Healthy lifestyle habits spanning from preconception to postpartum are considered as a major safeguard for achieving successful pregnancies and for the prevention of gestational diseases. Among preconception priorities established by the World Health Organization (WHO) are healthy diet and nutrition, weight management, physical activity, planned pregnancy and physical, mental and psychosocial health. Most studies covering the topic of healthy pregnancies focus on maternal diet because obesity increases the risks for adverse perinatal outcomes, including gestational diabetes mellitus, large for gestational age newborns, or preeclampsia. Thus, foods rich in vegetables, essential and polyunsaturated fats and fibre-rich carbohydrates should be promoted especially in overweight, obese or diabetic women. An adequate intake of micronutrients (e.g. iron, calcium, folate, vitamin D and carotenoids) is also crucial to support pregnancy and breastfeeding. Moderate physical activity throughout pregnancy improves muscle tone and function, besides decreasing the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabesity (i.e. diabetes associated with obesity) and postpartum overweight. Intervention studies claim that an average of 30 min of exercise/day contributes to long-term benefits for maternal overall health and wellbeing. Other factors such as microbiome modulation, behavioural strategies (e.g. smoking cessation, anxiety/stress reduction and sleep quality), maternal genetics and age, social class and education might also influence the maternal quality of life. These factors contribute to ensure a healthy pregnancy, or at least to reduce the risk of adverse maternal and foetal outcomes during pregnancy and later in life.
Keywords: Healthy pregnancy; lifestyle habits; maternal nutrition; physical activity.
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