- Pregnancy is a nine-month marathon, and smart moms-to-be begin training well in advance. You know that you should take care of yourself during pregnancy but should you exercise? What kind of exercise should you be doing, how often and for what length of time? What about prenatal vitamins? Pregnancy is a wondrous time, but it can also leave you with many questions.
- Exercise helps your body best handle labour, delivery and recovery. Exercise also prepares your body for the rigors of childbirth, and it allows you to bounce back into shape quicker after the birth. Exercise also helps keep your mood up and staying active can improve your overall health.
Doing the incorrect type of exercise during your pregnancy can be detrimental to both you and your baby. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.
Do not exercise if any of the following are present: Pregnancy induced hypertension Ruptured membranes Incompetent cervix Vaginal bleeding Intrauterine growth retardation A multiple pregnancy
There are a number of other medical and obstetric conditions that may lead to the need to modify or stop an exercise program. Some women simply should not exercise during pregnancy for health reasons.
Avoid eating for two hours prior to an exercise session. If you exercise first thing in the morning, have a liquid snack while exercising then follow this with breakfast after the exercise session has ended. No matter when you exercise, try to have a small snack immediately after an exercise session. Drink lots of fluids making sure to stay hydrated. Drinking eight ounces (226 g) of water before exercising, and an additional eight ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise will help with hydration. It is important that you up your caloric intake, by about 300-500 calories per day, to compensate for a growing baby and calories burned during exercise.
It is important to exercise sensibly at a comfortable intensity and do not exercise to exhaustion or at an anaerobic (or breathless) pace. All exercise should be accompanied by an appropriate warm up and cool down session. Wear light comfortable clothing, drink plenty of water, avoid exercising in very hot temperatures or humid conditions and do not exercise during illness or fever.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, women should exercise no more than 30 minutes at a time, one to three times per week, although some doctors suggest some form of exercise most days of the week. Generally, the best exercise is low impact and includes activities such as walking, swimming, stationary bicycling, prenatal yoga, aerobics and weight training. Exercises like yoga or even swimming can be both relaxing and meditative, which are important to counteract the exhaustive physical and mental rigors of pregnancy. Remember to keep the exercise low intensity - exercise should be geared towards maintaining your fitness level instead of increasing it.
After exercise, make sure to cool down by slowly returning to your resting rate by doing cool down exercises and stretches. Pay attention to how you are feeling and remember that you may not be able to exercise at your pre-pregnancy level. Women who are prone to being overweight may choose to plan a healthy diet and exercise plan to help moderate the amount of weight gained.
- Prenatal vitamins supply a rich assortment of vitamins and minerals to help a woman conceive and bring forth a healthy baby. These vitamins are an important part of pregnancy nutrition and are intended to be taken before and during pregnancy and during postnatal lactation. Prenatal can be taken by a woman on a daily basis to ensure that she is obtaining appropriate quantities of essential nutrients during pregnancy. They are most important during the first 10 weeks of your pregnancy, which unfortunately is when nausea is often at its worst.
Prenatal vitamins are packed full of nutrients that will help support and nourish both your growing child and your own body during pregnancy. However, they are only as good as the diet they are being added to. Prenatal vitamins are meant to supplement an already good diet, not make up for a poor diet. They are almost universally given to pregnant women today and often contain high amounts of folic acid and other compounds, such as iron and vitamin A.
Taking prenatal vitamins may reduce the risk of low birth-weight babies and supplementation of folic acid has been shown to decrease the risk of several congenital malformations.
Prenatal vitamins are extremely important before and during pregnancy, and many women continue to take prenatal vitamins throughout their childbearing years.