When you’re pregnant, mama, you want the best for you and your baby! Keeping your immune system strong and healthy benefits both of you. There are many ways you can boost your immunity to stay healthy, ranging from eating delicious and nutritious meals, to getting a massage, to taking more naps! The list below offers some of the best pregnancy immune boosters. When it comes to bolstering your immune system, taking care of yourself is a piece of cake! Or should we say: a walk in the park? Enjoy!
Best Immune Boosters for Pregnancy
Skimping on sleep can adversely affect the immune system, which leaves a pregnant mama more susceptible to illness like the cold, flu, or viruses. The Sleep Foundation explains that, without enough sleep, our bodies make fewer cytokines, a type of protein that helps with immune response by targeting infection and inflammation in the body.
If you’re losing sleep, try to go to bed earlier or sleep in later. Or take more naps to get more ZZZs. The CDC recommends that people between 18 and 60 years of age get 7 or more hours of sleep per night.
Getting proper nutrition may be the number one pregnancy immune booster! Eating food that is rich in vitamins and minerals helps protect you from seasonal illnesses and other health problems. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests eating a diet rich in protein, including seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, seeds, nuts, and soy products can aid in recovery and healing. Foods with vitamin A like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and red bell peppers help to regulate the immune system and protect against infections. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and stimulates the formation of antibodies. In general, a nutritious diet for a pregnant woman consists of grains, fruits and vegetables, meats, nuts and legumes, and dairy. Always consult with your medical professional to decide what foods work best for you and your in-utero baby.
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter is good medicine. It stimulates many organs in your body, increases endorphins, relieves your stress response, and soothes tension. Laughter has long-term health benefits, too! It improves your immune system by releasing neuropeptides that help fight stress. It also stimulates the body to release its own natural painkillers. By contrast, negative thoughts can stimulate chemical reactions that bring more stress into your body, thus decreasing your immunity. So call up your funny friend for a good laugh. Or settle down with some popcorn to watch a hilarious episode of your favorite comedy show!
Healthy Expression of Feelings
Finding a counselor or support group can help you manage everyday stress, which has a positive effect on the immune system. Less stress means less cortisol and inflammation inside your body, and that’s a good thing! If leaving the house to go to an appointment or meeting isn’t a good option for you right now, try therapy or group meetings over the phone or via video chat. Pregnancy can bring about many changes, including hormonal and emotional changes for any mother. Getting a regular outlet to express your feelings and learn about solutions for dealing with stressors is a helpful way to stay healthy for you and your growing family.
Massage is good for both physical and mental health, and for these reasons has been shown to improve a person’s immune response. The physical effects of massage include reducing tension in muscles, promoting relaxation and positive thoughts, and increasing blood circulation. Furthermore, receiving a massage is shown to decrease levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and vasopressin, a hormone tied to aggressive behavior. In one study, people who received a 45-minute massage showed increased lymphocytes, the white blood cells that play an important role in defending the body from disease.
Another amazing pregnancy immune booster is exercise! According to Harvard Medical School, regular exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and protects against a variety of diseases. And just like a healthy diet, exercise contributes to overall general good health, which includes the immune system. Since exercise promotes good circulation, this supports the free and efficient movement of cells and substances of the immune system to move around the body better. Always consult with your doctor before exercising when pregnant. Yoga, walking and gentle stretching are great ways to get your body moving.
A good prenatal vitamin is an important immune booster for any expecting mother. They include healthy minerals and supplements like Vitamin D, folic acid, Vitamin C, Zinc, Iron, and probiotics. All of these contribute to maintaining a healthy immune system and aiding in the healthy development and growth of your baby. You’ll want to look for a prenatal vitamin that includes the following:
- 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
- 400 IU of vitamin D.
- 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
- 70 mg of vitamin C.
- 3 mg of thiamine.
- 2 mg of riboflavin.
- 20 mg of niacin.
- 6 mcg of vitamin B12.
- 10 mg of vitamin E.
- 15 mg of zinc.
- 17 mg of iron.
- 150 micrograms of iodine
A powerful pregnancy immune booster is a good bacteria. Probiotics are essential to the health of your gut and thus a strong immune system. The lining of your gut (like all surfaces on your body) is covered with microorganisms, also called “good bacteria.” They create a micro-ecosystem called a microbiome, which plays a big role in your body’s overall health, including mood and behavior. They’re also really important for your baby’s health. These microorganisms keep your gut healthy by helping digest food, absorbing nutrients, and fending off bad bacteria and infections. You can ingest them as supplements, but the best way to intake probiotics is naturally though foods such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut.