During pregnancy, nutrition and exercise are essential for the health and well-being of both mom and baby. Eating a wide variety of foods is the best way to get the proper nutrients to your unborn child. You can and should try to exercise moderately, unless there are medical reasons to avoid it. After all, being physically fit will help you cope with the physical challenges of pregnancy and childbirth. JustMommies got the scoop from Tracey Mallett, an International Fitness Expert and Sports Nutritionist, Author of Sexy in 6 and Creator of the 3 in 1 Pregnancy DVD.
TRACEY MALLETT’S ADVICE FOR EMBRACING A FIT PREGNANCY…
Studies have shown that women who exercise on a regular basis have healthier, leaner babies and bounce back quicker after pregnancy. It’s important to check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen. After the go-ahead, try for a combination of cardio (aerobic), strength and flexibility workouts. Walking, stationary cycling, swimming and low-impact aerobics are wonderful for pregnant women. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women should try to become more active and exercise at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. Exercise can benefit your health in the following ways:
- Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
- Builds stamina for labor and delivery
- May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
- Increases your energy
- Improves your mood and reduces stress
- Improves your posture
- Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
Avoid lying flat on your back in the second and third trimester, because this puts weight on the vena cava and can reduce blood flow to your baby. Twisting or jerky movements are not advised, high impact sports such as skiing or horseback riding should be restricted and stay away from activities that can cause trauma to your belly. You can work your abs but only if they’re modified exercises for pregnancy. Strengthening the transverse abdominals (the deepest abdominals which support the spine) is crucial for keeping the pelvis stable and preventing lower back issues. It will also promote an easier and faster delivery.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates are quickly becoming the popular choice for moms-to-be and are an excellent way to stay in shape during pregnancy. Yoga works the reproductive organs and keeps the body flexible, emphasizes breathing, relaxation and body awareness ~ all of which make you better prepared to deal with the challenges of pregnancy and birth. In addition to decreased tension and anxiety, yoga can build strength and reduce pregnancy aches and pains. Pilates and pregnancy go very well together as well. Pilates is great for increasing core strength and when your abs, back and pelvic floor are toned, they will support a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery. Many busy moms find it more convenient to exercise at home by using exercise DVDs. Don’t ever think 5-10 minutes here and there is not enough. If you consistently do some type of exercise, you will naturally start doing more because it becomes a healthy addiction. Every minute counts towards the health of your body!
You should spend 5-10 minutes of stretching and warming up before you start any kind of aerobic exercise. Drink lots of fluids. It’s important to stay hydrated and cool. Do not exercise in extremely hot or humid conditions because overheating can be dangerous for you and your baby. Take it slow and don’t push yourself too hard. Make sure you listen to your body’s cues. Change positions slowly, as your balance and center of gravity will shift during pregnancy. A cool down period is necessary. Slowly return to your resting rate by doing some cool down stretches. Don’t forget to up your caloric intake by about 300-400 calories per day to compensate for the calories burned during exercise and to compensate for your growing baby.
Signs to Stop Exercising
You want to pay attention to your body (and baby) and pace yourself. Even though exercise has plenty of benefits, there are dangers to be aware of. Stop any activity and call your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms occur during exercise:
- Bleeding or leaking fluid
- Sudden or severe abdominal or vaginal pain
- Contractions that go on for 30 minutes after you stop exercising
- Chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness
- Headache that won’t go away
- Eat a well balanced diet consisting of lean protein (fish and chicken), healthy fats (olive oil, flax seed oil, nuts), plenty of veggies (especially green for folic acid essential for development of the baby’s nervous system), fruit and fibrous carbs (oranges, apples, whole wheat helps with constipation associated with pregnancy depending on where the baby is situated).
- Drink plenty of water and limit coffee, soda and high sugary fruit juices.
- Eat every three hours to keep your energy levels consistent and your metabolism running.
- Eat a healthy amount of food but don’t go overboard and “eat for two.” It’s not until the second trimester (as the baby grows) that your caloric uptake will need to be slightly higher.
- Eat healthy fats throughout the day such as fats found in olive oil and canola oil or fatty fish such as salmon. These contain Omega 3 fatty acids which help with the baby’s brain development. Eggs, nuts (walnuts), seeds, and wheat germ are also a great source. If you can’t eat any of these foods, it’s recommended to take a supplement, as your body alone cannot synthesize Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Avoid foods containing trans fats or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat found in the ingredients of food. Many fast foods, packaged foods and fried foods contain these fats.
- Limit saturated fats (lard, butter, sausage, bacon).
- When pregnant, you’re more susceptible to food borne illnesses due to the hormonal shift that can weaken your immune system. Wash your hands before handling any foods and make sure you wash all your veggies and fruit thoroughly.
- Avoid all soft cheeses, un-pasteurized camembert, brie and feta cheese, un-pasteurized milk and juice. Foods that have not been refrigerated for more than two hours are a no-no. Fish high in mercury such as king mackerel, shark and tile fish can be harmful to your baby.
- Don’t forget to take your prenatal vitamins!
Tracey Mallett is a fitness icon for millions of moms and working women across the world. She is the creator/star of over 15 exercise DVDs. For more information, please visitwww.traceymallett.com.