Note: This is part one, click here for part two!
Society puts such an importance on being fit and looking good it can be a little overwhelming. When you actually achieve that "look" you will do anything to hang on to it. Well, when the time comes when you start thinking that a family would be nice you also have to come to grips with the fact that your beautiful flat stomach will be a thing of the past, at least for a while.
I know that pregnancy is a beautiful thing and a growing stomach is something that is both beautiful and worthy of showing off but getting to that point is the hard part. I am now going through this process. I am 4 months pregnant, and other than a couple breakdowns when my clothes didn't fit, I am coming to the point where I am accepting my body and I am excited to see my belly grow.
Pictures from my first fitness contest.
So many women think that when you get pregnant it is time to put your feet up and relax. You do need to do that sometimes, but it is also very important to stay fit and active. When I got pregnant I knew it was important to stay in shape but I wasn't sure if you follow your normal fitness program, lessen it, or do something special. When I went to go look on the Internet I found that there is just about zero out there.
It is very important for me to stay fit and active during my pregnancy for my baby, but for me also. Since there is not a lot out there I would like to take you through what I have learned and what I am doing so when the time comes for you, or if you are there, you will not be as lost as I was.
When I decided that children were what I wanted I immediately started to take folic acid. This is very important in helping decrease the chance of serious birth defects. It is said that 70% of women know about folic acid but only 30% actually take it. It is very important to take it before, during and after pregnancy. A pre-natal multi-vitamin s also important to make sure that your body has the vitamins and minerals that you and your baby need.
One great multi-vitamin that has plenty of folic acid is Twinlab Pre-Natal. It has the correct amount of vitamins you need and it won't make you sick. That is definately a plus since most women feel sick during this time anyway.
It has been said that men who take folic acid before conception have stronger sperm and their baby has a smaller chance of something being wrong, genetic wise. Twinlab also makes their Daily One Caps with folic acid and that is what my husband took for about a year before we got pregnant.
Pregnant women also need about 60% more protein. You need that protein to make a healthy and beautiful baby. I know there can be a lot of bad tasting protein powders out there but it does not have to be that way. A couple to check out are Optimum Any Whey and Syntrax Nectar protein. The Any Whey is tasteless and so you can do anything you want with it. I sometimes put it in yogurt or my oatmeal. You really don't even know that it is there but you get high quality whey protein! The Nectar is great if you need a change. It comes in cool flavors like Cherry Berry (just like cherry kool-aid), Apple Ecstasy (just like a green jolly rancher) and Caribbean Cool (if you like alcohol you would swear it was the real thing). If you just can't stand to drink it there are always protein bars. A popular bar is the Detour Bars.
More and more has been coming out about fish oil and its benefits to your baby's brain development. Studies have shown that fish oils can help form the brain and when taken in the third trimester and after birth it can actually help improve your child's smarts! Who knows if you take your fish oils you may have the next Einstein! There are a lot of fish oil capsules out there that can make you burp all day and who wants to smell that? The one that I have had the best luck with is Health From the Sun High Potency Fish Oil. Whatever supplement you choose, be sure that it has DHA in it.
Calcium is of course very important. So many people have a deficiency even if they are not pregnant. All of the baby's bones need calcium so it will take it from you. If you are short on calcium then you are left with mere scraps. Your gums can begin to bleed and your bones can become weak. Later on in the pregnancy your back can actually hurt worse because of the lack of calcium. So remember to take that everyday. Even pre-natal vitamins do not contain 100% of your daily calcium so you will need something extra. Most dairy products contain a lot of calcium and you can also get it from broccoli, baked beans and some nuts.
Of all the things you may crave during pregnancy, remember you are not actually eating for two like many binging pregnant women say. You actually only need 300 extra calories a day! Also, you are not even eating for the baby until 18 weeks. Before that the baby just takes what it needs from your body, even if you do not eat much at all. Make sure you do eat your vitamins, protein and calcium so you do not become depleted. Sometimes it is hard to eat during the first trimester because your body is so full of hormones but that is okay. You can live off of crackers and Sprite and your baby will be fine.
There are also certain foods you want to stay away from that can harm your baby. There have not been a lot of studies on this but one sweetener you want to stay away from is saccharin. Animal studies show an increase in cancer in offspring. Not something I would want to chance. All of the others seem to be okay but you should limit it to 1-2 servings per day.
You will want to avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, shell fish and tilefish because it has such a high level of mercury per serving. This can pose a risk to the child's developing nervous system. Canned tuna is okay once a week but fresh tuna has too much mercury also. Grouper, Amberjack and mahi mahi have a high level of toxins so you should stay way from them too. There are still plenty of fish that are good to eat such as salmon, sea bass, haddock, halibut, cod, sole, flounder, perch and farm raised trout. Remember those fish oils are good for the baby's brain.
You should try and stay away from foods that are preserved with nitrates. You can check the label to be sure. Some examples are hot dogs, salami and lunch meat. Stay away from soft cheeses like brie, feta, and blue-veined cheeses. There is a chance of listeria. You should stay away from uncooked eggs, pate and under cooked meats because there is a chance of salmonella. It is also said that too much soy can slow down the development of the sex organs in boys. Until I find out what sex my baby is, I am done with soy! Make sure when you eat fruit and vegetables you wash them very well. You, as well as you baby, do not want the pesticides that can be left on the food.
No matter what you eat you will probably get bloated and get gas. Your intestines have slowed everything down to ensure that the baby gets the vitamins it needs. Just make sure to eat slow.
Another thing to remember is to floss! You have a higher risk of gum disease and that can lead to preeclampsia and preterm labor. Get a dental checkup and cleaning as soon as you can.
Preventing Morning Sickness
There are some things you can do to prevent the dreaded morning sickness. Be sure to drink lots of water... you need this anyway because it helps replace the amniotic fluid for your baby. Exercising can help as well. Make sure you eat right and get plenty of sleep. If you are unable to sleep the whole night you should take short naps through out the day. Being tired can make you even more nauseous.
Things You Should Immediately Stop Doing
One thing you need to do right now is quit smoking. It is very harmful to the baby. If you smoke, it will live it's first 9 months in a smoke filled womb, cough violently and it may hinder the babies growth. It is also believed that smoking can cause your baby to be more susceptible to cot death. Also, alcohol is another big no-no. More and more studies have shown that alcohol is very harmful to a baby. When you take a drink so does the baby. Just think if it takes you, an adult, three drinks to get tipsy, your baby is on the verge of passing out he is so drunk. It also can increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects when the baby is born. So no, you can't have just one drink. You are obviously not a virgin anymore, but your drinks should be.
Caffeine is not a good idea either. The same idea as the alcohol is there. Caffeine keeps you going and gets your system moving. Just think of the effects those stimulants have on your tiny unborn baby. His heartbeat is 150-180 beats per minute as it is so you do not want it any higher! Studies have shown that there is an increase of stillbirth with too much caffeine. Most doctors agree that a little caffeine each day, like only one cup of coffee, probably won't hurt your baby... but why even chance it?
Average weight gain is 25-30 pounds. It is said that only 38% of women gain what they are supposed to. Women who eat a high fat diet while pregnant may increase the risk of the child developing heart problems later in life. If you gain too much weight it can cause problems like diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in you and all of this can lead to overly large babies. I am not sure about you but I prefer not to push out a 10lb baby. If you are overweight you also have a higher risk of cesarean delivery and studies have shown that you might also have a problem with lactating.
Also, and this is just as bad, if you gain too much weight during pregnancy it can take up to 2 years of hard work just to get it off. Many women don't realize that gaining too much weight during pregnancy can cause health problems for the mom and the baby for the rest of their lives. It helps you and your baby be healthy if you can stay in this range.
Working Out: Cardio And Lifting Weights
Of all the things that can help, one of the major things is working out. You can be pregnant and still workout. Here are some guidelines to be safe and healthy. When you do cardio, just make sure that you are not so out of breath that you can't carry on a conversation. If you used to run you should go to fast walking. You do not want to do anything that is really jarring to your body. The stair stepper is great... just make sure that if someone came up to you, you could talk to them no problem.
Also, when you are working out make sure you do not overheat. If you are hot, so is your baby. Drinks lots of water and try and workout indoors if at all possible.
Lifting weights doesn't have to be abandoned either. You shouldn't be trying to go for any new personal lifting records but you don't have to stick to the 5 pound dumbbells either. The rule of thumb is to make sure you can carry on a conversation. If you are in the middle of bicep curls make sure you can talk to someone with no problem. Never go to muscular failure on your reps.
If you need a workout here is the one that I am doing. It is a basic program and it works great.
* (make sure you do not do full sit-ups) your ab muscles are loosening and moving and you do not want to pull something.
I try and make it to the gym twice a week for weights. I used to go to the gym three times a week but I am waiting for some of my energy to come back. Going to the gym twice a week will still give you great benefits and muscle tone. I also do cardio 4-6 times per week for 45 minutes. I just get on my treadmill and read a book. Once I get into a book the time flies for me. You do not have to do this as long or as much as I do but try and at least do cardio 3 times per week. Your body is pumping more blood through your body and you will want as healthy heart as you can get.
So why should you keep working out? Working out has shown to lower the risk of problems with the child, lower risk of cesarean and lower risk of diabetes. It has also shown that exercise during the first and second trimester help reduce the risk of premature birth. Keeping your legs and lower back muscles in shape can help prevent back pain later in pregnancy. Also, staying in shape can make it much easier for you to lose your pregnancy weight after your baby is born and get back on track with your normal fitness program.
Another exercise that is important is the Kegel exercises. You do them by pretending you have to go to the bathroom and squeezing your opening shut and then relaxing. You will want to do 50 "reps" per day. This strengthens your pelvic floor and can help with bladder control during and after pregnancy. One really good benefit is that the stronger your pelvic wall, the better the orgasm. Enough for me! Remember if you experience any of these during exercise stop immediately and contact your doctor:
Contact Your Doctor If These Symptoms Appear:
- Pain, especially in your back or pelvic region
- Excessive tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling Faint
- Vaginal bleeding
- Difficulty walking
Remember if you work out, even if you do not feel like it, it will help you get some energy. I know that even when I feel like I do not want to get on the treadmill, once I am done I feel so much better and have more energy than before I started!
The whole point of following the advice in this article is to have a healthy baby, a healthy body, and a safe and easy pregnancy. It will help you lose the weight and help the baby now and later on in life. Everything that I have talked about I am doing. I have had barely any morning sickness and the couple of bouts I did have I never threw up. I am tired a lot but I find that if I get on the treadmill it helps me wake up. My appetite has been great and I do sometimes crave the sour things like dill pickles and pickled eggs. Acne can be a side effect of pregnancy but so far with a healthy diet and exercise that has not been a problem for me. I have only gained 5 pounds so far. I am starting to get a little pooch and I love it. I can't wait to look pregnant and get to buy all the cute maternity clothes.
I hope that this has helped you and if you any questions you can email me at Bryna@bodybuilders.com. I will be checking in every month to let you know how it is going and what is going on in the pregnancy and I will give tips on what you need to be doing next. I hope that you will go through my pregnancy with me and I can go through it with you. Remember being pregnant equals being beautiful and I wish everyone a happy and healthy nine months.
I know that there are a lot of books out there and if you know of one that I do not list please let me know and I can add it. These are the books that I have found that I like the best.
What To Expect When You Are Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenburg and Sandee Hathway, B.S.N. - This is a great book and lets you know what is happening every step of the way. It is also easy to read and understand.
The Girlfriends' Guide To Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine - I have not read this book yet but from everyone that I talk to about this, this book is a must.
Pregnancy Week by Week by Dr. Jane MacDougall - This is a great guide that lets you know what is happening in your pregnancy week by week and you can fold it so you can display it on a counter. I have one and it is fun to flip a page every week.
Pregnancy Journal - I know that this not really a book but every mom to be should have one to record what is happening in her pregnancy. This will great to look back on in the future. I would love to see what my mother went through.
There again I am sure that are some magazines that I won't include, these are just my favorites. If you have any that you love please let me know.
"Shape" - Fit Pregnancy - Great tips on working out and other tid bits.
"Prima Baby" - Even though this is a UK magazine there is tons of great information. The only bad part is sometimes I find something that is cute and it is in the UK!
"Pregnancy" - Another magazine to learn some great information.
"Pregnancy Vitality" - This is another UK magazine and it like our Fit Pregnancy magazine here.
"ePregnancy" - This one is probably my favorite. It has tons of great information.
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