Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always important, but it’s especially needed during pregnancy. There is an insurmountable amount of information available to mothers-to-be on what they should and shouldn’t do, and deciphering between what’s important and what’s not can be overwhelming and difficult. To make it easier, we’ve summarized the basics below:
A sensible, well-balanced diet is the best thing for you and your baby. This diet should include healthy choices of grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, lean meats and beans. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water. The foods you eat are the main source of nutrients for your baby, and it’s especially important to have good sources of protein, iron, calcium and folic acid. There are some foods you should not eat while pregnant, and these include:
- Refrigerated smoked seafood like whitefish, salmon, or mackerel
- Hot dogs or deli meats unless steaming hot
- Refrigerated meat spreads
- Unpasteurized milk or juices
- Store-made salads, such as chicken, egg, or tuna
- Unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie, queso blanco, queso fresco, or blue cheese
- Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or any fish with high levels of mercury
- Raw sprouts of any kind
- Uncooked fish or shellfish
Other important things to avoid during pregnancy are alcohol and excessive amounts of caffeine. No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy; caffeine appears to be safe when consumed in moderate amounts, such as 200 mg per day (equivalent to a 12 oz. of coffee).
It is recommended that healthy pregnant women get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of aerobic activity per week (roughly 20 minutes per day). There are several benefits of staying active during your pregnancy, some of which include:
- Can ease and prevent aches/pains of pregnancy such as constipation, varicose veins, back aches, and exhaustion
- Better prepares you for labor and delivery, and you recover more quickly
- May lower the risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- May improve sleep during pregnancy
- Can make it easier for you to return to a healthy weight after delivery
The best types of activity for pregnant women are low-impact, moderate-effort activities like walking, swimming, cycling or low-impact aerobics. You should avoid doing high-impact exercise or any exercise at an altitude higher than 6,000 feet. Be sure you are always balanced well, and do not exercise on your back after the first trimester.
Many medicines and herbs are known to cause problems during pregnancy. If you are unsure about taking medicine while you are pregnant, check with your doctor, who can give you recommendations and guidance. Always speak with your doctor before starting or stopping any medicine.
During pregnancy, you should avoid exposure to:
- Cigarette Smoke
Do not smoke, or quit if you already do. Smoking is not only harmful to your own health, it can affect the health of your baby. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to miscarry, and also put their babies at risk of birth defects such as cleft lip or palate, or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
For more information on labor and delivery, sign up for one of our education classes offered at St. Mark’s Hospital. View the calendar of upcoming classes here.