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Building a Strong Foundation for Your Pregnancy

Contemplating pregnancy?  Nutritional and optimal health should be priority number one!  Women contemplating pregnancy must keep in mind that healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle behaviors should be established before pregnancy to make sure proper nutrient levels for early embryo development and growth.

Eating a balanced diet that includes the proper amount servings of protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables is key. Protein is essential to the very foundation of your baby’s growth. Eating enough protein ensures that your little one, from the very beginning, is getting adequate food stores to support cell growth and blood production.  Regular exercise should also be incorporated in your daily routine to prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy. Habits such as drinking or smoking must be avoided to allow for optimal health and development of the child during pregnancy and after birth.  Good habits should  include taking a daily multivitamin or a daily prenatal vitamin.  Even if you are consuming healthy foods daily, you can miss out on key nutrients.  A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help fill any gaps.  A quality, fast absorbing prenatal vitamin is necessary for all the basic micronutrients needed during pregnancy.eat-well-teaser

Through the course of pregnancy there is an increased need for nutrients and calories to make sure proper fetal growth. The increased need for vitamins and minerals such as folate, calcium and iron is necessary to prevent birth defects, ensure proper bone formation/retention, and to reduce the risks of preeclampsia or anemia. Folic acid intake increases to a daily amount of 800 mcg, calcium to 1200 mg, and iron to 30 mg. Your Vitamin D levels should be checked with your initial prenatal labs to be sure you levels are not insufficient or deficient.  Fetal needs for vitamin D increase during the latter half of pregnancy, when bone growth and ossification are most prominent. Vitamin D travels to the fetus by passive transfer, and the fetus is entirely dependent on maternal stores. Your body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It may also have an impact on birth weight.  Therefore, maternal status is a direct reflection of fetal nutritional status.

Researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood.

Blog by Shelia Kirkbride

Best Exercises for Your Pregnancy

yogamomCongratulations on your pregnancy! Now you can sit back, relax and put your feet up for the next nine months, right? Not so fast! Attitudes and beliefs about prenatal exercise have drastically changed over the past twenty years. No longer is pregnancy viewed as a time to sit, watch TV and each chocolate. These days, moms can actually maintain and improve their fitness levels while pregnant. And exercise provides many numerous benefits such as a boost in your mood and energy levels, helps you sleep better, helps prevent excess weight gain and increases your stamina and muscle strength. You cannot lose!

Regular exercise during your pregnancy can improve not only your heart health and boost your energy, but improve your overall health. Maintaining a healthy body and healthy weight gain can help reduce common pregnancy complaints and discomforts like lower back pain, fatigue and constipation and can even help with shortening your time during labor by strengthening your endurance.

First, consult your health care provider if it is okay to exercise. If you have been participating in a regular exercise regimen and are having a healthy pregnancy, there should not be a problem continuing with your regimen in moderation. You may have to modify your exercise according to your trimester of pregnancy.

If you have not participated in an exercise regimen three times a week before getting pregnant, do not jump into a new, strenuous activity. Start out with a low-intensity activity and gradually move to a higher activity level.

The best type of exercise during pregnancy:
• Increases your heart rate steadily and improves your heart circulation
• keeps you flexible and limber
• manages your weight gain by burning calories
• prepares your muscles for labor and birth
• won’t cause you to push your body too hard

Research shows that healthy pregnant women who exercise during their pregnancy may have less risk of preterm labor and birth and a shorter labor process, are less likely to need pain relief, and recover from childbirth faster.

Regular, moderate exercise not only gives you a healthier pregnancy, it may give your baby a healthier start. Research shows that when pregnant women exercise, their developing babies have a much lower heart rate. Babies of active moms may also have a healthier birth weight. Experts recommend that you exercise for 30 minutes a day, on most days. Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it.

Your pregnancy exercise regimen should strengthen and condition your muscles. Always begin by warming up for five minutes and stretching for five minutes. Following your choice of exercise, finish your regimen with five to ten minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with gentle stretching.

The safest and most productive activities to perform during your pregnancy are brisk walking, swimming, indoor stationary cycling, prenatal yoga and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until the birth of your baby. Other activities such as jogging can be done in moderation. You might want to choose exercises or activities that do not require great balance or coordination, especially later in your pregnancy.

Use common sense:
• Avoid exercising that involves lying on your stomach or flat on your back after the first trimester of pregnancy.
• Stay well hydrated and drink plenty of fluids before, during and after you exercise.
• Avoid overheating and humidity, especially during the first trimester when the fetus is undergoing its most important growth and development.
• Stop exercising if you feel fatigued, develop persistent pain or experience any vaginal bleeding; check with your healthcare provider if regular contractions occur more than 30 minutes after exercise (possibly a sign of pre-term labor).
• Avoid heavy weightlifting and any activities that require straining.
• Avoid exposure to extremes of air pressure, as in high altitude exercise (unless you’re accustomed to it) or scuba diving.
• Do not increase the intensity of your workout beyond pre-pregnancy intensity level
• Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Sedentary pregnant women need about 3,000 calories per day during the second and third trimesters; if you are physically active, your caloric needs will be higher to make up for the calories burned up during your exercise regimen.

Basic exercise guidelines:
• Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes, as well as a good support bra
• Choose shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you choose. Proper shoes are your best protection against injury
• Exercise on a flat, level surface to avoid injury
• Finish eating at least one hour before exercising
• Get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness
• Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you cannot talk normally while exercising, you are probably over exerting yourself, and you should slow down your activity.

Physical changes during your pregnancy will create extra demands on your body. Keeping in mind the changes listed below, remember you need to listen to your body and adjust your activities or exercise regimen as necessary.
• Your developing baby and other internal changes require more oxygen and energy.
• Hormones (relaxin) produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch, increasing the risk of injury.
• The extra weight and the uneven distribution of your weight alters your center of gravity. The extra weight also puts stress on joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area, and makes it easier for you to lose your balance

If you have any medical condition, such as asthma, heart disease, hypertension or diabetes, exercise may not be advisable. Again, consult with your health care provider before beginning any exercise regimen.

Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:
• vaginal Bleeding or spotting
• Low placenta (low-lying or placenta previa)
• Threatened or history of recurrent miscarriage
• Previous premature births or history of early labor
• Weak cervix

Talk with your health care provider before beginning any exercise program. Your health care provider can also suggest personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.

Stop exercising and consult your healthcare provider if you:
• Feel pain
• Have abdominal, chest, or pelvic pain
• Notice an absence of fetal movement
• Feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, or light-headed
• Feel cold or clammy
• Have vaginal bleeding
• Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily (when your bag of “water” breaks, also called rupture of the amniotic membrane)
• Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat
• Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, face, or experience calf pain
• Have increased shortness of breath
• Have persistent contractions that continue after rest
• Have difficulty walking

Regular exercise will keep you and your baby healthy while staying fit, and enjoying your pregnancy!

Written by: Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM, certified nurse-midwife, Midwifery Service Director, Washington, D.C. Area and co-author: Nine Months In ~ Nine Months Out.
References
Miller, Angel, Kelly, Stacia, Kirkbride, Shelia, Matthews, Corry. Nine Months In ~ Nine Months Out. Sterling, Va. Ironcutter Media, 2011.
http://www.webmd.com/baby/exercise-during-pregnancy
http://kidshealth.org/parent/index.jsp?tracking=P_Home
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896

Limiting Weight Gain during Pregnancy

How much weight should I gain?
Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy by eating a healthy, balanced diet is a good sign that your baby is getting all the nutrients he or she needs and is growing at a healthy rate.

Weight gain should be slow and gradual. In general, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during your first three months of pregnancy and 1 pound a week for the remainder of your pregnancy, unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider will tell you how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. A woman of average weight and height and/or normal BMI before pregnancy can expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. You may need to gain more or less weight, depending on what your healthcare provider recommends.

It is not necessary to “eat for two” during pregnancy. It’s true that you need extra calories from nutrient-rich foods to help your baby grow, but you generally need to consume only 200 to 300 more calories than you did before you became pregnant to meet the needs of your growing baby.

Follow the guidelines below if you are gaining weight too quickly during pregnancy.

What if I have gained too much weight?
If you have gained more weight than recommended during the beginning of your pregnancy, DO NOT try to lose weight. It is never safe to lose weight during pregnancy — both you and your baby need the proper nutrients in order to be healthy.

Be sure to eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you and your baby need. Follow the guidelines and serving recommendations on The Food Guide Pyramid to avoid further excess weight gain. Think about the foods you eat and avoid those foods that will not give you and your baby the nutrition you both need. Follow the glycemic index,which is simply a measurement of the impact carbohydrates have on your blood sugar levels. Check out http://tinyurl.com/8vqbtv. Make sure you are active and getting adequate time in for exercise.

Keep in mind that you will lose some weight during the first week your baby is born. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you lose the remaining weight by following a balanced diet and exercising.

If you are gaining weight too fast during pregnancy…

When eating out at a fast food restaurant, choose lower fat items such as broiled chicken breast sandwich with tomato and lettuce (no sauce or mayonnaise), side salad with low-fat dressing, plain bagels or a plain baked potato. Avoid fried foods such as french fries, mozzarella sticks or breaded chicken patties.Avoid whole milk products. You need at least 4 servings of milk products every day. However, using skim, 1 or 2 percent milk will greatly reduce the amount of calories and fat you eat. Also choose low-fat or fat-free cheese or yogurt.Limit sweet or sugary drinks. Sweetened drinks such as soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, iced tea, lemonade or powdered drink mixes provide many calories with little nutrients. Choose water, club soda, or mineral water to avoid extra calories.

Do not add salt to foods when cooking. Salt causes your body to retain water.

Limit sweets and high calorie snacks. Cookies, candies, donuts, cakes, syrup, honey and potato chips provide many calories with little nutrition. Try not to eat these types of foods every day. Instead, try fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, angel food cake with strawberries, or pretzels as lower calorie snack and dessert choices.Use fats in moderation. Fats include cooking oils, margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, regular salad dressings, sauces, lard, sour cream and cream cheese. Try the lower fat substitutes that are available for these foods.Prepare meals using low-fat cooking methods. Frying foods in oil or butter will increase the calories and fat of that meal. Baking, broiling or boiling are healthier, lower fat methods of cooking. Read Labels of food you purchase!

Exercise. Moderate exercise, as recommended by your healthcare provider, can help burn excess calories. Walking or swimming is safe, effective exercises for pregnant women. It is perfectly safe for you to walk 30 to 60 minutes every day. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Open your front door and walk away from your house for 15 minutes as fast as you can. If you can sing while you walk, you are not walking fast enough.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.

Preconception Counselling

Becoming a parent is a major commitment in life. It can be met with challenges, rewards and informed choices. Before you conceive, be sure to incorporate a healthy life-style to ensure optimal health for mom and baby. Receiving preconceptional counseling and care can lay the ground work for a healthy lifestyle and healthy pregnancy. Good health before pregnancy can help you cope with the stress of pregnancy, labor and birth. Obtaining good health care before you conceive will help you throughout your pregnancy. It also provides you with the opportunity to find out your risks, treat any medical problems that may affect the outcome of your pregnancy and adopt or continue a healthy lifestyle.

If you are planning to conceive, schedule a preconceptional visit with your healthcare provider. Included in your visit is a comprehensive history of your health including: Family history and risk factors, your medical history, surgical history, medications that you are presently taking including vitamins, supplements, OTC (over-the-counter) meds; your diet and lifetstyle and any past pregnancies.

Your preconception visit is a time for you to ask questions. Do not hesitate to seek advice, discuss your concerns and your options. Your healthcare provider is there to provide information and guidance to help you make informed choices in your healthcare to help you obtain and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Women who are planning to conceive should stop their form of birth control several months in advance. Even though methods vary in use, it may affect when your menses resumes and becomes regular. During this time you may also want to start taking a prenatal vitamin daily to ensure you are getting added vitamins and increased folic acid.

Your lifestyle includes diet, exercise, weight, substance use, living/working environment and infection history. Current immunizations are important to prevent any infections during your pregnancy that can harm you and your baby, even if you were vaccinated as a child (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus), you may not be immune now. If you are vaccinated prior to conceiving, you will be protected. The vaccine for mumps, measles and especially rubella should be given at least 3 months prior to conceiving. During this period of time, you should use a reliable method birth control.

Optimal health at any time during your lifetime involves a healthy diet and the proper amount of exercise. Ideally, you should be in good physical shape and follow a regular exercise regimen before your conceive. If you are not used to being active, you should start an exercise program gradually.

Tobacco, alcohol and recreational (illegal) drug use is addictive and can harm you and your baby that can last a lifetime or even result in death. They can have detrimental affects on the organ formation, causing damage. The misuse of prescription medication can also harm the fetus. For the sake of your own health and that of your baby, now is a good time to cut back on smoking and alcohol and quit all recreational drugs. It takes time and patience to quit a habit, especially if you have had that particular habit for a long time. Ask your healthcare provider to suggest ways to get through the withdrawal state or quitting and to refer you to support groups. Your decision to quit may be one of the hardest things you have ever done, but it will be one of the most worthwhile.

Does your work environment impose any hazards? If you are trying to conceive, it is a good idea to look closely at your work place and surroundings. Are you exposed to toxic substances, chemicals, or radiation? Discuss your level of exposure to specific substances with your employee health division, personnel office or union representative.

Exposure to lead or certain solvents, pesticides or other chemicals can reduce your partner’s fertility by killing or damaging sperm. Unlike women, who are born with a complete supply of eggs for their entire lifespan, men make new sperm on a daily basis for most of their lives. Unless the damage to a man’s reproductive system is very serious, he will probably be able to make healthy sperm against a short time span after his exposure to the harmful material stops.

Healthy lifestyle choices during pregnancy are essential. Your health care provider will likely discuss the importance of a healthy diet, regular physical activity and keeping stress under control. If you’re underweight or overweight, your health care provider may recommend addressing your weight before you conceive.

Questions to Consider…
• Do I or a member of my family have a disorder that could be inherited?
• Do I need to gain or lose weight to prepare for pregnancy?
• Should I make any changes in my lifestyle?
• Could any medications I am taking cause problems during my pregnancy?
• Can I continue my present exercise program?
• Does my work expose me to things that could be harmful during pregnancy?
• Do I need to be vaccinated for any infectious diseases before I try to conceive?

What about your partner’s lifestyle?
If possible, have your partner attend the preconception visit with you. Your partner’s health and lifestyle — including family medical history and risk factors for infections or birth defects — are important because they can affect you and your baby.

Water, Water Everywhere-How Much should you Drink?

Your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.
Most individuals seem to know that drinking water is good for them, but maybe don’t know exactly why and have a hard time reaching their intake goals each day. We know all the excuses:

– I don’t like the taste
– I simply forget
– I can’t drink that much
– Who has time for that many bathroom breaks!

Well, we are going to inform you on why you should always have a water bottle nearby, how much you really need to drink and some tips to help you reach that goal.

Why You Should Be Downing That Water

Water is the most important nutrient for your body. From flushing out toxins, transporting nutrients throughout your body, and other vital actions, water necessary for every single system in your body needs water to function.

On average, water makes up 60% of our body weight. Even slight dehydration can prevent your body from carrying out normal bodily functions, draining your energy or even causing a headache.

5 reasons why you should have a glass of cool, refreshing H20:

1. Drop a few pounds: Remember just a moment ago when we said water is necessary for every function in your body. This includes breaking down fat for weight loss. Also, water is calorie free and is often an appetite suppressant. In fact, most people often confuse hunger for thirst.

2. Drink for your health: Drinking the right amount of water improves the health of your heart, and can even lower your risk of a heart attack. Also, increasing your water intake can improve digestive health by aiding in the breakdown of food. And, most of you probably already know that drinking water is one of the best things you can do for healthy skin – giving it a glow from the inside out.

3. Energy: The first all natural energy drink is water! Test it out next time you’re feeling a little sluggish by having a couple glasses of water.

4. Headache prevention: Know those dull headaches that come in the afternoon, especially after sitting at your desk all day? You’d be surprised how many of those headaches are caused by a slight dehydration.

5. Cleansing: Flush out all those unhealthy toxins!

Now that you’re sold on why to drink more water, let’s talk about how much – and how!
For years we’ve been told to follow the “8 by 8” rule – drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but for some people that just is not enough water. Here’s a new formula to use when calculating how much water you need. Simply divide your weight (in pounds) by two to give you the number of ounces of water you should strive to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs., strive to drink 80 ounces of water daily.

Dietary recommendations: The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

If you drink a lot of caffeine, exercise or your job requires a lot of physical activity, you may need to consume even more water to replenish your body.

Whoa, that’s a lot of water!

Need some help reaching your new water intake goal? Try these tips:

1. Get a reusable bottle and figure out how many times you must empty it through out the day to reach your goal.

2. Have a glass of water before (and with) every meal.

3. Keep a pitcher of water in your office, at your desk or in the fridge – this will also help track how much you’ve already had for the day.

4. Add lemon or lime slices, or mint leaves to give your water a light, refreshing taste. (Hint: the mint may need to soak in the water up to 12 hours to give it any flavor.)

5. Set a daily alarm on your cell phone to remind you of your water intake goal.

6. Go slow. If you rarely drink water and just the thought of your recommended intake makes your bladder a little uneasy, take a few days or even a week to work your way up to that magical number.

Even apart from the above approaches, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.

Factors that influence water needs
You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves, thus increasing your fluid intake needs.

Illnesses or health conditions. Signs of illnesses, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea, cause your body to lose additional fluids. In these cases you should drink more water and may even need oral rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade or Powerade. On the other hand, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.

Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day

Other Sources of Water
Although it’s a great idea to keep water within reach at all times, you don’t need to rely only on what you drink to satisfy your daily fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake, while the remaining 80 percent comes from water and beverages of all kinds.
For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and tomatoes, are 90 percent to 100 percent water by weight. Beverages such as milk and juice also are composed mostly of water. Even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages — such as coffee, tea or soda — can contribute, but these should not be a major portion of your daily total fluid intake. Water is one of your best bets because it’s calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available.

Staying safely hydratedIt’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you become thirsty, it’s most likely you are already dehydrated. Further, be aware that as you get older your body is less able to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst. Excessive thirst and increased urination can be signs of a more serious medical condition. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience either.

To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. Nearly every healthy adult can consider the following:
 Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
 Hydrate before, during and after exercise.
 Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings.
If you drink water from a bottle, thoroughly clean or replace that bottle often.

Though uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who consume an average American diet.

If you’re concerned about your fluid intake, check with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s best for you.

Posted by Living Well Today on June 17, 2009
Excerpts from Mayoclinic.com/health/water

Four Ways to Boost Your Energy in Pregnancy

Are you exhausted during your pregnancy? Here are four ways to increase your energy levels and stay happier and healthier as your due date approaches.

Do pregnant and energetic seem contradictory? Pregnancy typically conjures up thoughts of fatigue and lethargic episodes—and while nearly every pregnant woman experiences a decrease in energy at some point during pregnancy, there are ways to boost energy levels and keep going strong until you give birth.

Booster #1: Fitness
“The single most common factor my more energetic patients have is that the exercise,” says Dr. Randy Fink, MD, FACOG, and an OB-GYN in private practice in Miami, Florida. “A little time committed to physical activity can make a huge difference. But what sort of exercise gets your energy soaring? Just about anything that gets you on your feet and moving is beneficial.
• Get Moving: With your healthcare provider’s permission, make it a habit to engage in physical activity each day. Take a brief walk outside on your lunch hour or perform some yoga stretches while dinner cooks, suggests Dr. Kathleen Hall, PhD, author of A Life in Balance: Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness.

• Make TV Time Productive: Rather than sitting to watch your favorite TV show, use those 30 minutes for exercise. Pedal a stationary bike or take a walk on the treadmill. Low-impact exercise is best, but the overwhelming message is the same: exercise will “reenergize and increase your oxygen, blood, and nourishment to your body,” says Dr. Hall.

• Make Exercise Fun: Getting fit doesn’t limit you to isolated exercises and toning individual muscles. When you were a child, you naturally got exercise by running around on the playground, playing kickball, and riding your bike. Using this childlike approach to exercise can make fitness more fun! Invest in an exercise DVD with music you love or if you have other children, dance with them as you watch one of their favorite Disney musicals! Getting the blood pumping will make you feel good and reinforce a positive outlook on fitness.

Booster #2: Sleep
In our fast-paced society, making time for sleep is essential to feeling alert and ready to take on the day during pregnancy and even after your birth. The key to maintaining energy is getting enough sleep. “Proper rest” means getting at least eight to nine hours of good sleep every night. Nowadays, this may seem like a lot, considering the majority of the country is running on empty. A hundred years ago, the average American slept nine hours at night, which has now been whittled down to six hours.

Booster #3: Healthy Eating

Anything you eat can be considered energy, and you’ll benefit most from foods that provide plenty of nutrient and energy producing substances. Broccoli is a great source of beta carotene with vitamin C to keep you energized. Likewise, blueberries contain protective antioxidants and stimulate the brain. You can boost your body’s healing capabilities by eating foods containing vitamin B6 which helps the body produce serotonin, creating a calming effect. Eat chicken, sweet potatoes, and bananas for a B6 boost!
Along with your food intake, be sure to drink plenty of water. As a society, we walk around chronically dehydrated and we don’t even realize it. Pregnant women, especially, should drink the recommended eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day (64 ounces) to keep healthy and maintain stamina. But be wary of caffeinated beverages. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider before reaching for that iced mocha.

Booster #4: Peace of Mind
Having a calm and collected mind is vital to staying healthy during pregnancy. A few ways to keep the peace include:
• Meditation: Closing your eyes, clearing the mind, and focusing on a single image or thought for a few minutes a day can reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system, create more energy for the day, says Dr. Hall. If meditation isn’t your thing, try taking deep breaths for a two-minute interval. By slowly and deeply inhaling and exhaling, you calm the body and mind, and restore energy.

• Take time for you: Being pregnant can be stressful at times. Taking time each day for yourself can significantly lower stress and keep your energy levels high. Feeling extra drained? Take a brief nap to restore expended energy. Listen to your favorite band or artist. Indulge in a good book. Whatever your pleasure, set aside time to enjoy it.

• Take time for your loved ones: You and your partner are in this baby journey together; make time for your partner during these busy nine months. Sharing a laugh with the one you love can boost your energy—and your outlook.

Energy during pregnancy doesn’t have to be a rarity. By listening to your body and taking care of yourself, energy can be more readily at your fingertips for use in planning, wondering, and thinking about the new joy in your life.

Limiting Weight Gain during Pregnancy

 

How much weight should I gain?
Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy by eating a healthy, balanced diet is a good sign that your baby is getting all the nutrients he or she needs and is growing at a healthy rate.

Weight gain should be slow and gradual. In general, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during your first three months of pregnancy and 1 pound a week for the remainder of your pregnancy, unless otherwise directed by your health care provider.

Your health care provider will tell you how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. A woman of average weight before pregnancy can expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. You may need to gain more or less weight, depending on what your health care provider recommends.

It is not necessary to “eat for two” during pregnancy. It’s true that you need extra calories from nutrient-rich foods to help your baby grow, but you generally need to consume only 200 to 300 more calories than you did before you became pregnant to meet the needs of your growing baby.

Follow the guidelines below if you are gaining weight too quickly during pregnancy.

What if I have gained too much weight?
If you have gained more weight than recommended during the beginning of your pregnancy, DO NOT try to lose weight. It is never safe to lose weight during pregnancy — both you and your baby need the proper nutrients in order to be healthy.

Be sure to eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you and your baby need. Follow the guidelines and serving recommendations on The Food Guide Pyramid to avoid further excess weight gain. Think about the foods you eat and avoid those foods that will not give you and your baby the nutrition you both need.

Keep in mind that you will lose some weight during the first week your baby is born. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you lose the remaining weight by following a balanced diet and exercising.

If you are gaining weight too fast during pregnancy…

When eating out at a fast food restaurant, choose lower fat items such as broiled chicken breast sandwich with tomato and lettuce (no sauce or mayonnaise), side salad with low-fat dressing, plain bagels or a plain baked potato. Avoid fried foods such as french fries, mozzarella sticks or breaded chicken patties.Avoid whole milk products. You need at least 4 servings of milk products every day. However, using skim, 1 or 2 percent milk will greatly reduce the amount of calories and fat you eat. Also choose low-fat or fat-free cheese or yogurt.Limit sweet or sugary drinks. Sweetened drinks such as pop, fruit punch, fruit drinks, iced tea, lemonade or powdered drink mixes provide many calories with little nutrients. Choose water, club soda, or mineral water to avoid extra calories.

Do not add salt to foods when cooking. Salt causes your body to retain water.

Limit sweets and high calorie snacks. Cookies, candies, donuts, cakes, syrup, honey and potato chips provide many calories with little nutrition. Try not to eat these types of foods every day. Instead, try fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, angel food cake with strawberries, or pretzels as lower calorie snack and dessert choices.Use fats in moderation. Fats include cooking oils, margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, regular salad dressings, sauces, lard, sour cream and cream cheese. Try the lower fat substitutes that are available for these foods.Prepare meals using low-fat cooking methods. Frying foods in oil or butter will increase the calories and fat of that meal. Baking, broiling or boiling are healthier, lower fat methods of cooking.

Exercise. Moderate exercise, as recommended by your health care provider, can help burn excess calories. Walking or swimming is generally safe, effective exercises for pregnant women. Be sure to talk to your health care provider before starting an exercise program.