Pregnancy is a wonderful time especially for those who selflessly decided to become a surrogate to help those wanting a child to finally achieve the dream of parenthood. It’s because of surrogates that many individuals and couples can finally build the family they have always wanted. Even though surrogates are already mothers raising their own children, it still helps a great deal for these incredible women to be reminded about achieving heart-healthy pregnancy goals through diet, exercise, regular prenatal care, and getting enough sleep.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is a regarded physician, author of Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book: Every Woman’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy Life, and spokesperson for Go Red For Women. Her sage advice for those who are pregnant is to return back to basics. “The healthiest diet we’ve seen is the Mediterranean-style diet, which is typically high in high fiber whole grains, nuts and omega-3 fatty acids from fish and olive oil,” she said. Dr. Steinbaum also adds, “Watch your diet and watch your weight; pregnancy doesn’t give you ‘carte blanche’ to eat whatever you want. Remember that you are trying to get nutrients to a growing fetus. Do you want your fetus to be growing on gummy bears? I don’t think so.” Eating smaller portioned meals frequently throughout the day was also advised by medical professionals. And before one starts to exercise, wait an hour after a meal. Staying hydrated is also encouraged during pregnancy. When it comes to diet, Dr. Steinbaum along with other medical experts advise pregnant women to reduce the intake of caffeine and salt when pregnant. While salt may have the potential to raise a woman’s blood pressure, caffeine may cause a woman to experience intermittent arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats). Again, this is a question for a woman’s healthcare provider.
Another step toward a healthy heart while pregnant is exercise. It’s important to note that before taking part in any exercise regimen it must be discussed with a doctor or healthcare professional beforehand and readdressed throughout the term of the pregnancy. When it comes to exercise, most women with the approval of their doctor may continue their physical activity if she had a routine in place beforehand. In many instances, however, she cannot begin any exercise during pregnancy without the consent of her healthcare professional. There are a variety of reasons why regular exercise is so beneficial during pregnancy which includes following:
- Manages a woman’s weight while promoting healthy weight gain
- Encourages a better mood and more energy
- Promotes a healthy heart rate
- Can help with rest and sleep
- Help lessen back pain
- Can help reduce hypertension
- Can minimize bloating and/or constipation
- May help reduce gestational diabetes or be part of the treatment
- Enhances strength, flexibility, and muscle tone
For those who want to keep their heart rate in check, investing in an activity tracker with a heart rate monitor is highly suggested. While brisk walking is one of the most popular exercises for pregnant women, other activities include:
- Prenatal yoga (by a certified instructor)
- Indoor stationary bicycle
- Low impact aerobics (by a certified instructor)
Other important recommendations when exercising are to listen to one’s body and stay in the comfort zone without ever feeling exhausted. A good way to gauge this is by trying the talk test. If a woman has a difficult time speaking during a workout, she needs to reduce her level of activity. Physical activity and eating a healthy diet is encouraged before, during, and after pregnancy to help maintain a healthy heart.
See your doctor
Getting regular prenatal care is essential during every pregnancy, whether it’s your first, your third, or a surrogate pregnancy. Those visits are times for the doctor to make sure that your heart and body are staying healthy during the pregnancy and not facing any potential complications. It’s also a great time to ask about palpitations or other symptoms that you might be experiencing. If there is something that needs to further care, catching it early is the best way to minimize the risk for potential complications.
Get more rest!
It can be difficult to get enough sleep, especially when you have your own family to look after, plus work, housework, fitness, and other responsibilities. Most women have difficulty getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep anyway. Invest in a good mattress for pregnancy. Add in the extra sleep needs during pregnancy, plus symptoms like heartburn, restless legs, and frequent urination, and getting quality sleep is next to impossible. However, good quality sleep is still something to strive for!
Not getting enough sleep has been linked to several pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, pre-term birth, and exhaustion. In addition, being completely exhausted increases your risk of having a car accident or other injury. So go ahead, and make taking a daily nap one of your pregnancy goals! Your body craves, and needs, the extra rest.