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Your guide to pregnancy wellness

Expert tips for keeping fit and healthy during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it’s also a time when taking care of your health is more important than ever. Knowing what foods are beneficial for your baby’s health and development is important, but it’s also useful to know which supplements may help during pregnancy. Exercise and how much to do is another important element. Here, we cover all these points and more.

Diet and nutrition

“It is important to eat as well as possible from the moment you discover you are pregnant,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD, the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health (

“A healthy, varied diet, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses, eggs and fish is important and to buy organic where possible. Organic food does not contain chemicals in the form of pesticides, herbicides or other toxic substances. When you are pregnant it is important to try and reduce your exposure to all types of chemicals where possible in order to protect the developing baby.

“Make sure that you are drinking enough fluids (water, herbal teas) and it is best to avoid caffeine which can have diuretic effects and so deplete you of vital vitamins and minerals and of course to avoid alcohol.

“Omega-3 essential fatty acids from oily fish, nuts and seeds are crucial for brain, eyes and central nervous system development in a growing baby and they are even more vital in the last trimester, when the intellectual development is as its most critical point. Research shows that these essential fatty acids are important not only for the brain development of the baby, but they can also help prevent low birthweight and decrease the risk of a premature birth.”

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD outlines some of the foods that mums-to-be should avoid during pregnancy.


“Take a good multivitamin and mineral designed for pregnancy,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD. “This should contain all the B vitamins (including folic acid with at least 400mcg), vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and chromium. A good omega-3 supplement should be included or use an algae omega-3 if you are vegetarian or vegan. A supplement of vitamin C is important as it can help prevent premature labour and helps in the manufacture of collagen which is important for avoiding stretch marks. Also, pregnant women are advised to start taking a vitamin D supplement as soon as they know they are expecting – and to continue while breast feeding.”

Exercise during pregnancy

“Exercise will keep your muscles strong, provide cardiovascular fitness, reduce the risk of aches and pains, help regulate hormones and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, as well as possibly help with a quicker birth and recovery,” says Rosie Stockley, women’s fitness specialist and founder of Mamawell ( “There are just a few things to be aware of, as exercise on the whole is positive for both mother and baby. Make sure you’re able to breathe well in all your movements as the oxygen goes to both mother and baby. You should always be able to hold a conversation and avoid straining in the movements.

”Notice when you’re extra tried, extremely out of breath, dizzy or really hot, and take that as a sign your body needs a rest or to stop that type of exercise completely. Not every day will feel the same, so notice that too. Strengthen your pelvic floor throughout pregnancy, and this will help your recovery afterwards. You can do your exercises for a few minutes every day.

“Cardio, running and weights are fine as long as you feel good doing them. When you’re running, notice the breath and any pressure on your pelvis. When lifting weights, make sure you’re within a comfortable range. Maybe you’ll lift less heavy, but could instead focus on endurance with more reps and a lighter weight.

“Some types of exercise are especially adapted for pregnancy such as antenatal yoga, which will help the body find good positions and breathing strategies for labour. But I’d recommend choosing an exercise programme especially designed for pregnancy if you think you need a bit more guidance.”

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