Monday, February 20, 2006

Staying Healthy While Pregnant

Most of us realize soon after we discover that we are pregnant that we will need to watch what we eat a little more than usual. In addition to things that we should eat more of is also a concern about what foods we should avoid not only while pregnant but after if planning to nurse the baby.

During one of your initial trips to see the doctor, you will be given a prescription for a prenatal vitamin. It may be tempting, especially if you don't have drug coverage, to just substitute a less expensive over-the-counter multi vitamin but that is not advised. Those are better than not taking any at all, of course, but the prenatal vitamins have some differences that are very important to you and to the baby.

Whether or not you speak with your doctor about dietary changes for the duration of your pregnancy, you should do some research on your own. There are a few foods that cause problems with indigestion and other maladies that can get downright uncomfortable. Find out on your own or ask the doctor what those foods are and how long you should continue to avoid them.

On the other side of the coin, there are foods that you should increase during the time of pregnancy. The first one that will come to mind for most of us is foods that are calcium rich. This does not have to be glass after glass of milk. Calcium is found in many things including yogurt and cheeses.

Remember that taking your prenatal vitamins is not a substitute for eating the foods you need to eat; it is a supplement to the vitamins, protein, and minerals that you will be getting from eating balanced meals.

Why is a balanced diet of healthy foods so necessary? For one thing, eating right during your pregnancy can help you avoid things that might otherwise plague you during these months of pregnancy. A few of the things that may be kept under control with the proper diet include anemia, morning sickness, and the overall feeling of exhaustion.

Your doctor will most likely tell you that this is not a time to be cutting your carb intake or be following many kinds of fad diets for that matter. What will be restricted is your sodium intake so start lessening that immediately when you find out the joyous news of your pregnancy. One thing that should be watched more than usual during this time is your fat intake and the nurse or doctor will probably tell you that during one of your visits.

The way that Mom drilled "eat your vegetables" into us when we were kids was actually never more important than it is when you are pregnant. Eat your vegetables just as often as you can and the baby will thank you for it. (Okay, not really, but he or she *will* have a better start in life if you choose a proper diet while you are pregnant).

The "other part" of having a healthy pregnancy includes making sure to get enough exercise for you and for the baby. History and society have gone back and forth on this a few times. During some periods of history, mothers-to-be were coddled and pampered so much (not that that's a bad thing!) that they sometimes weren't allowed to do much of anything and it must have gotten terribly boring!

There were also times that our ancestors had so many children, and one after another that they just did their daily work the same as always while pregnant. Often that lasted right up to the delivery. The right amount of exercise falls somewhere right between the two extremes.

This definitely is something to ask your health care provider about. Exercise is tremendously beneficial for all kinds of health reasons while you are pregnant, but there are different restrictions on each of us, so this isn't something to decide unilaterally. The recommendation from your doctor will probably be that low-impact exercises are fine and you should do them.

What he or she will not be recommending most likely is anything that could lead to an injury or that carries a risk of your falling. To stress it once again, do *not* decide on your own exercise program. Take an extra couple of minutes to discuss this during one of your doctor visits and don't take any chances of injury to you or the baby.