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Fact of the Week

Keeping It Healthy

If you are planning to become pregnant, or are pregnant, there are a number of health guidelines to keep in mind in order to create and maintain a healthy environment for a growing baby.

We've covered a few.

Overall Health

Foods To Eat When Pregnant

Foods To Avoid When Pregnant

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Excercises To Do When Pregnant

Excercises To Avoid when Pregnant

Once you think you may be pregnant, make an appointment for a blood test to confirm.

The earlier you confirm pregnancy, the earlier you can be under the proper care of a physician.

Overall Health

Whether trying to conceive or already pregnant, creating a healthy body is important for creating and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

  • Eat well, sleep well and get enough excercise.
  • Minimize stress. Trying to conceive and pregnancy are sometimes stressful enough on their own. Now is a good time to minimize stress in other parts of your life.

    Take a look at the Your Well Being section on our Preparing For Baby page.

  • Most of your baby's organs will develop during the embryonic period (the majority of the first trimester), and it is during this critical period when your growing baby will be most susceptible to damage.

    Alcohol, drugs, infection, x-rays, and poor nutrition can interfere with the normal development of your baby.

  • Consult your physician regarding pre-natal vitamins and any medications you may be taking.
  • Avoid alcohol as it may cause health problems in your developing baby.
  • Avoid drugs as they may cause health problems in your developing baby.
  • Avoid tobacco as it may cause health problems in your developing baby.
  • Consult your physician about Folic Acid. Adequate intake of folic acid before and during the early part of your pregnancy will reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, which are caused by the incomplete develpment of the brain or spinal cord.

Foods To Eat When Pregnant

Whether trying to conceive or already pregnant, a healthy diet is important to creating and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

  • Try to eat fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods are high in the vitamins that are needed to create an environment that is conducive to pregnancy and will nurture your growing baby.

    They are also high in fiber which will help to abate problems with constipation.

  • Spinach, broccoli, avocados and lentils are rich with folic acid, which is vital to your baby's developing brain and nervous system.
  • B6 can also be found in avocados, as well as carrots and red peppers.

    B6 helps the development of your baby's tissue and brain and is often found to alleviate morning sickness.

  • Drink more milk and calcium-fortified orange juice, and eat more yogurt and hard cheeses.

    These foods contain calcium, which strenghthens your bones and helps to avoid pregnancy complications such as preclampsia and high blood pressure.

  • Salmon, flaxseed, some brands of eggs, leafy greens and nuts are all high in omega 3 fatty acids.

    Fatty acids aid in the healthy development of your baby's brain and central nervous system. A diet rich in omega 3s may also help to lower your risk for postpartum depression.

  • Avoid unnecessary calories and fat by choosing low-fat and fat-free versions of the foods that you eat such as milk and yogurt.
  • Eat iron rich foods such as lean proteins in order to maintain your energy levels and aid in the flow of oxygen from your lungs to the placenta which nourishes your growing baby.
  • Where possible, prepare foods in a low fat manner. For example bake or cook your food instead of frying it in butter or oil.

Foods To Avoid When Pregnant

As pregnant women have weakened immune systems, it is wise to avoid foods that carry a higher risk for containing parasites or bacteria.

Food poisoning, which can be caused by bacteria such as listeria, can lead to a miscarriage or pre-term birth, especially if contracted during the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage is at its greatest.

  • Avoid raw and under cooked foods such as raw or rare meat, poultry and fish, sushi, oysters, clams and raw dough as they may contain bacteria and parasites.
  • Avoid soft cheeses such as Brie, goat, feta and blue as they may be unpasteurized and contaminated with bacteria.
  • Be careful with fish and seafood as some are high in mercury which can impair your baby's brain development.

    According to the FDA, pregnant and nursing women may eat up to 12 ounces per week of fish and seafood that are low in mercury including canned light tuna, sardines, tilapia, pollock, catfish, salmon and shrimp.

    Avoid swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and shark as they can be high in mercury.

  • You may want to avoid caffeine by drinking decaffenated beverages.

    Some studies have found that women who consumed 200 milligrams or more of caffeine per day (about 2 cups of regular coffee) had twice the risk for miscarriage than women who consumed no caffeine.

  • Reduce or avoid eating sugary drinks and junk food.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Your body will be going through some dramatic changes while pregnant. Here are some guidelines regarding your weight.

  • The average woman should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during their pregnancy. Overweight women should gain a little less and underweight women a little more. Women expecting twins should gain between 35 and 55 pounds.
  • Try not to use your pregnancy as an excuse to over indulge.

    The average woman should only require a healthy diet of approximately 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester, 2,200 calories during the second, and 2,400 calories during the third, in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

  • You can expect to gain about 2 to 4 pounds during the first trimester and about 1 pound a week during the second and third trimesters.

Excercises To Do When Pregnant

Moderate excercise is generally healthy if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.

As with the nutritional guidelines listed above, if you are trying to become pregnant, it is wise to follow the same excercise guidelines as for pregnant women, as you may be pregnant and not know it and over excercising may prevent you from becomming pregnant.

  • Before continuing or beginning an excercise regimen, consult your physician.
  • Use common sense. If you have a high risk pregnancy, spotting, threatened or previous miscarriages or another significant medical problem you probably shouldn't be excercising.

    Consult your physician as to what would be right for you.

  • Regular excercise can help you sleep better and reduce some of the pregnancy symptoms you may be experiencing. It can help you stay healthy and feeling good and can often make labor easier.

    Try to keep to a regular excercise routine as excercising in spurts may do more harm than good.

  • Remember, your pregnant body is different from your non-pregnant body, so it is more important than ever to listen to it.
  • Gently stretch out before and after excercising as the hormone relaxin, which is produced during pregnancy softens joints and ligaments and may make you more suceptible to injury.
  • Although warming up and cooling down slowly are always important when you excercise, it is even more important while supporting your growing baby. Increase and decrease your heat rate slowly.
  • If you should feel short of breath, light headed or dizzy, stop what you are doing and cool down.
  • Be aware that you may feel fatigue or shortness of breath more quickly than when you were not pregnant. Always work out within a safe heart rate range. You should be able to hold a conversation while excercising, without gasping for air.
  • Pelvic excercises are good for strengthening the muscles that support the uterus. Done daily, it will help to alleviate some of the bladder and bowel control symptoms that you may experience during and after pregnancy.

    While standing or lying on the floor, clench your muscles as if you are trying to keep from urinating or passing your bowels. Hold for as long as you comfortably can and then relax. Repeat this 3 times.

Excercises To Avoid when Pregnant

  • Use common sense. If you have a high risk pregnancy, spotting, threatened or previous miscarriages or another significant medical problem you probably shouldn't be excercising.

    Consult your physician as to what would be right for you.

  • Give some thought when choosing what activities to participate in while pregnant.

    Low impact, low risk for injury activities are best. Swimming, walking, light hiking, light biking, pilates, dancing and yoga are some good examples.

    Avoid contact sports like martial arts or basketball, or activities where you may fall such as skiing.

    Also avoid excercises that concentrate on your abdominal area such as crunches, leg lifts and waist twisting movements.

    Jumping, hopping, running and any excessive bouncing motions should also be avoided while pregnant.