What does a pregnancy entail?
After the fertilization of the egg by the sperm, a process begins that lasts about forty weeks: the fertilized egg nests in the mother’s uterus where, little by little, it is transformed into an embryo and, later, into a fetus. During these nine months, the umbilical cord and the placenta unite the fetus with its mother, whose body changes in parallel with the development of her child.
For this reason, it is advisable to prepare and incorporate certain measures regarding feeding, sleeping, exercise or other daily habits in order to give the maximum guarantee that the pregnancy will reach a good term.
In any case, the gynecologist or midwife will always be the professionals in charge of addressing, along with the mother-to-be, the healthy lifestyle she should follow.
What should nutrition be like during pregnancy?
At any stage of life it is important to eat in a balanced way, and more so at the time of pregnancy, as it will increase the vitality of the pregnant woman, mitigate the typical discomfort and result in the good development of the fetus. Therefore, the most important thing is to maintain a varied diet that includes all the basic nutrients. Specifically: an abundant consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain cereals and nuts; moderate intake of dairy products, fish, eggs and meat; olive oil as the main fat; abundant hydration; little salt; and control in the consumption of exciting drinks such as coffee, tea and cola.
Likewise, it is very important to cook food in an adequate way, to take care of hygiene when handling it and to eat it well done. You cannot eat raw or poorly made meat, fish or eggs; sausages and poorly cured cheeses, cured ham or pâtés; dairy products and unpasteurized cheese; you must wash fruits and vegetables well before consuming them, and take special care with fish and seafood.
Finally, we should know that pregnancy does not mean that women eat for two, as is often said; not even that they eat more, but that they eat more often. In general, it is advisable that the future mother puts on between nine and twelve kilos at this stage; half of them correspond to the baby, the amniotic fluid and the placenta.
Can you exercise during pregnancy?
Not only can you, but it is very beneficial to practice moderate physical exercise during pregnancy, as long as there are no contraindications. All sports activities that do not involve sudden movements or great physical effort are highly recommended, as they improve muscle tone, facilitate digestion, improve circulation and prevent excessive weight gain by the woman.
For example, one can swim or walk for half an hour a day. Specific exercises for the neck, shoulders, legs and pectorals can also be performed to relax muscle tension and prepare the body for childbirth. In addition, there are centers where Pilates and yoga classes are taught specifically for pregnant women.
What habits are harmful?
There is no amount of alcohol or any type of alcoholic beverage that can be considered safe during pregnancy, so the best thing to do at this stage is to stop drinking it completely. The alcohol consumed by the mother reaches the baby through the placenta and there is a risk that it may weigh less at birth, grow more slowly or have congenital problems, in addition to causing problems to the development of the pregnancy.
On the other hand, smoking at this stage is very dangerous for the fetus, which is exposed to the action of more than seven thousand toxic substances. Therefore, this is a good time for the mother to stop smoking. In addition, she should stay away from smoke-laden environments.
Finally, it is unnecessary to indicate that the consumption of drugs during pregnancy can also seriously harm the mother and the baby. Therefore, under no circumstances should substances of this type be taken, even occasionally.
Tips for a healthy pregnancy
During pregnancy, you can continue to lead a normal life. You should only take into account a series of recommendations that will minimize the risks and allow you to enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy:
See a doctor to follow up on your pregnancy.
Doctors, nurses and midwives will give you the necessary tests and exams to regularly monitor your health and that of your baby. This follow-up is especially important if you have a previous condition. Also, if during your pregnancy you contract a disease or feel sick, consult your doctor before taking any medication, as it may be contraindicated in your condition.
Eat more often, but not more.
It is not true that a pregnant woman should eat for two. In fact, it is not recommended that you gain more than 13 kilos during pregnancy. What you should do is eat more times throughout the day; eat a more complete, varied and balanced diet to guarantee your health and cover the extra energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates the baby demands; and, to avoid the heavy digestions, frequent in this state, chew your food well.
Follow a varied and balanced diet.
In order for you and your baby to receive all the nutrients you need, you should eat foods from all groups that contain protein (lean meats, fish, eggs and vegetables, and cereals and their derivatives -bread, pasta and rice- if possible, whole grains); vitamins and minerals (fruits and vegetables); and calcium (low-fat dairy products and derivatives).
Cook food well and avoid raw or poorly cured foods such as sausages and ham. From the second half of the gestation, the energy needs will increase between 250 and 300 extra calories per day. Sometimes, supplements of folic acid and/or iron may be necessary.
During pregnancy it is necessary to increase daily fluid intake by 0.5 to 1 liter due to the expansion of plasma volume and the fact that 90% of breast milk is water. Therefore, drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, juice or broth. A good indicator that you are drinking enough liquid is that your urine is light in color. Conversely, it reduces the consumption of tea and coffee, as well as carbonated drinks, which can also hinder digestion.
Do not drink alcohol or smoke.
Both are highly harmful to you and your baby’s health, as they increase the risk of complications such as premature births or malformations. Remember that alcohol and drugs pass directly to your child through the placenta.
Take care of your skin.
Hydrate it every day with hypoallergenic lotions and use anti-stretch mark creams in those areas where the skin stretches more during pregnancy, such as the belly and breasts. During pregnancy there is a greater risk of skin spots appearing, so use a photo-protective cream every day when you go out. Remember that if spots appear on your face, you cannot use depigmentants until after pregnancy.
Wear comfortable clothes.
You will appreciate wearing loose fitting clothes and low, wide-based shoes. The ideal height for heels is three or four centimeters. Your underwear should be made of cotton and you should wear a suitable bra, without underwires, adapted to the volume of your breasts at each moment of pregnancy. If you suffer from tired or swollen legs, you can also resort to compression stockings that encourage venous return, prevent varicose veins and relieve the heaviness in this area.
Do moderate physical exercise.
As long as it is gentle and does not involve excessive effort. For example, you can go for a walk for half an hour every day or go swimming. Also watch your posture throughout the day, so that your back, which will curve during pregnancy, suffers as little as possible.
Sleep eight hours a day.
During pregnancy, it’s more important than ever to follow a proper sleep routine, because the mother usually feels more tired, especially at the beginning. In addition, it is common to suffer episodes of insomnia or take time to find a good position to sleep, especially when the pregnancy is more advanced. If necessary, take a nap and take short breaks during the day. And, at this time of year more than ever, choose a mattress and pillow that allow you to rest properly.
Enjoy your sexuality without fear.
Although sexual desire may vary throughout pregnancy, you can continue to have normal relations throughout the pregnancy, unless there are any contraindications. Try to adopt only positions that are comfortable for you.