Pregnancy is such an exciting and special time in a woman’s life as she watches the way her body changes and grows to accommodate her unborn baby. Keeping active in conjunction with nutritional support can help you to make the best of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy fitness and health
How exciting – you’re pregnant! There’s never been a better time to look after yourself, so you can really sit back and enjoy your pregnancy while making plans to welcome your new baby. Staying physically fit and active in conjunction with healthy nutritional support will keep both you and your baby in tip top shape.
Keeping physically fit and active during pregnancy offers many health benefits, such as improving physical and mental wellbeing while helping you to maintain a healthy weight. Healthy pregnant women should participate in some form of aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises to a point where they can still carry on a conversation without being breathless. Make sure you warm up, cool down and only exercise within your comfort zone; just make sure you don’t overdo it. Depending on your level of fitness, physical activities to enjoy include yoga, swimming, walking, light jogging, aqua aerobics, cycling or specialised pregnancy exercise classes.
During pregnancy your dietary requirements increase to support not only your health, but also that of your developing baby. Eating a wide variety of unprocessed foods is a good place to start, and taking a specialised pregnancy multivitamin provides a broad-spectrum of important nutrients. In theory, a healthy nutritious diet should provide you with all the nutrients you need while pregnant, but there are some vitamins and minerals that are especially important during pregnancy:
Folic acid & vitamin B12
Folic acid, if taken daily for one month before conception and during pregnancy, may reduce the risk of women having a child with birth defects of the brain and/or spinal cord, such as the neural tube defects known as spina bifida and anencephaly. Folic acid and vitamin B12 are important for DNA replication, cell division and growth, and are necessary for the production of red blood cells and to maintain normal blood in healthy individuals. See Pregnancy Plus 1-2-3 here.
Dietary iodine deficiency is re-emerging as a significant problem in Australia and New Zealand and recent research has identified Australian pregnant women to be at risk of iodine deficiency. Iodine requirements are increased during pregnancy and adequate maternal iodine levels are important for healthy brain development. To meet the increased demands of pregnancy, it is recommended that iodine supplementation be taken prior to trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. See Pregnancy Plus 1-2-3 here.
Choline plays a key role in foetal development and is required for the healthy development of the brain and nervous system during pregnancy. See Pregnancy Plus 1-2-3 here.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Fish oil provides a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Increasing omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy may be beneficial to both mother and child and sufficient levels during pregnancy are required for normal development of the baby. DHA in particular is important during pregnancy for healthy brain, eye and vision development. See Omega-3 Concentrate here.
Birth preparation with Raspberry leaf
Raspberry leaf has been traditionally used as a women’s tonic and is taken during the third trimester of pregnancy to prepare the uterus for labour and to facilitate childbirth. See Raspberry Leaf here.