Tips to look after yourself during pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an amazing time, but it also comes with some huge changes. Take a look at a few ways that you can look after yourself, and in turn look after your unborn baby.

Pregnancy is a miraculous time. Your body takes over and grows a human being and the process is largely out of your control. 
 
That said, taking care of yourself is incredibly important during this precious time, as every day your body is running a ‘marathon’. Hormones run riot and you may have excess energy, or perhaps you’re completely exhausted.
 
Here are a few ways you can look after yourself, and your growing baby, during pregnancy.

Rest

Try to get plenty of rest. During the first and third trimesters you are likely to be more tired than usual and rest is important for your body. Try to get to bed early, or have naps when possible.
 
Even taking a ten-minute time out to sit quietly can be helpful in giving you a little time to recharge your batteries before powering on.

Exercise

Exercise is as important during pregnancy as it is the rest of the time.

“Some benefits of regular exercise include strengthening your muscles, which can help you cope better with pregnancy aches and pains,” tells Yummy Mummy’s personal trainer, Yasmin Tselepis.  

“Something as easy as stretching can ease back and leg pain. Walking and most low impact exercises will help improve your circulation, while swimming can help strengthen your abdominal muscles. My mantra during my pregnancies was if it's good for me, it's good for my baby.”

“Pregnant women should avoid high impact exercises and all contact sports. This is a time when your body is going through some very significant changes and as such needs to be treated with exercises specifically with your baby bump in mind.”

Blue Room - Bupa - Pregnant woman doing yoga

Practice "self care"

This is a particularly tricky one for many mums, but it is necessary that mums take care of themselves first in order to take care of others. This begins during pregnancy, suggests From The Leftfield’s psychologist, Dr. Sasha Lynn.

“It’s important to ‘start off on the right foot’ so to speak. Great self-care habits that you develop while pregnant can follow on once baby is here. It helps to keep things in balance, and can be great to prepare for birth,” says Dr. Lynn.

Taking time to do things you enjoy and having time out for yourself, are great practices to get in to before the new baby comes. 

To support you, Bupa has developed a new web tool called mummatters. This handy resource lets you check in on your emotional wellbeing. It’s free and confidential and helps you get a better sense of how you’re going.

Nourishment

It takes a lot of work to grow a baby, so it’s important to fuel your machine with a healthy balanced diet. Some women only want hot chips or mashed potato on pasta. It’s ok to give in to most cravings, provided it’s only part of what you’re eating.

“Your baby needs nutrients to grow, and the baby gets them straight from the mother’s diet. During pregnancy, you have increased nutritional requirements- especially for protein, calcium, iron and folate,” says dietitian Rosalyn D’Angelo.

Protein builds new tissue, iron and folate is used in the formation of red blood cells, while calcium is needed for forming strong bones and teeth.

Don’t fall into the trap of “eating for two,” one of you is only very tiny and doesn’t need much – it’s about quality nutrients, not quantity. 

“It is best to get a little bit of extra fuel from more serves of wholegrains or proteins. Additional ‘junk food’ won’t give your baby what it really needs,” tells Rosalyn.

Bupa mummatters

Manage stress

Everyone needs to be managing their stress, but during pregnancy it’s especially important as stress can have physiological repercussions as well as psychological ones.

“Stress can affect your blood pressure, and may bring on false labour,” tells midwife, Anita Lane. “Stress can also affect blood sugar levels so knowing how to relax and embrace the normal things in pregnancy is important.”

Things such as exercise, meditation, and communicating your fears can help alleviate stress.

Ask questions

Knowledge is power and although we are programmed biologically to bear children, that doesn’t mean we automatically know everything we need to. Understanding the process, what each test is for, and what to expect can help alleviate some of the worries you may have.

“Asking questions opens up a discussion with your midwife who can give you advice and help you find more reliable resources for your research as Dr. Google isn't always helpful,” says Anita. 

“Doing your research in early pregnancy or prior to getting pregnant can make the world of difference. What care options are available to me where I live? What is important to me during pregnancy and labour? Pre-natal education is important.”
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