Nutrition and Exercise in Pregnancy
The key to a healthy pregnancy is good nutrition and regular exercise. Many common pregnancy complaints and complications can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet and exercise. Here are some general guidelines that will help you make smart decisions:
We recommend the following diet plans: Whole30, Paleo, Brewer’s Pregnancy diet. Please take the time to research these yourself and plan your diet accordingly. (Note: the goal is not weight loss, so you will need to make sure you are getting plenty of calories. If you are following any of these diets, you can usually eat as much as you want without gaining too much weight.)
Research shows that serious complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia may be prevented with a healthy diet. Less serious complaints such as swelling, joint pain, headaches, and fatigue can be prevented or alleviated with good nutrition and adequate hydration.
As a general rule, you should be getting 80 grams of protein every day. That’s a lot of protein! You probably aren’t used to eating that much protein, so we recommend counting protein grams and making sure that every time you eat, you are eating something with high protein. Again, if you are not familiar with protein content, take the time to research high-protein foods.
Keep a diet diary. We will ask you to keep a 1 week diet diary at the beginning of care. We want to empower you to make smart and healthy food choices.
Make sure you are getting AT LEAST 2 raw vegetables (preferably dark green) and 1 fresh fruit every day. This will usually ensure that you are getting the bare minimum of vitamins and minerals.
You should NOT be eating (or drinking): Foods or drinks with added sugar. (There are lots of names for added sugar. Learn how to read food labels!) High-carbohydrate foods such as bread items, rice, and corn. Bread items include: crackers, bread, bagels, pastries, cookies, cakes, brownies. Milk is not a good enough source of protein or calcium to justify its high carbohydrate content. Replace with almond or coconut milk. We do not recommend soy products- soy contains high levels of plant estrogens which may not be beneficial during pregnancy.
You MUST drink water! We understand that some people do not like water, but other beverages (tea, juice, soda, lemonade) do not count as water- even if you are drinking diet or sugar free. These other beverages may “count” as hydration when losing weight, but not when you are growing a baby! To make water more appealing to you, add lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber slices. You should be drinking one gallon of water every day. More if you work out, more if you spend time outside in the summer. Go ahead and buy yourself a large reusable water bottle and make it your best friend!
Prenatal vitamins are great, and we want you to take them (see our Recommended Supplements handout). However, you should not view prenatal vitamins as your main source for nutrition. Healthy food is the foundation of good nutrition, prenatal vitamins and other supplements simply fill in any nutritional gaps.
Exercise improves circulation, keeps your heart and nervous system healthy, and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. If you already exercise regularly, that’s great- keep it up! If you lift weights, that’s fine- you may want to be extra careful as your belly grows and your center-of-gravity changes.
If you don’t already exercise- start now! Begin with walking briskly every day, 30 minutes minimum. You DO have time! Be intentional about living a healthy lifestyle for your baby- schedule exercise into your day. Use an app (or get an exercise buddy) to help you stay accountable and track your success. We also recommend swimming and yoga (or lots of stretching if yoga isn’t your thing). We do not recommend starting out with any strenuous exercise, like running, if you are not already accustomed to it. However, you can work up to running if you like. Some women may need to stop exercising a certain way (like Cross Fit) while they are pregnant. The high-intensity jumping and power lifting moves are very stressful to the pelvic floor and may create less-than-optimal conditions for vaginal birth.