Maintain a healthy balanced diet and stay sufficiently hydrated
It is important that during pregnancy you stay well hydrated as pregnant women generally need extra fluids. You should drink sufficient clear fluids, such as water, to ensure the urine is pale in colour.
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and a necessary and unavoidable consequence of being pregnant. Your increase in bodyweight is not just the result of an increase in fat stores but also includes the weight of the baby, the placenta, amniotic fluid and so on.
Traditionally an increase in energy intake of 300 kcal has been recommended during pregnancy. In light of further research, the advice of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is that in general women do not need extra calories for the first two trimesters of pregnancy and it is only in the last 12 weeks that they need to increase their energy intake by just 150-200 kilocalories a day.
If you engage in exercise, that may potentially add a further 150-250 calories to your energy expenditure.
So it is essential that pregnant women who exercise ensure that they eat enough high-quality calories to meet the demands of pregnancy and exercise.
2. Exercise regularly modifying and reducing risk where necessary
If you have a history of a sedentary (physically inactive) lifestyle you will need to check with the GP that you are safe to exercise and that there are no underlying problems. Then ensure that the exercise programme is at beginner level throughout the pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and starting at 15-20 mins three times per week building up to 30 mins three times per week would be appropriate.
Activities that are overly vigorous and have a high potential for falling or abdominal trauma should be avoided. Additionally, exercises that involve a high degree of balance and agility are not recommended, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy when changes in a woman’s centre of gravity put her at an increased risk of falling.
Exercise provides many benefits during pregnancy by preventing or reducing a whole range of medical conditions
It improves physical fitness and mental well being
Regular exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system providing more endurance, and stronger muscles
Exercise improves circulation (which helps prevent constipation, haemorrhoids, varicose veins, leg cramps, and swelling of the ankles)
It maintains muscle tone and strength
It also prevents back pain by strengthening the muscles that support the back
3. Eliminate alcohol and limit caffeine
Heavy smoking in pregnancy places the health of the mother and the child at risk. Smoking can result in a low birth weight or increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.
Moderate amounts of caffeine—meaning less than 200 mg per day, or about 12 ounces of coffee—appear to be safe during pregnancy. The effects of too much caffeine are unclear. Ask your doctor whether drinking a limited amount of caffeine is okay for you during your pregnancy.
4. Supplement where necessary
Ideally you should get all of your vitamins and minerals from your diet. If this is not possible you may need to take supplements such as folic acid or iron supplements. These should only be recommended by your health care professional, as excessive levels of certain vitamins can be dangerous.
5. Start practicing pelvic floor exercises.
Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, bowels and uterus. They also help with labour and prevent incontinence. Here's how to do them correctly:
Practice squeezing as though you're stopping the flow of urine
Hold for 3 seconds, then relax for 3 more
Repeat 10 to 15 times, 3 times a day
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