Healthy Parenting: Nutrition and Exercise During Pregnancy

Most adults can get away with not eating as well as they should or not exercising the optimal amount. But when it comes to pregnancy, all the things that you have heard about the importance of good health become much more urgent. As the cliché goes, you are eating for two now, and everything you do must be thought of in terms of how it will affect your baby’s development. Of course, it is not an emergency if you have an occasional dessert or miss a day of exercise, but pregnancy requires increased vigilance against bad habits.

What to Eat, and What to Avoid

The key to a smooth pregnancy is to have a healthy, balanced diet that contains items from every food group. But because pregnant women have unique health needs, there are a few types of foods that are particularly recommended.

  • Whole grains: Doctors recommend that pregnant women consume six to nine servings of whole grains per day. This helps maximize your energy during these exhausting months, and the vitamins provided by things like whole-grain cereals, bread, and pasta provide some of the most crucial vitamins during pregnancy.
  • Vegetables and fruits: Pregnant women should have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and it is best to emphasize variety rather than eating the same types of fruits and vegetables over and over. To get your maximum intake of vitamins and minerals, focus on the most healthy items, and try to branch out into types of fruits and vegetables that you may have never liked before.
  • Protein sources: Meat, fish, beans, and eggs are just a few of the foods that provide crucial protein for your baby’s growth. Even if you usually do not eat much meat, pregnancy is a good time to expand your horizons.
  • Dairy products: Dairy products provide the calcium your baby needs to develop strong bones. Yogurt is best, but all kinds of pure dairy products are good.

Pinpointing which types of food to avoid is a little more difficult. Alcohol is completely out of the question, as are tobacco and other types of drugs. It is also best to avoid foods that contain too many unhealthy chemicals. In your produce selection, go with organic products as much as possible.

Meanwhile, it is also best to drink at least 6 8-ounce glasses of water per day. And if you are worried that you are not getting enough nutrition, you can supplement your diet with vitamins. However, keep in mind that the vitamins and minerals in fresh food are usually of a higher quality and easier for the body to absorb.

Exercise during Pregnancy

Studies have shown that pregnant women who exercise produce healthier babies, but this does not mean that you have to wear yourself out with strenuous workouts. Aim for around two and a half hours of exercise per week, with a few 30- to 45-minute workouts spread throughout the week. Not only will this benefit your baby, but it will also help ease aches and pains while preparing you to get back on track after pregnancy.

While exercise is an indispensable part of any healthy pregnancy, it is important to do it in a safe manner. For pregnant women, it is much more important to start slowly, take frequent breaks, stay hydrated, and avoid overdoing it. Avoid high-impact exercises or activities that can result in falling, and trust your body when it tells you it is time to stop.

Pregnancy Weight Gain: How Much?

Recommended weight gain during pregnancy depends upon your body mass index (BMI) prior to becoming pregnant. For a woman of normal size and weight, a gain of 25 to 30 points is optimal. For underweight women, the recommended gain is a little higher, and it is smaller for women who are overweight or obese. In all cases, the weight should be gained gradually, with most of it occurring in the last three months of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor for specific weight-gain recommendations pertaining to your body type and state of health.

By Lisa Pecos