Maintaining A Healthy Immune System
During pregnancy, keeping a healthy immune system is more important than ever. Preventing sickness is helpful for both mom and baby. While sometimes catching a cold is inevitable, following these 4 tips can help to boost the immune system and prevent sickness during pregnancy.
1. Know your anemia risk
Up to 50% of pregnant women are at risk of iron deficiency anemia, especially in the third trimester. Iron is a crucial nutrient for boosting the immune system, keeping energy up, and fighting against infection and disease. For pregnant women, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron is 27 mg. Women can consume iron in dark, leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals, whole grains, and lean meats. Iron should also be a key ingredient in a prenatal supplement.
2. Stand in the sunshine
The body produces vitamin D naturally in response to sunlight exposure. The nutrient is crucial for fighting infection and supporting the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency, especially during pregnancy, is common. During the third trimester, women need even more calcium, underscoring the need for adequate vitamin D levels. Women can get this vitamin from sunlight and food sources such as egg yolks, fish, and fortified foods. In some cases, women may ask a healthcare provider if a supplement will be beneficial.
3. Prioritize rest
Research has shown that not getting enough sleep has a profound effect on the immune system. During sleep, the body makes specific proteins called cytokines. These proteins help to fight inflammation, infection and reduce stress. Women often struggle to sleep well during pregnancy. Catch some rest whenever possible, even if that means taking short naps throughout the day. Use pillows to find a comfortable position and sleep on the left side. Avoid spicy foods and heavy meals before bedtime and maintain a regular exercise routine to sleep better.
4. Work on your gut health
Many people don’t realize that almost ¾ of the immune system resides in the gut. Poor diet, certain medications, and stress can all deplete the healthy bacteria found in the GI tract. The result is a compromised immune system, leading to higher rates of illness and infection. Consider adding a probiotic to a daily routine to introduce healthy intestinal flora into the body. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out which probiotic will be safest and most effective during pregnancy.
A healthy pregnancy is ahead
Pregnancy is an exciting time but can be filled with some discomfort. That discomfort is compounded when an expecting mom-to-be catches a cold or other infection. Boosting the immune system during pregnancy can set women up for success. Speak with a healthcare provider or pharmacist for more tips on improving the immune system.