Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to illness during pregnancy because of their compromised immune system. The stress that pregnancy puts on a pregnant body is intense, which means you need to be proactive about keeping your immune system strong. Fortunately, there are many ways to step up your immune system’s functioning while pregnant. Here are nine all-natural ways to stay healthy and vibrant during pregnancy.
Stay hydrated to keep your body’s systems in top shape. A pregnant woman needs about 2.5 liters of water of day to stay properly hydrated. When your body is hydrated, it means that your cells are getting the oxygen they need to perform well. Water also flushes toxins from your system and helps produce lymph, which circulates white blood cells and nutrients throughout your body.
Go back to basics and remind yourself to wash your hands. Everyone always remembers to wash their hands, right? Whether or not you do, now is the time to be vigilant about hand-washing. Washing with soap and water will help remove the bacteria and germs that accumulate on your hands as you go about your day. Always wash after using the bathroom, preparing foods, eating meals, and moving through public spaces where you’re touching the same surfaces other people touch (like the subway or bus). If you’re on top of proper washing, you can ditch antibacterial soaps and harsh sanitizers.
Sleep during pregnancy might be a dream, but try to get a decent night’s rest. As you progress in your pregnancy, your sleep is likely to be interrupted or difficult to come by, period. But try your best to get a proper night’s sleep every night. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your immune system’s functioning, and over time, it can be hard to fully repair. For better sleep, choose one side to rest on (don’t sleep on your back), use a full body pillow, spring for a calming white noise machine, or take soothing warm baths before bedtime.
Your immune system stays healthy with physical activity. Regular exercise does wonders for your entire body, and your immune system is no exception. Recent studies show that moderate exercise leads to an increase in white blood cells: the ones that circulate through your body to fight off infections. Aside from the immunity-boosting benefits, physical activity while pregnant is important to maintain a healthy weight, build stamina, and reduce stress.
Have a good laugh for a healthier immune system. The saying goes that “laughter is the best medicine,” and research has shown that this advice might hold some weight. According to one study, “our physiology changes when we laugh. Our pulse and blood pressure go up, we breathe faster, and we send more oxygen to our tissues.” All of these effects have positive impacts on the immune system, so find a friend to giggle with or a silly movie to laugh over.
Probiotics are the friendly bacteria to include in your diet. Find a food like yogurt, which contains probiotics, to add to your pregnancy diet. Probiotics aid your body in digestion and colon detoxification, both of which have an impact on a keeping your immune system healthy. Yogurt has other pregnancy health benefits, too, like a high serving of calcium and vitamin D.
Up your garlic intake for a simple, natural immune boost. Garlic has a long history as a wonder-food for maintaining good health. Raw garlic is particularly potent: a single clove contains over 100 sulfuric compounds (along with a high dose of calcium and potassium), which can kill bacteria in the body. If you can’t stomach eating a clove of raw garlic, you can still reap its benefits by seasoning your favorite meals with the spice.
Soak up sunshine for a healthier immune system. Aside from putting a smile of your face, a moderate dose of sunshine can benefit your health, too. The rays of the sun trigger your skin’s production of vitamin D, which is crucial to maintaining an immune system that can fight infections. It’s also important to note that when you’re pregnant, your skin is more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to limit full summer exposure to short bursts of 10-15 minutes and wear a natural, pregnancy-safe sunscreen.Vitamin C is another superstar for immune health. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and is an antioxidant that can protect your system from free radicals. Unlike some other vitamins, vitamin C is easy to find in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Eating a vitamin C-rich diet will also give your body an abundance of other vitamins and minerals necessary for the healthy development of your baby.