What Should You Do When Eating for Two?
Congratulations! You're pregnant and suddenly everything you knew about your favorite foods, exercise, beauty products and spa treatments is thrown out the window. How do you navigate life when there's a new little one growing inside you? There are lots of good pregnancy books and websites out there, plus the always-favorite Facebook/friend/crowdsource option. Of course, your OB should be your first and foremost source for all things prenatal, but to give you a head start we've rounded up a few of the most common pregnancy questions and answers.
Pregnancy Nutrition and Weight Gain
Weight Gain: This is usually the hottest topic for every pregnant woman — other than the health of her baby. It's necessary and healthy to gain weight during pregnancy, but let's face it, no one wants to pack on a ton of excess weight they'll just be trying frantically to lose in a few months. It's unhealthy and can actually raise the risk of you and/or your baby having problems during pregnancy and after delivery. Aim for no more than 28 pounds (recommended) to 35-ish pounds (more typical) if you started at a relatively healthy weight. How is that possible? See the next tip below.
Healthy Eating: Okay, you are eating for two, but be realistic. To prevent excess weight gain, simply add 300 extra calories a day to your already healthy diet in the form of two small snacks. Think protein (at least 75 grams a day), whole grains, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats (good for baby's developing brain). Drink lots of water!
Caffeine: You don't have to give up your morning latte! Just limit your intake to one 12-ounce serving a day.
Raw Food: Expect to eat more simply when you're expecting. Some raw, exotic and imported foods can contain toxoplasmosis, salmonella, listeria and other harmful bacteria. Save treats like raw sushi, deli meats, pates and store-made meat salads, steak tartare, imported soft cheeses (unless labeled pasteurized) and even raw sprouts like alfalfa or mung bean (which may contain E. coli) for a post-birth celebration. In fact, avoid anything uncooked, undercooked or unpasteurized. However, fresh fruits, veggies and juices are okay, but be sure to follow these FDA safe-handling guidelines.
Vitamins: Your OB will likely recommend a prenatal vitamin, which gives your body the extra folic acid and iron it needs to grow a healthy baby. Warning! That extra iron may do a number on your colon, so be sure to ask your doctor about stool softeners before you get into an uncomfortable situation. All other vitamins and minerals should come from a well-rounded diet, not from herbal or nutritional supplements unless prescribed by your doctor.
Pregnancy Health and Fitness
Exercise: If you were running 5 miles a week and taking a couple of yoga classes before you were pregnant, keep it up! Working out at your prepregnancy level is typically okay for most women, but that doesn't mean if you haven't exercised in a while (or ever) you should continue to do so.
Physical activity — especially low-impact movements like walking, swimming and stationary cycling — is beneficial for counteracting excess weight gain, building strong muscles and bones, and increasing stamina and flexibility — all advantages that will aid in labor, delivery and recovery. Remember those Kegel exercises? They can also help with labor and delivery as well as with pregnancy incontinence.
Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise can have other benefits as well, including lowering your risk for potential pregnancy problems, including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Pregnancy Beauty and Wellness
Hair Color: Coloring your hair can make you feel good about yourself when your favorite jeans don't fit and you can't bend over to paint your toes, and that's always a good thing! Just know that some OBs recommend waiting until after the first trimester, or 12 to 13 weeks, before coloring or highlighting your hair.
Hot Tubs and Saunas: Babies in the womb don't have the ability to sweat and cool themselves down, so it's important to keep your core temperature below 101°F. If the temperature of the water or steam room is higher than that or you don't know what it is, settle for a body-temperature warm bath instead. And sorry, you'll have to go simple here, too. Using bubble bath or any scented feminine hygiene products can cause irritation and increase your risk for a urinary tract or yeast infection.
Massage: By all means, indulge in as many massages as you can afford. But make sure your massage therapist is trained in prenatal massage and uses a chair or special table with plenty of room for your growing baby bump.
Foot Reflexology: Sorry, but that's a no, especially near the end. If you subscribe to the principles of reflexology, there are pathways in the foot related to the uterus. So unless you want your feet deciding your baby's due date, treat yourself to another massage instead.
MBA, BSN, RN; Vice President of Women and Children's Services at Medical City Arlington
LaTosha Boldware is a busy single mother of two active young ladies. Her life is full of sports, church, school, family and work. LaTosha's passion is nursing, specifically women's health, and she wants to spread the word about women's health to all who will listen.
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