10 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on November 2, 2013

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Hi Everyone!

As most of you know, I shared some exciting news on my blog about 8 weeks ago, and since then time has just been flying by! Soon after I shared the news of our little girl’s arrival in January, I asked all of you for some feedback on whether you’d like to see healthy pregnancy tips and healthy baby content on this blog. The results were split right down the middle! 50% of you said you’d love to see pregnancy/baby related content on the blog; and 50% of you were either on the fence or were in the “no” camp.

Since 50% is still a large number, I thought I’d create one post today about Pregnancy Health & Wellness. Many of these tips are actually applicable whether you’re pregnant or not – so hopefully this is helpful to most of you! 🙂

If you are a first time visitor or not interested in pregnancy content, I’d encourage you to visit my Recipes page for delicious and healthy meal ideas, or my Top 10 Most Popular Recipes page for some additional inspiration.

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The Picky Eater’s Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

(Note: These are tips that have worked for me personally and that I have discussed with my doctor. If you are pregnant, you should talk to your doctor and modify these guidelines based on what he/she advises – as every pregnancy is different!)

#1: You need ~300 calories more per day than you were eating before you got pregnant. That’s actually not a lot more! The whole “eating for two” thing is kind of a myth — you don’t need double the amount of food now that you’re pregnant. Spend those 300 calories wisely! I like having 2% Greek Yogurt (8oz) with a dash of honey and 1 Tbsp granola; or 1 slice sprouted wheat bread with 1 Tbsp peanut or almond butter + 1/2 a banana sliced. For some additional healthy snacking ideas, click here.

#2: You need ~60g protein a day. It is totally possible to get this much protein even if you’re vegetarian (like me). The best vegetarian sources of protein are: Greek Yogurt (15-20g per cup), Low fat string cheese (8g per stick), Peanut Butter (7-8g per 2 Tbsp), Organic Tofu/Tempeh, Sprouted grain bread (6g per 2 slices), Beans and Lentils (8g per serving), and Milk (11g per cup)! The way I get enough protein is by eating 1 Greek Yogurt, 2 glasses of milk and string cheese + beans / lentils daily.

#3: Eat organic if you can! If you need to prioritize your organic food purchases, buy the items on The Dirty Dozen list organic, and buy organic dairy and soy.

#4: Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need. An easy way to do this is to make sure each meal incorporates at least 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, and whole grains/protein. Choose foods high in fiber (whole wheat bread, high fiber cereal, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice, fruits & veggies). Also, eat 4 servings of calcium-rich foods a day to ensure you’re getting 1000-1300mg calcium in your diet; along with iron-rich foods to ensure you’re getting 27mg of iron daily.

#5: Exercise! Exercise during pregnancy is healthy and absolutely recommended. Prenatal yoga is great, as is walking, or any exercise that doesn’t get your heart rate up TOO high and allows you to maintain a conversation while exercising (that’s a good litmus test on whether it’s too strenuous). If you were a runner before you got pregnant, it’s usually ok to keep running as long as your doctor agrees and you aren’t experiencing any issues. I’ve been exercising almost daily since I got pregnant — my routine of choice: I like to do 1 hour of prenatal yoga or walk on the treadmill at 4mph and an incline of 3 for 35 minutes.

#6: Stay hydrated. I was surprised at how quickly I got thirsty/dehydrated once I became pregnant. Water is obviously great for staying hydrated, but if you need to mix it up a bit, unsweetened coconut water is wonderful (and has electrolytes which help rehydrate you), or you can also mix 1/4 cup of juice with 3/4 cup of water for a refreshing spa like drink.
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#7: Get enough sleep. You’ll have plenty of sleepless nights once your baby comes! If you can, try to get 7-8 hours a night. Your body will thank you 🙂
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#8: Keep stress levels low. The ironic thing is, some aspects of pregnancy can be quite stressful! But try your best to keep your stress levels low: do some breathing exercises, get a prenatal massage, rely on your partner for support, go for a walk, take a warm bath, meditate, etc. And do the best you can — don’t get too down or be too hard on yourself if you do get stressed once in a while!
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#9: Follow some of the no-brainers: don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol (although some doctors say 1 glass of wine here and there is ok in your 3rd trimester), limit caffeine to no more than 300mg per day (8oz of coffee has 150mg, black tea has 80mg). And don’t do crazy adventure sports or anything that would risk you falling / injuring yourself while pregnant.
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#10: Enjoy the ride! Pregnancy is such a unique experience and is always an emotional roller coaster. Just remember to enjoy each moment as much as you can, be gentle with yourself, embrace any emotion you feel at the time, and be ok with having both good days and bad days (every day of pregnancy won’t feel blissful and that’s ok!) Time will fly and soon your new little arrival will be here before you know it!
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For anyone who’s pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant — I wish you a healthy happy pregnancy! I’ll leave you now with this most recent picture of me at 28 weeks – our baby girl is growing by the minute!
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Anjali Shah

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle November 4, 2013 at 6:47 am

These are great tips! Can you believe how close it is getting?! I’ll be 28 weeks tomorrow, and though 12 weeks still seems like a long time to me, I’m sure it will fly. I’m not a vegetarian, but don’t eat a lot of meat, so string cheese and greek yogurt has been my savoirs. I think string cheese is a great midnight snack too, for those nights you wake up and cannot fall back asleep because your stomach is growling. Good luck in your last trimester!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 4, 2013 at 7:39 am

Thanks Michelle!! I know – I feel the same way as you do! 12 weeks still seems pretty far away to me too 🙂 Totally with you on the string cheese and Greek Yogurt – honestly I have no idea what I’d do about protein without them! Hope you have a healthy and smooth last trimester as well — our babies are going to have birthdays very close to each other!

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Laura November 4, 2013 at 8:19 am

Thank you for posting this! I’m 24 weeks pregnant and not “huge”, but I feel like it’s because I’ve been eating healthy and staying active. My doctor says the baby and I are healthy, but people on the street remark that I’m not a blimp (like that’s a bad thing?). Your tips and pictures made me feel normal 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Awww I’m so glad this post helped you Laura! And I totally empathize with you – I’ve gotten the same comments about my size (which initially made me anxious about whether me and the baby were healthy) but I think it’s also because I’ve been eating healthy and staying active (like you!) Honestly, the most important thing is what your doctor says – and if he/she says you’re healthy, and you’re feeling great, that’s all that matters! Hope you have a wonderful rest of your pregnancy – stay well! 🙂

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Eisha November 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Love the tips! I will definitely keep you in mind in my future lol
And your baby belly is so cute and growing!!!!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Aww hehe thanks Eisha!! 🙂

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AC November 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm

You own so many colors of V-neck tees! Haha

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 8, 2013 at 12:11 am

Haha yup! I bought like a bunch of them from Target when I found out I was pregnant — because they are stretchy and aren’t just for maternity wear, are affordable, and are great as workout shirts too 🙂

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Thay January 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for the great tips Anjali! It is important to have a healthy vegetarian pregnancy (although some people keep asking us if we are still vegetarian now that we are pregnant!). I would love to see more pregnancy/baby vegetarian articles/recipes in your blog. I am now 31 weeks and I have a very large tummy (people think I am due very soon or ask me if I am having twins!). But doctor says baby and I are healthy, so I do not worry too much about the bump size 🙂
I wish you a great birth and healthy baby! And congratulations for the great blog!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 17, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Hi Thay! No problem at all! I’m so glad you found this helpful 🙂 Congrats btw on your pregnancy! You are at the home stretch — 9 weeks to go! Definitely don’t worry about the bump size if your doctor says that you’re healthy. Honestly, your doctor’s opinion is the only one that really matters. For pregnancy recipes — honestly I didn’t do anything different, I just ate a bit more at each meal and incorporated a couple sources of healthy protein (Greek Yogurt, String Cheese, etc.) in between meals. So all of the recipes on my blog would be great for pregnancy. Regarding baby food recipes and healthy baby / veggie baby tips – I will absolutely be posting about that as I experiment and learn with my new baby girl! I wish you a wonderful pregnancy and birth as well, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any other questions!

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Heather B August 26, 2014 at 11:15 am

I have a great resource suggestion. I just came across a new book that’s really awesome called “The Wonder Within You” by Carey Wickersham. It’s an awesome combination of week-to-week pregnancy information, what’s going on with the baby, “Did you know?” plus health advice about what to eat, cravings, nutrition, etc, BUT also with awesome 3D/4D pictures and videos you can link or QR with your phone to and see what your baby looks like at each week stage. Even better than the typical week-to-week books, and so personal! It’s got mom stories and even a journal/note section to write your personal memories and letters to your baby. The pregnancy information is as up-to-date as it gets and it’s such a great keepsake. I want to get one for everybody I know who is expecting! Check it out…TheWonderWithinYou.com.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 29, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Thanks for the suggestion Heather!

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Sasha February 20, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Hi Anjali! Thank you so much for providing this wonderful resource for everyone! I would love to know your rankings on prenatal supplements. I truly enjoyed reading all the updates and information about the baby formulas. I used that post as a reference when I was going through a hard time not being able to nurse my baby. Also, aside from prenatal vitamins, do you recommend taking anything else with it like DHA?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 24, 2016 at 8:48 pm

Hi Sasha! I’m so glad you found my posts helpful, and I’m sorry to hear you had a hard time nursing (although it’s great you were able to use my formula post as a reference – hopefully you were able to find a formula that worked for your little one!) For prenatal supplements – I used one prescribed by my doctor because I’m vegetarian and wanted to make sure I was getting enough iron in a gentle way that didn’t mess up my digestion. But my absolute favorite brand for prenatal supplements that you can get at any health food store is My Kind Organics (by GardenofLife). Their ingredients are amazing (organic, non GMO), their vitamins are certified vegan & gluten-free, and their vitamin sources are from real organic whole foods (nothing synthetic) so they are easy to absorb! I’d highly recommend them. I take their women’s multivitamin now even though I’m not pregnant anymore 🙂 And yes, I did take DHA when I was pregnant — it came with the prenatal from my doctor. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

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