11 Things to Know About Maintaining a Healthy, Fit Pregnancy

Staying active and eating healthy during pregnancy isn’t always a smooth journey. First trimester fatigue and morning sickness, along with lovely ailments that come later — like back pain — make it difficult to work out and opt for healthy choices.

Yet it’s known that maintaining healthy pregnancy habits has many benefits. It can help make for an easier labor, help you lose postpartum weight faster, and give you more energy throughout your pregnancy.

Wholesome meals and exercising are also good for your baby. A new study even finds that weight gained during a pregnancy can impact a child’s cardiometabolic health later in life.

But knowing these facts doesn’t make staying healthy easier. If you’re like me, you’ll crave ice cream and french fries — not salad. And it’s likely you’ll be feeling too queasy to hit the gym.

Without a doubt, staying healthy during pregnancy requires extra discipline. But there are tactics I found helpful for motivating me to eat well and exercise throughout the long months.

Here are six ways I kept myself energized and active. (Plus, common pregnancy health myths debunked!)

1. Examine your diet to understand your cravings

Yes, pregnancy cravings are real. During the first half of my pregnancy, I longed for juicy cheeseburgers. As a nearly full-time vegetarian until pregnancy, this meat-craving behavior was unusual.

While cravings can’t always be explained, we can look to the nutrients our bodies might be needing.

For me, maybe I needed more protein, fat, and iron — three nutrients found in red meat. Although cheeseburgers are easy to eat for every lunch and dinner, I knew the long-term effects wouldn’t be the best for me and my baby.

I made an effort to prepare high-protein meals, including recipes with chicken, fish, and beans. Most of the greasy restaurant cheeseburgers I wanted were replaced with leaner, hearty alternatives. These wholesome meals helped curb my cravings by keeping me full and satisfied.

To ensure you and your baby get what you need, your diet should include several minerals and nutrients — namely calcium, iron, and folate.

What to eat during pregnancy

  • For calcium: dark green vegetables and dairy products.
  • For iron (which helps to maintain a healthy hemoglobin count): leafy greens, red meat, salmon, beans, and eggs.
  • For folate (a key vitamin that decreases risk of neural tube defects): fortified foods like cereal, pasta, bread, and rice — and don’t forget to take a prenatal vitamin!

2. Ease your mind for better sleep

From worrying about something going wrong to wondering if you’ll be a good parent, pregnancy can be an emotional rollercoaster. During my third trimester, I’d lay awake in bed at night praying my baby would kick so I knew they were okay.

To give my mind rest — and, ultimately, my body — I tried a few different techniques.

Sometimes I’d meditate for 10 to 15 minutes before bed to calm my mind. Other times I would reach out to new and expectant mamas for encouragement and to share my anxieties.

If I had a list of to-dos spinning in my head, I’d jot them down in my phone so they weren’t distracting me from drifting off to sleep.

Above all, establishing a relaxing routine before bed allowed me to find mental and emotional peace — ensuring both baby and I got the recharge we needed