Pregnancy is an amazing phase but it also has its distinct challenges. The female body undergoes an unprecedented transformation, unless this is the second or subsequent pregnancy. Weight gain is the most obvious visible change. There are extensive hormonal changes. Dietary requirements change and so does the state of mind. There are physical and mental challenges to cope with. Every pregnant woman needs optimum care, with some help from family and friends. Here are the most essential tips for a healthy pregnancy that will ensure your physical and mental wellbeing.

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Skincare during Pregnancy

Taking care of skin is a quintessential need. Many women start using a pregnancy stretch mark cream after childbirth. Most women develop stretch marks during pregnancy. The unpleasant stretch marks on stomach can be prevented to an extent if there is a proactive skincare routine. Help the skin cope with the expansion so it does not crack and develop the stretch marks in the first place than trying to reverse the process after you have them post pregnancy.

Pregnant women should have a skincare ritual, usually twice a day. Skin should be properly cleansed every morning, then moisturized to keep it supple and to avoid a plethora of problems including fine lines, acne and spots. This is not confined to the stretch marks on stomach. Such a ritual is applicable for the face, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, chest, belly, abdomen, buttocks, back and also the feet. Adequate nutrition and proper exercise should contribute to the skincare routine. Hydration is important. It is best to avoid makeup. If you have to use makeup, go for natural products and remove them so as to prevent traces.

Moisturizing is essential and so is optimum collagen production in the skin. Stretch marks during pregnancy can be prevented if the skin retains its elasticity and gets nourishment to expand without enduring breakage or cracks. A stretch mark cream that can moisturize, nourish and facilitate collagen secretion is a great choice. It is essentially the only way to avoid stretch marks on stomach with a certain degree of certainty.

Psychological Challenges during Pregnancy

There are two common psychological problems most pregnant women experience. These are mood swings and depression. It is common for depression and anxiety to be experienced simultaneously. Mood swings can range from anger to irritability, restlessness and impatience to absentmindedness. Pregnant women often experience periods of sadness and joy, lack of concentration, excessive sleep or insomnia, declining interest in different activities, recurring thoughts of hopelessness and feeling varying degrees of anxiety. There may be a sudden urge to clean everything. The next hour could be all about binge eating. There may be irrational behavior without any notable cause.

Most psychological problems during pregnancy are a result of hormonal changes and the transformation in the brain chemistry. Just as the physical changes have their visible and subtle effects, the changing hormones and how neurotransmitters work in the brain have influence the mind and trigger mood swings and depression among other psychological problems. These can worsen if there are issues in a relationship, any history of clinical depression or anxiety disorder, stressful events in life or complications.

Effective ways of overcoming depression and managing mood swings during pregnancy include heartfelt conversations with the partner, spending more qualitative time with immediate family and friends, going out and socializing, watching lighthearted shows or reading books that can uplift the spirit, exercise and meditation. Deep breathing can be useful to regulate emotions. Healthy snacking can also regulate depression and mood swings. Those who do not have loved ones around can reach out to support groups, opt for psychotherapy, light therapy and also physiotherapy. Adequate rest, proper nutrition and hydration, acupuncture and herbal remedies can also be of much help.

Recommended Diet for Pregnant Women

Nutrition is essential not only for a pregnant woman but also for the fetus. Nutritious meals at the right time and appropriate servings will also contribute to a better or sounder state of mind. Pregnant women should never skip breakfast. Cereals are fine or you may go for whole wheat toast. You can add fruits to ensure calcium among other minerals and obviously vitamins. Fiber rich foods such as green veggies and carrots and fruits such as melons and bananas are healthy. Brown rice, whole grains, oatmeal and beans are also rich in fiber.

Snacking cannot be dismissed entirely. Pregnant women will have the urge to munch several times a day, in many instances through the night too. Yogurt and wholegrain crackers are healthy choices. All vitamins are essential, so are folic acid and iron. Seafood, wild caught fish, shellfish and lean meat are essential. Avoid fish or shellfish that has lots of mercury. Go for salmon, catfish and shrimp. Avoid fatty foods, including heavily processed meats. Avoid cheese, caffeine, alcohol and the ever enticing chips or fries.

The best foods for pregnant women are natural yogurt, not with added flavors or preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients, legumes including peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans, peanuts and soybeans, sweet potatoes, salmon, eggs, leafy vegetables, dark colored vegetables, chicken, fish liver oil, berries, whole grains, avocados, dried fruits and water. Staying hydrated at all times is necessary.

Exercise Guide for Pregnant Women

Ideally, pregnant women should exercise every day. However, it is imperative to avoid exhaustion. The best exercises during pregnancy are walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, aerobics and specific workouts for pregnant women. Brisk walking is great, so is swimming. Cycling should be on a stationary bike, not out on the streets with an actual cycle. Falling down from a cycle can have disastrous consequences. Running is not ideal when pregnancy is already in the latter phase of the first trimester, definitely not permitted in the third trimester. Yoga should be customized to suit pregnancy. A majority of complex postures should be avoided. There are low impact aerobic exercises and squats, tilts and pelvic workouts specially designed for pregnant women. Exercise has immediate physical and psychological effects. Any pregnant woman who has physiological problems and experiences complications during any of the trimesters should avoid exercise.