In the past, women were usually told to stop exercising completely during pregnancy. Many health care providers now realize that exercise can be an important adjunct to a healthy pregnancy and encourage women to be physically active.
In 1983, Melpomene Institue initiated a descriptive study of pregnant, exercising women in a natural, rather than a laboratory, setting. For the most part, what we learned from these women was that women and their babies tolerate physical activity very well. From a psychological standpoint, exercising women said being physically active was definitely an emotional plus. Furthermore, research done in 1984 by Dr. James Clapp put to rest the fears that exercise might negatively influence fetal weight gain.
As research continue to learn more about exercise and pregnancy, the experts agree that women who are active pre-pregnancy can do more than those who are not. Recommendations should be tailored to the individual. Research does not offer a clear picture of what level of exercise is really too dangerous and how this really affects the fetus
What to do and what to avoid during pregnancy:
• Stop smoking, drinking alcohol, and doing drugs. These can cause long-term damage to your baby. Ask your doctor for help.
• Eat healthy foods. This includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods. You need 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Avoid eating a lot of fatty foods such as butter, and fatty meats. Choose foods lower in fat like chicken and turkey without the skin, and fish.
• Don’t eat uncooked or undercooked meats or fish. Do not eat any shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (also called golden or white snapper) because these fish have high levels of mercury.
• Limit caffeine from coffee, tea, sodas, medicines, and chocolates.
• Take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. This will help prevent certain types of birth defects. Your doctor may prescribe a daily vitamin that has it, or you can buy folic acid pills. Eat foods high in folic acid like orange juice, leafy green vegetables, beans, peanuts, peas and whole-grain products.
• Tell you doctor about all of the medicines you take. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines you buy without prescriptions, and herbals. Ask if they are safe to take while you are pregnant. Most of the time, the medicine a pregnant woman is taking does not affect her baby. But sometimes it can, causing damage or birth defects. Talk with your doctor about which drugs are safe.
• Stay active. Being physically active during pregnancy helps you in many ways. If prevents a lot of extra weight gain. It helps you have good posture, which will help you feel better later in your pregnancy. It can help you sleep better and have a shorter, easier labor. Talk to your doctor about which activities are good for you.
• Avoid toxic chemicals. These include paint, paint thinners, cleaning products, and those used to kill bugs or that contain lead or mercury. Read the product label to see if it has a pregnancy warning.
• Avoid hot tubs, saunas and x-rays.
• Avoid changing cat litter. It can carry and cause an infection that can cause birth defects. Wear gloves when gardening in areas cats may visit.
• Get enough sleep. Try to get seven to nine hours every night.
• Control the stress in your life. Don’t be afraid to say NO to requests for your time and energy.
• Learn all you can. Read books, watch videos, go to a childbirth class, and talk with other moms.