Just For Parents

Your Body

Your body performs an amazing feat by growing a baby, which can lead to big changes in how you move and feel. Learn about how you can care for your body during pregnancy below.

A healthy diet, plus prenatal vitamins which contain folic acid and iron, can keep you and your baby feeling and growing great. You’ll want to eat a diet that includes:

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats and safe seafoods
  • Healthy proteins like nuts, nut butter and low-fat dairies

A healthy diet can help you reduce your risk for some side effects of pregnancy, such as constipation or anemia. It can also help you gain the correct amount of weight during pregnancy, which may range between 15 to 35 pounds depending on your size.

There are certain foods you should avoid during pregnancy to protect your child’s health. These foods have a higher risk of disease, like listeria, which can harm your child. You should avoid:

  • Cold deli meats
  • Raw or undercooked meats
  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Alcohol
  • More than 200 mg of caffeine per day
  • Unpasteurized dairy products, like some soft cheeses and raw milk

Most women can exercise safely while pregnant. If you were exercising before pregnancy, you can continue your normal fitness routine. If you weren’t exercising regularly before pregnancy, start off slowly with activities like walking or yoga.

Exercise can benefit you during pregnancy. Benefits include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Lower risk for high blood pressure
  • Lower risk for excess weight gain
  • Lower risk of gestational diabetes
  • Better mood
  • More energy

Talk to your doctor to ensure it is safe for you to exercise during pregnancy.

Back pain, heartburn and insomnia can all affect your sleep while you are pregnant. If you want to improve your sleep, you can:

  • Avoid foods that cause heartburn, such as fried foods, tomatoes and spicy foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid screens for an hour before bedtime.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Take a warm bath or shower before bed.
  • Set the mood for sleep with a cool, dark and quiet room.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
  • Try a pregnancy pillow for sleeping on your side.

Many women experience pain in the back and/or hips while pregnant, especially as the baby grows. However, you should avoid some pain medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.

Instead, try other techniques to relieve pain, such as:

  • Regular exercise, such as yoga
  • Flat, supportive shoes
  • Maternity support belts
  • Heating pads or warm baths
  • Prenatal massage from a licensed and experienced therapist

If these techniques don’t improve your pain, speak to your physician. A physical therapist may be able to help you with massage therapy and a personalized exercise program.

Morning sickness can leave you feeling tired and ill throughout your first trimester and even into the second trimester. Some women find avoiding certain foods helps them feel better, while others swear by eating ginger to stifle nausea. Even if you feel ill, you should continue to eat regularly and drink plenty of fluids.

If you have severe morning sickness and vomiting, your doctor may recommend anti-nausea medicines to help control your symptoms.

Heartburn can be very uncomfortable during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester as your growing baby presses on your stomach. Avoiding foods that cause heartburn can help, but you can also try:

  • Avoiding eating three hours before bed
  • Eating smaller meals more frequently
  • Drinking water after meals
  • Elevating your head while sleeping
  • Chewing sugarless gum for 30 minutes after eating

If your heartburn is severe or disturbing your sleep, you can talk to your doctor about medicines that are safe to take during pregnancy.

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