Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pregnancy Series Part 3: Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

A healthy pregnancy starts before conception.  For those of you (like me) who didn't exactly plan your pregnancy, that thought can be a little scary!  There is so much that could be addressed in this post.  I will just cover some of the things you can do (and not do) to achieve a healthier pregnancy, and ultimately a healthier little bundle of joy. 

Get Informed
Hosea 4:6 (the first part, anyway) says "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge".  I don't know if I'm in the minority, but if something happens to me, or I embark on some adventure (oh, bringing a child into the world) I want to know all I can about it.  I read, I Google, I join forums (okay, not for everything, but with certain things I want to talk to others going through the same thing!)  All of these things lead me to increase in knowledge.  Knowledge empowers us, and leads us to make right choices ahead of time about what we are about to be involved in.  I believe that getting information during your pregnancy is one of the first steps into parenthood.  You need to find out what's best for your child's health, and it starts long before your birth attendant says "it's a girl (or boy)!" 

Start Wherever You Are
So maybe you're just starting to think about ways you can become more healthy for the sake of your baby.  It is a process to learn healthier habits.  I know I've certainly come a long way.  I remember in high school (all those many moons ago!) my diet consisted of Twix bars, Dr Pepper, Taco Bell, and top ramen.  The changes were gradual.  And I certainly didn't start with the conscious thought of "I'm going to overhaul the way I live".  I learned little by little, bit by bit that those things were not the best things for me to eat on a regular basis. 

Try to avoid these, okay? ;-)

Baby Steps
You don't have to completely change everything right now.  It's about baby steps (no pun intended) and developing habits.  (Obviously, if you are smoking, drinking or taking recreational drugs, that's something that you will want to address immediately for the health of your baby.  See a doctor or other professional for help with those things, if they are an issue for you, as those are beyond my experience). 

Start small if you need to.  If you are eating a lot of fast food, for instance, start learning how to cook easy meals at home (I'm not talking about Hamburger Helper, either!)  If you prepare your food at home, it's almost certain you will be eating healthier automatically.  Here's a great site with some easy recipes  Add in more fresh fruits and vegetables.   It's important to include in your diet as much nutrient rich, unprocessed food as you can.  Be especially vigilant about preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors.   And what about organic food?  Here are the 7 foods you must eat organic (according to  Stone fruit (such as peaches and nectarines), strawberries, rice, baby food, milk, bananas and green beans.  You can read their article to learn more here

Maybe you need to cut out a soda habit.  During my first pregnancy, I loved to drink club soda with lime.  It was so refreshing during those times I wanted something fizzy or just more interesting than plain water.  In today's world of energy drinks and coffee shops on every corner, caffeine is a common challenge.  Here's a good article about the risks of consuming too much caffeine. caffeine-during-pregnancy  Switch to decaf coffee or herbal teas...but you should do it gradually or you may end up with a headache, and then you'll be wondering what kind of pain relief options you have (which are limited)!  

It's also important to stay active.  If you need to get some exercise, start by taking short walks around your neighborhood.  If you are working, use part of your lunch break to walk around the building.  I'm afraid however, that I can't give you any tips about keeping your weight gain under control, as I was not very good about that during either of my pregnancies!  The good news is that, if you're breastfeeding, the excess weight tends to come off a little easier! 

All those "little things" add up to building a healthier baby, and keeping you feeling great throughout those nine months. 

Coming up, I will be posting a continuation of this article: Divine Health During Pregnancy!