A healthy baby starts with a healthy mom
Whether you’re trying to conceive, you’re already pregnant or you want to set a good example to your child, here are a few pointers towards becoming the healthiest mom you can be.
Get to know your healthcare professionals
Visit your GP before you start trying to conceive. Together you can review your medical history, any current medication and discuss any potential issues that may affect you during pregnancy or motherhood. With a clean bill of health or a plan for the future you will be able to relax, which is a great boost for baby-making!
When you are pregnant, appointments take place at regular intervals from around three months onwards. Your GP or midwife will monitor your pregnancy and provide a friendly source of information.
After your baby arrives, your health visitor will become a lifeline of help and reassurance. Make sure you and your little one attend all scheduled appointments and immunisations to give you both the best start possible.
Diet and exercise
Ideally your weight should fall within healthy limits; being over- or under-weight can interfere with conception. However, pre-pregnancy is not the time to diet or binge – you should eat a properly balanced diet and keep hydrated. Cut down on cakes, biscuits, crisps, chocolate, fried food and fizzy drinks, and exercise regularly. Providing you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoid excessive red or fatty meat, your diet should be healthy enough, but it might be worth taking a vitamin supplement especially designed for pregnant and new mothers.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding steer clear of raw or undercooked animal foods (including rare meats, raw eggs or seafood) as these can contain bacteria, parasites and viruses harmful to your developing baby. Unpasteurised dairy foods such as blue-veined cheeses and certain luncheon meats can carry a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth or other serious complications.
Once your baby is born it is your job to educate him in the importance of diet and exercise – lead by example and introduce healthy foods and plenty of movement into your everyday life together.
Stop smoking, cut caffeine and alcohol consumption
As well as being extremely bad for you, smoking has a proven negative effect on fertility and can stunt your unborn baby’s growth, so take all measures necessary to quit. Cut down to just one or two cups of coffee or tea per day and reduce alcohol intake if yours is overly high. Once breastfeeding finishes, try to keep your vices to a minimum to ensure your on-going health.
Avoid illness where possible
Illness can throw off your cycle pre-conception and the last thing you need during pregnancy is to catch something unpleasant. Maintain high hygiene levels and stay away from sick people when possible. Of course, once your child starts a regular playgroup or school you have absolutely zero chance of avoiding the bugs, so boost both your immune systems with foods rich in vitamin C and maintain all the good dietary habits learned during pregnancy.
Get enough sleep… while you still can!
Disturbed sleep patterns can alter your menstrual cycle, so it is important to get enough shuteye when you are planning a pregnancy. After conception rest frequently, while your body works hard to care for the growing baby inside.
Once your baby is born, sleep will become your most treasured commodity; seize any opportunity to catnap so that you will have enough energy to look after you both.