Staying Healthy Before, During and After Pregnancy

November 1st, 2023 | 1:06 pm

Staying healthy is important during the nine months of carrying a baby during pregnancy and encompasses the time period while trying to conceive and the postpartum period. From the moment a woman is trying to conceive to 6 months after delivery, it is crucial for the healthy development of a foetus in the womb as the health of the mother directly impacts the health of the baby. Therefore, this time period is extremely important and vulnerable for the health of both mother and child. 

Mothers-to-be and women trying to conceive naturally become inspired to make healthier dietary choices. However, for those still unaware of the impact of healthy lifestyle changes on pregnancy, this can be a new start. The following tips can be useful to improve food and physical activity habits to give your baby the best possible start to life.

What to Eat When Trying to Get Pregnant 

Before conception, it is important to eat well to prepare the body for pregnancy and increase the chances of conception while providing optimal health conditions for the foetus to grow. Being overweight or underweight can get in the way of conception. Therefore, eating a nutritious and balanced diet while being physically active is equally important. 

At home, eat home-cooked, wholesome meals with abundant fruits and vegetables. Taking about 3 or at least 2 meals a day is necessary. 

What to Eat?

  • Incorporate whole grain foods in everyday meals such as whole wheat flour rotis and breads, brown rice, and oats.
  • Consuming green leafy seasonal vegetables and fruits is extremely important to get the necessary nutrients, especially folate. 
  • Foods rich in protein must be included in the diet regularly. Non-vegetarians can consume fish, eggs, and chicken, and vegetarians can fulfil their protein requirements from soya and lentils. 
  • Use salt fortified with iron and iodine.
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are healthy unsaturated fats that are utilised by the body in many ways. These nutrients can easily be found in sunflower seeds and oils, safflower oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, soybean oil, and walnuts. 

Women trying to get pregnant and pregnant women are often recommended iron and folic acid supplements by healthcare providers. It can be beneficial to talk to a gynaecologist about starting on such supplements to fulfil the requirements of essential nutrients.

What Not to Eat During Pregnancy

  • Avoid consuming red meat and raw or undercooked eggs or chicken, as well as unpasteurised milk.
  • Avoid processed and refined sugars and oils used and present in foods such as cakes, most biscuits, chips, and pastries.
  • Avoid foods containing saturated fats and high in calories and cholesterol, such as butter or ghee, processed meats, and most spreads. 
  • Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking, and cut down on the consumption of tea and coffee.

It is also advisable to avoid skipping meals, specifically breakfast, and avoid snacking on fatty, processed foods. A healthcare provider or gynaecologist may recommend adding or avoiding certain foods to meals while trying to get pregnant.

What to Eat While Pregnant 

From the moment an expecting mother gets the good news, her first instinct is to protect their baby at all costs. To begin a journey of giving a healthy life to a baby, it is important to stay healthy yourself. While pregnant, the body requires more nutrients than normal to support both the mother and the developing baby.

Key essential nutrients required to support the growing baby include zinc, iodine, iron, calcium, and folate. It is recommended to eat three home-cooked meals every day, along with fruits and supplements suggested by a gynaecologist. Meals can consist of foods that were consumed before pregnancy with certain additions to fulfil additional nutritional requirements. 

Additional Foods to Consume

  • Milk products such as cottage cheese (paneer) and curd can be consumed.
  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, etc.) and fenugreek, yellow or orange pulpy fruits and vegetables such as papaya, carrot, pumpkin, mango, guava, lemons, and oranges should be incorporated into the regular diet.
  • Salt fortified with iron and iodine should be used for cooking purposes.

What else to Do While Pregnant 

There are a lot of things to do during pregnancy apart from taking care of dietary intake to boost the health and well-being of both the mother and the growing baby.

  • Staying Active: It is not necessary to engage in heavy exercises. However, brisk walking and performing yoga lightly for about 20-30 minutes a day can be beneficial.
  • Staying Hydrated: Staying amply hydrated is as important as it is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. While 8 glasses of water every day may not be required, replenishing fluids in the body can be done by drinking fruit juices and electrolyte water.
  • Get Ample Sleep: It is important to get enough sleep to support the growing baby. If possible, getting 2 hours of sleep in the afternoon in addition to 8 hours of sleep at night can be beneficial. It is important to manage more than at least 6 hours of sleep as such a condition may lead to a risk of preterm birth.
  • Exposure to the Sun: Sunlight aids in the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body. It may be beneficial to get some exposure to sun rays in the morning for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Avoid Lifting Heavy Loads: It is important to avoid lifting heavy weights to avoid stress and strain on the body that may adversely affect the developing baby. It is also advisable to avoid standing for a long time.
  • Sleeping on the Left Side: It has been observed that sleeping on the left side of the body improves blood circulation to the baby.

What to Eat After Childbirth

Bringing new life to earth is a huge feat to achieve. After the baby is born, it relies on the mother for nutrition, which it obtains from breast milk produced by the mother. It means that the baby is still receiving nutrition from the mother, so the diet of the mother can affect the health and growth of the baby. 

Therefore, it is important to make sure that a healthy and balanced diet is still given priority post-childbirth. Home-cooked food is the best for consumption. Meals should consist of healthy carbohydrates and fats from whole grain flour and rice, along with proteins from poultry, fish, beans, nuts, pulses, and lentils. Seasonal vegetables and fruits should be consumed on a regular basis. Keeping hydration levels up is more important than ever. It is important to continue this routine for at least six months until the mother recovers and regains optimal health and the baby gets off feeding off of breast milk.

Sometimes, it can be a daunting task to understand and decide what to eat and how much to consume. Every woman is unique and requires special attention to support and sustain the optimal health of both the baby and herself. Therefore, it is best to consult a well-experienced gynaecologist to understand the dietary changes required to be made. 

Book your appointment today and consult the best gynaecologists in India at Giggles Hospitals. Our goal is to prepare mothers-to-be with the best of knowledge to let them enjoy a healthy pregnancy, motherhood, and beyond.