All About You
This is a good time to consider ways to maintain a healthy diet and good exercise routine during your pregnancy. Speaking of exercise, it's a good idea to learn Kegel exercises, and time to start doing 25 a day. These are exercises you don't have to get to the gym for! Stuck in traffic? Washing dishes? Listening to a boring presentation or a lecture from your boss? Then you can do a Kegel! Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor and tone the vaginal and perineal area.
To do a Kegel, tighten the muscles around the vagina and anus and hold for eight to 10 seconds. Confused? Practice by stopping a stream of urine when you're on the toilet.
You're almost done with your first trimester! Although you may be tired, sore, and nauseated at times, your body is in full-blown work mode. Your blood supply has increased to bring oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and especially to your unborn baby. Pregnancy hormones have been pulsing through your system, relaxing your ligaments and muscles so they can stretch and expand to accommodate your baby. Other hormones have put the rest of your body on alert—your breasts have grown considerably in preparation to feed your newborn. With all these internal changes, you may have little to show for it on the outside but a slight baby bump. (Don't worry, your bump will be basketball size before long!)
Along with an increasing belly, you may have noticed the numbers on the scaling inching upwards. That's OK! Weight gain is part of a healthy pregnancy. Many physicians hesitate to attach a certain weight gain for a "normal" pregnancy, pointing out that every woman is different. If you began your pregnancy overweight, you may not need to gain as much as an underweight woman. That said, an average-sized woman should expect to gain between 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.
While weight gain is inevitable, pregnancy doesn't mean that you should throw out healthy eating habits in favor of extra scoops of ice cream and double portions of everything else. Eating sensibly will not only make you feel better—and get your baby-to-be the nutrients he needs—but it will make it that much easier to lose the weight after your baby's born.
Where do those pounds go?
Those added pounds are there for a reason; here's how they are distributed:
- Baby: 7 1/2 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
- Placenta: 1 1/2 pounds
- Uterus: 2 pounds
- Breasts: 2 pounds
- Body fluids: 4 pounds
- Blood: 4 pounds
- Maternal stores (like fat, protein, and nutrients): 7 pounds
Keep in mind you'll be adding these 30 pounds gradually throughout your pregnancy.
Avoid gaining too much
Despite the old adage to "eat for two," you shouldn't double your caloric intake during pregnancy. A normal-sized, healthy adult woman consumes between 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day. To supply your body with the added nutrients it needs during pregnancy, you should increase your calorie count by 300, not 1,000. In fact, 300 calories isn't that much. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a bagel, some string cheese, or an extra tall glass of milk is all it takes—any of these choices will give you an extra 300 calories.
Foods that are good for you and your baby-to-be
Make the most of your increased calories by choosing foods that will provide the maximum nutrient kick. Here are a few nutrients that will benefit you and your unborn baby:
- Protein: This important nutrient provides the building blocks for tissue. In your unborn baby, protein promotes muscle growth; and for you, protein builds up breast tissue. Bring on the meat, chicken, and milk!
- Calcium: Strong bones begin with calcium. Your baby-to-be will need plenty of calcium to build her bones, and your bones will need extra support, too. Add plenty of cheese, milk, and calcium-fortified juices to your grocery list. (Maybe a little ice cream, too!)
- Iron: Remember that increased blood supply? Well, iron is what helps form blood. Choose iron-rich foods such as red meat, eggs, beans, and green vegetables.
- Folic Acid: Found in oranges, green vegetables, and beans, folic acid prevents spina bifida, a serious birth deformity. Don't forget your glass of orange juice in the morning to help stave off this potential problem.
Pregnancy is not the time to diet. Instead of worrying about gaining weight, base your food choices instead on what will provide your growing baby the nutrients she needs.