Lifestyle changes have become synonymous with pregnancy as it is not unusual for expecting mothers to develop a renewed motivation to want to look after their bodies and baby.
The recommendations for most lifestyle changes are based on the fact that they are usually aspects of our lives that we have some control over, and can make conscious decisions to avoid.
Visit the next slides for recommendations on lifestyle changes...
As a well-balanced diet during pregnancy can help ensure both your health and baby’s, some lifestyle changes might be essential when it comes to your diet.
- Take time to consult our Pregnancy Diet and Diet Throughout Breastfeeding articles
- If you are a vegetarian or have special nutritional needs, discuss your diet with your healthcare professional.
- Eating well is important for your oral health. Have dental check-ups before, during and after your pregnancy.
Change some lifestyle habits
Making positive lifestyle changes like giving up some much loved vices will assist your body to nurture your new baby, as well as minimize their chances of developing birth defects and/or being unwell after the birth.
Always discuss with your healthcare professional what is right for you.
Limit the amount of coffee, strong tea and soft drinks you consume. As an alternative, satisfy your thirst with plenty of fluids every day, including water, fruit juice and milk.
If you smoke, QUIT!:
If you are a smoker, the best time to quit is when you are planning your pregnancy, but it is never too late to make this lifestyle change. Consult your physician or healthcare professional about the ways to quit that are most appropriate while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Avoid second-hand smoke. Make your home and your car a smoke-free environment. Ask people to refrain from smoking in your presence.
If you have a drink every so often, some lifestyle changes are absolutely necessary. Studies have shown that consuming even one alcoholic drink per week during pregnancy can have an adverse effect on a developing baby, and heavier drinking can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, the only preventable cause of mental retardation.
Refrain from alcohol while planning and during your pregnancy. There is no alcohol level that is known to be safe to drink when you are pregnant. You should also refrain from alcohol while breastfeeding as it easily passes into the breastmilk.
Resources: The Use of Alcohol in Pregnancy (The CDC)
Be active and take time to relax
With your healthcare professional's guidance, make sure to remain active during your pregnancy. You'll feel better and have more energy. And physical activity can help maintain your muscle tone and strength for labor and birth.
There are many types of physical activity and exercise, ranging from mild stretching to aerobic exercise. If you are already involved in daily physical activities, there’s no need for radical lifestyle changes. If not, now is the perfect time to make some lifestyle changes that will keep you doing something on a regular basis. Daily activities like walking up stairs, cleaning the house, and gardening are also good ways to keep active.
Remember to play it safe:
- Talk to your physician or healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program or making adjustments.
- Don't get overheated. High internal body temperature (over 100ºF) can cause birth defects in the first trimester. Hot tubs and saunas can be dangerous.
- Avoid potentially risky activities such as horseback riding, rollerblading, skiing (snow or water), scuba diving, and exercising at high altitudes.
- Don't push yourself too hard. Physical activity shouldn't hurt.
- Allocate time to relax and rest when you need it. Accept help from family and friends.
Share your thoughts and feelings
You may need to consider to make some lifestyle changes if you aren’t used to communicating your needs and feelings. Pregnancy hormones affect your mood. Whenever you are worried, upset, sad or anxious, sharing your feelings can help. Your emotional health is very important.
Seek healthcare professional advice
- Request medical advice from your physician or healthcare professional if you experience nausea and vomiting; heartburn; constipation; hemorrhoids; involuntary leakage of urine while coughing, sneezing, and laughing, or during heavy exercises.
- Consult your physician or healthcare professional for advice on the use of medications while planning a pregnancy, throughout pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
- You can also consult mothertobaby.org for information about the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.