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Staying Fit During Pregnancy
Do you ever think about how to stay fit during pregnancy? Or how to keep from permanently adding on extra weight once your baby is born?

Pregnant women have the opportunity to eat healthier and stay fitter than ever before. In the past, pregnancy was seen as a time to “eat for two” and women were advised to reduce their rates of vigorous physical activity. Today, these notions are no longer thought to be true.

In fact, you only need to add an extra 300 calories a day to meet the demands of your pregnancy. This is equivalent to one plain bagel with a glass of milk. What’s more, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day during pregnancy! That’s a departure from previous cautions against physical exertion during pregnancy.

What we clearly know is that eating healthy and regular physical activity should be part of your formula for a healthy pregnancy.

Eating healthy means striving for a low-fat, low-sugar, nutrient-dense diet chock-full of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and proteins, adequate calcium and whole grains. Ample water should also be part of your everyday routine. If you’re out and about much of the day, carry a water bottle. You should drink about eight cups of liquid a day, primarily water. Avoid sodas and fruit juices as your staple beverages—these add unnecessary calories, and your main goal is hydration.

Regular physical activity may include walking, biking, weight training and swimming. Many women find prenatal exercise classes the best way to stay active. There are a variety of choices for pregnant women now including prenatal aerobics, prenatal yoga and my personal favorite, prenatal water aerobics! If you’ve never exercised before, it’s important to start slowly. Keep to a pace that would allow you to maintain a conversation while exercising—you don’t want to be breathless when you exercise. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and a supportive bra. And keep your water bottle by your side!

The benefits of staying fit during pregnancy are numerous. First of all, you’ll feel better. Once your body adjusts to your new activity level, muscle aches and pains will diminish, your energy level will be higher, and you’ll boost your mood. Secondly, it will benefit your growing baby. Finally, staying fit and maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight will lower your need for a Caesarean section, and reduce your chances of holding on to extra pounds after the delivery.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist