During pregnancy, leading a healthy lifestyle is more important than ever, because your health has a direct impact on your baby’s development and well-being.
Unfortunately, fatigue, hormonal changes, and morning sickness may leave you with little energy or patience for exercise, and cravings can make it difficult to stick to a healthy diet.
However, it is vitally important that you make healthy choices for the sake of your growing baby.
Learn about five ways to stay fit during pregnancy and rest assured that your efforts will pay off when you are snuggling with your healthy newborn.
It is important for you to make healthy choices prior to becoming pregnant, as your health before conception can have an impact on your pregnancy.
Achieving a healthy weight is particularly beneficial if you want to have a fit pregnancy, as being overweight can lead to problems during pregnancy.
In fact, a study published in a 2011 edition of BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth found that women who were obese prior to pregnancy were more likely to experience complications and to require a caesarean section; they also had longer hospital stays after giving birth.(1)
A second study included in a 2006 edition of the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, found that being obese prior to pregnancy was associated with a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.(2)
Obesity was also linked to infants being born with low blood sugar and needing resuscitation.
If you are trying to conceive, now is the time to focus on losing any excess weight so your pregnancy is as healthy as possible.
Maintain an Exercise Program
It is important that you make time for exercise, as staying physically active during pregnancy can have a significant impact on the health of you and your baby.
A 2003 study in the Maternal and Child Health Journal found that moderate exercise during pregnancy reduced the risk of pre-term birth.(3)
Exercise also keeps you healthy by lowering your risk of developing gestational diabetes; in a review of 13 studies, researchers for BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology found that the risk of gestational diabetes was 31 percent lower among women who exercised during pregnancy.(4)
There are also benefits for your baby.
In a 2013 study in the Croatian Medical Journal, women who exercised three times per week throughout pregnancy were less likely to have newborns with macrosomia, a potentially life-threatening condition in which babies are born excessively large.(5)
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind if you are feeling tired and nauseous, but taking the time to get some physical activity is an important part of a healthy pregnancy.
Simply taking a walk a few days per week can make a difference; you may also find that you enjoy swimming or riding an exercise bike, as these activities are low impact and will not strain your lower body.
Gain a Healthy Amount of Weight
The Institute of Medicine recommends a gestational weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds for women who are at a healthy weight prior to pregnancy.
Staying within these guidelines is an essential part of having a healthy pregnancy, as a 2014 study in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth found that gaining too much weight increases the risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and having an emergency caesarean section.(6)
Your weight gain during pregnancy can also have a lasting impact on your child’s health.
In a 2013 study in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that children were 57 percent more likely to be overweight at age 6 if their mothers gained an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy, compared to if their mothers gained only the recommended amount of weight.(7)
A similar study in a 2014 edition of Pediatric Obesity found that excessive gestational weight gain more than doubled the risk of obesity among 3-year-old children.(8)
Stay active during pregnancy and maintain a healthy diet with reasonable portion sizes to avoid gaining too much weight.
You do need some extra calories to support your growing baby, but eating for two doesn’t mean you need to double your calorie intake or overindulge in;
» fast food
» and packaged salty snacks
Keep Stress at Bay
Avoiding extreme stressors during pregnancy can have a positive impact on your health and your baby’s well-being.
Of course, if you are working full-time and trying to prepare financially and emotionally for baby, it will be impossible to avoid all stressors, but it is important to find ways to cope with stress to avoid negative effects.
In 2007, researchers for the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that stress during pregnancy was associated with inflammation.(9)
They concluded that stress could, therefore, impact immune system functioning and increase a mother’s risk for preeclampsia and preterm birth.
Stress can also negatively impact your baby.
In 2003, researchers for the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that anxiety related to pregnancy was linked to impaired motor development among 8-month old infants.(10)
Daily hassles during early pregnancy were also associated with impaired mental development, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol during late pregnancy negatively affected development at both 3 and 8 months of age.
Protect yourself and your baby by allowing yourself time to relax, and avoid taking on additional projects or commitments while your body is growing a healthy baby.
Surround yourself with a positive support system to help you effectively manage the unavoidable stressors you encounter in daily life.
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
You probably know that diet is important during pregnancy, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can be especially beneficial for both you and your baby.
In a 2015 study in the journal Midwifery, researchers found that pregnant women who consumed fruits and vegetables at least three times per week were 49 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia.(11)
There are also health benefits for your baby.
In a study in a 2010 edition of Allergy, researchers found that the consumption of green and yellow vegetables and citrus fruits during pregnancy was linked to a lower risk of eczema among infants.(12)
Intake of vitamin E, which is found in;
» and avocados
was associated with less wheezing in infants.
Load your diet with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to take advantage of these benefits.
Nourishing your body with fruits and vegetables during pregnancy protects your health and the health of your growing baby.
Taking other steps to stay fit, such as maintaining an exercise routine, keeping stress under control, and staying at a healthy weight before and during pregnancy, can have a profound impact on your health and a lasting effect on your baby’s well-being.
Making the effort to stay fit during pregnancy may seem difficult, but the payoff is certainly worthwhile.