stay fit and happy

Most women can and should engage in mild to moderate exercise during pregnancy. Exercise can help you stay in shape as well as prepare your body for labor and delivery. Talk with one of our obstetric physicians before beginning any exercise program.

Walking, swimming, or cycling on a reclining stationary bike are all excellent forms of exercise during pregnancy. Strengthening exercises are appropriate using light weights. You may also want to consider a prenatal exercise class. Instructors can illustrate safe and effective floor exercises.

Exercise during pregnancy can:
  • Improve strength and stamina
  • Strengthen muscles in preparation for labor and delivery
  • Help resolve constipation
  • Improve fitness
  • Relieve back pain
  • Increase flexibility
  • Improve your mood
  • Improve your sleep

At the same time, there are a number of key points to keep in mind while you exercise:

  • Your balance and center of gravity will change as your baby grows larger
  • You may feel short of breath as oxygen demands change
  • Blood volume increases so your heart's workload also increases
  • Pregnancy hormones can cause ligaments to loosen and stretch

Whether you are pregnant or not, it is always important to warm up and cool down when exercising. Take 5-10 minutes at the beginning of your exercise session to gradually warm-up your muscles and prepare your body. When you finish, gradually slow down rather than stopping abruptly.

Other important tips include:

  • Dress for the weather
  • Wear appropriate clothing and shoes
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet

nutrition in pregnancy

A balanced diet is a basic part of good health at all times in your life. During pregnancy, your diet is even more important. The foods you eat are the main source of nutrients for your baby. As your baby grows, you will need more of most nutrients yet you should only consume about 300 extra calories a day.

a healthy diet

The first step towards healthy eating is to look at the foods in your daily diet. Early in pregnancy, morning sickness can affect your eating habits. You may crave certain foods or not feel like eating. If this happens, you should still try to eat a variety of foods each day to help ensure you are getting the right amount of nutrients.

The benefit of staying hydrated cannot be overstated. Make sure to consume a ample supply of water each and every day....generally, 8 to 10 glasses. Being well hydrated helps your body all the way through pregnancy. From help with the symptoms of early pregnancy to the prevention of pre-term labor, consistent water intake is important.

Having healthy snacks that you can eat during the day is a good way to get the nutrients and extra calories you need. You may find it easier to eat snacks and small meals throughout the day rather than three big meals a day. This also may help you avoid nausea and heartburn.

Healthy eating also means avoiding things that may be harmful. This includes alcohol, illegal drugs, and cigarette smoking. All of these may cause birth defects and other problems for both mother and baby.

Planning meals in advance can ensure you and your family eat a balanced diet.

common questions on nutrition during pregnancy

How can I plan meals to get the nutrients I need during pregnancy?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designed an online interactive diet-planning program called "Daily Food Plan for Moms" specifically for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. This program gives you a personalized plan that includes the kinds of foods in the amounts that you need to eat for each trimester of pregnancy, based on specific food groups.

How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

How much weight you gain during pregnancy depends on your weight before pregnancy. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Women with a normal BMI before pregnancy should gain between 25 pounds and 35 pounds during pregnancy.

Can being overweight or obese affect pregnancy?

Overweight and obese women are at increased risk of several pregnancy problems. These problems include gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery. Babies of overweight and obese mothers also are at greater risk of certain problems, such as congenital abnormalities, macrosomia with possible birth injury, and childhood obesity. For women with a BMI of 30 or greater, a weight gain of between 11 pounds and 20 pounds is recommended during pregnancy. For women with a BMI of 40 or greater, a modest weight loss during pregnancy may be recommended.

Can consuming caffeine be harmful during pregnancy?

Moderate caffeine intake (200 milligrams per day--the amount in approximately two 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee) does not appear to lead to miscarriage or preterm birth. It is not clear whether caffeine increases the risk of having a low birth weight baby.

Excess caffeine can interfere with sleep and contribute to nausea and light-headedness. It also can increase urination and lead to dehydration.

What basic nutrients should every diet include?

Every diet should include proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fat. Dietary reference intakes (DRIs) are recommended amounts an individual should consume daily of certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. During pregnancy, the DRIs are higher for many nutrients.

How much should I eat during pregnancy?

If you are a normal weight before pregnancy, you need only an average of 300 extra calories per day to fuel your baby's growth and keep you healthy during pregnancy--the amount in a glass of skim milk and half a sandwich.

Having healthy snacks that you can eat during the day is a good way to get the nutrients and extra calories you need. You may find it easier to eat snacks and small meals throughout the day rather than three big meals a day.

Do I need any extra nutrients during pregnancy?

Pregnant women need extra iron and folic acid. To get these extra nutrients, a prenatal vitamin supplement is recommended for most women. You should talk to your health care provider before taking a prenatal vitamin supplement because excess amounts of some vitamins or minerals during pregnancy can be harmful.

What is folic acid?

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is also known as folate. Before pregnancy and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, you need 0.4 milligrams (or 400 micrograms) of folic acid daily in order to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. All women of childbearing age should take a multivitamin supplement containing 0.4 milligrams of folic acid a day.

Women who have had a child with a neural tube defect or who are taking certain drugs need much higher doses of folic acid--4 milligrams daily. Women who need 4 milligrams should take folic acid as a separate supplement, not as part of a multivitamin.

What does iron do in the body?

The iron in red blood cells helps carry oxygen to your organs, tissues, and baby. Women need more iron in their diets during pregnancy to support the growth of the baby and to produce extra blood. The recommended daily amount of iron you should consume while pregnant is 27 milligrams, which can be found in most prenatal vitamin supplements. Women who do not have enough iron stored in their bodies before pregnancy may develop anemia. Some women may need extra iron in the form of an iron supplement.