If fitness has always been important to you, there’s no reason that should change during pregnancy. And if you’re not someone who exercises regularly, there are advantages to becoming active while you’re pregnant. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate daily exercise during pregnancy, with approval from your physician.
Some of the common discomforts experienced by expectant moms, such as backaches and fatigue, can be decreased by regular exercise. A fitness routine can relieve stress and help you have more stamina for labor and delivery. There’s even evidence that it can prevent gestational diabetes.
You may need to modify some types of exercise that you might have done before you were expecting. Low impact aerobics are fine, but high impact workouts may need to be modified. Elliptical machines, stationary cycles, step machines and swimming offer health benefits with lower risk of injury. Jogging is considered acceptable in moderation, but activities that require considerable balance or coordination, such as tennis, may prove more difficult in the later months of a pregnancy.
For someone who wants to begin exercising while pregnant, walking is the way to begin. Listen to your body. Pregnancy is not a time for breaking records, but is a great motivator for getting healthy. If you’re a competitive athlete who is pregnant, you should consult regularly with your OB/GYN about what activities are safe for you.
Of course, exercise during pregnancy isn’t the right choice for everyone. If you have a history of premature birth for example, exercise could be harmful. Likewise, if you have a medical condition such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, exercise while pregnant may not be wise. In all cases, consult with your health care provider before beginning your program.
When it comes to diet, here’s the good news: you should take in about 300 calories more every day than you did before you were expecting. The bad news? The nausea that usually accompanies pregnancy can make this more challenging than it sounds. But a good diet, low in fat and sugar, supplemented by prenatal vitamins, is important for you and your baby.
Recommended daily servings include:
- 3 servings of breads and grains (48 g of whole grains and more fiber is better)
- 2 – 4 servings of fruit (70 mg of vitamin C)
- 4 or more servings of vegetables (0.4 mg of folic acid)
- 4 servings of dairy products (1,000 – 1,300 mg of calcium)
- 3 servings of protein (27 mg of iron)
- A good over-the-counter prenatal vitamin, or one prescribed by your physician, can help you ensure that you’re getting enough of the nutrients you and your baby need.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet…sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But when it comes to your health and the health of your baby, they’re more important than ever before. Your doctor can provide additional information on what’s best for you during this special time.