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Parents should eat healthy and exercise more before conception

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Posted April 17, 2018

You see that all the time. A woman gets pregnant and immediately changes her lifestyle in order to keep the baby healthy. This is very beautiful, but is it enough? Scientists from the University of Queensland say that it actually isn‘t enough to make sure that the baby is born healthy and grows up strong. In fact, major lifestyle changes should be made even before conception.

Pregnant women typically make correct lifestyle choices, but eating healthy and exercising should become a habit even before conception. Image credit: freestocks.org via Pexels, CC0 Public Domain

There are many reasons to start caring for your health when pregnant. First of all, of course, women want to make sure that the baby is born healthy. However, by living a healthier lifestyle they can also reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy. Eating well, quitting bad habits, being physically active and generally listening to doctor’s advices reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, pre-term birth and stillbirth and body mass index is very important in this case. Women who are more fit before conception generally have less problems that those who are overweight.

For example, the risk of gestational diabetes can be decreased dramatically by regular exercise and packing fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts into your diet before conception. But how many women actually follow these guidelines? Scientists analysed data from various studies from United Kingdom and Australia and found that only 10 % of women ate healthy and exercised before getting pregnant. Furthermore, those women who were planning pregnancy did not increase fruit, vegetables and nuts in their diet, and exercised less than those who did not plan pregnancy. However, those who were looking to get pregnant did quit smoking and drinking alcohol. Now scientists say that people should be more educated about these matters.

Everyone knows that women who want to get pregnant (or are already) should not smoke, use drugs or drink alcohol, but how many people know about the effects of their diet and exercise regime? Professor Gita Mishra, leader of the study, said: “The message that everyone needs to hear, whether they are planning a pregnancy or not, is that women who are active and eat more fruit and vegetables will have a much healthier pregnancy and baby”. Of course, this information should not be used to push overweight women to avoid pregnancy or to make them feel guilty. Instead, it should be used to make more informed lifestyle choices.

Everyone should eat more vegetables, fruit and nuts, and exercise more. Our health heavily depends on our diet and physical activity. But those who are about to conceive a baby should make sure that they are in good shape.

 

Source: University of Queensland

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