My name is Janet Cook and I’m currently 33 weeks pregnant with my second child. After the birth of my first child I started with the Lose Baby Weight diet and exercise plans and lost 20kgs.
There are always challenges when trying to stay healthy, but even more so when pregnant. These are my top tips to stay on track and look after yourself.
When hormones, bodily changes and family responsibilities cause exhaustion, it can be tempting to put off exercise while pregnant but it has a number of benefits:
- Reduced morning sickness
- Helps to maintain core strength, particularly important later in pregnancy
- Increased energy levels
- Increased strength and flexibility for labour and will help set you up for faster post-labour recovery
- Stress release
It’s important to listen to your doctor and your body when it comes to exercise. Many activities are safe in pregnancy, as long as you are comfortable doing them. If you normally participate in impact sports such as horse riding or contact sports, it’s very important you speak with your doctor about the appropriate time to stop.
Pregnancy exercise DVDs are a great idea as they have been formulated with pregnancy-specific advice and recommendations and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Other exercise DVDs can also be great such as the Healthy Mummy Weight Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD, but you will need to go at an easier pace. You may feel comfortable only doing every second repetition (or less if you were not very active pre-pregnancy), having a break any time you start to feel fatigued, and avoiding abdominal or high impact exercises (such as jumping or skipping) which can cause injury to you or your baby.
Make sure the blood flow to your baby is not impacted by avoiding exercises that require you to lay on your back, staying on your left side whenever possible with floor exercises (such as yoga). Always let your exercise instructor or trainer know that you are pregnant.
If everything else feels too difficult or uncomfortable, you can always go for a walk or swim. These are low impact and can be done right up to the end of your pregnancy. Choose hills to increase lower body, back and core strength but go slow if that’s what your body tells you to do. Also take care that you don’t over-heat, by staying hydrated and dressing in easy-to-remove layers of light clothing.
Take note of any aches, pains or discomfort that occur during exercise and discuss these with your doctor. It’s really important for your physical and mental health to stay active, but it’s even more important to ensure you avoid anything that may cause harm to you or your baby.
Eat When Hungry
There is rarely a more important time in your life to keep you blood sugar and energy levels stable than in pregnancy, especially with morning sickness or gestational diabetes. And unless your doctor has expressly told you to, weight loss should not be attempted in pregnancy.
Always having healthy snacks and easy-to-prepare meals on hand will ensure you are not tempted to grab a quick chocolate bar or junk food fix. Here are some tips:
- The Health Mummy Smoothies make an excellent lunch or breakfast on the go, even in pregnancy (these got me through morning sickness)
- Snack on almonds, dried fruit, natural yoghurt and other healthy snacks
- Use the Healthy Mummy tools for snack and meal inspiration, perhaps adding extra, low GI carbohydrates to the meals if required
- Cook meals that can be doubled and reheated, to give yourself one or two nights off per week, avoiding the temptation of take-away food or gorging on unhealthy snacks because you are over-hungry.
Find Healthy Alternatives When Craving Junk Food
Sometimes our bodies seem to desperately crave fatty or sugary food when we are pregnant. There are lots of amazing sweet treats that can be enjoyed guilt free, which are also packed with important vitamins and minerals- but remember to enjoy in moderation. Loads of amazing recipes can be found on The Healthy Mummy website and also in the cookbooks such as The Healthy Mummy Guilt-Free Chocolate Treats and Baking Cook Book.
The most important nutrients in pregnancy are: Folate, calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, protein and iodine. Even though we should take a pregnancy-specific multivitamin, if we often indulge in empty, processed calories, we may be depriving ourselves, and our baby, of crucial nutrients.
Learn to say NO
There is a lot to do when expecting a new baby and we could easily be putting other people before our own health if we are constantly saying YES when we really just need a break or are feeling overwhelmed/exhausted.
Many people may want to visit or socialise in those last few weeks which is great if you’re feeling up to it. But this is very precious time with your other child(ren)/partner/yourself that you may not get again for a long time. Put yourself and your family first- and be firm about it. Think of it as good practice for when the baby arrives.
Don’t worry about the scales
It’s very important to let our body do what it needs to do in regards to weight gain and we should not be counting calories in pregnancy, unless advised to by our doctor. We also need to rest when our body tells us to and only partake in moderate exercise, particularly as our due date nears.
If we exercise regularly but carefully, while focusing on eating food that has maximum nutrition and minimal sugars and refined ingredients, we can know we are nurturing our body and our baby the best way possible. And Lose Baby Weight and The Healthy Mummy will be there for us when we are ready, some time after the birth.
To see advice on healthy foods in pregnancy click here – plus grab your copy of our Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD to perform safe exercises post baby