Consult with your doctor before starting
Staying healthy can make pregnancy more comfortable and make labor and the postpartum period easier. Talk to your doctor about staying in shape while pregnant to design a nutrition and exercise plan.
For pregnant women, staying healthy can make your pregnancy more comfortable, labor more manageable, and postpartum health adjustments easier.
No diet and nutrition plan works for everyone. If you’re concerned about staying in shape while pregnant, talk with your doctor to determine the plan for you.
Nutrition during pregnancy
Proper nutrition is a significant portion of staying in shape. However, eating well doesn’t mean you have to eat salads for every meal or cut carbs from your diet.
Nutrition is about giving your body what it needs. During pregnancy, nutrition is vital to the health of you and your baby.
Calorie intake. Calories fuel your body’s processes and activities. Despite the famous saying, “eating for two,” you don’t need double the amount of food while pregnant.
As your baby grows, you need more calories, but don’t reach for extra fries or cookies. Instead, choose snacks that provide vital nutrients, such as veggies, whole fruits, and whole grains.
Take prenatal vitamins. Not everyone needs prenatal vitamins. However, certain dietary restrictions or diet choices may limit your ability to get some vitamins. Talk with your doctor about vitamin supplements to ensure you and your baby are healthy.
Avoid certain foods and drinks. Nutrition is also about what you don’t eat. Certain foods can be harmful to your baby, so avoiding them altogether is the best option.
Foods and drinks you should avoid are:
- Raw or undercooked seafood
- Soft, unpasteurized cheeses
- Raw or rare meats
- Unpasteurized milk or juice
- Deli meats and hot dogs, unless they are hot
- Raw sprouts
- Foods with added sugars
- Foods with excessive saturated fats
- Foods with excessive sodium
- Drinks with caffeine
- Sodas, sports drinks, and other beverages with added sugars
Raw or undercooked foods can contain harmful bacteria that you can typically eat. While pregnant, those bacteria can be harmful to your baby.
Well-rounded diet. The basic foundation of healthy eating is to eat whole foods. Processed foods are often stripped of vital nutrients. A well-rounded diet includes:
- Whole fruits, not just juice
- Whole grains, not refined or enriched grains
- Fat-free dairy
- Low-fat proteins
Exercise during pregnancy
Before hitting the gym, start small and slow. Pacing yourself will ensure safety for you and your baby.
You can’t exercise like before. Being pregnant changes your body drastically. Pregnancy changes your sense of balance, which will alter how you exercise entirely. Even if you’re an experienced exerciser, it’s essential to take it slow.
Eventually, you should be doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day. If you weren’t active before your pregnancy, it’s important to pace yourself. You can start with only five minutes of activity to form the routine.
Types of exercises. You should do aerobic exercises that increase your heart rate. These include:
- Low-impact aerobics
- Bodyweight squats
- Pelvic tilts
Walking is the best exercise to start with for someone who isn’t regularly active. It’s gentle on your joints, doesn’t need equipment, and is easy to do.
Intense exercises decrease the amount of oxygen and blood getting to your uterus. Your body is rerouting the oxygen and blood to support your muscles for the intense workout. Pace yourself and exercise with care to avoid harm to your baby.
Can you strength train? If you want to build muscle while pregnant, there are safe ways to do it. The key is to manage your exercise intensity.
You shouldn’t strain while lifting weights. You should instead use light weights and opt for more reps rather than increasing the weight.
Exercises to avoid. Aside from intense exercises, some activities put you and your baby at risk. These include:
- Activities that require you to lie on your back
- Scuba diving
- Contact sports
- Activities that put you at risk for falling (even on water)
- Activities at higher altitudes
Activities that could cause you to be hit in the stomach
Signs to stop. Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. Immediately stop exercising and contact your doctor if you experience:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Painful uterine contractions
- Fluid leaking or bleeding from your vagina
Stay consistent with exercise during pregnancy
Exercising is a difficult habit to start, especially when you’re pregnant. Pregnancy feels like the time to take it easy and relax on the couch.
Exercising during pregnancy will pay off, so it’s essential to keep the habit going throughout your pregnancy. Start slow, find an exercise partner, and attend classes to maintain your motivation.
The first sign of pregnancy is most often:
Medically Reviewed on 9/1/2021
American Pregnancy Association: “Exercise During Pregnancy.”
Mayo Clinic: “Pregnancy and exercise: Baby, let’s move!”
MyHealthFinder: “Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Quick tips,” “Stay Active During Pregnancy: Quick Tips.”