It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a pregnancy, already pregnant, or postpartum and breastfeeding, some small changes to your diet, sleep quantity and exercise habits can help you get through it all.
These eight tips will help you be healthier in general, make pregnancy easier or ensure that the quality of your breast milk is better when breastfeeding.
Don’t reduce the amount of food – just choose correctly
Avoid industrial oils such as canola, corn or cottonseed oil, and it’s recommended to avoid gluten and soy products, as well as sugar and processed foods.
Eat foods like vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat, fish, chicken, nuts, and seeds, instead. Don’t limit the amount of healthy food you eat, and be sure to eat until you’re satiated at every meal.
Avoid low-carb or low-fat diets
Both fat and carbohydrates are important for fertility. Make sure that fat and carbohydrates are at least 20% of your total caloric intake.
If you eat a low-carb diet and have trouble getting pregnant, or if you don’t produce enough milk while breastfeeding, it’s recommended that you increase the number of carbohydrates you eat.
Eat at least 450 grams of fatty fish weekly
The omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and EPA found in fish are essential for the normal development of the fetal brain. The best fish to eat are wild salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring.
Make sure you eat enough calories to match each stage of pregnancy
In the first trimester, eat the same amount of calories as usual. In the second, eat another 200-300 calories daily. In the third trimester, increase the amount by 400-500 calories daily. When breastfeeding, eat 300-500 calories more per day.
Be sure to eat foods rich in vitamins A, D and K2, which are fat-soluble and are important for both fertility and normal pregnancy. Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, egg yolks, and milk from animals that graze like cows, goats or sheep.
Foods rich in vitamin D include wild salmon and sardines, and it’s important to be exposed to the sun for brief periods to increase the levels of vitamin D. Foods rich in vitamin K2 include chicken liver and dairy products such as those listed above.
Be sure to exercise correctly
Both too little or too much physical activity can negatively affect fertility and increase the risk of gestational diabetes. Try to combine aerobic activity and resistance training such as walking or jogging and lifting weights, and work out 3-5 days per week.
Don’t overtrain because this causes stress that can lead to hormonal imbalances and impairs fertility.
Make sure you sleep 7 to 9 hours every night
Sleep should be a top priority even before you get pregnant. Exposure to light during the day and darkness at night will help you maintain hormonal balance. And make sure to get quality sleep in a dark, cool room.
Manage your stress
Stress can greatly harm fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Your daily routine should include stress-reducing methods like meditation, deep breathing or yoga.
Dr. Dalit Dreman-Medina is an expert in family medicine and integrative and functional medicine.