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Nutrition and weight during Pregnancy
Eating nutritious meals is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s health. Even if eating a healthy diet and exercising wasn’t very important to you before, now is a good time to start implementing healthy habits.
What to eat during pregnancy
In addition to your daily prenatal vitamin, which will supply you with extra folic acid and iron, you will need to eat food containing a balance of protein, carbohydrates, calcium, and a wide range of vitamins, available in fruit and vegetables. For a guide to a week’s healthy meals, download the eating plan below.
Hydration is very important, so ensure you drink water regularly throughout the day. Try to replace tea and coffee with caffeine-free alternatives and dilute fruit juices to avoid excess sugar. Drink a glass of low fat milk every day for calcium.
What not to eat during pregnancy
- Alcohol and medication that hasn’t been cleared by your pharmacist.
- Avoid very spicy foods like curries in later months, which can cause unpleasant heartburn when your stomach is being squeezed upwards by the growing baby.
All of the below are possible sources of bacteria that can be harmful to an unborn baby:
- Raw seafood, such as oysters or sushi
- Unpasteurized milk and soft cheese, such as Brie or Camembert
- Undercooked meat and poultry
- Leftovers that have not been reheated to steaming hot
How much should I eat?
Eating better doesn’t necessarily mean eating a lot. If you start your pregnancy off at a healthy weight, you don’t need any additional calories during the first trimester. In the last 6 months you may need slightly more calories to provide the energy and nourishment necessary for your growing your baby. If you’re overweight to start, you probably don’t need to increase or decrease your daily calories – rather focus on improving your food choices. This is not the right time to begin a weight-loss diet.
Women who begin pregnancy at a healthy weight should ideally gain between 11-16kg by the time they give birth.
Should I exercise or can it hurt my baby?
It’s important for you and the baby to remain physically active and it’s recommended that pregnant women exercise moderately for 30 minutes a day. Exercise lifts your spirits and prepares you for labour and childbirth, but it’s vital to be extra cautious during your workouts.
In general, when you’re pregnant you can continue doing the exercise you did before – as long as you make some modifications.
Avoid training in hot, humid weather because your risk for overheating has increased.
Protect your skin
If you exercise outside, be sure to wear sunblock because pregnancy can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Drink water before, during, and after your workout. Dehydration can contribute to overheating or even trigger contractions.
Your risk for muscle strain and injury is higher, because the same pregnancy hormone that helps the uterus expand also weakens the body’s connective tissues. So jarring motions, and quick directional changes are not a good idea.
If you’ve been a couch potato up to now, don’t despair! You can still safely begin one of the following exercise programmes.
- Walking, which only requires a good pair of supportive shoes, and is safe to do throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
- Swimming is considered the best and safest exercise for pregnant women. It exercises the large muscle groups in both arms and legs, provides cardiovascular benefits, reduces swelling, and allows you to feel weightless despite the extra kilos you’re carrying.
- Pilates or yoga classes for pregnant women can provide slow, controlled exercise where your instructor will advise you on the correct technique to strengthen and tone your muscles.
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner, listen to your body and don’t push yourself beyond your limits.