Many new mums embark on a healthy lifestyle or weight loss journey after having a baby in an attempt to lose the baby weight. However what many don’t realize is that their nutritional and exercise habits prior to and during pregnancy are of great importance and can affect the health and wellness of both mother and baby during the prenatal and postpartum journey.
The process of getting pregnant can be an emotional venture for some, and pregnancy itself can be equally or even more emotional due to the hormonal and physical changes that the body undergoes. Cultivating healthy habits prior to getting pregnant and maintaining them during pregnancy can help mums cope with these changes and prevent the common pregnancy risks outlined below;
1.Excessive Weight Gain – This is by far the biggest risk during pregnancy. Healthy weight gain is recommended to be between 25-35lbs (11-14kg) for most women but many women gain much more than this because of poor eating habits and lack of exercise prior to and during pregnancy. When trying to get pregnant eating a healthy balanced diet, taking a folic acid (Vitamin B9) supplement and avoiding alcohol, helps prepare the body for pregnancy. During pregnancy the body only requires an additional 300 calories per day, so there is really no need to “eat for two”. Partaking in regular physical activity before and throughout pregnancy is advised to prevent excessive weight gain.
2.Gestational Diabetes – Gestational diabetes occurs when the body is unable to make and use insulin properly during pregnancy. This results in an increase in blood glucose, which causes weight gain for both mother and baby. Women with a higher starting pre-pregnancy weight and a diet high in sugary foods are more susceptible to gestational diabetes. For this reason eating healthy before and during pregnancy (watching sugar intake) is a good idea for any mum or mum to be. Partaking in regular exercise is also recommended to help burn up extra glucose and prevent/control gestational diabetes.
3.High Blood Pressure – Lack of proper eating and exercise habits prior to pregnancy can lead to excessive weight gain during pregnancy, this increases the likelihood of pregnancy-induced hypertension. Since an increase in blood volume occurs when a woman is pregnant, the heart has to work harder. For this reason cardiovascular exercise is recommended before and throughout pregnancy to keep the heart strong.
4.Joint, Ligament & Lower Back Pain – There is more weight and strain on a woman’s joints, ligaments and back during pregnancy, not to mention that pregnancy hormones cause everything to “relax”. Also muscle loss during pregnancy is inevitable. Regular strength & flexibility training prior to getting pregnant and during pregnancy ,including core and pelvic floor exercises, will help combat these issues by strengthening the muscles.
Even if you are already pregnant it is not too late to cultivate some healthy habits. Eating healthier never hurt anyone and starting an exercise regime in any trimester is safe provided that there are no previous health concerns or complications in the pregnancy. Studies have shown that there is no correlation between exercise and miscarriages or any other prenatal complications of any kind.