthy pregnancy.
5 Habits of Healthy Pregnant Women
1. They eat real, whole foods.
A surefire way to stay healthy while pregnant? Eat real food!
Of course, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds, since processed stuff is all around us. And when you’re tired or nauseated or extra hormonal—all caused by that little bun in your oven—it’s even tougher to choose real food.
But if a packaged food is filled with ingredients you can’t even pronounce, do you really want to eat it while you’re pregnant?
Instead, try your best to focus on colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein, healthy fats, and lots and lots of water. And don’t forget that prenatal vitamin!
2. They keep exercising—but listen to their bodies while doing it.
I was blessed with two routine, healthy pregnancies, and one of the smartest things I did was maintain a regular exercise routine throughout the entire nine months.
I consulted my doctor, of course, who told me to listen to my body about what felt good and what didn’t. As the weeks progressed, I found that jumping jacks and other high impact moves didn’t feel right anymore, so I cut them out. By the end, I was focusing solely on walking and low impact aerobics.
The point is that you don’t have to stop exercising just because you’re pregnant, as long as you listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. Ultimately you’ll feel better and be healthier if you keep moving.
3. They get their omega-3s.
Omega-3 fatty acids—especially DHA—are super important for pregnant and breastfeeding mamas. During pregnancy, DHA supports optimal infant brain, eye, and nervous system development. In infancy, DHA may improve certain developmental outcomes like eye-hand coordination and motor skills.
Little babies can’t efficiently produce their own DHA, so they rely on obtaining this vital nutrient through the placenta during pregnancy and from breast milk or infant formula after birth. It’s also been suggested that DHA supplementation during pregnancy can help support mom’s mental and emotional health.
Getting enough DHA, however, is no easy task, since the primary source of it is fatty fish—not exactly a staple in the typical Western diet. Pregnant women also often receive mixed messages about appropriate fish intake during pregnancy, creating further confusion around omega-3s like DHA.
If you’re not getting all the essential nutrients you need for optimal health before, during, and after pregnancy, talk to your doctor about supplementing. That added boost of DHA could make a big difference in your health and that of your baby.
4. They take care of their teeth.
Pregnancy hormones are wacky things. They cause all kinds of unexpected changes in our bodies—and our mouths.
Case in point: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can actually increase the risk of developing gingivitis or gum disease. That’s why, to be a truly healthy pregnant woman, you can’t neglect regular brushing and flossing.
Don’t skip your twice yearly dental checkup either. While there are some things your dentist won’t do while you’re pregnant, like take x-rays, it’s still vital to have your regular exam to catch potential problems before they get too bad.
5. They de-stress.
Pregnancy is usually a joyous time, but it can also be a really stressful one as you prepare for one of the biggest adjustments of your life. All that stress can take a serious toll on your mental, emotional, and physical health—and that of your baby.
Healthy pregnant women don’t try to avoid stress completely—would that even be possible?!—but instead find effective tools for keeping it under control. For some it’s a prenatal yoga class once a week. For others it’s writing in a journal each day. For still others it’s cranking up the tunes in their living room and dancing out the stress.
To have a truly healthy pregnancy, find the stress management tool that works best for you, then use it regularly.
What’s your healthiest habit? What do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
If you’re looking for a product that will help you get the DHA omega-3 you need, consider Enfamil Expecta Prenatal Dietary Supplement. Enfamil Expecta Prenatal Dietary Supplement is for pregnant and nursing women. It helps supply DHA and other important nutrients your diet may lack.
While pregnant and nursing, please consult your doctor before consuming any new ingredients or products.
This post includes my own personal opinions, and should not be taken as medical advice.