Pregnancy is a woman’s highest risk time to develop diabetes and obesity – pregnancy hormones raise your sugar levels – so preconception health is critical to avoiding diabetes during pregnancy.
How To Have A Healthy Pregnancy? Tips & Recommendations
At IRMS, we focus on education and empowerment. Taking control of your health and wellness in your everyday life is part of the partnership we seek to create with you as we look to help you have the baby you desire. Many of these are common-sense recommendations for a healthy lifestyle which is exactly what you seek when you are trying to conceive or start a family. The good news here is small changes can yield big results.
- Quit Smoking – Smoking has been associated with pregnancy loss and low-birth weight. Even second-hand smoke exposure for the male or the female will increase the risks for miscarriage, birth defects and pregnancy complications.
- Eat Healthy – A low glycemic index diet is ideal. Most of your carbs should come from vegetables and whole fruits (not fruit juice, not soda). Think of the Living Plate Model.
- Foods to avoid when pregnant: Avoid sugar in its purest form as much as you can. Also avoid sugar substitutes as they are both associated with a higher risk for diabetes.
- Best foods for pregnancy: try to eat 8-12 oz. of fish a week (avoid mercury containing fish). If fish is not your favorite food, get Omega 3 in your diet through fish oil, flax seed oil, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, etc. Eating red meat is okay but no more than twice a week.
A majority of women in the U.S. gain more than the IOM (Institute of Medicine) weight gain guidelines – 25 lbs. if you are a normal weight 11-20 lbs. if you are overweight. Realize you are not eating for 2, you only need an additional 300 calories a day if you are starting your pregnancy at a normal weight. If you are over or underweight – working with a registered dietitian during pregnancy can be extremely helpful.
Some important tips to follow to ensure a healthy pregnancy:
- Exercise – You do not have to be a gym rat! Follow AHA (American Heart Association) guidelines – 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise. Target heart rate 60-80%. Women tend to overemphasize cardio while men tend to overemphasize strength. Everyone should get cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance in their exercise program.
- Stress less – Contrary to some popular beliefs, stress does NOT cause infertility but infertility does cause stress. Exercise, meditation, therapy, and acupuncture can be helpful to reduce stress levels. Most people will be successful with treatment so it is important to figure out what method or combination of methods work best for you. Herbs are NOT recommended.
- Sleep – Have a goal of 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. There have been increased associations of diabetes and obesity for those who get 6 hours of sleep or less per night on a chronic basis.
- Take your vitamins – Folic acid supplementation prior to and during pregnancy can reduce the risks of neural tube defects in your offspring by as much as 70%. Other benefits may include decreased risk of pre-eclampsia, miscarriage, low birthweight, stillbirth, and autism in children. Make sure you have sufficient Vitamin D and iron levels both pre-conception and during pregnancy.
- See the Doctor – Do not suffer in silence! Take charge and find a doctor you like. Resolve.org can help you find a good reproductive endocrinologist in your area. Most people who seek treatment will eventually succeed – treatments today are extremely successful but often require more than one attempt – persistence really does pay off.
We know it may seem like every magazine cover you see warns you to stop eating refined carbs and lose weight, but there is solid research recently published to back-up why a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight prior to conception and during pregnancy can significantly impact your fertility and ultimately your goal of having a healthy baby.
Focusing on healthy eating can only be of benefit to you. If you can’t eliminate refined carbs from your diet, work on reducing them. Seek to increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and fish while you reduce your intake of both red and processed meats. The food you surround yourself with in terms of how you stock your kitchen can make all the difference. Keep whole fruits in bowls at your fingertips so you can easily grab that piece of fruit when you need a snack. These can be minor adjustments to your daily eating regimen. Focus on setting yourself up for SUCCESS!!!