Pregnancy comes with some serious changes, that one is a given. Still, the immune system undergoes more transformations and adjustments than you may have expected. Since during fetal development, it must protect both the mother and the growing baby, some parts of the systems are enhanced and others become slightly suppressed. Focusing on a healthy immune system has many benefits for you and baby.
Pregnant women can often find themselves with increased susceptibility to certain pathogens, conditions, or infections during pregnancy, such as food poisoning. Does this sound familiar to you? Well, it might be time to start boosting the immune system when pregnant, just hear me out.
You definitely don’t want to risk suppressing your immune system further during pregnancy! This involves different health risks for your unborn child, as some infections could be transmitted from the expectant mother to the baby and attack the fetus. Some of the most common pathogens with high risk for transmission are HSV, whooping cough, toxoplasmosis, rubella, and chickenpox. Antibodies and white blood cells help with fighting infection.
So, those were some examples of illness during pregnancy. Ready to know how to avoid catching them? Today’s post is all about the necessary steps you need to take in order to boost immunity during pregnancy and provide you and your unborn baby with sufficient protection.
Keep reading to learn how to strengthen the immune system during pregnancy!
How To Strengthen Immune System During Pregnancy
Wash your hands all day, every day
Okay, maybe not all day, but definitely every so often. Try to wash your hands as often as possible with a top-notch and effective antibacterial soap. You should be rubbing and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds to really shake the bacteria and pathogens off your skin.
Also, avoid direct contact with anyone who is or seems sick! It’s a no-brainer, I know, yet still worth mentioning for fighting infection.
Get your beauty sleep each night
A lack of sleep can have a deteriorating impact on your immune system. It also affects how rapidly you are able to recover when ill. So make sure to protect your growing baby by sleeping at least eight hours a day.
If possible, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule to maximize the benefits and get a good night of sleep. Body pillows and diffusing essential oils can help you fall asleep more easily! Regulating your sleep patterns is key when your body is put through so much physical and psychological stress. I definitely recommend getting body or pregnancy pillows to help keep you comfortable and aligned. Even 30 minutes a day of additional sleep could be very beneficial.
While fluid needs are individualized, 100 ounces of total fluids per day, i.e. more than just water, is a good goal. Though you are more than welcome to drink more if you are thirsty! Staying hydrated helps to regulate your bodily functions and circulate nutrients to the baby. So, add in plenty of glasses of water a day!
Try to keep an exercise routine
Yep, staying healthy during pregnancy includes exercising. Don’t let any preconceived notions discourage you, though! It doesn’t have to be an hour-long fat-burning HIIT class to boost immunity. Half an hour of restorative yoga will do the trick just as well!
Exercise is a natural stress reliever, which can help your body relax and function more smoothly, protecting your immune system. That is the whole aim of this immunity-boosting tip, to help you feel better and avoid illness during pregnancy.
Personal hygiene is key
I mentioned earlier that you should always wash your hands, but hygiene is much more than that! You should brush your teeth twice a day (and visit the dentist!), take a daily bath or shower, and cleanse your entire body often. All of this will help you avoid getting high risk infections and minimize bacterial growth during pregnancy, therefore keeping your child safe.
Eat a nutritious diet
Fruits and vegetables should be the key to your usual eating regimen, if you can’t stomach them yet, hang in there! Protein, healthy fats, nutrient-dense carbs, and foods high in antioxidants should also be at the pinnacle of your plate during pregnancy.
I know, cravings can happen! It’s okay to indulge every so often, as long as you are still hitting the daily nutrients that you and your growing baby need. And, try your best not to skip any meals, remember you’re providing nourishment for two now and need to focus on keeping baby safe!
Get the flu vaccine
It doesn’t matter if you’ve gotten it last year, no protection is too much for pregnant women! It’s just a tiny sting, and then you’re good to go and ready to feel safer wherever you go. The CDC states that pregnant women are at high risk of getting ill from the seasonal flu, and that they should get the vaccine. Contracting the flu can lead to premature labor, low birth weight, and other complications. Although recommended by most all health professionals, it is recommended to consult with your physician to help you make the best decision for you and baby.
Take your prenatal vitamin
While you should consult with your doctor, midwife, and registered dietitian to check if this is the right option for you, prenatal vitamins are key to filling in the nutrient gaps for pregnant women. You will need extra vitamin D, folate, magnesium, and iron, just to name a few, during this time, so a supplement can help you meet these on top of nutrient-dense food!
To learn more about what to look for in a prenatal vitamin and some of the best options on the market today, join The Prenatal Nutrition Library!
Stay up-to-date with your pregnancy blood tests
Prenatal health care usually includes different routine blood tests. These are helpful to check for any infection that could attack the fetus or anything else that might result in complications. You should never skip them! They can help you spot anything that’s out of place and are a good opportunity for you to clear out any questions with a professional.
Also, big heads up, your white blood cells will most likely be higher than usual. Don’t stress too much, this count is often high in pregnant women. Other blood test reference ranges may be different in pregnancy too, so be sure to ask all the questions, no question is too small.
Get 20 Minutes of Sunlight Per Day
Getting vitamin D directly from the sun is super important during pregnancy for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to several negative pregnancy outcomes such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gallbladder issues, and miscarriage in the first trimester.
Getting outside in the morning or afternoon sun is a great way to get some vitamin D and fresh air, when the sun is not too strong and it’s not too hot out to raise your body temperature.
Foods That Help Strengthen The Immune System During Pregnancy
Now that you know you should eat a nutritious diet during pregnancy, let me guide you through the best foods to boost immunity during pregnancy. Enjoy!
These are great if you want to avoid colds and the flu. These contain natural chemicals that can contribute to white blood cells detecting any viruses or pathogens lurking through your body. They are also rich in manganese, calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, folate, and copper. Talk about being packed full of nutrients!
Recent studies suggest that eating four to five garlic cloves a day can help to prevent developing the common cold. Since garlic contains allicin, it’s a food with especially high antibacterial properties, on top of being great for our gut microbiota. Plus, you can add it almost to any savory dish!
Salmon and other healthy fish
Fish of all kinds are super-rich in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a nutrient that you will need a lot of during pregnancy and it is also crucial to a well-functioning immune system. Salmon and other healthy fish also provide pregnant women with omega-3 fatty acids and some delicious lean protein as well.
There’s a reason every movie that includes a flu subplot features this food, it’s a staple when it comes to boosting immunity during pregnancy and regular times! This comfort dish will help you stay hydrated as well as provide you with zinc, iron, veggies rich in vitamin C, and antioxidants from the chicken.
You can also add any supplement or other immunity boosters such as garlic to this meal. Be careful eating soup from a can though. It is best to make homemade chicken soup. Canned food contains an epoxy liner containing BPA, which is an endocrine disrupter believed to cause disruption in brain development and behavioral problems in children.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits provide tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like Vitamin C and E that help keep your immune system strong during pregnancy. They’re also packed with water and fiber which help keep your gut healthy. I personally love strawberries, lemon, & apples. Like fruits, vegetables are another incredible source of fiber and nutrients. You’ll find tons of iron, folate, potassium, & vitamin K in vegetables.
If you’re a tea person, this might just be the dream advice for you. Here’s the deal: green tea contains catechins and theanine. These two compounds have been linked to the prevention of influenza by improving the functioning of the immune system. Considering that this is a tasty and comforting drink, adding green tea to your daily fluid intake sounds like a good deal to me. Just be mindful that green tea is caffeinated, so you want to limit it to 1-2 cups per day.
Yogurt is high in protein, calcium, B vitamins, and also comes with probiotics that are great for supporting your immune system. Choose Greek yogurt for an even higher protein snack. The probiotics in yogurt and other fermented foods help stimulate the immune system. Bonus if it’s also Vitamin D fortified!
See this post for more immune boosting foods.
How will you be strengthening your immune system during pregnancy?
Those were my favorite tips for boosting the immune system during pregnancy! Remember that following these tips will result in enhanced protection for both you and your growing baby.
It’s quite easy to implement most of them, whether that’s by adding garlic to your next stir-fry or going for a light run on a sunny afternoon. You can really make immunity-boosting your own by adjusting this advice to your routine, just keep it simple. Go ahead and boost that immune system when pregnant today!