We all know the body can go through a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy and sometimes it can be unpleasant so it is very important to keep fit and healthy through this magical time and give yourself and your baby the best possible beginning.

Studies show a baby can show a sign of stress in the womb, so by choosing nourishing choices you can ensure your baby is receiving the basic essentials to create a healthy body, mind and spirit.

Self-Care during Pregnancy

Massage

The most important thing to remember is that your happiness during this time is the most vital nourishment you can give your unborn baby.  Pregnancy Massage is complementary and deeply relaxing and a wonderful way to spoil Mum-to-be and unborn baby as it helps calm and soothe. It is also great for the emotional and physiological wellbeing too.  With regular massage, pregnant women can expect numerous benefits from massage because of their changing bodies that put stress on the neck, back and shoulders and the abdominal muscles.  Studies have shown that women who receive regular massage throughout their pregnancies tend to have shorter labours with fewer complications. Women who received massage as least twice a week before delivery had lower levels of stress hormones, which reduced their risk of premature delivery and postnatal depression.

Exercise

Exercising helps with weight gain during pregnancy.  It also prevents gestational diabetes and keeps you feeling vitalised and relaxed. Walking a fast pace for 30 mins a day helps raise the heart rate and keeps you fit.  Prenatal Yoga is fantastic as it help strengthen the pelvic muscles to support a faster labour.  Gentle breathing exercises help you to remain calm and relaxed throughout pregnancy.  More importantly, it will help you relax when you go into labour.  When you remain calm, the process is smoother and supports your energy as you deliver your baby.

Sleep

It is important to get enough sleep during your pregnancy as you’ll probably feel more tired than usual.  As your baby gets bigger, it will be harder to find a comfortable position when you are trying to sleep.  Laying on your side with your knees bent is the most comfortable position as your pregnancy progresses.  Some doctors specifically recommend that you should sleep on your left side because one of those big blood vessels is on the right side of your abdomen, laying on your left will help keep the uterus off it.  It also helps blood flow to the placenta. In most cases laying on either side will help take pressure off your back.  For a more comfortable resting position either way, prop pillows between your legs, behind your back and underneath your tummy.

Nourishing Foods

Nourishment begins within the womb so Mum-to-be needs to change her diet to meet the needs of herself and her unborn baby.  As the baby grows in the womb, it’s important to make sure you feed him/her the right nourishment.  Quality over quantity during this time. It is a myth that you need to eat for two but it is vital that you eat according to your hunger.

What are the right foods for a Pregnant Mother?

Here are some foods to soothe and nourish an expectant Mum and their unborn baby.

Milk and Buttermilk

These dairy products are a good source of healthy fat and protein.  Also milk and yoghurt offer calcium to the Mum.  Two glasses of milk is said to boost immunity for the baby.  Buttermilk is beneficial for the digestive system.  It improves digestion and eases the build-up of gas due to hormonal changes.

Vegetables

All veggies healthy during pregnancy but it’s best to reduce the quantity of green peas, beans, potatoes, bell peppers, aubergines, raw onion, yams, mushrooms and corn as they tend to increase the heat and produce wind within the body.  Leafy veggies like spinach leaves are great sources of protein and iron.

Here are some veggies a pregnant could include within her pregnancy diet:

  • Okra

  • Carrots

  • Pumpkin

  • Cucumber

  • Cabbage

  • Broccoli

  • Beetroot

It’s advisable to avoid eating raw veggies during pregnancy.  Sauté or steam to keep their nutritional goodness.  Try to include herbs like coriander, mint and ginger to help with digestion and prevent stomach upsets.

Fruit and Nuts

Avoid eating papaya, pineapple and plums and restrict your intake of mangoes.  Grapes and oranges you can have in generous amounts.  Limit your consumption of pears, watermelons, apples.  The best pregnant-friendly fruits include figs, pomegranate, lemons, blackcurrants and bananas.  You can also include assorted nuts within your diet but it’s best if you soak them for at least 8 hours to release the enzymes and it’s more gentler on the stomach.

Coconut water is great for energy and vitality as it’s rich in electrolytes and also prevents dehydration.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Vegetarian and Vegan Mums –to-be need to ensure they get enough iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Research shows that vegetarian and vegan diets are nutritionally beneficial during pregnancy.  Pulses and dals are an acceptable protein source.  You could also include mung beans within your diet but avoid kidney beans and chickpeas as they are hard to digest. Avoid eating raw mung sprouts too. Brown Basmati rice is also a good source of protein.

Iron

A good source of Iron for Vegetarians and Vegans are:-

  • Pulses

  • Dark Green Vegetables

  • Eggs (Vegetarians)

  • Fortified breakfasts with added iron

  • Dried fruit eg Apricots

  • Tofu

  • Hulled Hemp Seeds

  •  Pomegranates

B12

Good sources of B12 for Vegetarians are:-

  • Milk and Cheese (low fat varieties)

  • Eggs

Good source for Vegetarians and Vegans

  • Low sugar fortified breakfast cereals

  • Fortified unsweetened alternative Milk

  • Yeast extracts

  • B12 supplement for Vegans

Vitamin D

Although we get Vitamin D from sunlight, vegetarian sources include:-

  • Egg yolk

  • Foods fortified with vitamin D such as fat spreads and some breakfasts

  • Supplements

Because vitamin D is only found in small amounts in certain foods, it’s difficult to get the amount you need in food alone so it’s important for every adult especially pregnant women to take a daily supplement during the Winter months (Oct-March) From late March to early April till the end of September most people should get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Calcium

If you are Vegan it’s you need to make sure you get enough calcium

A good source of calcium includes:

  • Dark leafy greens

  • Pulses

  • Fortified unsweetened alternative milk eg rice or oat

  • Brown bread

  • Tofu

  • Tahini and sesame seeds

  • Dried fruit

Talk to your Midwife or Doctor on how you can get the best possible nutrients for you and your baby.

Foods to avoid

Regardless of your diet all pregnant women are advised not to eat mould ripened soft cheese such a Brie or Camembert or soft blue cheese such as Roquefort and Danish Blue as these cheeses could contain Listeria that can cause a miscarriage, stillbirth or some other serious illness in newborns.  You should also avoid eating pate including vegetarian pate as it could contain listeria.  Some vegetarian pate contains raw eggs which may carry a risk of salmonella poisoning.    Avoid eating partially cooked or raw eggs as well.

From the first week of your pregnancy to the end it is important to take care of yourself so you can take care of your baby.  Even though you may have to take some precautions and be aware of how what you do or don’t do may affect your baby.

Positive Mind, Positive Vibes Positive Pregnancy.

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