If you’re expecting or hoping to become pregnant in the near future, now is the perfect time to take extra care with your health. Here are six tips to get you started on this exciting journey.
Despite the clichés, pregnancy is definitely not a time for a food free-for-all. Pregnant women need only a small amount of extra food, and only in the second and third trimesters. Canada’s Food Guide offers suggestions for what the recommended two or three extra servings might look like; for example, two extra servings equal one piece of fruit and 175 grams of yogurt.
If you’re thinking of getting pregnant or are already expecting, it’s vital that you take a prenatal multivitamin with 0.4 milligrams of folic acid (also known as folate) every day. Folic acid is a B vitamin essential to the development of your baby’s spine, brain and skull; it’s especially important in the first four weeks of pregnancy. You can also add folic acid to your diet by eating dark green vegetables (like spinach, peas and broccoli), corn, dried peas, beans, lentils, oranges and orange juice, as well as some fortified foods.
You should still get your flu shot when you’re expecting. Pregnant women are actually at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu. Bonus: Those antibodies you develop from the shot will also protect your baby for up to half a year. Other safe vaccines include the tetanus shot and those for Hepatitis A and B. Review your vaccination records and talk to your doctor about any other shots.
You might be wondering what level of physical activity is right for you while you’re pregnant. If you’re already quite active, you’ll only need to make small adjustments to your fitness regime. You may continue to run or cycle, for example, but talk to your doctor about your exercise routines as your pregnancy progresses. If your activity levels are more moderate (or were non-existent before pregnancy), it’s best to stick to low-impact activities such as walking, swimming or aquacise.
Foot and ankle swelling is typical for most pregnancies. Swelling is generally harmless and often goes away after delivery. There are several ways to reduce swelling, including taking a daily walk and not standing for long periods of time. Be mindful of any sudden or painful swelling, as it could indicate a blood clot or high blood pressure (an indicator of preeclampsia), both of which require medical attention.
Your emotional health plays an important role in your physical wellbeing. Everything from changing hormone levels to fatigue to how you feel about your changing body can affect your emotional health. It’s OK to feel a wide range of emotions at this time. It’s also OK to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, especially if those feelings seem to linger. Support, self-care and sleep are three of the best strategies for good emotional health while you’re expecting.
Your turn: What did you wish you’d known during your pregnancy? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.