HOW TO STAY HEALTHY PRE, DURING & POST PREGNANCY

Whether you are trying to conceive, in the first trimester or first months of parenthood, it’s easy to focus all your attention on your baby but it is important to show yourself some love too!

When it comes to staying healthy there is a vast amount of information out there which can be overwhelming. The team at VOYA has taken the time to narrow the focus to four main pillars of health that are crucial to keeping your body running and boosting your emotional well-being. These four pillars include: nutrition, movement, getting plenty of sleep and managing stress. They aren’t exactly revolutionary ideas when it comes to healthy living however it’s easy for them to slip during the daily hustle and experts agree that these pillars are vital for long term results.

NUTRITION

Your pregnancy journey is a great time to refocus on the basics of healthy eating. Eating a wide variety of seasonal and whole foods from all food groups will ensure that you and your baby get all the essential nutrients you need. Listen to your body; if you have a craving, go for it. Cravings happen because of a change in hormones and may reveal nutritional deficiencies.

If you are trying to conceive, it’s recommended that you should take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid every day. Taking a prenatal vitamin is important to ensure you are meeting all of your nutritional needs but is not a substitute for a healthy diet. It is also recommended that you continue to take these supplements up until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.

If you have a sensitive stomach, avoid foods that make you feel nauseated. Having small amounts of food, such as mixed nuts and raisins or a small bowl of fruit and yogurt every few hours, rather than big meals can minimise nausea. Another way to reduce nausea is to drink ginger tea, which studies have shown can relieve morning sickness but be careful not to consume excess amounts.

When you are pregnant, you need more water than the average person to form amniotic fluid, produce extra blood, build new tissue, carry nutrients, enhance digestion, and flush out wastes and toxins so be sure to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration.

MOVEMENT

Consult your doctor about your exercise routine while pregnant and be sure to mention with any concerns that you may have, but it is healthy and encouraged for most women to stay active during pregnancy. If you continue to feel comfortable doing the types of exercise you were doing before becoming pregnant it’s usually okay to continue your routine. However, some women may find that their activity needs and preferences change throughout their pregnancy.

Doing some light stretches in the morning is a great way to reduce aches and increase flexibility. There are plenty of helpful free videos online for each trimester such as the yoga routine below:

SLEEP

Meeting your sleep needs while pregnant can be a challenging and frustrating experience. Many women feel tired more often and have a lot of difficulties getting good quality sleep. Here are some common sleep disruptors during pregnancy and tips for overcoming them:

Getting comfortable – Pregnancy often comes with aches and pains. Sore back and hips can make it tough to sleep. To get comfortable try using multiple pillows or even a special pregnancy pillow that can support you and your bump. Sleeping on the left side with the legs slightly curled is considered the best sleeping position in pregnancy. This position facilitates blood flow to the heart, kidneys, and uterus, and improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.

Heartburn – Acid reflux is common during pregnancy and is often worse when you are laying down for the night. Try eating small, frequent meals and staying upright after eating. Avoid eating right before bedtime so that your body has time to digest before you lay down.

Refine your sleep routine – Having a healthy and consistent sleep routine can be especially helpful for pregnant women. Creating a calming bedtime routine, having a cool and dark environment, and minimising screen time are all great strategies for improving sleep quality. Try to surround yourself with relaxing natural scents by using a pillow spray or room spray. If you have time, make a cup of herbal tea and light a candle to help your body and mind unwind.

MANAGING STRESS

Pregnancy can be both an incredibly joyful and stressful experience. Even though you may be excited and grateful, it’s completely normal to feel anxious or fearful during this time. Having a mindfulness practice can help you stay present and reduce stress. To help you get started or strengthen your practice, here are some tips for managing stress during your pregnancy journey:

Keep tabs on your mental health – Check in regularly with your healthcare provider to screen for your emotional health. Women experience dramatic hormonal changes during pregnancy and postpartum which may impact brain chemistry and lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. The effects of these hormonal shifts can then be intensified by external factors such as financial difficulties or challenging relationships. According to the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE), ‘as many as 1 in 5 women have mental health problems in pregnancy or after birth. It can happen to anyone.‘ If you find it difficult to talk with family or friends, check out a local health centre that hosts postnatal groups where you can get help, advice, and support and meet other new mums in your area. Being part of a community can have a positive effect on well-being.

Embrace your beautiful body in all shapes and sizes – For some women, seeing your body completely change during pregnancy can be difficult. It’s okay if it feels challenging to accept these changes. Give yourself time and compassion as you adjust to your changing body.

Let go of perfectionism – There is so much to think about when you are expecting a baby plus the pressure to have the perfect diet, exercise routine, and more. Remember that no one is perfect and it’s impossible to do it all. Just do your best and don’t forget to take time to rest and reflect on the parts of your pregnancy that bring you joy. Bringing a new life into the world is hard work! Go easy on yourself and ask for support from your partner, family, or friends when you need to.

Connect with your partner – Trying to conceive can turn intimacy into a chore. It is important to give attention to the relationship you have with your partner. Take time to talk and listen to each other. Open communication is key to nurturing healthy relationships and remember to have fun!

Focus on self-care – Find the practices and activities that fill your cup and make time for them. Self-care could be going for a walk in nature, catching up with a friend, spending time on your hobbies, treating yourself to a pregnancy pampering massage or relaxing with baths, candles and a skincare routine. When it comes to beauty it can be tricky to determine which products are safe for you to use at every stage. That’s why VOYA has a certified organic Mum-To-Be Range to keep you and your skin looking and feeling blooming beautiful. For the month of May, bundle up and save 20% with VOYA’s Mama Care Cream and Mama Care Body Oil .

This body duo will care for the bump and body throughout pregnancy & beyond. The mama care range is designed to nourish, minimize stretch marks, and soothe dry itchy skin, whilst working to calm and balance a busy mind with organic essential oils of lavender, geranium, and ylang-ylang.

MAMA OIL – Stretch Mark Minimising Body Oil

Designed to strengthen skin and prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, this ultra-nourishing oil will support you throughout pregnancy, with age-defying properties that will also firm and tone skin throughout postpartum weight loss. This body oil is formulated with Fucus Serratus to rejuvenate and nourish, Cacay seed oil to combat wrinkles and fine lines, olive fruit oil to nourish and protect the skin with its essential fatty acids and powerful antioxidants, and jojoba oil to help fade stretch marks and scars. This oil can be applied morning and night by gently massaging into the skin, in upwards motions, onto problem areas to reduce stretch marks on the legs, hips, and back. This firming stretch mark minimising oil also works wonders for anyone in the process of shedding the Covid stone or for young people going through puberty, for boys and girls alike.

I measure my bump in how many pumps of this I need to apply in the shower….started off in the early days of pregnacy applying one pump but now I’m on about 8 or 9. This is an incredible oil. It leaves my skin soft, supple and honestly I wouldn’t be without it. I’ve noticed a real difference in my skin while using it – so much so I bought the VOYA Angelicus Serratus Body Oil to use elsewhere on my body. I got the Mama Oil initially as a gift and have gone on to repurchase and will again in the future. I would highly recommend it to others.” – Mary, customer review on VOYA’s website.

MAMA CARE – STRETCH MARK MINIMISING BODY CREAM

A targeted cream to firm and minimise stretch marks, leaving skin smoothed, plumped and toned over time. Soothing and calming, this cream is also a great relief for irritated, itchy skin. Along with Fucus Serratus, the Mama Care Cream contains shea butter to nourish and moisturise, cranberry seed oil to brighten, firm and tighten the skin, coconut oil to soothe irritation, heal stretch marks, and restore the skin’s natural barrier, and Manilkara leaf extract to promote elasticity. Apply to any areas of concern by massaging into the skin in long strokes and circular movements, paying particular attention to stretch mark prone areas, such as bump, arms, hips, and lower back. For intense results, apply over Mama Care Oil for an extra nourishing boost.