Updated: Feb 16, 2020
There are many questions that arise during pregnancy regarding how to eat and exercise properly to assure the health of the baby. However, the health of the mother is equally as important. Maternal morbidity and mortality rates in the US are alarming, but careful preventable measures can reduce this number significantly. Some questions that arise are, "Can I stay vegan? Do I need to have a perfect diet? Can I still drink caffeine? Do I need to quit my job?" I am going to uncover a lot of those questions in this article and also give you a few tips to have a healthy + nutritious pregnancy to assure positive outcomes.
Although maternal and infant mortality affects all races + ethnicities, African American women disproportionately experience higher rates of mortality. Because of this, it is important to take of our bodies before and after conceiving our first child. If you are currently vegan or vegetarian, you don't need to incorporate meat into your diet. There are vitamin B plus supplements and prenatal vitamins you can take to properly nourish your system. Though, you do need to be cautious with the intake of caffeine. High doses of caffeine can lead to low birth weight and possibly miscarriage. It is important to note, that you may gain an uncomfortable amount of weight, but dieting/exercising for weight loss is not safe for pregnancy. The restricted caloric intake and intense workouts can cause stress on your body and the baby. You need an adequate amount of sunshine, vitamins, minerals, higher levels of serotonin, and nutrients to successfully carry your baby full term. While nutrition cannot solve every medical condition and issue experienced during pregnancy, most complications during pregnancy are preventable.
Movement This is highly recommended during pregnancy to manage your weight gain, increase your muscle strength, and keep your brain active. I always recommend prenatal yoga for the last two trimesters. At that time, the baby will be more developed and you'll hopefully be over morning sickness. Practicing Kegel exercises can be really helpful to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and reduce problems of incontinence later. The stronger your pelvic floor the easier your vaginal birth will be. If you decide to work during your pregnancy, make sure you take your regularly scheduled breaks, drink a lot of water, walk often, eat healthy lunches, avoid gossip, and keep your feet elevated.
Environment is probably the most important thing to consider when carrying a child. A toxic and unhealthy environment can cause distress to you and your baby, causing preterm and defective births. Furthermore, the company you keep is equally as important. You need a supportive, respectful, and low-stress environment to properly nurture the development of the baby, If your environment is seemingly unchangeable, I always recommend creating a safe space. A quiet sanctuary to relax, meditate and talk calmly to your baby.
Eat Organic Vegetables and Fruits Ideally, you were already practicing good eating habits before you've become pregnant. However, you are now eating for two and the brain development of your baby will largely depend on the nutritional value absorbed by the food you eat. It is vital to protect your fetus from any pesticides and/or harmful bacteria that can be found in poorly handled produce and cooked foods. One way to prevent mishaps is to make sure your food is carefully washed and locally sourced for the best results.
Nutritious Foods to Ingest During Pregnancy
1. Sweet Potatoes
2. Beans + Lentils
3. Avocados, Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds
4. Plain yogurt w/ fresh berries
5. Oatmeal w/ (no added sugars)
6. Broccoli Sprouts, Leafy Greens i.e Kale*
7. Mangos + Oranges + Pitaya (Dragonfruit)
8. Bananas + Nut Butters
9. Nuts: Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios
10. Whole Grains
Precautionary Measures to Prevent Pregnancies Issues:
1. Read Food Labels Before Purchasing
2. Avoid Raw Meat (Decrease the chances of Foodborne illness)
3. Walk often (Preferably in nature or by the water)
4. Drink A lot of Water
5. Eat Homemade meals More Often Than Not
6. Practice Prenatal Yoga & Kegel Exercises
7. Create a Nourishing Environment
8. Educate Yourself on Parenting to Reduce Anxiety
9. Get Checkups Regularly (Midwife and Physician)
10. Rest, when needed. (Don't overwork yourself or Exercise too intensely)