If there is ever a time to be concerned about your health, pregnancy is it. After all, the health of your body not only affects you, but also your unborn baby. That’s a pretty big responsibility! For many new moms, as soon as those pink lines show up, they begin to wonder what they can do to improve their pregnancy health.
Of course, it’s always good to try to have the best health that you are able. But when you’re pregnant, there’s certainly more pressure to do so. After all, the condition of your own body will inevitably affect your baby as well. And sometimes, the affects can last long after birth.
However, despite our best intentions, it can be overwhelming to maintain good pregnancy health. After all, there are so many restrictions and things to watch out for while you’re pregnant. Don’t worry. Despite the restrictions and complications, there are actually a lot of easy ways to improve your health while pregnant.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here. I am not a medical professional, and this is not medical advice.
Your Pregnancy Health: Does it matter?
You may find yourself wondering if you need to be careful about your prenatal health. After all, your baby is snug inside your womb—isn’t baby safe from everything in there? Yes, and no.
While your baby is protected from much, and is probably the safest they will ever be, you still need to be aware of your health. Being careless, such as exercising unsafely during pregnancy or eating unsafe foods, can lead to serious consequences. It’s important to know what’s safe while pregnant, and what’s not.
You also have to keep in mind that your baby is literally getting all its nutrition from you. Your placenta is an organ that is grown when you become pregnant, and through it your baby is fed, as well as it’s blood filtered and numerous other functions.
But if you’re not feeding yourself well and providing the good nutrition to yourself, your baby won’t be able to obtain the proper nutrition. If that goes on long term, your baby can have developmental problems from a lack of nutrients.
And this doesn’t just affect your baby. Failing to keep up with your health and provide enough nutrients can ultimately have a negative affect on your own health, as your body tries to share insufficient resources between both you and your baby.
All that to say, your health is very important while you’re pregnant!
Things You Should Do To Improve Your Pregnancy Health
Now that we know that your pregnancy health matters, what can you do to improve it?
Probably not the first thing you were expecting me to say, right? But in reality, your health starts with having a good understanding of your body, your baby, and both of your needs. So ask questions!
Ask questions at your first pregnancy appointment, and at every appointment after. Any time you don’t fully understand something, ask about it! And don’t be afraid to dig deep.
Often, doctors don’t go into a lot of detail because, honestly, many people don’t care enough to ask. Too many people fail to take ownership of their own health, and it shows. So don’t be afraid to ask, and keep asking until you understand. Once your doctor knows that you are interested in knowing and understanding, they are more likely to give you far more details.
Set up prenatal care & attend appointments
As soon as you find out that you’re pregnant, find a good doctor and set up your first pregnancy appointment. Having good prenatal care and attending all appointments is very important during pregnancy. Don’t be lax on this!
Regular prenatal appointments will help you know your baby is doing well. Your doctor will also be able to catch any complications that may arise, and treat them accordingly.
Advocate for yourself
This one goes right along with asking questions. It’s important for you to first know what’s going on with your health, and also to advocate for yourself.
I’m not going to tell you what health choices to make. I’m just telling you it’s extremely important to research things for yourself. Research, ask questions, and come to your own educated conclusions.
And if you decide you’re not comfortable with something your doctor wants you to do, advocate for yourself! Look into alternative solutions, and ask your doctor to come alongside you in making a decision. Remember, you are responsible for your own body, and you have the right to say no to anything.
For more on medical freedom and advocating for yourself, I highly recommend following @essentiallyerin_ on Instagram! A registered nurse, she’s big on promoting medical freedom and advocating for yourself.
Check with your insurance to find out what is or isn’t covered
I highly recommend you contact your insurance soon after you find out your pregnant. Find out exactly what is covered under your plan and what is not. This will not only save you money, but it may also help you improve your pregnancy health and help you prepare for your baby.
Obviously, knowing what’s covered will help you avoid procedures and medications that aren’t covered. But what many people don’t think about is that sometimes insurance covers things they didn’t even think about.
For example, some insurances may cover costs of postpartum care, breast pumps, birth classes, newborn classes, and much more! You may even discover that your insurance will pay for a car seat for your little one. It’s well worth the time to find out exactly what you qualify for and how to get it.
Take prenatal vitamins every day
This should go without saying, but be sure to take your prenatal vitamins every day! And honestly, it can be harder than you’d think. “Pregnancy brain,” or forgetfulness during pregnancy, is a real thing! It can make it difficult to remember to consistently do simple things like taking vitamins.
But those vitamins are extremely important for your pregnancy health. A good prenatal vitamin will help to ensure you and your baby have all the nutrients you need to stay in good health, and for your baby to develop properly.
Exercising is kind of a no-brainer in terms of health, but it can be hard when you’re expecting a baby. During the first trimester, fatigue often plagues new moms. I remember being so tired all the time. I’m pretty sure I just slept most of the day for those first few months.
But having the energy to exercise isn’t the only issue. You also need to be careful to not engage in activities that could potentially be harmful for your baby. Exercise that puts too much pressure on your core or increases your chances of falling should be avoided.
Here’s a few ideas of exercises that are generally safe while pregnant:
Of course, always check with your doctor first. Personally, I’m a big fan of Pilates, particularly with Robin Long at The Balanced Life. I love that her short workouts have such great results, and her mantra is always grace over guilt. And she has a great prenatal Pilates program!
Get plenty of rest
Resting may sound overly simple, but it’s often overlooked. Seriously, think about it. You’re literally building a baby inside of you. It’s going to take a lot out of you!
Take the time to get plenty of rest. Go to bed early, take naps when you’re tired in the day. Avoid overexerting yourself. It’s okay to say no to some things in order to get some more rest. Your body needs plenty of sleep and rest when you’re pregnant.
Remember to stay hydrated
Did you know that most of us don’t drink enough water on a daily basis? Too often we get caught up on all the busyness of life and neglect to do the most basic thing to take care of ourselves. Even though it can help us be better moms! It is incredibly important to drink sufficiently, and even more so while you’re expecting.
When you’re pregnant, you need extra water to stay hydrated and function well. While it will vary per person, you can expect to drink about 10 8-ounce glasses of water every day (source). Staying adequately hydrated will help prevent preterm labor, keep your body functioning well, and prevent a host of other complications.
Up calorie intake appropriately
One of the lines of thinking that so many of us get caught in is thinking that you need to eat a lot more than normal. In reality, your body probably needs fewer calories than you’re thinking. Even though you are filling both your nutritional needs and that of your baby, you are not “eating for two” in the sense that we tend to think.
In your first trimester, you actually don’t need to increase your calorie intake at all. It’s not until your second trimester that your calorie needs increase, and only by about 300. In your third trimester, you can expect to need around 450 extra calories (source).
What this really amounts to is an extra snack or two during the day. And since you’ll probably be eating smaller meals more frequently, it’s easily adjusted into your pregnancy lifestyle.
Eat nutrient dense foods & meals
Rather than focusing on how many calories you are eating, it’s better to instead focus on the nutrients in the food you consume. Think of it as quality over quantity. Center your attention on eating nutrient dense foods and well balanced meals.
If you’re struggling with this (or even if you’re not!), I highly recommend Leisel Teen’s Pregnancy Cookbook. It comes packed with 50+ meals and snacks specifically created with pregnancy in mind. Each recipe is healthy, easy to make, and a delicious way to eat well while pregnant.
The cookbook even comes with a meal plan and shopping list to make eating well even easier. Definitely check it out, and if you decide to grab it, you can use the code MOMCORNER to get 10% off!
Listen to your body
Can I talk candidly with you for a minute? We live in a culture that teaches us to ignore what our bodies tell us in favor of forcing the “ideal” image. Whether it’s eating a certain way, or trying to stay fit and thin, or working until we’re ready to drop, we aren’t taught to listen to our bodies.
And when you become pregnant, you’ll likely find that many in the medical field treat your body as if it wasn’t made to handle childbirth. May I set the record straight? You were made for this. Bearing children and giving birth is a natural thing that your body was created to do. Trust that.
Take the time to learn to listen to your body. Trust that it knows what it’s doing—and that it will let you know when something is wrong. One of the greatest things you can do to improve your pregnancy health is to learn to listen to your own body.
Is it tired? Rest. Is it craving a particular kind of food? It’s probably letting you know you need more of a certain nutrient. Does something just not feel right? Get it checked out. God created your body to steer you in the right direction—learn to listen to it.
Care for your mental health
I feel like there’s been a lot of talk about mental health lately, but it still doesn’t seem to be taken seriously. Girl, your mental health is important, too. Take time to relax it and recharge yourself. Practice some pregnancy self care. Do what you need to do to be in a good mental and emotional place.
Also be aware that prenatal depression and anxiety is a real thing, too. We’re often warned about postnatal depression and anxiety, and the signs and symptoms to watch out for after childbirth.
But did you know that it can show up even before you’ve had your baby? If you feel consistently depressed during your pregnancy, be sure to bring it up with your provider.
Research future decisions ahead of time
I think a lot of times we end up making rash medical and health decisions because we didn’t know the decision was coming up. I know from personal experience there were several appointments I went to not knowing I was going to be asked to make a big decision. Or worse, told to do something without being fully informed on it.
When that happens, I think we often just go with whatever we’re told to do. Because we don’t really know what else to do, or that there’s even the option to do something different. Too often we’re made to feel pressured to decide right then, instead of being given the time to become informed.
The best way to combat this is to always be researching ahead of time. At each appointment, ask when to expect from the next one. That way you have the time to learn about anything you may have questions on.
Download a pregnancy app
Alright, this one may seem a little odd to you. But downloading a pregnancy app can actually help you keep up with your own pregnancy health and wellness.
When I was pregnant, I used the What To Expect app, and loved it. Every week, besides the normal information on how big baby was, it also sent me articles to read relative to how far along I was. It also sent me articles on upcoming things like big appointments or sonograms. It was very helpful in keeping me informed without overloading me with information.
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
Pregnancy can be so exciting, but also a bit daunting when you realize you’re responsible for both your own body and your baby’s. But, with these tips, you’ll be well on your way improving your pregnancy health and keeping baby growing properly. Leave a comment below and tell me what you find most daunting about handling your own prenatal health and well being!