A healthy lifestyle could mean a healthier pregnancy

December 11, 2013 12:00 AM by

Chances are, you'd do anything to ensure that you have a healthy, happy pregnancy that ends with the delivery of a healthy child. While you can't change certain aspects of your life or human nature that might impact your ability to achieve this goal, there might be one thing you can do for yourself and your unborn child to increase your chances of having zero complications. A new study has found that living a healthier lifestyle before pregnancy can improve your odds of a complication-free pregnancy.

Researchers from the Women's Health Academic Center of King's College London analyzed data from more than 5,600 women in England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand in an effort to zero in on lifestyle factors that were associated with complication-free pregnancies. They found that healthy habits like eating fruit, having a healthy weight, having lower blood pressure, having a job and stopping drug and alcohol abuse were all some of the best natural pregnancy tips to decrease the risks of pregnancy complications. These are all factors that are part of a healthy overall lifestyle.

If you're eager to get your lifestyle back on track before you start trying to conceive or after you've already found out you're pregnant, here are some helpful tips to help you meet your goals.

Eat right
The first step to a healthier life is eating a better-for-you diet. The best diets are balanced with proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. You can get protein from fish, meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, nuts and beans, while fat (the good kind) can be found in animal and dairy products, nuts, and oils like olive or coconut oil. Carbs can be obtained from fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans and other types of legumes. Vitamins and minerals are found in all of the above, and you'll want to pay particular attention to vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Calcium, potassium and iron are important minerals. Take a prenatal vitamin to ensure that you're getting what you need on top of your regular intake while you're trying to conceive and while you're pregnant.

Exercise
Working out is crucial to maintain a healthy weight, and it doesn't have to be a strict regimen of gym workouts. Make it more exciting by taking classes in fun activities like yoga, Pilates, spinning or Zumba. Thirty minutes of moderate activity five times a week is enough to keep your weight in check, and if you do more strenuous workouts (don't push yourself too hard during exercise while pregnant!) that time can be even less. You should also aim to do some muscle-strengthening exercises two days a week. This will ensure that your muscles and bones are strong enough to support the extra weight you'll put on while you're pregnant. Talk to your doctor to figure out which types of activities are safe to do while you're expecting.

Keep your blood pressure in check
If you're eating right and exercising, your blood pressure levels should start dropping on their own. You can also help keep your blood pressure in check by limiting the amount of sodium that you eat to 2,300 milligrams a day or less. Limiting alcohol and caffeine is also an important step, as is steering clear of cigarettes. Keeping your stress levels low is also crucial to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Keep working
If you have a career, it's healthy for you to keep working during your pregnancy. The study found that working at 15 weeks into pregnancy was one factor that helped women reduce their complication risks. Depending on your job, you may have to make some adjustments to the way you do things, especially if you work in a field where physical labor is part of your daily routine. Talk to your boss when you feel it's appropriate and figure out if there are any changes that may need to be made while you're pregnant. You should be able to be accommodated. Then, speak with your health care provider about when's the best time to stop working.

Steer clear of drugs and alcohol
Drug abuse and excessive alcohol consumption aren't part of a healthy lifestyle, and if you're pregnant, these habits can have serious impacts on your pregnancy. Whether you're trying to have a baby or just found out that you're expecting, you should stop using illicit substances, quit smoking and limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Not only can this help reduce your blood pressure and save your body from a variety of ailments, but it can ensure that your body is a safe, healthy place for your baby to grow.

All of these steps can help you avoid pregnancy complications like low birth weight, high blood pressure, preterm birth and preeclampsia. And it's a good idea to keep them up even while you're not getting ready for baby to ensure a healthy life down the road!

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