Eating and Exercising While Pregnant

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Pregnant Woman Shopping for Food

For soon-to-be mothers, it is important to take excellent care of yourself. Not only will help you feel good throughout your pregnancy, it will also help your baby grow at a healthy rate.

Self-care means many things, but most importantly it involves paying close attention to your nutrition and exercise routines. Learn what foods to eat while pregnant as well as how to exercise safely.

General health during pregnancy

To stay healthy during pregnancy, the most important thing you can do is always listen to your doctor. Take the vitamins your doctor recommends, stay active and avoid drugs and alcohol. Eliminate stress in your life, dress in comfortable clothing, and stay hydrated to keep unpleasant pregnancy side effects at bay.

The best foods for you and your baby

One of the biggest questions expectant moms have is, "What should I eat?" A well-balanced diet is best. Pregnant women need plenty of folic acid, iron and calcium. You can get these through supplements. However, it helps to also eat foods that contain them.

You can find folic acid in leafy green veggies, beans and citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit. Iron is in red meat, fish, spinach and beans. Calcium is plentiful in milk and dairy products. In general, you want to make sure you eat plenty of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables throughout your pregnancy.

Foods you shouldn't eat while pregnant

While your body needs certain foods during pregnancy, there are also foods you should avoid. Never eat uncooked meat, poultry or seafood, and avoid raw eggs. This includes skipping sushi, smoked fish, undercooked shellfish and fish with high mercury levels, like swordfish. Raw and undercooked foods can lead to infections. Foods high in mercury can cause brain damage in your unborn baby.

You'll also want to avoid foods that aren't pasteurized, like milk, juices and certain types of cheese. Other foods you want to avoid include:

  • Cold cuts
  • Raw dough
  • Raw sprouts
  • Meat spreads and pates
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables

Exercising safely during pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits. It prevents you from gaining too much weight and helps reduce stress. It's also good for your circulation and can help reduce back pain.

The key to exercising during pregnancy is to do it safely. Start with these tips (and with your doctor's approval):

  • Aim for 30 minutes a day of low-impact exercise. Try swimming, yoga or walking.
  • Avoid contact sports and activities that put you at risk for falling.
  • Drink plenty of water before, after and during your workouts to prevent dehydration. Avoid intense exercises that leave you overheated.
  • Stop exercising if you feel weak, dizzy, have chest pain, get a sudden headache, or notice discharge (including blood) from your vagina.
  • Dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothing that is temperature appropriate. Support your breasts with a good sports bra. Consider wearing stomach support during your last trimester.
  • Again, it is important to talk with your doctor before you exercise. You may need to change the exercises you do if you're pregnant with multiples, have a pre-existing health condition, or are at risk for preterm labor.

Read this story about St. Francis Health System hosting a baby shower and wedding for a mother-to-be.

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