Diet And Exercise During Pregnancy
Most expectant mothers will think about diet and exercise during pregnancy because they want the best for their unborn babies.
It is important to consider what you eat and to try and maintain a level of fitness, this will contribute to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Some of you may be a bit daunted at the thought of keeping the right diet and exercise during pregnancy, after all, eating a balanced diet does take a bit of effort and you have to know what to eat and what not to eat.
Hopefully this page on diet and exercise during pregnancy will make it a little easier for you and give you some nice simple ideas to follow.
Your baby does need a nice balance of nutrients to thrive, but don’t get obsessed over it! Some (who probably lean this way before pregnancy) may find themselves getting worked up or fanatical about eating healthily and this can cause unnecessary stress, which is not good for baby.
So, rather than stressing, just try to keep in mind that your diet needs to be balanced and varied, but does not need to be strict.
The same principles apply to diet and exercise during pregnancy as to all of us who want to eat healthily and stay fit. So you should try to eat some of the following each day:
1. Fruit - Try to eat at least one portion of fruit each day, and two if you can manage it. This can include fresh, dried or tinned fruit and unsweetened fruit juice. If eating tinned, try to get fruit that is in it’s own juice or water, without added sugar. Fruit contains vitamins and minerals that are vital for you and baby, and also fibre, which help to avoid constipation.
2. Vegetables - It is a good idea to try your best to eat three or four portions of vegetables per day. This can include fresh, tinned or frozen vegetables and they can be cooked or raw, on their own, or part of a meal.
3. Protein - You should try to eat some protein each day. This comes in the form of meat, eggs, fish, poultry, beans, lentils and pulses. I would advise everyone to eat meat during pregnancy, but strict vegetarians should make sure they replace the protein found in meat with alternatives such as lentils pulses and eggs. The important thing with meat is to make sure it is cooked thoroughly and that there is no pink meat.
4. Dairy - Dairy is very important during pregnancy as it contains calcium which is vital for the growth of your baby’s bones and teeth. It is important to drink plenty of milk, eat yoghurt, fromage frais and cheese. Try to find low fat versions of these and drink semi-skimmed milk, but please make sure you do, dairy will keep yours and your baby’s bones and teeth strong.
Try to avoid eating too many things which are high in fat or sugar. These include things like biscuits, crisps, butter, salad dressings, cakes, chocolates, cream, puddings and fizzy drinks. Too much of this kind of thing can increase weight and cholesterol with very little in the way of nutrients for you and your baby, proving detrimental to both diet and exercise during pregnancy.
There are various foods that can be damaging during pregnancy, for more information on these please go to my Foods To Avoid When Pregnant page.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Now all that I’ve mentioned above is the theory of what you’re supposed to include in your diet during pregnancy, and many who feel well during pregnancy may find it fairly easy to keep up with the different foods they should be eating.
However, for many pregnant women, things are not so straightforward because morning sickness ravages them and preparing and eating food becomes very hard. In fact morning sickness can affect both diet and exercise during pregnancy. I was one of these women during my pregnancies and so here I’m going to try to keep it real.
If you are suffering from morning sickness, don’t panic about not being able to eat as healthily as you would like! The important thing is to keep eating.
Above I cited biscuits as something to not eat too much of during pregnancy. However, when I was suffering from morning sickness, I had to carry around a constant supply of digestive biscuits with me to snack on. Sometimes only something bland like this will do.
Having said that, it’s a good idea to try to keep the snacks as healthy as possible. Here are some healthy snack ideas that, if I were ever pregnant again, I would definitely try:
1. Sandwiches or pitta bread filled with grated cheese, ham, tuna and salad.
2. Raw vegetables such as carrot, celery or cucumber.
3. Low-fat yoghurt or fromage frais.
4. Vegetable sticks or pitta with hummus
5. Dried fruit such as apricots or figs.
6. Breakfast cereals, especially ones including oats.
7. Milky drinks
8. Beans on toast
9. Jacket potato with cheese or your choice of topping
As long as you try your best to eat a varied and balanced diet during your pregnancy then you can have peace of mind that you’re giving your baby the best start.
So we’ve discussed diet and exercise during pregnancy should be a bit simpler. The thing is, if you didn’t exercise before becoming pregnant, then now would not be the time to start a strict fitness regime.
Those who have regularly exercised before becoming pregnant can continue to do so, but may need to ease off a bit and slow down according to how they feel.
Those who have not exercised regularly but would like to start should do low impact exercises and not push themselves.
Suitable exercises for pregnancy include:
1. Swimming- Ideal for those who are starting to exercise, but haven’t previously.
2. Walking - Ideal for those who are starting to exercise but haven’t previously.
3. Running or jogging - Only suitable for those who have done this regularly before becoming pregnant, and you will likely need to reduce the amount you do compared to before.
4. Weight training - Again, only suitable for those who have been doing it previously, but you will have to switch to light weight training and avoid the heavy weights as these can damage your muscles during pregnancy.
5. Low impact aerobics - A great way to get your heart pumping and tone up.
6. Pilates - Ideal for anyone who wants to stay supple and improve core strength. Also good for pelvic floor muscles.
7. Dance - This can be a fun way to keep fit, and can easily be kept low impact.
Some women will have been involved in exercise before that can be a risk to them and therefore an unborn child also because of falling or slipping. It is up to the individual to decide whether or not to cease involvement with such activities, but the risk does need to be considered. Such things include:
1. Rock climbing
3. Horse riding
4. Skateboarding and roller lading
It is always better to be safe than sorry and remember it is not just your health to consider here, but also that of your unborn baby.
Diet and exercise during pregnancy is not something to stress about, but is definitely worth serious consideration. If you can eat a balanced and varied diet and try to engage in at least one form of exercise each week, then you will be doing your part to ensure your baby is healthy and that you are too.
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