Proper nutrition is vital during pregnancy; getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals helps protect your baby from neural tube defects, prevents low birth weight, and promotes healthy development. What you eat during pregnancy also impacts your health, and by managing your weight through diet and exercise, you can reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and pregnancy insomnia.
Your body works hard during pregnancy, and it's important to choose foods that help you get the extra hours of much needed sleep your body may need. Depending on your weight and dietary needs pre-pregnancy, recommended guidelines for caloric intake and weight gain can vary, and it’s important to discuss the healthiest approach with your doctor.
A few basic strategies can make it easy to ensure your baby gets everything it needs, without having to overeat or gain an excess amount of weight.
Limit Sugar Intake To Prevent Gestational Diabetes
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to maximize the nutritional benefits of every food you eat. Sugary, processed foods are low in nutrients and high in calories, contributing to excess weight gain. Too much sugar during pregnancy can also contribute to or exacerbate gestational diabetes, which causes high blood sugar during pregnancy in women who may not have been previously diabetic.
Diet and exercise can help manage gestational diabetes. Just as a ketogenic diet can help manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in people who are not pregnant, a keto diet is also safe and effective for managing gestational diabetes. Keto involves dramatically reducing your intake of carbohydrates and deriving the majority of your calories from protein and fat.
During pregnancy, you may want to take a more relaxed, lazy approach to keto, especially if you’ve never tried a keto diet before. What is lazy keto? Lazy keto means adapting the rules of keto to better suit your lifestyle, and allowing yourself some flexibility in your diet.
What You Eat Can Help Or Hurt Your Sleep
Excess sugar intake and caffeine consumption can make it difficult to get a full night of uninterrupted sleep, whether you’re pregnant or not. But during pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimester, many women experience pregnancy insomnia brought on by a combination of anxiety, physical discomfort and other stressors.
Heartburn and morning sickness can make it difficult to get the rest your body needs. Heartburn may become worse when you lie down, and it helps to stop eating two hours before bedtime and avoid spicy, greasy foods for dinner. To abate morning sickness, ginger and peppermint work for some.
Getting enough Vitamin B6 from supplements or the foods you eat can also control morning sickness. If you struggle to fall asleep at night, or find yourself waking up frequently, try snacking on almonds or cherries, which can naturally help regulate melatonin.
Avoid Excess Weight Gain To Prevent Complications
Guidelines suggest that people with an average BMI should gain between 25-35 pounds throughout their pregnancy. If you are underweight, overweight or obese, the amount of weight gain can vary.
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy increases your risk of gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, preterm labor and obstructive sleep apnea.
These conditions all cause potential harm to both mother and baby. If you’re concerned about excess weight gain, keep a food diary and share it with your doctor at prenatal appointments. In general, during pregnancy you need about 300-500 extra calories per day to achieve healthy weight gain. If you’re carrying multiples, add an additional 300 calories for each baby.
By maintaining the healthiest lifestyle possible, you’re taking important steps towards giving your child the best start in life. Make sure to eat nutrient packed foods, take your prenatal vitamins, and listen to your hunger/fullness cues.
Nurture yourself as you would your child, and take the time to care for yourself as you embark on the journey of motherhood.
If you are pregnant, don't hesitate to speak with your OBGYN about your sleep concerns. Sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and pre-term labor.