Even if you have been looking forward to having a baby, the news about your pregnancy always comes as a surprise. Suddenly it dawns on you that soon you are going to be a mother. And with that realization, your heart fills with awe, excitement, the sense of responsibility and hundreds of different questions:
- How much weight should I gain?
- What foods should I eat and which ones do I have to avoid?
- How should I change my workout routine in order to stay fit during pregnancy without harming the baby?
- What about my lifestyle? What about my hobbies and daily rituals? What about my body? Is it all going to change?
Yes. It will change. But this change does not have to be negative or scary. There is no need to listen to the ‘horror stories’ about chubby thighs, sagging breasts, expanding waists, ugly stretch marks and a body that will never quite be the same.
Pregnancy could actually be an opportunity to adopt some new healthy habits, improve your own health and the health of your baby and even get in shape.
There are plenty of success stories of plus-size moms who shed quite a few unwanted pounds and after giving birth, looked and felt better than before they got pregnant.
There are also plenty of examples of women, who completely lost their pregnancy fat just a few months and even days! after giving birth. Of course, they did not spend their pregnancy sitting in front of the TV, pigging out on French fries and drinking Coke, but the changes that they made in their lifestyle and eating habits were relatively easy to follow and stick with even after the baby was born.
Healthy Pregnancy Pillar #1: Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Many suggestions that you have heard about healthy eating are common sense and apply to pregnancy as well. For example, eating processed and sugary foods that are high in calories, but have very little nutritional value is obviously not something you want to do while expecting a baby.
But, on the other hand, making more nutritious choices may not always be easy. In between dealing with morning sickness, suffering from heartburn, fighting food cravings and trying to avoid foods that are considered “unsafe”, very little energy is left for “eating healthy”.
Actually the brain of a pregnant woman has an amazing ability to justify just about anything in the name of eating for the baby. A half jar of pickles turns into a serving of vegetables. A slice of raspberry cheesecake becomes an important source of calcium. And much desired best budget espresso machines transforms itself into the ultimate medicine against fatigue and tension headaches.
The good news is that these little, occasional justifications are ok to make if you are getting the big things right.
Healthy Pregnancy Pillar #2: Healthy Exercise During Pregnancy
Many women wonder if they should exercise during pregnancy. The answer is – Absolutely, but get your doctor’s OK first. Do not jump into your new workout routine without learning which exercises you can do and which ones you should avoid at all costs.
For example, one of the factors that will affect your workout routine is how prepared your body is to exercise. If before getting pregnant your biggest exercise was walking your dog in a park, then this might not be a good time to start lifting weights or biking. On the other hand, if you have been very active your whole life, you might be able to continue with your workouts, modifying them accordingly and making sure that they are safe both for you and your baby.
But benefits of exercising do not stop at that. Here are some more convincing reasons to include exercise into your “Healthy Pregnancy” Program:
- Easier labor. As individual as labor is for every women, research has shown that women who were able to do moderate aerobic workouts for 12-15 minutes, experienced deliveries that were 30 minutes shorter than their less fit counterparts.
- No post-baby blues. Women, who worked out for 30 minutes a day during their last trimester, were 34% less likely to report symptoms of postpartum depression.
- Better mood. Studies have shown that exercise can reduce stress and improve mood by triggering the release of endorphins – the brain’s ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters.
- No annoying backache. Backache is a common complaint among pregnant women. As the baby grows, it puts added pressure on the spine and causes frequent back pains. This discomfort can be greatly reduced with simple exercises that work on strengthening lower-back and leg muscles.
- Better looking body after the childbirth. Regular exercise helps you to maintain a healthy weight and stay fit during pregnancy. This translates into less weight to lose after the baby is born.
- Greater self–confidence. Many women feel “ like a giant fat blob” during pregnancy. Studies even show that about half of moms-to-be develop a sense of repulsion towards their bodies. Exercise can not only make you feel comfortable in your pregnant body, but also minimize the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks, boosting your self-confidence and adding that healthy, new-mommy glow to your complexion.
- Healthy heart and healthy baby. Recent findings suggest that physically active pregnant women can actually improve their child’s heart health while still in the womb. This could be a great motivation to start exercising, especially since you are not doing it just for yourself, but your baby as well.
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