The 8 Best Pregnancy Immune System Boosters - Baby Chick
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The 8 Best Pregnancy Immune System Boosters

Keeping your immune system strong and healthy benefits both you and your growing baby!

Updated May 20, 2024

by Kristen v.H. Middleton

Medically reviewed by Stephanie Sublett

Board-Certified OB/GYN, FACOG, IBCLC

When you’re pregnant, mama, you want the best for you and your baby! Keeping your immune system strong and healthy during pregnancy 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 and exercising. The list below offers some of the best immune boosters during pregnancy. 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?

The Best Immune Boosters for Pregnancy

Here are the eight best immune boosters to help you stay healthy during pregnancy:

1. Nourishment

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 that 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.3,9

Generally, a nutritious diet for a pregnant woman consists of grains, fruits and vegetables, meats, nuts and legumes, and dairy. Foods with vitamin A, like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and red bell peppers, help regulate the immune system and protect against infections. Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits, is also important because it stimulates the formation of antibodies. Always consult a medical professional to decide what foods work best for you and your in-utero baby.9

2. Sleep

Skimping on sleep during pregnancy can adversely affect the immune system, making a pregnant mama more susceptible to illnesses like the cold, the 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.1 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 seven or more hours of sleep per night.2

3. Laughter

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter truly is good medicine.4 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. In contrast, negative thoughts can stimulate chemical reactions that bring more stress into your body, decreasing your immunity.4 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!

4. Healthy Expression of Feelings

Finding a counselor or support group can help you manage everyday stress, which has a positive effect on your immune system. Less stress means less cortisol and inflammation inside your body, and that’s a good thing!10 If leaving the house for 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. Having a regular outlet to express your feelings and learn solutions for dealing with stressors is a helpful way to stay healthy for you and your growing family.

5. Massage

Massage can improve your immune response because it’s good for both your physical and mental health.5 The physical effects of massage include reducing muscle tension, promoting relaxation and positive thoughts, and increasing blood circulation. Furthermore, receiving a massage decreases your 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.5

6. Exercise

Another amazing pregnancy immune booster is exercise! According to Harvard Medical School, regular exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and protects against various diseases.6 Just like a healthy diet, exercise contributes to overall 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. Prenatal yoga, walking, and gentle stretching are great ways to get your body moving. But remember to always consult with your doctor before exercising when pregnant.6,11

7. Prenatal Vitamins

A good prenatal vitamin is an important pregnancy immune booster for an expecting mother. This includes healthy minerals and supplements like vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin C, zinc, iron, and probiotics. All these contribute to maintaining a healthy immune system during pregnancy and aiding in your baby’s healthy growth and development. You’ll want to look for a prenatal vitamin that includes the following:7

  • 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 mcg of iodine

8. Probiotics

Lastly, good bacteria are powerful pregnancy immune boosters. Probiotics are essential to the health of your gut and, thus, a strong immune system.8 The lining of your gut (like all surfaces on your body) is covered with microorganisms called “good bacteria.” They create a micro-ecosystem (or microbiome), which plays a significant 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 through foods such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables, like kimchi and sauerkraut.8,12

Boosting your immune system during pregnancy can be as simple as eating the right foods and vitamins and getting some movement and laughter. We hope this list of the best immune boosters has inspired you to stay as healthy as possible during pregnancy. You and your growing baby deserve it!

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Kristen v.H. Middleton is a Clinical Psychologist in training (PsyD), a Yale University graduate, former school teacher and administrator, turned stay-at-home mom. She lives with her husband and children in… Read more

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