5 ways to a healthy pregnancy

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An easy pregnancy that results in a healthy baby: that's the dream.

While there's no guarantee that this will be your experience, there are definitely some things you can do to make it more likely.

Yes, we all want the best for our unborn babies, and this is a great time to start looking after yourself and your baby as much as possible. Here are five ideas for achieving that.

Make time for gentle exercise

Research shows that fewer than 30 per cent of Australian pregnant women meet the national pregnancy exercise guidelines.

That means that most mums-to-be are missing out on the benefits of exercise, including a decreased risk of pregnancy complications, faster recovery from labour, stress relief and easing any back or pelvic pain.

So what type of exercise can you do while pregnant?

Moderate exercise is considered not just safe during pregnancy, but essential for most expectant mums. That might mean walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or strength training, or if you're experienced in another exercise or sport it's often safe to continue well into your pregnancy. When in doubt, always ask your doctor.


Keep up a healthy diet

While eating for two isn't necessary (unfortunately!), getting more nutrients into your diet is really important.

Some of the most crucial nutrients during pregnancy include iron, folate, vitamin D and omega-3s, specifically DHA.

Eating a variety of healthy foods is considered the best approach to keeping up these dietary needs for yourself and your baby. It's particularly important to eat from these food groups: vegetables and legumes, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and fish, and dairy.

Your diet might not be perfect, so try your best and do what you can.

Supplement responsibly

Omega-3s DHA helps support a healthy pregnancy.

Omega-3 DHA is shown to help the development of babies' brains and eyes, and a study in Australia has shown that omega-3 DHA supplementation during pregnancy resulted in lower early premature births contributing to a reduction in in-patient hospital costs.

These positive effects even continue into your baby's life in the outside world: studies have shown that babies whose mothers had high DHA at birth have greater attention spans, suggesting an enhanced cognitive development

"DHA is perhaps the most important of the omega-3s as it helps to support brain and eye development and function throughout life," explains Melanie McGrice, accredited practising dietitian (APD).

It takes approximately two to three servings of oily fish (not fish with high levels of mercury) per week to get your full requirement during pregnancy. For many of us, that amount of seafood just isn't possible – only 10 per cent of Australian women of childbearing age meet the recommended DHA intake.

That's where supplements with a vegetarian source of DHA, such as life'sDHA, play an important role in helping to support an unborn baby's development.

"For mothers who don't fancy eating fish every day, supplements with algal DHA are available. Look for the life'sDHA logo on product labels to know you are getting a high-quality vegetarian source," continued McGrice.

Mothers-to-be should also ensure they are taking folic acid or a multivitamin tailored to pregnant women on top of a normal and healthy balanced diet.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential in pregnancy. Water helps your body absorb nutrients into the cells, which are then transported to your growing baby.

We live in a country where it is hot a lot of the time, so take the stress out of hydration by keeping a bottle of cool, refreshing water with you at all times, and taking regular short sips. You should get through around 1.5 litres per day.

To make water more interesting, add a slice of lemon or cucumber to your glass.

Pamper yourself

Growing a baby is tiring, so this is the time to practise some self-care.

From the basics like regular prenatal health care, through to some lovely indulgences like a pregnancy massage or a fun babymoon holiday, take the time to make sure you're the number one priority.

Your pampering can even be as little as taking a few minutes to read a great book in the evening, or going out for a cuppa with your partner.

After all, it's the little things that make your pregnancy wonderful and healthy.

Melanie McGrice APD is an expert content contributor compensated by life'sDHA.

Find out more at www.lifesdha.com.