Evanczyk recommends that a thorough clinical evaluation is done before a pregnant woman begins a new exercise program. However, most women should be able to continue existing recreational activities, or modify them as pregnancy conditions change.
“Exercise should activate large muscle groups in rhythmic and continuous fashion — for example, walking, aerobic dance, swimming, cycling, rowing, and skiing,” Evanczyk said . “A typical exercise session should include warm-ups and stretching for five to 10 minutes, the exercise program for 30 to 45 minutes, and finish with a cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.”
Eating healthy and taking prenatal vitamins are another way many health care providers suggest women maintain a healthy body while pregnant. Because the mother’s nutrition affects the growing baby, it is important to be aware of what is being consumed. Intake of alcohol and drugs, as well as sugar, caffeine and processed foods, should be lessened or avoided all together.
“Caffeine was the hardest thing to give up,” Sarah said. “I am drinking decaffeinated coffee now.”
Eating for two is often an excuse for eating more, but according to Becky Drake, registered dietitian and outpatient nutrition services coordinator for A.O. Fox Hospital Hospital and FoxCare, that does not necessarily mean a tremendous amount of calorie intake.
“A healthy diet during pregnancy is essential for both the baby’s and the mother’s health,” Drake said. “A healthy pregnancy diet includes a slightly higher calorie intake than normal, but does require an increase in a number of important nutrients, i.e. protein, folic acid, calcium and iron. To meet these needs without excesses, most women have to improve the content of their usual diet and add only 300 additional calories. An example of these additional calories may be an additional glass of milk and half a sandwich.”
There are several things that pregnant women should avoid eating because of the possible adverse affect on the baby.