Friday, August 26, 2011

Exercise During Pregnancy

Gone are the days when women were advised to put up their feet and take it easy during pregnancy. Experts agree that a healthy pregnancy requires a moderate amount of regular exercise. If you have high-risk pregnancy, talk to doctor before beginning an exercise program. If your pregnancy is low-risk, then exercise should be part of your daily routine.

Exercise during pregnancy can be challenging, but it can also be a great way to improve or maintain a healthy body image. Many women opt for walking as their main form of exercise. Walking is accessible to almost everyone, making it the most popular form of exercise. Swimming is another excellent form of exercise that strengthens the cardiovascular system. Swimming can also alleviate some of the discomforts of pregnancy, especially during the last trimester. Pregnant women often love the water because of its anti-gravity effects: women can find relief from their heavy bellies in the water. Prenatal yoga is another popular choice for pregnant women. Women who were runners prior to becoming pregnant can continue to run during pregnancies, too. Higher intensity exercise, like running, needs to be taken on with a bit more caution than lighter intensity exercise, like walking. Because pregnancy causes the ligaments and tendons of the body to relax, pregnant women may  be at a higher risk for certain injuries. Generally, pregnant women should never exercise to the point of exhaustion and should avoid sprinting and anything else that causes breathlessness. Feeling like you are able to carry on a conversation while you exercise is a good way to ensure that you are not

During the first trimester, exercise has the potential to alleviate nausea. As you enter the second trimester, your center of gravity may begin to change. From this period on, paying special attention to your balance during exercise will help safeguard you against injuries. During the third trimester you may find yourself slowing down, no matter what activity you have chosen as exercise. This is normal, and despite feeling very heavy and perhaps tired, you should try your best to continue your exercise regimen.

Exercise during pregnancy can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Sometimes you feel sick, other times tired. Though regular exercise during pregnancy may be challenging, the benefits you and your baby will reap are many. Exercise can help you manage weight gain, and perhaps more importantly, regular exercise definitely improves your body image as your pregnancy progresses. Despite the many changes that you will experience as a pregnant woman, a fit, active nine months will have you reveling in the many amazing things your body can do.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Avoiding Pregnancy Weight Gain

Many women worry about what pregnancy will do to their bodies. Women are advised to gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, and sometimes underweight women need to gain more than 35 pounds during pregnancy. The opposite is true for overweight women; they may be advised by their doctors to gain less than the average recommended amount. Gaining weight is an important part of a healthy pregnancy; your growing baby needs nourishment for both body and brain. On the other hand, gaining too much weight can cause challenges for the mother, both during pregnancy and afterward.

Avoiding gaining too much weight during pregnancy can be difficult for many women, especially with the discomforts of the first trimester. Many women struggle with nausea, and typically frequent meals can regulate this ill feeling in many women. It is very easy to overeat during this time. Sometimes women allow themselves to overindulge in favorite foods when they are pregnant, but in reality, pregnant women only need an additional 300 calories during the first trimester and up to 500 additional calories each day during the third trimester. For reference, a glass of milk and a whole grain bagel with peanut butter is about 400-500 calories. Just as important as the amount you eat are the types of foods you choose to eat during pregnancy. Pregnant women, like all adults, should be eating a variety of healthy, fresh foods. Pregnant women often enjoy fruit more during the second and third trimesters, and they can and should give in to such a healthy craving. Some women are averse to eating strongly flavored vegetables, like broccoli or spinach, during the first trimester. When this happens, be patient with yourself. Eat as well as you can, and slowly build those nausea-inducing vegetables back into your diet as you feel ready for them. Lean meats and moderate amounts of healthy fish are also highly recommended for pregnant women. Check with your doctor for a list of fish that is safe during pregnancy. Dairy is also a good source of protein and calcium during pregnancy, both of which are essential for maintaining even energy levels and strong bones.

Exercise is also an important tool for pregnant women. Childbirth requires strength and endurance. Pregnant women can improve their fitness during pregnancy even if they have not been regular exercisers in the past.  During pregnancy, a woman's heart works harder to pump her increased blood volume throughout her body. This increased effort often leaves a pregnant woman feeling winded, but that is normal. Do not let that feeling keep you from moderate exercise, but, at the same time, do not exercise to the point of exhaustion. Daily walking or swimming is an excellent way to build your endurance. If you are a runner or a competitive athlete, pregnancy does not have to completely sideline you from the activities you love. Many women run through their entire pregnancies! As long as you have your doctor's approval and you listen to your body for signs to take it easier, there is no reason why you can not continue to run or enjoy another higher intensity workout  while pregnant. Exercise also enhances and regulates mood. Emotional ups and downs are normal for pregnant women, and exercise can help ease some of those highs and lows. At a time when you may feel like your body is not your own, exercise can help you feel comfortable with the many changes you are experiencing. Regular exercise during pregnancy will prepare your body not only for childbirth, but for the work of motherhood as well.

Finally, aiming to gain pregnancy weight slowly and evenly will help to prevent stretch marks on your skin. Though some women can do nothing to avoid them, maintaining an even weight gain will allow your skin to accommodate your growing belly in smaller increments, resulting in fewer stretch marks.

Enjoying your pregnancy all the time can be challenging, especially when your body is going through such rapid changes! But gaining the recommended amount of weight for your situation will help ease some of the worry you may have about taking the weight off after the birth of your little one. Sticking to a healthy diet as much as possible will give you more energy, better health, and prepare you for caring for your baby, too!