Health Tips for Pregnant Women
What you need to know is
Having a baby is an exciting time that often inspires women to make healthier lifestyle choices and, if needed, work toward a healthy body weight. Here you’ll find tips on how to improve your eating and physical activity habits while you’re pregnant and after your baby is born.
These tips can also be useful if you’re not pregnant but are thinking about having a baby! By making changes now, you can get used to new lifestyle habits. You’ll give your baby the best possible start on life and be a healthy example to your family for a lifetime.
Why is gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy important?
Gaining an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy helps your baby grow to a healthy size. But gaining too much or too little weight may lead to serious health problems for you and your baby.
According to experts gaining too much weight during pregnancy raises your chances for developing gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) and high blood pressure during pregnancy. It also increases your risk for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure later in life. If you’re overweight or have obesity when you get pregnant, your chances for health problems may be even higher. You could also be more likely to have a cesarean section.
Gaining a healthy amount of weight helps you have an easier pregnancy and delivery. It may also help make it easier for you to get back to a healthy weight after delivery. Research shows that recommended amounts of weight gain during pregnancy can also lower the chances that you or your child will have obesity and weight-related problems later in life.
How much should I eat and drink?
Consuming healthy foods and low-calorie beverages, particularly water, and the appropriate number of calories may help you and your baby gain the proper amount of weight.
How much food and how many calories you need depends on things such as your weight before pregnancy, your age, and how quickly you gain weight. If you’re at a healthy weight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you need no extra calories in your first trimester, about 340 extra calories a day in your second trimester, and about 450 extra calories a day in your third trimester.1 You also may not need extra calories during the final weeks of pregnancy.
Check with your health care professional about your weight gain. If you’re not gaining the weight you need, he or she may advise you to take in more calories. If you’re gaining too much weight, you may need to cut down on calories. Each woman’s needs are different. Your needs also depend on whether you were underweight, overweight, or had obesity before you became pregnant, or if you’re having more than one baby.
What kinds of foods and beverages should I consume?
A healthy eating plan for pregnancy includes nutrient-rich foods and beverages. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 recommend these foods and beverages each day
fruits and vegetables (provide vitamins and fiber)
whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and brown rice (provide fiber, B vitamins, and other needed nutrients)
fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or nondairy soy, almond, rice, or other drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
protein from healthy sources, such as beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood that is low in mercury (up to 12 ounces per week), and unsalted nuts and seeds, if you can tolerate them and aren’t allergic to them.
A healthy eating plan also limits salt, solid fats (such as butter, lard, and shortening), and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods.
Should I be physically active during my pregnancy?
Almost all women can and should be physically active during pregnancy. According to current physical activity guidelines, regular physical activity may
help you and your baby gain the appropriate amounts of weight
reduce backaches, leg cramps, and bloating
reduce your risk for gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
reduce your risk for postpartum depression NIH
There's also some evidence that physical activity may reduce the risk of problems during pregnancy such as preeclampsia NIH (high blood pressure during pregnancy), reduce the length of labor and postpartum recovery, and reduce the risk of having a cesarean section.
If you were physically active before you became pregnant, you may not need to change your exercise habits. Talk with your health care professional about how to change your workouts during pregnancy.
Being physically active can be hard if you don’t have childcare for your other children, haven’t exercised before, or don’t know what to do. Keep reading for tips about how you can work around these hurdles and be physically active.
Almost all women can and should be physically active during pregnancy.
How much and what type of physical activity do I need?
According to current guidelines, most women need the same amount of physical activity as they did before becoming pregnant. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activities—also called endurance or cardio activities—use large muscle groups (back, chest, and legs) to increase your heart rate and breathing. Brisk walking is a form of aerobic activity.
How can you tell if you’re doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity? Take the “talk test” to find out. If you’re breathing hard but can still have a conversation easily—but you can’t sing—that’s moderate intensity.
If you can only say a few words before pausing for a breath, that’s called vigorous-intensity activity. If you were in the habit of doing vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or were physically active before your pregnancy, then it’s likely okay for you to continue these activities during your pregnancy.
You can talk to your health care professional about whether to or how to adjust your physical activity while you’re pregnant. If you have health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, or anemia (too few healthy red blood cells), ask your health care professional about a level of activity that’s safe for you and your unborn baby.
After the Baby Is Born
How can I stay healthy after my baby is born?
After you deliver your baby, your health may be better if you try to return to a healthy weight slowly. Not losing your “baby weight” may lead to overweight or obesity later in life. Slowly returning to a healthy weight may lower your chances of diabetes, heart disease, and other weight-related problems.
Healthy eating, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and other healthy habits after your baby is born may help you return to a healthy weight and give you energy.
After your baby is born
Consume foods and beverages to meet your calorie needs.
Regular physical activity will continue to benefit your overall health. Moderate-intensity physical activity will increase your fitness and can improve your mood.
Also, physical activity does not appear to have bad effects on how much breast milk is produced, what the breast milk contains, or how much the baby grows.
Source : NIH