Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant moms. There is something special about being pregnant that makes you want to take better care of yourself. For many women, pregnancy has them paying more attention to potential hazards in their home, work and social environments. Others may put more thought into what and how much they eat and drink, as well as the types of activities in which they engage.
Figuring out the right balance of food intake and exercise output can be tricky. The old adage “you’re eating for two” is often taken literally and can be difficult to dispel. Similarly, some patients equate pregnancy with the need for a more sedentary lifestyle and believe that exercise is off limits. For most pregnant women, this is unlikely to be true. In fact, overeating and not exercising during pregnancy can actually be harmful. Excessive weight gain may increase the risk of gestational diabetes, a condition that could result in significant issues for both mom and baby.
How much weight gain is normal during pregnancy?
Weight gain during pregnancy should generally be limited to 25-30 pounds or less (15-20 pounds if the expectant mom is overweight at the beginning of the pregnancy). While there is a need for an increased number of calories during pregnancy, women and their developing babies are better served if those calories come in the form of a well-balanced diet. High-sugar content food and beverages (including fruit juices) should be limited. Stocking the kitchen with fresh vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and whole grains will help in making wise meal choices. Keeping physically active can help curtail excessive weight gain.
Ideally, healthy eating habits and exercise are started prior to conception, but as long as the expectant mother does not have significant pre-existing medical conditions or obstetrical complications, regular exercise can be started during pregnancy. Generally, 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily is encouraged. Brisk walking is a great way for even the non-athlete to improve her general health and well-being during pregnancy. Exercise in the supine position (on your back) should not be continued after the first trimester. Contact sports, scuba diving, and recreational activities with a high risk of falling are not advised and should be discontinued during pregnancy.
However, some competitive sports, such as running, can be continued provided the expectant mom has appropriate medical supervision. Women should discuss weight gain and exercise limitations with their obstetrician or care provider early in their pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant during the holidays, it can be an especially challenging time. Pregnant moms can and should enjoy some of their old holiday favorites. Modest adjustments to exercise regimens are often all that is needed to compensate for those tiny indulgences and ward off the extra poundage.
Exercise Programs for Expectant and New Moms
The Ripa Center for Women’s Health in Voorhees offers the following exercise programs designed for women at various stages of pregnancy, as well as those looking to exercise following childbirth:
- Prenatal Yoga – Women in their second – or third trimester can increase flexibility, focus, strength, and awareness.
- Mommy and Baby Yoga – This class focuses on breathing techniques and asanas (postures) for mom, and a chance for mom to regain strength, flexibility and balance while bonding with her baby. It is very beneficial for babies to stretch and strengthen their body parts to help balance their right and left sides, and increase circulation, digestion, growth and development (With mom’s assistance of course!!).
- Body After Baby – By using a combination of Pilates and yoga, you can strengthen joints, ligaments and muscles; increase flexibility; and develop strong abs and tighten the gluts. By incorporating light hand weights, you can strengthen and tone the upper body as you raise your metabolism.
For more information about these classes, and other fitness programs offered at the Ripa Center for Women, visit cooperhealth.org/ripaclasses.