Flu season is upon us making it even more important to take preventative measures against the spread of the bug and keeping ourselves as healthy as possible. A lucky few of you have been able to avoid coming down ill but for some, especially the elderly, children, people with underlining health issues or pregnant women it is especially important to take extra preventative care.
I’m a firm believer in natural health whenever possible and not introduce foreign substances, like the flu immunization, into my body while pregnant. Essentially I do believe strong health, positive mind and spirit are the best defenses against illness. You cannot prevent against all viruses that are bound to come through your home or be left on door handles out in public, just think of all the germs your children are exposed to daily at school and unknowingly spread through your house. Consider these natural ways to continue a healthy pregnancy through the unavoidable flu season.
1. Eat Healthy – Eating a balanced diet with recommended servings from the food guide is obviously needed to allow your baby to grow to it’s healthiest potential. During illness your baby will take what it needs for nutrients to grow before your body will takes the leftovers; the statement “you’re eating for two” couldn’t be more true. To make it easy, remember the most colourful foods offer the most antioxidants. Choose a plate with all colours to get an extra boost for your immune system.
2. Get Your Rest – This is easier said than done, especially in the later months of pregnancy. Your body will give you signs that you are a little more fatigued than normal; listen to it. If you have a toddler who still naps, let yourself take a nap too. If you have older kids, ask them to have quiet time so mom can lie down for a half hour. If you are like me, I’m at the point in my pregnancy that I do not sleep well at night. Thankfully I haven’t reached the restless leg syndrome like some pregnant moms but I can sure tell the day after if I have had an exceptionally restless night. For the most part, I feel physically exhausted rather than tired. Take the extra time to rest throughout your day to avoid getting run down and more susceptible to illness.
3. Exercise – Even 20 minutes of physical activity per day will boost your immune system, get your blood and oxygen flowing but don’t over-do it; listen to your body. As my pregnancy nears the end, the last thing I feel like doing is getting “physical” but I force myself to get moving; when I’m stuck indoors due to the weather I walk the stairs or on a nicer day I take a brisk walk to the barn and back. At this point, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of this little baby so I can get seriously active again without feeling like I’m carrying a medicine ball the whole way.
4. Take Vitamins – If you are worried you might not be getting all your nutrients, health professionals recommend a daily prenatal vitamin, especially during flu and cold season. Take Vitamin D or step outside on a sunny day for a good dose of sunshine; eat more oranges and take Vitamin C to battle any viruses that might be lingering around.
5. Drink Water – Drinking a lot of water is essential to keeping your system running at top performance, even more so while pregnant. Our bodies are made up of mostly water after all, including your baby and amniotic fluid. The uterus seems to be sensitive to dehydration; avoid becoming dehydrated as it may bring on premature contractions. If you are feeling more braxton hicks than normal, try drinking a glass or two of water to settle them down.
6. Wash Your Hands – In general I think people don’t do this enough; use proper hand washing techniques or you are defeating the purpose. Prep ahead by getting your paper towel ready for drying and use the paper towel to turn off the tap. Protect yourself from germs you will pick up on door handles, facets, shopping carts and anything else people may touch ahead of you. Take a bottle of travel size sanitizer or sanitizing wipes with you and use them regularly. People generally touch their face up to 2000 times per day; try to avoid touching your face and you will help yourself from catching illness.
7. Avoid Ill People – This cannot always be avoided, especially if you have school-aged kids or kids who go to daycare but by using the above techniques you can reduce the chances of becoming ill yourself, even when you have sick little ones at home. You can however avoid situations or people you know to carry illness. Avoid the play date this week until the illness has passed or avoid taking unnecessary public travel while pregnant which may be potential infection points.
Pregnancy is uncomfortable on a good day, especially in the later months; the last thing you need is to come down with the flu virus this season. By using these techniques and reminders, you will give yourself the best defense against illness this flu season as natural as possible.