It is recommended to keep up a healthy weight before, during, and after your pregnancy. The optimal level of your Body Mass Index (BMI) should be 18.5 to 24.9. You can achieve and keep up a healthy weight by eating healthily, and being a physically active woman. If you are overweight or obese after the pregnancy, it is better to lose your body weight gradually. Do not lose your body weight more than 0.5-1kg a week.
- Eat brown rice, whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, or potatoes for carbohydrates in your diet.
- Limit foods high in sugar.
- Eat more fibre containing foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, beans, oats, peas, lentils, brown rice, whole-grain bread, and pasta.
- Eat at least five portions of fruits, and vegetables a day.
- Eat a low-fat diet.
- Eat more proteins.
- Limit fried foods, sugar-rich snacks, cakes, pastries, take-away, and fast foods.
- Do not skip meals.
- You don’t need to eat for two. There is no significant increase in the energy requirement for the first six months of your pregnancy. It will rise around 200 calories a day during last three months of pregnancy.
- Don’t do dieting during pregnancy.
- Take Folic acid supplements daily before, during, and after the pregnancy.
Lifestyle and exercise
Be physically active.
Do regular physical activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, and gardening before, and after pregnancy. Moderate-intensity physical activities such as brisk walking, strength conditioning exercise, or swimming will not harm you or your unborn child during pregnancy. Do them at least 30 minutes (less than 45 minutes) a day. If you have not exercised routinely, start with 15 minutes of exercise three times a week and increase gradually to 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Avoid hyperthermia during exercise (more than 39.2°C or 102.6°F). It is better to maintain adequate hydration and avoid exercising in hot, humid environments.
Avoid hypoglycaemia by taking adequate calories and limiting exercise less than 45 minutes daily.
Exercise in the lying down with the face up position should be avoided after 16 weeks of pregnancy, as this lowers the amount of the blood pumped by your heart, and blood pressure due to compression of the vena cava (a major vein, which carries blood to the heart).
Regular exercise will not adversely affect your pregnancy, delivery, breast feeding, or child growth. Pelvic floor exercises immediately after delivery may prevent future urinary incontinence.
If your pregnancy and the childbirth are uncomplicated, you can start mild exercises (walking, pelvic floor exercises, and stretching) immediately after delivery. If your delivery is complicated or a lower segment caesarean section, you should see your doctor before resuming exercise six to eight weeks after the delivery.
Contact sports, and weight-bearing exercises should be avoided during pregnancy.
Do your daily routines actively.
Limit sedentary activities such as sleeping during the daytime, watching TV, sitting for a long period, playing video games, or at the computer.
Check your weight, and waist measurements often.
Follow recommendations of your healthcare professionals for a healthy diet, and physical activities. If you are overweight (BMI is between 25 and 29.9), or obese (BMI is 30 or above), it is better to achieve a healthy weight before pregnancy. It will increase the chances of becoming pregnant. Weight loss programmes are recommended before pregnancy and after pregnancy. They are not recommended during pregnancy as they may harm your unborn child.
(Photo courtesy: Liz Davenport)