Maintaining a balanced diet is always important, but when you are carrying a baby, not only are you responsible for the nutrition for your body, you are responsible for the nutrition of your child as he or she develops. Eating a balanced diet is more important now than ever. “Eating for two” does not mean eating twice as much, but you will need to increase your protein, iron, calcium, folic acid and calories. A woman who is not pregnant needs about 2,100 calories a day, a pregnant woman needs about 2,500 and a breastfeeding woman needs up to 3,000 calories per day. These should not be empty calories, but good nutrition packed calories; empty calories include soda, candy, and most other deserts. Remember that the protein you eat now is being used to develop your baby’s brain and muscles; Calcium is developing his or her teeth and bones. A diet deficient in certain vitamins or minerals can have a life-time of negative effects for you little one, such as spina bifida or other neural tube defects. Pica, or a desire to eat non-food items such as clay, dirt or chalk can be a sign of a nutritional deficit.
Exercise is also important, keeping a fitness routine throughout pregnancy can help improve sleep and prevent or alleviate aches and pains of pregnancy including constipation, varicose veins, and backaches. If you are new to keeping a fitness routine, keep your exercise at a moderate level and enjoyable. You should be able to talk during any point of your work out, if not, you may be overdoing it. If you maintain an active lifestyle outside of pregnancy, you may continue your normal workout routine, but avoid activities that can involve your stomach being hit such as kickboxing, soccer, or basketball and try to stay away from activities that involve the risk of falling such as horseback riding and gymnastics. Yoga and belly dancing are excellent forms of exercise during the child bearing year and have many therapeutic effects on the maternal body.
Remember, your baby depends on you to maintain a healthy attitude when it comes to nutrition and exercise, and that begins right now!
Written by Olivia Jones