As the holidays wrap up and a new year begins, just about everyone feels the need to get back on track after a season overflowing with sweets. But when you’re pregnant, the go-to cleanses and diets aren’t necessarily safe. Pregnancy is also a good reminder that health and wellbeing are not just about food, but about a balanced lifestyle. That’s why baby+co. has partnered with Whole Life Challenge to offer a way to focus on health in the new year that is great for everyone and safe for pregnancy.

The Whole Life Challenge is a six-week game where you earn points for incorporating seven lifestyle habits. You play on your mobile device or computer along side a team and with the support of a coach. The Whole Life Challenge selected the seven lifestyle habits because they are good for everyone. They actually have special benefits for pregnancy, but there are a few things to keep in mind to keep it safe and healthy.

Benefits of the Whole Life Challenge for Pregnancy

Nutrition – The Whole Life Challenge offers three different nutrition levels and they are all safe for pregnancy. That’s because they are all based on reducing processed foods and adopting a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, good fats, and quality proteins. These types of diets have been shown to reduce pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and hypertension and make postpartum weight loss easier. Studies also show that babies born to mothers who adopt a whole foods diet are born at healthier weights and may have a reduced risk of childhood obesity.

Keep it pregnancy-friendly

  • Make safe choices for fish, avoid unpasteurized cheeses, thoroughly cook all meat, and heat deli meats to steaming before eating.
  • Continue to take a prenatal vitamin and any nutritional supplements your midwife or doctor has recommended.
  • Don’t focus on “winning” the challenge. The leaderboard incorporates weight loss or reduction in body measurements or body fat. It is normal and natural for all of these to increase in pregnancy, even when you improve nutrition and exercise habits. If you would like to work toward a numeric goal, set a healthy weight gain goal. If you are in the first trimester, aim to gain about 2-3 pounds over the course of the challenge. If you are in the second or third trimester, aim for about a pound per week (6 pounds total) if you began pregnancy normal weight or underweight based on your pre-pregnancy BMI, and about a half pound per week (3 pounds total) if you began pregnancy overweight or obese.

Exercise – In previous generations, pregnant women were instructed to take it easy to avoid stressing the growing baby. But while pregnancy is not a time for contact sports or maximum intensity workouts, we know now that exercise is important. Regular exercise, especially in combination with a healthy diet, is associated with a reduced risk of cesarean birth and gestational diabetes. Exercise can also help lower rates of depression in pregnancy.

Keep it pregnancy-friendly

  • Stay hydrated while exercising and avoid exercises where you may fall or get bumped.
  • Stop exercising if you feel light-headed, develop a headache, experience contractions, or have any vaginal bleeding or leaking. Call your midwife or doctor if you are concerned.

Mobilize – Pregnancy is an amazing full-body experience, but sometimes it hurts. Stretches are one of the best ways to ward off pregnancy pain. Try the cat-cow stretch for low-back pain, the prayer stretch for carpal tunnel pain, or stretches that open up your hips to help with sciatica. Certain stretches can also prepare your body for labor. Try deep squats to open up your pelvis, or hands-and-knees stretches to encourage your baby into an optimal position for birth.

Keep it pregnancy-friendly

  • Avoid stretches where you lay flat on your back for a prolonged period.

Sleep – Sleep is hard to come by in pregnancy. Aches and pains, not to mention a full bladder, can wake you at night and a busy mind can make it hard to fall back asleep. But sleep is no less important for our health in pregnancy. In fact, getting enough sleep in pregnancy may reduce the chance of a cesarean birth and the likelihood of depression.

Keep it pregnancy-friendly

  • Expect sleep disruptions and plan for them. Make a sleep goal that you can achieve most nights. Go to bed earlier if possible to account for the increased likelihood of wakefulness during the night. Take naps when you have the opportunity – even a 15-20 minute nap can help you feel refreshed and give you a boost of energy – and it counts toward your sleep goal.
  • Try relaxation and breathing practices if stress or worry is affecting your sleep.

Hydrate – Water is important in pregnancy as the body builds up 50% extra blood volume to support placental and fetal circulation and to support many cellular processes. Staying hydrated can also reduce pregnancy-related nausea and constipation.

Keep it pregnancy-friendly

  • Increase your water goal. Instead of dividing your body weight by 3 to calculate how many ounces of fluids you need, divide by 2. (For example, if you weigh 160 lbs, aim for 80 ounces of fluid.)
  • Drink your water from a BPA-free bottle whenever possible. (BPAs are chemicals in certain plastic bottles that can disrupt hormones and cause harm in pregnancy). Stainless steel or glass is best.

Well-being: The Whole Life Challenges introduces weekly well-being practices. These change from challenge to challenge (and from week to week) but throughout the challenge, participants will focus on self-care, lifestyle, and community. In pregnancy, each practice offers an opportunity to develop a positive habit that can carry forward as you take on childbirth and the transition to parenthood.

Reflect: Each day, challenge participants share their reflections with their teammates. This helps new habits stick and is also an important way to connect with and support the people you are playing with, and get support and motivation in return. Pregnancy is a great time to reflect on your health and lifestyle habits and to build community with people who will be there for you in the ups and downs of pregnancy and parenting, too.

More Benefits with a Baby+Co. Team
If you join a baby+co. team, you get even more support and more ways to tap into your community. It starts with daily support, motivation, and encouragement from a baby+co. Health Coach and a team that includes baby+co. midwives, educators, and other staff as well as a community of other expectant and new parents. Participants on baby+co. teams also have special events in the center and online and opportunities to win prizes from baby+co. and our partners. You don’t have to be a new or expectant parent to join a baby+co. team but our teams will have extra support for participating while pregnant, trying to conceive, breastfeeding, or juggling early parenthood.

Join your closest baby+co. team today with the links below. Don’t live near one of these centers?  That’s OK.  If you want a pregnancy/parenting friendly team, you’re welcome to join any of our teams!


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