The Importance of Exercise and Nutrition
Exercise and Nutrition During Pregnancy
Eating a well-balance diet is always important, but especially so during pregnancy when the food that you eat will help baby’s developing systems. It’s especially important to remember to eat whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lots of healthy protein sources, and drink plenty of water. It can be hard to stick to a healthy diet if you’re not feeling well, or if you’re trying to form new habits during this transition (Boston Women’s Health Book Collective 2008).
Another important key to you and your baby’s health is your prenatal vitamin. Nanci carries a high quality vitamin in her office, but the most important ingredient is the folic acid. Folic acid has been found to be a crucial vitamin in the formation of baby’s spinal column and prevention of Spina Bifida. Especially during early pregnancy, prenatal vitamins can make some women nauseous. Try taking it before going to sleep, so that the side effects will be less noticeable (Boston Women’s Health Book Collective 2008).
Getting enough iron in your diet during pregnancy is essential. Anemia can cause exhaustion during pregnancy and excess blood loss during birth. Foods high in iron include leafy green vegetables (especially spinach), nuts, dried fruits, red meat, and fortified whole grain cereals and breads. If your iron levels are too low, your midwife may suggest taking an iron supplement (Boston Women’s Health Book Collective 2008).
Hydration is especially important during pregnancy. Your uterus will contract when dehydrated, so drinking enough water is important in preventing preterm labor. It also will help with swelling—your body retains water when it is in survival mode. If you are not drinking enough water, your body will retain what it has in store. Once you have the baby it’s important to continue to get enough water. Without water your body can’t make breast milk!
Staying active during pregnancy is vital. It will help to keep you happy and feeling good. It will help you to sleep more soundly, giving you more energy in the long run. It will also help with digestive issues that come along with pregnancy such as constipation and gas. Usually any type of exercise you were doing before you got pregnant is fine to continue. If you weren’t exercising before, now is a great time to start a daily walk or swim! Start slowly and—during pregnancy it is best to avoid physical exhaustion through exercise. Yoga is another form of exercise that many pregnant women enjoy for both its physical and mental benefits. Many yoga studios offer classes specifically for pregnant women. It’s best to avoid contact sports and activities that may result in falling. Towards the end of your pregnancy, avoid exercises involving laying flat on your back (Boston Women’s Health Book Collective 2008). Ask your Houston midwife, Nanci Stanley if you have any questions!
Boston Women’s Health Collective. (2008). Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth. Simon & Schuster.
Hacker, A, E Fung, & J King. (2012). Role of calcium during pregnancy: maternal and fetal needs. Nutrition Reviews, 70(7), 397-409.
Page, SH. (1974). Modern nutrition in the practice of midwifery. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 19(1), 8-17.