Good pregnancy nutrition is vital to delivering a healthy baby. Your child is totally dependent on you for nourishment, so eating well for two is of utmost importance. It is worth the time and effort to plan a well rounded, balanced diet, which will help insure that your baby is getting adequate nutrients during pregnancy, and which will also provide you the needed energy to get you through the day.
Try not to worry about gaining weight. Pregnancy isn't the time to be cutting back on calories. In fact, a gradual, steady weight gain is a good sign, in making sure your baby is gaining the necessary weight. Cutting calories not only robs your baby's delicate growing organs, but it robs your body of needed nutrition, and has the potential to slow your metabolism, the very thing you do not want.
Remember when choosing your diet, quality is more important than quantity. Most pregnant women need about 300 additional calories per day. Daily calories should consist of grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, nuts and dairy products.
Serving size recommendations for the average, healthy pregnant woman include 6-11 servings of breads and grains, two-four servings of fruit, four or more servings of vegetables, four servings of dairy products, and three servings of protein sources (meat, poultry, fish, eggs or nuts).
There is no reason to avoid foods you crave as long as you eat in moderation to avoid excessive weight gain, so limit saturated fats and sweets. Eat 5-6 small meals every two to three hours. Even if you're not hungry, your developing baby needs regular sustenance, and high frequency eating ensures proper blood glucose levels inhibiting the dreaded insulin spike, which causes that afternoon energy crash.
As a pregnant mom, you don't need anything else to rob yourself of energy, so avoid skipping meals. Prenatal vitamins and mineral supplements are usually recommended by most prenatal care providers, but should not be used in place of eating a balanced diet, however.
Always consult with your health care provider before taking vitamins or supplements. Most importantly, avoid alcohol, smoking and harmful drugs. Try to avoid caffeine as much as possible. If you need a cup, go decaffeinated. Always keep it safe for baby.
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Exercise is also very important, despite the changes in your growing belly. It may seem like a perfect time to sit back and relax, but in fact, pregnancy can be a great time to stay active.
A good pregnancy workout has several benefits for the mom-to-be. It will help increase circulation, improve your posture, help with sleeplessness and help to control your weight while toning your muscles, making it easier to get back into shape after you deliver.
Exercise also helps you stay flexible, which will benefit you during labor and delivery. Make sure you do not over do it. Hormones occur during pregnancy, which soften ligaments and connective tissues to prepare your body for labor. Stay away from fast, jerky movements at all costs because it could easily lead to injury.
Focus on moving at a slow and controlled rate. Moderate repetition incorporating low weight or light resistance during this time in your life, will insure an injury-free and healthy pregnancy. Remember, this is not the time to train, but to maintain.
First, be sure to talk with your doctor to make sure it is safe to continue your exercise routine, to identify such conditions as preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy). This time spent with the doctor can help identify any specific risk factors to your individual situation.
Preeclampsia Preeclampsia is a medical condition where hypertension arises in pregnancy in association with significant amounts of protein in the urine.
Because preeclampsia refers to a set of symptoms rather than any causative factor, it is established that there can be many different causes for the syndrome.
An excellent form of cardiovascular exercise for moms-to-be, is low-impact aerobics. This involves no jumping or hopping movements, or stepping upon any type of platform, putting you at risk of jarred joints, but includes rhythmic movements that keep one foot on the floor at all times. You can find these kinds of classes at your local gym or YMCA. If you prefer working out in the privacy of your own home, pregnancy DVDs/videos are available at most stores.
Exercising In Water
An ideal aerobic exercise for pregnant women is swimming. Due to the buoyancy of the water it eliminates any stress on your joints and provides gentle resistance for maintaining muscle tone. The same goes for pool walking or a water aerobics class, typically done waist deep.
Walking is one of the best and safest ways to get exercise and is easily worked into almost any daily routine. Taking a brisk walk through the mall, around a neighborhood park with a friend, or an after dinner, sunset stroll with your husband, can be a fun and convenient way to stay in shape with little or no cost to you.
Depending on how you use them, strength bands (also called resistant bands) can be great for beginners as well as more advanced exercisers, to add some light to medium resistance to your workouts, without the use of free weights. You can use them for basic exercises or to add intensity to traditional moves.
These bands are made from latex material or thick elastic cording and are available with or without handles. Bands range anywhere from $6 to $20, depending on how many you get and where you buy them, which is nice for the budget-conscious mom. They are lightweight and easily transported from home to office or vice versa.
Note: Always use caution when using strength bands, for the possibility of breakage.
To insure the safety of you and your future newborn here's some guidelines to follow:
- Perform 2 exercises per body part, versus 3 sets each.
- Increase your rest periods to 2 minutes between sets, to avoid getting too hot and a dangerously elevated heart rate (Keep below 140 beats per minute). And be sure to avoid holding your breath at any given time.
- Keep the resistance low to moderate depending on your stage of pregnancy and your reps between 8-10 (Stay away from reaching muscle failure).
- Eliminate all exercises that require lying on your back. This position may decrease the blood flow to the uterus and therefore the baby.
- Eliminate all abdominal exercises or exercises that require lying on your stomach (Ex. Lying leg curls).
- Eliminate exercises that may cause loss of balance. Lunges and squats should be substituted for seated leg curls and leg extensions. Free weights may also add to your loss of balance, so the use of machines is recommended to prevent joint injuries. If free weights are used, you should always pay close attention to your form.
Stretching is just as important as exercises because it helps you maintain flexibility. Your joints become very loose during pregnancy, due to hormonal changes, so make sure you stretch before and after your workouts, moving slowly and gently without any bouncy, jerky movements.
Don't Forget Your Kegels
Kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, uterus and bowels. You have the ability to relax and control these muscles in preparation for labor and birth. They are also encouraged during the postpartum period to promote healing of perineal tissues, increase urinary control and help these muscles return to their healthy state after giving birth.
Kegels should be done every day, by imagining you are trying to stop the flow of urine or trying not to pass gas. Contract and hold for a count of five and then relax. Repeat this contraction ten times each set, for about five sets. At first, it may be difficult to do, so start out with a couple of sets and work your way up.
Clothing can make a huge difference on how you look and feel during your workouts. Choose an exercise outfit that will follow you through your pregnancy. Think about comfort. You want clothing that will keep you (and your baby) from getting too hot while you work out. A garment made with 100% cotton is a better choice than choosing one made out of a polyester blend, since cotton pulls moisture away from your body.
There's always a danger of dehydration during exercise. So make sure you are drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout. This will insure your core temperature doesn't rise to a dangerous level for you and your baby.
Get Plenty Of Rest
Sleep is very important for the mom-to-be. During the first trimester, your body works to protect and nurture the developing baby. Your body makes more blood for the forming placenta (the organ that nourishes the fetus until birth), making your heart pump faster.
As the baby grows, you may find it difficult or uncomfortable to lie down as before. Taking catnaps throughout the day can be a great way to get that extra needed sleep, you may be lacking during the night. Once the baby comes, it will be very difficult to even find time to rest, so get it in while you can.
Look Out For The Warning Signs
If you feel any of the following symptoms during exercise stop and contact your doctor immediately:
- Pain anywhere, especially back and pelvic region
- Excessive fatigue
- Uterine Contractions
- Headache or dizziness
- Increased shortness of breath
- Difficulty walking
- Vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage
- Decreased fetal movement
- Rapid heartbeat at rest
Any daily activity is better than no activity, so be sensible. This is the time to enjoy your pregnancy. Embrace your changing body and take pleasure in the movements your baby makes.