How to Stay Healthy During Pregnancy

Our Nurse Practitioner Liz, gives us the run down on how to stay your healthiest during pregnancy.

Are all supplements safe in pregnancy? No!

  • A high quality prenatal is an absolute must prior to conception, during pregnancy and throughout the postpartum period. Prenatal vitamins are not meant to take the place of healthy eating and consumption of whole foods, but to help by providing the micronutrients that are necessary during pregnancy.
  • Folate is a B vitamin essential in the development of the fetus early in pregnancy – specifically the neural tube (what later develops into the spinal cord & brain). The neural tube begins forming between the 17th and 30th day after conception, at which point women do not know they’re pregnant yet. All women of childbearing age should be consuming a prenatal with folate or folate supplement.
  • Magnesium or the “relaxation mineral”. Magnesium aids in muscle relaxation, nervous system regulation, DNA synthesis, protein formation and assists in converting nutrients into energy. Magnesium also works to prevent constipation! Vitamin D known for its benefits in immune function, bone protection, mood and cell division. Vitamin D needs are higher as baby’s bones are growing and developing in utero.
  • Fish oil contains DHA and EPA which are essential fatty acids crucial in the development of baby’s brain. In addition, studies show it boosts mood, prevents depression and supports cardiovascular health.
  • Iron is used to make hemoglobin (red blood cell that carries oxygen to tissues). During pregnancy, the need for iron significantly increases as your body need it to transfer oxygen and blood supply to baby and placenta.

Supplements to monitor or avoid

  • Vitamin A – some vitamin A is appropriate – especially for fetal vision development. However, as a fat-soluble vitamin, a high or unregulated accumulation has been known to cause birth defects and/or liver damage.
  • Vitamin E – Another fat-soluble vitamin known for immune health and antioxidant support. Though this is important in a developing baby, too much has been liked to increase risk of birth defects in pregnancy.

** As always, a supplement prescribed by a provider or of medical grade quality are the best option. Please avoid buying supplements off the shelf as they are not tested for purity or concentration. In addition, they are filled with additives and fillers. Stop in the office to consults with one of our providers on which supplements may be best for you!

Exercise in pregnancy

  • Do pregnant woman “need a break” during pregnancy? No! Pregnant woman should still participate in at least 150 minutes a week of exercise. Studies show regular exercise reduces backaches, constipation, swelling, and prevents excessive weight gain. In addition, regular exercise promotes muscle tone, strength, endurance and assists in better sleep. Not to mention boosts mood and energy! Exercise works to overall reduce risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and cesarean delivery. When exercising, it is important to keep in mind the various changes the body goes through. One being joints. Relaxin is a hormone that increased during pregnancy to allow ligaments to become more relaxed for growth, but may increase risk of injury when practicing high impact or bouncy movements. Change number two is balance! Balance will shift as weight accumulates and shifts the body’s center of gravity. This is where walking and prenatal yoga come in. Third is breathing. Blood volume increases and oxygen is shunted to muscles and other areas of the body increasing shortness of breath. Bring a bottle of water and avoid becoming overheated when exercising. The best exercises in pregnancy include walking, spinning/stationary bike, swimming, yoga and Pilates. As always, check with your OB before trying something new or if you have a condition such as placenta previa, multiples, cerclage, severe anemia, preeclampsia or ruptured membranes.

Eating for two?

  • We wish but not necessarily. It is most important to consume healthy, whole foods during pregnancy. Whole foods are considered single ingredient foods. Think fruits, vegetables, grass fed/pasture raised meats, nuts and less processed or refined foods with chemicals and additives. Consumption of food is of the utmost importance during pregnancy to keep up energy, store enough nutrients for yourself and baby, and to fuel growth of another human. But instead of eating the extra meal or “twice as much” we’re talking an extra 200-500 calories a day depending on trimester and level of activity. ACOG recommends no extra calories during the first trimester, an additional 340 calories a day in the second trimester and 450 extra calories a day in the third trimester. Struggling with food recommendations or healthy choices? Stop in to meet with our (pregnant!) Registered Dietician, Mindy!

Emotional Wellbeing

  • Growing a child is not easy, nor is watching your body change in ways you cannot control. Remember to give yourself grace. The first trimester may lead to bizarre food choices, bloating, nausea and overall exhaustion. Second and third trimesters lend their own symptoms and signs of growth. Keep a journal of the process, take time for yourself each day and meditate. Studies show that yoga, meditation and prayer all contribute to an overall healthy wellbeing. Surround yourself with a strong support system and others who build you up. Remember many other women have experienced the same thing! Emotional wellbeing is never to be left behind and we hope these healthy habits follow you into the postpartum period.

With all of that said, congratulations!

Feel free to stop in for an intro to office, consult for supplementation, or to set up a pediatric appointment for your baby’s first days. We would love to be a part of your journey.

Liz Bouma MSN, FNP-BC

Wellness Co.

616-741-2364

* All information subject to change. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.