10 Tips For Optimum Health During Pregnancy

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
9:00 am
10/04/17

ILLUSTRATION BY ALESSANDRA OLANOW

Staying committed to your best health is a tough routine for anyone. Add pregnancy to the equation, and it might feel nothing short of impossible. Don’t lose hope, mamas! While each individual (and each pregnancy) is different, there are a few simple acts that any mom-to-be (no matter what trimester) can follow to ensure they’re on a path toward feeling like their best self. Below, seasoned SoulCycle instructor and mama of one, Natalia Millan, shares 10 tips that helped her to stay feeling good and healthy during her pregnancy.

Listen to your body
“One of the most important things one can do is listen to their body. For me, I knew I was pregnant before I went to the doctor, or even took a pregnancy test; my body just felt different. Through my first trimester I had to modify the way I taught. My stamina was gone. I was out of breath from walking down the block. Knowing when to push myself and when to slow down has been a tricky, but very important balance to find. I try to sleep when I feel tired, eat when I’m hungry, and slow down when something feels off.”

When in doubt, talk to your doctor!
“I think it’s great to be informed about your pregnancy, and all the changes your body goes through. However, any time you feel like something is off, I highly recommend consulting your doctor, rather than turning to the Internet. The Internet can be full of scary stories and information that could stress you out for no reason.”

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
“I was super thirsty at the start of my pregnancy. It felt like I had not had water in years! All I did was chug water for two months straight. I have since tried very hard to keep this habit up. My rule of thumb is to drink enough water, so that when I go to the bathroom, I can tell the difference in the toilet bowl—apologies for the visual”

Give yourself a break
“I struggled to accept that pregnant me wasn’t going to be as productive. I felt guilty for napping during the day, and not doing as much as I used to. I have to constantly remind myself that my body is working extra hard to produce another human, and that it is ok to be tired, and not accomplish as much as I would normally, especially during the first trimester.”

Try to stick to your routine
“I do not always feel like working out, but I have committed to at least one workout a day, six times per week. I have yet to encounter one time when I have regretted sticking to my commitment to myself. Working out makes me feel better. It makes me feel like I am still myself. The two things I try to avoid are overheating and becoming too out of breath. My doctor encouraged me to workout as much as I wanted, since I already had an active routine, and my body felt good doing it. I always make sure to hydrate and replenish pre- and post-workout. Small meals or snacks and a lot of water are crucial for me before and after workouts.”

Keep it simple
“The first few weeks I was so overwhelmed with responsibility as a pregnant woman. I was always researching what to eat and what to avoid, how much sleep to get, and what changes to expect in my body. After talking to my doctor and nutritionist, and receiving some basic guidelines, I tried to keep things as ‘normal’ as I could. Just because I am pregnant doesn’t mean I have to change my whole life.”

Take your vitamins
“This has been my biggest lifesaver. I have found food aversions to be my biggest enemy throughout this pregnancy. My diet was quickly stripped of foods I would eat on a daily basis, and even the thought of them could make me nauseous. I was worried that I would not be able to provide my baby with all the nutrients and vitamins required for her to grow, but found that taking good prenatal vitamins could help with this worry of mine.”

Give yourself a break
“Food has been my best and worst friend so far. I ate normally until the second month, and then it was a constant struggle. For the following two months, I ate like a five-year-old. My diet consisted of cereal, berries, grilled cheese, rice, and crackers—all bland foods without much nutrition, and high on calories. But, like I said before, I gave myself a break. I made sure to take my vitamins every day, and ate what I felt like eating when I felt like eating it. Now that I am in my fifth month, most food aversions are starting to wear off, and I am starting to reintroduce some of the foods I took a disliking to.”

Have a plan but be willing to leave it behind
“I have all these expectations of what I want to do throughout my pregnancy and the delivery, but I have found that it is important to know what you want, but be flexible and not get discouraged if plan A turns into plan B. I want to be as active as I can for a long as I can, but I am also preparing myself to be ok with not being able to do that if something happens. I have had five months to realize that my body is not really mine at the moment, and so I have to prioritize the needs of this little nugget inside me. I wanted to eat even healthier than I had been eating before my pregnancy, but that was difficult. So, instead I kept finding foods that were appealing without worrying too much that I was not eating fruit and veggies.”

Relax!
“Stress is a slippery slope that will lead you nowhere good. Do things that relax you, and spend time with people that will help you decompress. Meditate, pray, or do whatever helps you to calm down. While it is not realistic to avoid stress altogether, trying to do more of the things that relax you, rather than stress you out might feel good. I took my first bath the other day with lavender scented oils after a long workweek, and it was very relaxing and calming.”

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