Hey guys! How is everyone’s week going? I am going to see Wicked tonight and I am SO excited! I saw it on Broadway in NYC a few years ago and it was the best show I have ever seen. I have super high expectations for tonight :).
I got a request from one of our wonderful readers to discuss health and nutrition during pregnancy. We have written a few posts on what happens after the baby comes, but nothing about health during pregnancy, so it was a perfect request! For your reference, our previous posts include: Dealing with Post-Pregnancy Changes found here and Health while Breastfeeding found here.
First lets discuss nutrition during pregnancy. Here are some facts that are good to keep in mind:
- According to WebMD, the average woman should gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. This could be higher or lower for you depending on your pre-pregnancy weight. If you are overweight, the recommendation is to gain 15-25 pounds, and if you are underweight, the recommendation is 28-40 pounds. This is going to be different if you are having twins! Although most of us are afraid of weight gain, this is necessary during pregnancy not only for your developing baby, but also to be sure you will have enough fat in your milk supply once the baby is born.
- Have you ever heard someone say now that they are pregnant they can “eat for two” or “eat whatever they want?” This definitely is not a healthy mindset. An average weight woman needs about 300-450 extra (healthy) calories during pregnancy. That is not that much extra! The best way to do this is to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I had to eat more frequently or I would start getting shakey and lightheaded really easily. Later in my pregnancy I rarely actually felt hungry (that baby was taking up LOTS of space) so I had to plan out my meals to make sure I was eating often enough. Listening to your body is always going to be the best option.
- For the healthy development of your baby, it is important to eat a balanced diet and follow My Plate. To read more about My Plate, visit our post here. Pregnant women need extra protein, iron, and folic acid. Here are some foods suggestions: Protein: meat, beans, cheese (talk to your doctor about what cheeses are appropriate during pregnancy), eggs, yogurt, milk. Iron: red meat, spinach, raisins, beans, iron enriched cereals. Folic Acid: Lentils, leafy greens, citrus fruits, asparagus, kidney beans, sunflower seeds. To read why these foods are important for you and your developing baby, go here, here, and here
- You should never diet while pregnant unless you are doing it under the care of your doctor!
- If you have not been eating healthy up to this point, there is not better time than now. Start making healthy choices to help both you and your baby during and after pregnancy/birth.
Now lets talk about health during pregnancy. Since we have already discussed nutrition, I will mainly be talking about exercise here.
- Always discuss exercise during pregnancy with your doctor, but as a general rule, as long as it is comfortable for you and you are not having any pain, you can keep up with your exercise routine. As you get farther into your pregnancy, you will need to adjust what you are doing. I was able to keep running until I was 37 weeks pregnant, but by the end I was only going about 1.5 miles and it was much slower than what I was used to. But I was doing it without pain and my doctor okay’d it, so I kept it up as long as possible.
- It is not advised to start doing rigorous activity while pregnant if you are not used to it, but that does not mean you can’t exercise if you weren’t before. Start by going on walks that are fast enough to get your heart rate up but where you can still hold up a conversation. If you have any complications with your pregnancy, do not start any exercise program without talking to your doctor.
- Some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy according to Women’s Health include: preventing back aches, preventing constipation, better prepare you for labor, “bouncing back” to a healthy weight faster following pregnancy, better self esteem and a lower risk of depression. Isn’t it amazing what exercise can do for our health?!
- If you feel dizzy, tired, out of breath, or any pain, stop exercising immediately.
- You can work out your core during pregnancy (and it is good to do so!), but keep in mind that you do not want to lay on your back during pregnancy. This is especially important after 20 weeks! The weight of the baby can press on your vena cava which will reduce the amount of blood flow to your heart, and thus, reduce the amount of blood flow to your growing baby. Crunches are not advised during pregnancy. They can actually increase the risk of diastasis recti, or the separation of your abdominal muscles. The best core work to do during pregnancy are planks.
I hope this helped clear up any questions you may have had about health and nutrition during pregnancy!
Thanks for reading!