Pregnancy is an incredible time when a woman’s body undergoes some dramatic changes to house a new life growing in her womb. While you’re probably focused on your growing baby, it’s important to prioritise your own wellbeing during this time. Here are four great ways to practice self-care during pregnancy:
1. Get Moving
During the first trimester it is normal to feel tired as your body is growing a human, but exercise is an excellent tool as it releases endorphins in the body to make you feel good. The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommends that pregnant women undertake around 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. If your current activity levels are minimal, start slow and build it up. Examples of safe activities include walking, swimming, antenatal exercise classes, and light to moderate resistance exercises. These guidelines are in absence of any medical or obstetric complications. Research has shown that physical activity can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes complications, preeclampsia, preterm birth, excessive gestational weight gain, and improve insulin sensitivity (Sytsma et al, 2018).
2. Eat Low GI foods
There has never been a more important time to eat well than during pregnancy. Reaching for those quick, unhealthy, sugary snacks might seem the easy option for boosting your energy levels, but you will find that these processed snack foods actually cause you to feel worse rather than better once the sugar-hit wears off. Choosing low GI (glycemic index) foods will ensure you have more sustained energy throughout the day and keep your blood sugar levels in check too. This will help also help a great deal if you already have toddlers or kids to look after or have a physically demanding job. Examples of healthy plant-based foods to consume include:
- Fresh fruit
- Lentil soup
- Hummus toast
- Black bean burritos
- Nutritious smoothies
- Peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread
- Fresh strawberries with almond butter
- Organic coconut yogurt with pepitas.
It's recommended to drink 8-10 glasses per day and more if thirsty, especially if you are experiencing vomiting to replenish lost fluids. Teas, juices and non-alcoholic beverages also count towards your fluid intake.
4. Take time for you
A healthy mum means a healthy baby. Take the time to relax by taking a power nap or a warm bath, have lunch with a friend or a date night with your partner. Stress can lead to an increased risk of pregnancy complications so spending that time caring for your mental health is important (Wakeel et al, 2013).