I’m back with another pregnancy vlog, this week it’s about tips to stay healthy during your pregnancy. Keep in mind I’m not a doctor but I have made it a priority to stay fit and healthy during my pregnancy. I always have had Gisele’s obnoxious words that women “turn their bodies into garbage cans” when they find out they’re pregnant. And what can I say? Those condescending words stuck with me. Staying healthy while pregnant isn’t as hard as you think. So check out my tips on how to stay healthy during your pregnancy! (But always remember–talk to your doctor first before doing anything–ALWAYS)
1. See Your Doctor Regularly
To ensure a healthy pregnancy, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, get in touch with your doctor and set up a prenatal care plan. See I told you the first few were going to be easy…
2. Take a Prenatal Supplement
Pregnancy vitamins are usually recommended even before you actually get pregnant. I’ve heard doctors recommend to start taking prenatal vitamins three months before you start trying to have a baby. I didn’t and my doctor said I was fine as long as I started as soon as I found out. It’s not that I wouldn’t have, things just happened kind of quickly if you know what I mean… Now you want to remember that prenatal vitamins aren’t a substitute for a balanced diet but they can help–especially at the beginning of your pregnancy when you may not be able to stomach much.
At the beginning of my pregnancy (the first trimester) I took a prescribed prenatal vitamin called Citranatal (your doctor will tell you what’s right for you). Once I was through my first trimester I switched to a more natural supplement. My personal choice (which I okay-ed with my doctor) is Baby and Me Herb Free Prenatal Vitamin. This vitamin is made from real food and more natural than many other brands. They call it “Farm to Tablet.” And since I’m kinda into that thing, I was sold. It’s easy to digest and I can take it with food or without (in case you forget and have to take it right before bed some nights like me). It has lots of Folic Acid (which my doctor said is the most important thing). Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect.
I will say that there are a few downsides to this type of natural supplement. First, you have to take 4 large pills each day and they’re kind of horse pills. It may be difficult to swallow during those nauseous months. Second, I choose supplement mine with two other pills–even more to swallow!
Since I don’t eat much fish (especially since I’ve been pregnant–barf!), I take a DHA supplement. I take Bluebonnet’s Natural Omega-3 Vegetarian DHA 200mg. I also take an iron supplement of 25 MG each day. I take Solgar’s Gentle Iron, which doesn’t hurt my stomach. That said, I would still recommend taking Colace at least once a day depending on how your pregnancy is going. If you didn’t read about it in my last post for new moms about what you need to know when you find out you’re pregnant, your body’s processes slow WAYYY down. That means your digestive track. Colace keeps things moving, which trust me, you’ll want. But remember, talk to your doctor of course before taking any supplement. My doctor told me I could take Colace up to three times if necessary. Also, consider that if you’re on a low income, you may be able to get a prenatal vitamin covered by insurance.
3. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
The healthier you can eat the better. Easier said than done, right? My first three months (and then some) were ROUGH. Some days the only thing that sounded good were burgers and fries, other days it was Kraft mac and cheese. This made me really worried actually. I spoke to my doctor though who said the prenatal vitamin had everything the baby needed. He told me to eat what sounded good and not to berate myself for failing to give my baby an A+ diet. I had always judged all those preggos who were going to town on garbage…but you truly don’t understand until you have bad nausea.
Eating this way (the Shake Shack diet, I mean) also scared me because all I was consumer were foods that were a billion calories. But it was all that I could eat and I was like starving so I couldn’t help myself. I was terrified that I was going to gain 80 pounds if I kept eating at that rate! But as my doctor assured me, the nausea would subside and so would my food aversions. I soon was back to craving my kale salads and eating my normal diet (for the most part).
Eat what you need to eat and don’t be so hard on yourself. I promise that after the first trimester (for most) things will calm down and you won’t feel the need to stuff your face with junk in the same way. Ask your doctor for specifics about what you should eat but you know the gist. Lots of fruits, veggies and protein.
4. Remember You’re Not Eating for Two
I will repeat this again. Whoever came up with the mantra, “You’re eating for two” probably had a hell of a time losing her baby weight! You are not eating for two. In fact, you don’t need any extra calories in the first trimester. The second trimester you only need about 300 extra and in the third trimester you need about 500 extra. That really isn’t very much at all. 300 calories is just a couple pieces of fruit! So don’t use it as a time to turn into a beast. And also don’t take it as an excuse to eat junk, these extra calories should come from healthy snacks and meal additions. But of course, treat yourself every once in a while, don’t let me fool you. I have had plenty of ice cream, it’s just all about balance.
5. Be Vigilant About Food Hygiene
You may have heard of Listeria. It’s a bacteria that is rare and doesn’t usually pose too bad of a threat for those with healthy immune systems. However, when you’re pregnant it can pose serious health issues, birth complications and even miscarriage. There are certain foods that you should absolutely avoid like unpasteurized dairy, undercooked meats and fish. There are more of course, I recommend asking your doctor for a full list but you can check this list of foods to avoid during pregnancy out for quick reference.
6. Exercise regularly
You may want to just kick up your heels now that you’re pregnant but just remember, every visit you skip to the gym now is one you’ll have to make up after the baby is born. Plus there are tons of benefits of exercising for moms-to-be. Working out can help keep you strong for labor, make it easier to get in shape after the baby is born, keep your pelvic floor strong (muscles you’ll need to help you push) and even help ward off depression (hello, endorphins!)
6.5 Exercise Intelligently
To ensure a healthy pregnancy for the long run, don’t overdo it. I have several friends who injured themselves during pregnancy or developed hernias from exercising too hard. Remember that you’re pregnant now. For most of us, we should be taking it easier on ourselves. Yes, I’ve heard of those women who run half-marathons during pregnancy–good for them! Not for me. That’s advice I learned from Amy Poehler in her book. That was pretty much her mantra. “Good for you, not for me.” Listen to your body and don’t listen to what other people say.
Healthy pregnancy exercise cardio choices for pregnancy include low-intensity aerobics: brisk walking, swimming, yoga and pilates.
If you’re already a runner, you can probably continue for as long as it feels comfortable for you. That’s what my doctor told me. However, when you’re super nauseous running isn’t always the most soothing activity. Also, be careful about playing sports that have a high risk of falls or bumps.
I will say, when I was at my most nauseous, working out was one of the few things that made me feel a little better. Do what feels right for you of course, but I have heard this from others as well. I would venture out for a walk with my crackers and always came back feeling a little better.
7. Do Pelvic Floor Exercises
Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles at the base of your pelvis. These muscles support your bladder, vagina and back passage. They may feel weaker during pregnancy because of the extra pressure your baby is placing on them. Pregnancy hormones also cause your joints to loosen (they’re making way for your baby to be able to come out after all). Weak pelvic floor muscles put you at risk of developing the pregnancy issue where you pee when you sneeze, laugh or exercise. Good times. I follow the Mayo Clinic’s advice for exercises for pelvic floor.
8. Rest for a Healthy Pregnancy
You’ll feel the most exhausted during your first and third trimesters–this is your body telling you to take it easy. Nap when you need to–if you can. If you can’t–just try to relax. You may be experiencing sleep disruption. Try relaxation techniques like stretching, meditation and deep breathing before you go to sleep. Exercise may also help with sleep problems. It helps you tire out those muscles so you’re ready to rest.
9. Get Rid of Your Vices
You’re a mommy now! That means the fun stops here. Just kidding. But you do need to quit many of your favorite vices like alcohol, excessive caffeine and of course smoking. These usually go without saying…but in case it doesn’t. Quit it!
10. Take Care of Your Teeth
My dentist recommends coming in at least once during pregnancy and then again soon after the baby is born. Many pregnant women develop dental issues so it’s essential to make sure your dentist is on top of them. Dental issues can lead to other health issues so this is important.
11. Clean Up Your Beauty Routine
I don’t want to freak you out but there are so many scary ingredients in our everyday beauty products and household items. If you haven’t heard of the Environmental Working Group, I suggest visiting its website and checking out their search function. You can check for your favorite products and see what level of toxicity they have. You may be surprised to find how many of them have poor ratings. That’s why I made the switch when I found out I was pregnant to healthy makeup brands. My favorites are Vapour, Pure Beauty and Sally B’s Skin Yummies. Sally B’s was recently verified by EWG as having many approved products under their strict criteria. You can rest easy using these products–I did extensive (Type-A, psychotic, overkill) research making sure I chose products that were clean. I also recommend changing soap, household cleaners, deodorant, toothpaste and other items to healthier alternatives. I happen to be obsessed with this Weleda deodorant. However, switching to an aluminum free deodorant may cause some smell issues. Give your body a little time to adjust and just be sure to bring it along to reapply if necessary.
Have any other healthy pregnancy tips? Please let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to check out our video! And please share the love!
Katie is a luxury lifestyle expert. She runs luxury lifestyle sites, KatieLara.com and Smartypanties.com. But she's not only a luxury lifestyle blogger, she's also a freelance writer for The Huffington Post, Fodor's, Forbes, Pursuitist, Just Luxe and She Knows. She's also a professional photographer and her photos often appear alongside her writing.