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How to take care of your body before, during and after your pregnancy

Taking care of yourself and your body, particularly if you are planning to be a mom, is so very important. For a healthy happy you, we share some pointers on how to take care of your body before, during and after your pregnancy. Your body needs different things to meet its needs through these stages, but there are many things that remain constant.

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on your body. It will pay off if you start to prepare your body sooner rather than later. Getting yourself healthy and strong could mean an easier pregnancy with less risk factors. Taking care of your body while you are pregnant is vital, because you need to ensure that you are providing enough goodness for yourself and your baby. After giving birth, your body has a lot of adjusting to do. You will face rushes of hormones, very little sleep and breastfeeding, as you learn how to be a mom. Taking care of your body is the only way that you will be able to take care of your baby.

Here are some simple changes you can make, to take care of your body and help it on its journey to becoming a mom.

You are what you eat
  • The first step to a healthy body is what you put into it. Your body needs food from all the food groups, in regular healthy portions, to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.  

  • As a rule, the recommended calorie intake per day for an adult woman is 2000, spread across all food groups. Eat balanced meals, with plenty of nutrient dense vegetables.

  • In the first trimester of pregnancy this stays the same. Add roughly 350 calories in your second trimester. By the final trimester, you should be consuming roughly 2500 calories per day.

  • Breastfeeding moms need an average of 2000 to 2500 calories per day to keep energy and milk supply up. A breastfeeding mom should not eat less that 1800 calories per day, as it is bad for their health and will affect their milk supply. 

Top tip: You should eat foods high in folate, like lentils, dried beans, peas, nuts, avocado. Eat greens such as broccoli, spinach, collard or turnip greens, okra, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus. Eat citrus fruit and citrus juice. Doctors recommend folic acid supplements as well, as they are absorbed more easily than natural folate. Folic acid contains iodine to help grow and develop your baby’s brain. It is also rich in iron, and many pregnant women suffer from iron deficiencies Folate rich foods and folic acid protect babies in utero from a variety of deformities.

Get moving

You should consult an obstetrician gynecologist to confirm which exercises are best for your body, particularly if you are preparing for pregnancy. A few general suggestions are -

  • Strengthen your core muscles. This will help when you are carrying a heavy belly, during childbirth and when carrying around your new baby.

  • Do squats and stretches.

  • Do Kegels. Kegels are pelvic floor exercises. Begin before pregnancy. Kegels will ensure the muscles will take less strain when carrying and will prevent embarrassing leaks when baby is squashing your bladder. It will also allow a faster recovery from birth, and prevent common bladder leaks after pregnancy.

Top tip: Avoid crunches or sit ups when pregnant. They can cause lower back pain, put excessive strain on your pelvic floor and can worsen any muscle separation in the abdominal wall.

Keep hydrated

While drinking at least 2l of water a day is recommended for all adults, pregnancy and breastfeeding increase this need. Dehydration in pregnancy can be dangerous. Drinking water while pregnant can also reduce heartburn, nausea and, ironically, water retention. When breastfeeding your body needs more liquids to prevent dehydration and to produce milk for baby.


 
Rest

Don't laugh! To be the best you and keep healthy, your body needs on average 7 hours of sleep a night. When pregnant, your body is constantly working to grow your baby and prepare your body for motherhood. For a healthy pregnancy, you need to rest regularly to provide your body the strength to do this. Being a new mom is incredibly exhausting. Your body is recovering from pregnancy and birth, you get very little solid sleep due to waking for feeds and settling baby and your body is producing milk for baby. You need to make time for you to rest, so that you and your body can do what it needs to.

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