This is a post that’s been rattling around in my head for a few weeks now. Especially with the new year and everyone’s renewed focus on health, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to stay healthy while you’re pregnant.
I’ll be the first to admit that I thought pregnancy was going to be a cakewalk. Meaning, I thought I’d have no trouble staying away from the ‘cake’, and that I’d kick my already healthy habits into overdrive the minute I saw two pink lines. Green smoothies every morning, continuing my normal workout schedule, and becoming a pregnant runner… piece of cake! (I know that any woman reading this who has been pregnant is laughing at me right now. 😉 )
What I quickly learned is that while staying healthy while you’re pregnant is very similar to staying healthy any other time, it’s also just a little different, and even a bit difficult at times.
While I still have a few months left to go, I think I’ve finally wrapped my head around some concepts that have helped me to stay healthy during pregnancy. Again, these tips can really be applied to anyone looking to live a healthy lifestyle. But they’re specifically geared towards women who are trying to stay as healthy as possible during pregnancy. Please feel free to ‘play along’ in the comments and let me know if you have tips to add, comments or recommendations you might have on how to stay healthy while you’re pregnant! (And if you’re looking for a laugh, check out this post when you’re done.)
Tip 1: Plan Ahead
Almost all healthy decisions are made easier with a little prior planning. Especially when you’re feeling crummy during the first trimester, or when the hunger monster strikes at week 24, having a healthy meal plan and healthy options prepared and ready to go makes it that much easier to reach for the good stuff. As for exercise, plan out your week in advance and make a literal date with yourself to work out. Whether it’s walking the dog around the block or spending an hour on the yoga mat, having it on the to-do list makes it easier to get it done and check it off, especially when you really don’t feel like it.
Planning ahead can also come in handy when you’re out to dinner or traveling. Keep healthy snacks stashed in your tote, and check out menus ahead of time. Knowing that you’ve researched and selected the options that best suit your personal health goals will help to keep you from stressing out later.
Tip 2: Compromise
There are going to be days where literally the only thing that appeals to you is an ‘unhealthy’ option. In this season of life, you just have to face the facts and do the best you can with the situation. Know that 1- feeding baby is the healthy option, so whether it’s a salad or something less ideal (ahem, bagels), by eating you are passing nourishment along to baby. So don’t NOT eat just because you can’t stomach the healthy options. 2- make compromises, where possible. In my case, that meant giving into the bagel but making sure to have a piece of fruit or small salad on the side. If you really can stomach nothing else but a double crunch monstrosity from Taco Bell, pair it with a large bottle of water to help fill you up so one double crunch monster doesn’t turn into two. 😉
This idea of compromise is often referred to as the 80/20 rule, which might be an easier way to look at it. Try to keep 80% of your eats clean, and you’ll have the extra 20% for wiggle room (meaning dessert, or whatever you consider a treat). In pregnancy, this might become more like 70/30, but just being mindful of your ratio is a huge step towards making healthy decisions.
Tip 3: Be Active…
Believe it or not, staying active actually helps to alleviate fatigue and some other pregnancy symptoms. Remember Elle Woods and the endorphins? It’s like that. Exercise helps to give you energy, and if there’s anything I could have used from week 6 to 12 it was more energy!
Now I’m not advocating that you go out and pick up marathon training (unless that’s your thing) during these 9 months, but certainly moving for 30 minutes a day is a goal that you can work towards. If, like me, you find that some pre-pregnancy workouts aren’t comfortable for you at this stage, use this time to try out something new. I’ve been doing a lot more walking since I’m just not feeling running, and I’ve also been trying to focus more on yoga. No, I’m probably not getting the calorie burn that I usually do, but that’s not the goal right now. Keep in mind that staying active during pregnancy will also help you to feel better overall (less aches and pains!), ease stomach issues, improve lung capacity, aid in delivery, and help you to bounce back as it has helped you to maintain a reasonable weight gain.
Tip 4: …Then Kick Up Your Feet
It might sound like I’m contradicting myself, but resting is as important as staying active during pregnancy. It took me awhile to figure out that it’s OK to kick up your feet a bit during pregnancy, and is actually a good thing. Ask for some extra help with the housework, meal prep, or anything that’s wearing you down, and if you can’t get help, let some things slide! Also, if you remember tip 1 and have planned ahead, it will make it easier to sit back and relax throughout the week. No energy to make dinner? No problem, because you prepped a few healthy meals over the weekend!
Tip 5: Find What Works, for YOU
I’ve tried to be a bit vague in my past 4 tips, because what works for one pregnant woman may not work for the next. It’s important to figure out your version of healthy and stick to it. What type of workout can you pencil into your calendar without dreading it? Do that! Find a healthy breakfast that doesn’t make you gag? There’s no shame in eating that every day for weeks on end. If it works, it works.
In the end, all of these tips are meant to help you be the healthiest version of you, which in turn will help you to be the healthiest mother for your baby. I don’t know about you, but thinking about the end product makes it easier for me to make those healthy choices, even when I’d really love to dive fast first into a bag of vinegar chips. 😉
I’m planning to follow up this post with some ideas on how to stay healthy, more specifically focused on healthy eating during pregnancy and also ideal workouts. But first, I want to hear from you!
What are your tips for staying healthy while you’re pregnant? Or, what tips do you have for a healthy lifestyle in general?