Nutrition and Exercise During Pregnancy
Babies grow and develop rapidly during their nine months in the womb. Your diet is the source of nutrients and energy that support this rapid development. Physical activity during pregnancy helps promote healthy weight gain, increases overall fitness, and reduces the risk of complications, including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Numerous studies show that a baby’s health at birth is tied to a mother’s diet and overall well-being during pregnancy. Additionally, a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine help you address the extra demands on your body, so you can be in great shape for nursing and taking care of your newborn when they arrive.
What Should I Eat During Pregnancy?
On a daily basis, you should eat:
- Four servings of protein.
- Two servings of vitamin C foods.
- Four servings of calcium-rich foods.
- Three servings of green leafy and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits.
- Two servings of other fruits and vegetables.
- Five servings of whole grains and legumes.
- Iron-rich foods.
- At least 64 ounces of fluids. (Not including caffeine-based fluids. Milk counts for only 2/3 water.)
While you may have misconceptions about salt intake during pregnancy, Professionals for Women's Health recommends salting your food to taste, and avoiding any salt restrictions unless otherwise instructed.
How Much Exercise Should I Get During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or exercise intense enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, is recommended. It is crucial to stay hydrated before, during, and after your exercise, and you should avoid becoming overheated. If you had an active lifestyle prior to becoming pregnany, you are welcome to maintain your exercise routine, but you should make sure you are consuming enough calories for you and the baby given your exercise routine.
"This is the most wonderful place! Everyone is friendly and professional. I see Lindsay Randolph who is awesome and always make sure I get the best gyno care. I have to give a special shout out to Cathie who did my mammogram this last visit. This was year 11 for mammograms for me, and I always dread it because it is usually extremely uncomfortable and a bit painful. This time was completely painless. I don't know how she does it, but I will never schedule these with anyone else! I recommend anyone looking for new services for women's health absolutely visit Professionals for Women's Health."- W.S. / Google / Nov 07, 2020
"Everyone here was AWESOME!!! I went in for one thing and they ended up helping me out and we did my complete wellness exam. Cathie made the mammogram painless and quick. They were my doctors when I gave birth to my daughter 6 years ago and still just as professional today. Plus they were able to me quickly."- K.G. / Google / Oct 29, 2020
"I've always had great experiences here. Everyone has been supportive and authentic from the front office and nursing staff to Dr. Rahl. My recent onsite mammogram with Cathie was awesome - no pain or discomfort at all."- K.A. / Google / Oct 22, 2020
How Does A Nutrition and Fitness Plan Work?
At Professionals For Women’s Health in Columbus, OH, we can develop a nutrition and exercise plan specific to your and your growing child’s needs. As part of this plan, we will consult your previous medical history and perform labs and tests. We will also monitor your progress with regular check-ups. While some nutrition and fitness advice during pregnancy is similar from mother to mother, your exact needs will vary, which is where we can provide the most guidance. Our skilled team of women’s health practitioners has helped many expecting mothers and knows what it takes for mother and child to be as healthy as possible.
Finally, please do not drink alcohol. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a direct results of alcohol ingestion during pregnancy and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disability. Other adverse effects include facial abnormalities, decreased height, hyperactivity, problems with learning, attention, memory, and problem solving, poor coordination, impulsiveness, and speech and hearing impairments that persist into adolescence and adulthood.
We do not know if there is a threshold below which alcohol can be consumed without harming the fetus. Because of this, we recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women abstain from alcohol use, pending confirmation of alcohol's role in fetal development.
Normal Weight Gain
Desirable weight gain is based on your pre-pregnancy BMI (Body Mass Index). During the first three months of pregnancy, a gain of five pounds is average. For the remainder of the pregnancy, an average gain is about ¾ to one pound a week. Please reference the chart below for BMI and recommended weight gain.
|BMI||Recommended wt. gain|
Weight loss during pregnancy is undesirable because it may result in harm to your baby. It is better to gain excess weight than to gain too little weight.
Listeria is a harmful bacteria that can grow at refrigerator temperatures where most food borne bacteria do not. It causes an illness called Listeriosis. It if found in refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods and unpasteurized milk and milk products. Following simple food handling steps should keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy.
Foods that may increase your risk of listeria include:
- Unheated hotdogs and lunchmeat
- Unpasteurized soft cheeses: Feta, Brie, Camembert, Blue Cheese, Panela
- Refrigerated pates or meat spreads
- Refrigerated smoked seafood
- Raw or unpasteurized milk
More information can be found at:
Toxoplasma is a harmful parasite that can cause an illness called toxoplasmosis. It is found in raw uncooked meats, unwashed fruits and vegetables, soil, cat litter boxes and outdoor areas where cat feces can be found. Following simple food handling steps can decrease your risk and can be found at www.cfsan.fda.gov/pregnancy.html. Other ways to prevent risk include:
- Have someone else change the litter box
- Wear gloves when gardening
- Wash all fruits and vegetables and then wash your hands thoroughly
- Avoid getting new cats during pregnancy
- Cook meats to the proper temperature
More information can be found at:
What you need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that presents as a heavy liquid at room temperature. In its elemental form, mercury is not considered biologically available: although when spilled in the home or workplace mercury vapors do present a long-term risk for inhalation. Methyl mercury is found in the environment and is biologically available: i.e., readily absorbed by the human body. Mercury finds its way into land, air, and water when mercury-containing products are manufactured or disposed of through incineration, landfill, or other improper means of disposal. Once returned to the environment, mercury interacts with organic elements to become methyl mercury. Mercury enters the food chain when animals consume it, including fish.
Fish higher on the food chain, such as shark, swordfish, King Mackerel, and Tilefish have been identified as containing high levels of methyl mercury. When eaten, methyl mercury accumulates in the human body. While not a significant risk to most adults, mercury is a potent neurological and renal toxin that does pose a risk to the more vulnerable developing fetus and young child. Women of childbearing age, although not currently pregnant, may accumulate an excessive body burden of mercury, thus presenting a potential for development damage during future pregnancies or while nursing.
The EPA/FDA fish advisory makes the following three suggestions for women and young children under the age of six:
Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, Pollock, and catfish. Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal area. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish during the week. (http://www.fda.gov).
Forty states currently issue fish advisories for local lakes and streams. The Ohio fish advisory for 2004 was issued by the Ohio EPA (http://web.epa.state.oh.us) and may also be accessed from the “Alerts and Advisories” section of the Ohio Department of Health web site at www.odh.state.oh.us. Twenty-four rivers in forty-one Ohio counties are included in the more restricted advisories issued for 2004. In addition, Ohio recommendations advise no more than one meal per week of any sport fish caught from any water body in Ohio.
Nutrition and fitness FAQs
How important is diet during pregnancy?
Diet during pregnancy is essential to both the mother and the developing fetus. Pregnant women need to eat a variety of healthy foods to get the nutrients they need. The team at Professionals for Women's Health is happy to make recommendations on the best foods to eat in your case based on your health.
How can I get extra vitamins and minerals during pregnancy?
Eating a balanced diet is the best way to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need. If you need additional support, our team members can suggest prenatal vitamins or other supplements. It's important to speak with a medical professional before starting any new over-the-counter drugs, however. This is to ensure your health and safety.
Can being overweight or obese affect my pregnancy?
Yes, being overweight or obese can increase your risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other complications. If you are overweight or obese, our team in Columbus, OH, can work with you to develop a plan for healthier eating and exercise. We can also let you know what foods to avoid. This is to help improve your health and the health of your fetus.
Keep Mother and Child Healthy and Fit
Diet and exercise play crucial roles in promoting a healthy pregnancy for both the mother and the developing baby. Key reasons they are significant include brain development, gestational growth, energy levels, preventing complications, and much more. At Professionals for Women’s Health, we can develop nutrition and fitness strategies that take your individual needs and considerations into account. Contact our Columbus, OH office today to ensure the best possible health and development for mother and child.
What Special Concerns Should You Discuss With Your OB/GYN?
If you have an underlying condition, a history of complications, or another pregnancy concern, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor.Read
Toxoplasmosis in Pregnant Women
Toxoplasma is a harmful parasite that can cause an illness called toxoplasmosis. It also can be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy.Read
Alcohol Use During Pregnancy
Your providers at PW Health request that you abstain from all alcohol use if you are trying to conceive, if you are pregnant, or are breastfeeding.Read
Calcium Intake in Pregnancy
If you don't get enough calcium in your diet when you're pregnant, your baby will draw it from your bones, which may impair your own health later on.Read