Do you need support to eat well and stay active during pregnancy?

By Justine Salisbury, Senior Project Officer, NSW Get Healthy Service, NSW Office of Preventive Health

Eating well and being active during pregnancy is important for the health of you and your baby. The benefits include healthy and gradual weight gain, a better night’s sleep, more energy and less lower back pain.

Managing your weight gain in pregnancy
It’s important to be mindful of your weight gain during pregnancy. Too much or too little weight gain during pregnancy can place you and your baby at risk of complications during your pregnancy, birth and in later life.
The amount of food and drink you need while you’re pregnant only increases a little bit in the second and third trimester. There is no need to ‘eat for two’, and the food you eat needs to provide your baby with the essential building blocks for healthy growth. 

You may experience cravings for certain foods during pregnancy, but there is no evidence that this is a sign that the baby needs these nutrients. It can be helpful to keep cravings in check with a food diary or try to distract yourself with something other than food.

How much weight gain is healthy in pregnancy?
As your baby grows, it is healthy to gain weight, but how much weight is healthy for you and your baby?
The Get Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator can help you find out the ideal amount of weight you should gain at different stages of your pregnancy. It includes fun tips, emojis and the answers to frequently asked questions too. Check it out at https://www.gethealthynsw.com.au/program/get-healthy-in-pregnancy/pregnancy-weight-gain-calculator/

Staying active during pregnancy
During your pregnancy, it’s a great idea to continue to be active by doing the things you enjoy like your weekly yoga class or walking your dog. This way you’ll be more likely to keep it up.
Being active can also be an opportunity to relax and spend time with your friends. Don’t stop because you’ve got a baby on board but remember – this is no time to take up marathon running either.
Most exercises are safe as long as you take things easy and remember to:
• Stop when you are tired
• Drink plenty of water – eight glasses a day is a good place to start
• Take care not to overheat
• Stop the activity if you experience any pain that doesn’t settle quickly
Try small ways to keep your day active like taking the stairs instead of the lift. These little things are a great way to stay active without even knowing it!

Free support during your pregnancy and beyond
Do you ever feel confused and overwhelmed by all the information about health during pregnancy? NSW Health understands that women are looking for trusted information that is based on solid research. Get Healthy in Pregnancy is a FREE telephone health coaching service for all pregnant women living in NSW aged 16 years and over. 

Our health coaches are Dietitians and Exercise Physiologists who can give you expert support during and after your pregnancy to be the healthiest version of you. Your health coach is there to guide, motivate and support you to achieve goals that you want to reach for you and your baby.
Your health coach can help you to:
• Eat healthy
• Get active and stay active
• Have a healthy weight gain during pregnancy
• Drink no alcohol while pregnant and while starting to breastfeed
• Assist you after you have your baby to get back to your best health.
You will receive a completely free information package including a journey booklet to help you track your goals and actions, track your progress and achieve your personalised healthy lifestyle goals. Throughout the program, you can have up to 10 calls from your health coach at a time that suits you, and you have the option to re-enrol for further support.

What Get Healthy in Pregnancy participants have said
Uma found the Get Healthy in Pregnancy program gave her… “Excellent support throughout my pregnancy and was happy to hear that I'll be able to have continued support postpartum".
Fatima said the Get Healthy in Pregnancy program… “Helped me to eat healthy and maintain my weight during pregnancy”.
After taking part in Get Healthy in Pregnancy, Christine is… “the healthiest I have ever been. These lifestyle changes are part of my life now”.

What have been the outcomes?
An international study has shown that 47% of women gain weight in excess of the Institute of Medicine guidelines [1], which has significant health implications both for mother and baby during birth and later into life.
In 2018/19, 77% of women who participated in Get Healthy in Pregnancy gained an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy – within or under the Institute of Medicine Guidelines. The benefits were not only for women who started with a healthy weight but were true for women who were overweight and obese.

Get started on your health journey today!
Registration is free and easy. Simply call 1300 806 258. We’re open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm.
You can also register at www.gethealthynsw.com.au/get-started/
Find out more at www.gethealthynsw.com.au
The Get Healthy Service is a NSW government service.

[1] Goldstein et al (2017), Association of Gestational Weight Gain With Maternal and Infant Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, JAMA; 317(21):2207-2225.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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