As I write this, I’m in my second trimester of my 4th pregnancy. I keep waiting for the aches and pains and fatigue and heaviness to appear, like they did in my other three pregnancies, but so far it hasn’t. I have to believe that it’s because this time around, I’m continuing with the healthy lifestyle that I adopted in the years before my pregnancy. I feel so great!
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Here are the 5 healthy habits that I follow that I believe are keeping me (and baby!) feeling good and strong!
I remember being constantly lectured in my last pregnancies by my doctor about how little water I was drinking. I hated water! Now I drink at least 3 liters per day (made easy using this water bottle that I take everywhere) and I can’t imagine not having it. I keep it by my side at all times, even at nighttime on my night stand. Water is so important during pregnancy for these reasons:
- it’s easier to become dehydrated because of vomiting, the increased workload required of your body, and the increase in blood
- to help your body begin to produce breastmilk
- dehydration can trigger pre-term labor
- relieves heartburn and constipation
- prevents urinary tract infections
- helps reduce bloating and swelling by flushing out excess sodium
- can reduce pregnancy acne
- maintains a safe level of amniotic fluid
Try to drink 3 Liters (about 100 ounces) of water each day while you’re pregnant, and add 8 ounces for every hour of exercise.
STAY (OR GET) ACTIVE
As long as your doctor clears you first, you can continue your exercise program, or even start a new one if you were sedentary. I’ve been able to continue on with my high intensity interval training and strength training that I was accustomed to before pregnancy. I’m certainly not at the level I was before, and I take more breaks and modify a few movements, but I can still get in a killer workout around my growing belly. Doing this makes me feel strong and sturdy instead of tired and fragile. It also improves my moods when I’m having hormonal days (I may have cried over not-warm-enough food once, ahem) and helps my circulation so I don’t swell and feel achy all the time. Here are more benefits of exercise during pregnancy.
- improves energy levels
- strengthens joints and core muscles which will help aches and pains of your growing body
- improves sleep
- helps prepare you for delivery by improving endurance and stamina
- helps you bounce back after delivery faster
- reduced risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia
- improves self-image
- lowered risk for medical intervention during delivery (forceps, vaccuum, c-section)
- lowered risk of excess weight gain
- a healthy baby with a healthy birth weight
- baby will be better able to adapt during delivery, less stressed
Walking, swimming, jogging, and most non-contact/non-impact forms of exercise are acceptable for pregnancy. I’ve also seen plenty of moms continue Crossfit or other highly athletic forms of exercise all the way up to delivery. I plan on burpee-ing and kick-boxing my way all the way to the end!
EAT A NUTRITIOUS DIET FULL OF VEGGIES
Another reason I believe that I feel so great this time around is that (once I hit the second trimester) I was able to continue eating nutrient-rich foods that give me tons of energy and keep my digestion working properly. I was plagued with constant heartburn and constipation during my last 3 pregnancies, and I’ve been completely normal this time around.
I try to sneak in extra leafy greens (baby spinach) as often as I possibly can so that baby gets all the folic acid it needs to develop properly. I chop it up and put it in meatballs, blend it with fruit smoothies, add a layer of it on pizza, and eat it in salads. Instead of reaching for sugary snacks this time, I eat a ton of fruit. I also aim for 80+ grams of protein each day, not only for my own muscles but because baby needs all the amino acids to form. Healthy fats have aided in my joints staying healthy and also providing lots of fiber. Complex carbohydrates like oatmeal and quinoa give me energy for my day first thing in the morning, and helped me with morning sickness in my first trimester.
Avoiding processed foods, preservatives, chemicals, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners gives me the reassurance that baby (and me!) isn’t being exposed to anything that may harm his or her development or introduce toxins to our systems. Avoiding these “foods” also keeps me feeling my best.
STAY BALANCED, CONNECTED, AND RELAXED
Stress can be harmful to an unborn baby, so it’s important to manage stress during pregnancy. Exercising and eating right is one step to managing stress, but here are more ideas:
- deep breathing exercises
- prenatal yoga – I do this daily in addition to my workouts. It relaxes me, reminds me to breathe deeply, connects me to my baby, and stretches out my achy joints and muscles
- meditation – meditation can help you prepare for labor by teaching you to connect with and listen to your body
- release negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations
- list the things you’re grateful for every day
- do not let anyone tell you negative birth or labor stories, and surround yourself with positive imagery and stories regarding childbirth. Ina May Gaskin’s book is a great place to start.
- treat yourself to a prenatal massage or a pedicure
- see your friends and family regulary
Don’t stress about not being “perfect” all the time, and try to let go of any anxieties about upcoming delivery and motherhood. There’s no point in stressing out over something that isn’t here yet!
The more I research, the more benefits I find to eating lots of DHA (Omega-3 fat) rich foods and supplementing with cod liver oil. According to research, DHA makes baby smarter, lowers inflammation in your pregnant body, lowers baby’s chance for allergies, and lowers your chance of experiencing post-partum depression. Aside from cod liver oil, I put 2T of flaxseed in my smoothie daily, and try to eat lots of walnuts with my salads. You can also supplement with chia seeds.
I chose these vitamins also to give me a safety net with my diet, because they are organic, with no chemicals or synthetic substances. Just real vitamins from real food.