Pregnant women are more susceptible to picking up all sorts of common ailments, especially during the winter season of coughs, colds and flu.
Our winter pregnancy health guide will help keep yourself and your unborn child in optimum health this winter:
“For most of us, the winter months signal hibernation. If you’re pregnant and more fatigued than usual you’ll find it even easier to indulge in comfort food and avoid physical activity. Claire Julsing-Strydom of Nutritional Solutions in Bryanston, Johahannesburg, says: “It’s important to rather focus on general health and wellbeing instead of opting for the instant gratification of the nearest down-filled duvet. Exercise plays a vital role during pregnancy, and a brisk afternoon walk when the sun is out will go a long way in limiting weight gain, getting your heart pumping, boosting your Vitamin D levels and helping keep colds and flu at bay.”
Include the right nutrients in your diet
“Nutrient intake is one of the most important considerations during pregnancy to ensure the optimal growth and development of the foetus, so include diallyl sulphides, phytochemicals that have immune-boosting properties, in your daily intake. Garlic, onions and leeks all contain this powerhouse so consider including them in soups,” recommends Julsing-Strydom. Your winter diet should be high in both Vitamin C and zinc so make sure to fill up on plenty of citrus, sweet potatoes, kiwis, tomatoes and broccoli.
“Hydration is another important consideration during pregnancy, especially since you accumulate six to nine litres of water during gestation. The colder winter months can certainly make consuming two to two-and-a-half litres of water per day quite tricky,” she continues, “Try warm herbal tea with cinnamon sticks, warm water with sliced ginger or fresh lemon, or hot cocoa made with cocoa powder and half water, half milk.”
Other key micronutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy include omega 3 fatty acids, iron, folic acid, calcium and choline. Chat to your healthcare practitioner or dietician if you’re unsure about meeting your basic winter-proofing nutrient requirements.
Reduce your stress levels
“While stress and anxiety often come part and parcel of the pregnancy package, it’s vital to keep these in check to ensure that you and your unborn child remain healthy and well, but also so your baby can emerge into an environment filled with peace, calm and security,” explains Dr Arien van der Merwe, a medical doctor, author and natural health expert at the Healthy Living Space in Pretoria. “Research has shown that if a mother is experiencing high levels of stress, her baby is primed for a stress-filled life. This is because many endocrine and immune factors that play key roles in the developing foetus are also involved in the stress response. This means maternal stress has the potential to negatively impact the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system.” This is why Van der Merwe advocates at least 10 minutes of relaxation practice every morning and night. “Aside from boosting your immune system function with higher levels of antibodies,” she says, “there are other healthy spinoffs for both you and your baby, including increased blood flow sending oxygen and nutrients to your brain, body and baby, as well as improved production of vital, pleasurable brain chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, associated with longevity, wellbeing, vitality, happiness and quality of life.”