Every expectant mother desires a smooth pregnancy, an uncomplicated birth, and a healthy newborn. Healthy choices of a well-balanced diet and regular exercise are equally important to achieving optimal outcomes.
Weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy. How much weight is healthy to gain — and the number of extra calories you’ll need — depends on many things, including how much you weighed before pregnancy. Increased calorie and nutrient intakes are necessary to support the growth and development of the baby and to maintain the mother’s health.
Women with a healthy pre-pregnancy weight need about 340 - 450 extra calories per day from nutrient-dense choices during the second and third trimesters. One should eat a lot of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fish and limit processed foods and foods high in sugar or saturated fats. A well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients such as folate, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids has the potential to affect health outcomes for both the mother and child in subsequent life stages.1
Staying adequately hydrated is crucial during pregnancy because it helps with digestion and avoids constipation, which can lead to other problems like headaches and exhaustion.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, regular exercise during pregnancy can reduce back pain, ease constipation, promote healthy weight gain, improve overall fitness, and help with weight loss after the baby is born. It may also decrease the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery. ACOG recommends that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.2
Midwives often encourage gentle exercises such as walking, swimming, prenatal yoga, or low-impact aerobics to stay active while minimizing potential risks. Other lifestyle recommendations center on reducing stress, improving mental health, boosting energy levels, and preparing the body for childbirth, which can be enhanced by yoga, meditation, and exercise.
Start small if you haven't worked out in a while: five minutes a day of physical activity. As you get to at least 30 minutes a day, increase to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and so forth. If you were a regular exerciser before becoming pregnant, you should be able to keep up your level of exercise during your pregnancy, as long as you're feeling comfortable and your health care provider has no concerns.
Be Mindful While Exercising
Your body's hormones can relax the ligaments supporting your joints, increasing joint mobility and injury risk. Your center of gravity is shifted by the additional weight, which strains your back, muscles, and joints. If you experience dizziness, chest pain, vaginal bleeding, or fluid leaking, stop exercising & contact your health care provider.
Midwives focus on all facets of the person they care for, taking a holistic approach to care during pregnancy that considers the whole person. Midwives personalize each woman's particular needs to optimize her health and empower her to take charge of obtaining the best possible outcomes for her unborn child and herself.
1. N.E. Marshall, et al (2019). The importance of nutrition in pregnancy and lactation: lifelong consequences. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 226(5), pp. 607-632https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2021.12.035
2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (n.d.). Exercise During Pregnancy. Patient Resources. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy