Healthy Habits During Pregnancy
October 01, 2016
Submitted by Brittany King, APN, WHNP, Advanced Women’s Healthcare
Congratulations! You’re expecting a baby. Whether this is your first baby or fifth, it is critical that you take care of yourself and your growing baby by continuing to follow healthy habits, or by establishing new ones. It’s all too easy to let things slide with the abundance of extra activities like baby showers, nursery preparations, and the upcoming holiday season.
Ask any mother if she had food cravings during pregnancy and you will likely receive a resounding “Yes!” in response. Sweet, salty, crunchy, sugary or spicy — most mothers have certainly experienced an insatiable hankering for a certain type of food.
While cravings can be tempting to give in to — especially if you are battling morning sickness and only a big bowl of creamy mac and cheese seems to help — it is important to focus on healthy foods in place of high-calorie unhealthy selections. Craving something sweet? Your mind may be focusing on how fast you can unwrap 20 pieces of chocolate, while your body (and your baby) need vitamin-packed pieces of fruit. Keep fresh fruit visible on the front shelf of your refrigerator and stock easily portable fruit like apples, oranges, and bananas in your kitchen. When you feel the urge for something sweet, and nothing but chocolate will do, trying pairing a whole fruit with a small piece of chocolate.
Another common craving is those salty potato chips! Kettle cooked? Salt and vinegar? Grocery stores aisles are full of these bad-for-you choices. But, wait! There are some better options hidden in there too. If it is a chip you must have, then search for options that are baked, reduced fat and low salt, or try chips made with ingredients like quinoa or beans. Popcorn made without extra butter and oil is also an excellent choice, so you can still satisfy your craving by swapping the unhealthy for the semi-healthy option.
Women are typically concerned with weight gain during pregnancy. It’s all too easy to succumb to the thinking that you’re wearing stretchy clothes anyway and eating for two, so what’s an extra helping or two? In general, a target goal for weight gain is 25 to 35 lbs. This may be a bit less if you are overweight to begin with, but pregnancy is not the time to diet or try to lose weight! What you eat or don’t eat affects not only your health, but the health of your baby. So, it’s especially important that you follow the recommendation of your women’s healthcare provider so that you are getting all the essential nutrients that your body needs.
Along with healthy eating, continuing or developing exercise habits during pregnancy is an absolute must! During the early and late stages of pregnancy, you may feel extra tired. While you and baby need plenty of rest and relaxation during these times, taking a nice stroll will also aide in important functions like improving circulation and endurance. If you already exercise on a regular basis, most women can continue this routine during pregnancy. As your belly grows, you may feel tempted to skip exercise because you feel wobbly on your feet. If this occurs, try swimming as the water will be therapeutic and can ease those aches and pains.
Throughout your pregnancy, you may discover that everyone has advice for you. From what to eat, which vitamins to take, how to decorate your baby’s nursery, and even what to name your new addition! When it comes to matters of the health of you and your baby, your women’s healthcare provider is the one who can advise you on healthy habits to continue and determine those you may need to establish.
Brittany King is an advanced practice nurse specializing in women’s health. She works alongside Dele Ogunleye, MD, to provide a full range of obstetric and gynecologic services. You may contact Brittany or Dr. Ogunleye at Advanced Women’s Healthcare at 309-808-3068 or www.awhcare.com. The office is located at 2111 East Oakland Avenue (Next to the Jewel-Osco Plaza).
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