I'll go ahead and start this off with a big disclaimer: Before starting a new exercise program or making dietary changes, please consult your care provider first! Now that that's over with lets talk diet and exercise during pregnancy. There is no one size fits all diet and exercise plan for all pregnant women. No magic diet plan will make you have the birth of your dreams;however, you can do things to prepare your body to have the best birth for you.
Nutrition is the most important aspect of fitness, the foundation for a strong,healthy body is found in the kitchen. It's fine to give in to pregnancy cravings within reason, have a treat,but don't eat that entire bag of Oreos. Drink plenty of water,carry a bottle with you and refill often. Dehydration can make you feel extra hungry. Protein is helpful to keep you full throughout the day as well as being necessary for baby's growth-especially during the second and third trimester. Also consuming large amounts of protein keeps blood pressure low,the drbrewerpregnancy.com has more information regarding blood pressure and protein. Folate/folic acid,calcium,iron,and vitamin D are other critical nutrients for pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins help fill any nutritional gaps during your pregnancy,ask your care provider about which one is best for you. Eat a varied diet full of fruits and vegetables, lean meats- if you eat meat,along with grains. Meal planning during pregnancy can be challenging,but can be made simple by following a few guidelines. ACOG recommends using My Plate as a quick guide.
Exercise during pregnancy is always a hotly debated subject. There is no need to completely stop an exercise routine simply because you are pregnant. If you are very active pre-pregnancy it is perfectly fine to continue do what you feel comfortable doing as long as you feel able,again consult your care provider about anything extreme-like marathoning or crossfit. If you feel dizzy,cramping,or nauseous stop what you are doing and talk with your provider about that. What is important is to listen to your body and do what is best for you while preparing yourself for labor. Labor is no simple task, the calories you burn during that time are comparable to what a runner burns during a marathon. If you were not exercising much or at all pre-pregancy then a simple step to incorporate movement into your routine would be to start taking a walk each evening. Walking during labor is also great, being upright helps to bring the baby down and into a good position as well as help to speed a slow labor along. Swimming is another exercise that is great for pregnancy, it relieves pressure on joints and provides a gentle workout. Some gyms have aquafit classes specifically for pregnant women, contact your local gym or YMCA for specifics. Another option for prenatal exercise is yoga.Yoga has more benefits than just physical, practicing yoga is scientifically proven to reduce stress by slowing heart and breathing rates and lowering blood pressure. Certain yoga poses are especially good for pregnancy, pelvic tilts-or cat cow pose helps open your pelvis and relieves back pain. Malasana,also known as squatting is a good one to practice prenatally if you are wanting to squat during labor. Start out holding the pose for as long as you are comfortable and build up to one minute,which is about the length of a contraction. Cobbler pose also helps open the pelvis, this is a good one to use in labor.
Pregnancy brings changes on the body that we can't always control,taking charge what you put in your body is one way to be in charge of your birth. Make small changes slowly and you can make a huge difference in your health. Staying active will help make your labor more manageable. Trust yourself and listen to your body.
Local Resources for prenatal exercise:
Evansville Yoga Center