First-trimester

5 Easy Pregnancy Exercises For the First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy can be exhausting, thanks to all the changes happening in your body. Regular exercise will help you to stay limber and flexible and help you to return to your pre-pregnancy shape and weight faster.

Women who are already in shape should continue their exercise routine to stay strong and healthy. Women who aren’t in shape should begin working out with simple pregnancy exercises. It’s the ideal time to begin preparing your body for the changes it’s going to undergo and to stay fit and healthy.

Exercise #1: Cat Squats
This warm-up pregnancy exercise is ideal for strengthening the body to prepare you to give birth. Stand up straight with your hands on your head. Legs should be slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lower your body as slowly as you can at a 90 degree angle. Push yourself back into the starting position. While perfect for strengthening the body in the first trimester, it’s also good later in pregnancy and can help get the baby into the correct position to push.

Modify this exercise by leaning against a wall and lowering into the squat position.

Exercise #2: Prenatal Yoga
Yoga is a low-impact full-body exercise. Although it can be done at any time during pregnancy, it’s best to start during the first trimester, before your growing belly throws off your balance. Although most forms of yoga are safe for the developing baby, the movements in prenatal yoga are specifically designed for pregnant women and their changing abilities. Yoga also has the added benefit of teaching you how to breathe, which can help during labour.

Exercise #3: Pliés
This ballet move works out the quads, hamstrings and bottom, which prepares the body for labour and delivery. It also helps improve balance. Standing beside a sturdy chair, spread feet out so they’re more than shoulder width apart and turn out your feet and knees about 45 degrees. Slowly bend your knees and lower your torso without leaning forward. Keep one hand on the chair to maintain balance.

Exercise #4: The Clamshell
To complete this move, a popular Pilates thigh firming exercise, lie on the ground on your side, with your knees bent on a 45 degree angle. One leg should lie flat against the ground. Slowly separate your top leg, raising the knee as you leave your ankles together. Try not to move your pelvis and don’t lift your lower leg off of the floor. Do one set of 15 repetitions, then switch sides.

Exercise #5: Modified Push-up
Strength training is also important, particularly for the arms, because once the baby arrives, you’ll be carrying him or her all the time! The modified push-up involves bending your knees and crossing your ankles behind you, then bending your arms to lower your chest until it nearly reaches the floor, then pushing back up. As you get better, pause with your arms bent.

Remember to include a warm-up and a cool down every time you exercise. Walking is another excellent cardio activity because it works out the whole body in a low-impact manner. Stretching is a great cool down because the muscles are already warmed up and less likely to be unintentionally injured.

What pregnancy exercises do you recommend for women in their first trimester?

January 16, 2014

6 Tips on What to Eat When Pregnant

Choosing to eat nutritious foods during pregnancy is important to your welfare and that of your baby, so we’ve put together 6 easy-to-follow recommendations to help you on your way.

The ideal diet for keeping you and your baby healthy changes over the course of pregnancy, but sticking to these recommendations is a simple way to ensure you’re keeping a healthy pregnancy diet and cutting out those harmful foods.

1. Increase your intake of certain minerals and vitamins

These include folic acid and vitamin D, as these are necessary for the development of the foetus and your health.

This is particularly important in your first trimester, which is the most critical time in your pregnancy.

You need vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A deficiency of the vitamin during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities.

Good pregnancy foods that are high in vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, canned tuna fish in oil, and products fortified with vitamin D.

Folic acid is a man-made form of folate, a B vitamin that occurs naturally in food. It’s unlikely that you’ll get enough folate to protect your baby just from the food you eat, which is why folic acid supplements are recommended.

However, folate-rich foods that can also help you to achieve a healthy pregnancy include whole grain bread, beans, pulses, and green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

2. Keep your consumption of vitamin A down

An excessive build-up of vitamin A can be harmful to your baby. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin A include liver and fish liver oils.

3. Your consumption of certain types of fish should be monitored or avoided.

When it comes to fish, it’s difficult to know what to eat when pregnant.

It’s best to avoid shark, swordfish and marlin completely as they can contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your baby’s neural development. Fresh tuna can also contain high levels of mercury, but rather than cutting tuna out of your diet completely, limit yourself to two tinned tuna steaks per week.

The following fish can contain low levels of pollutants that accumulate in their bodies over time, so you should have no more than two portions of them per week: oily fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines, and  trout; some white fish, such as sea bass, sea bream, turbot, halibut, and rock salmon; and brown crab meat.

4. Avoid soft unpasteurised rind cheeses and pâté

These can contain the bacteria listeria. It’s unlikely for listeriosis to seriously affect your health, but the infection can have grave consequences for your developing baby.

5. Abstain from alcohol

Studies have shown that alcohol consumption in pregnancy could cause damage to the unborn child.

In addition to considering what to eat when pregnant, it’s important to be wary of what you consume after having had your baby. Even after giving birth, when breast feeding, it’s best to limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as small amounts of what you consume can be present in your breast milk and may be passed to your baby.

 6. Avoid raw or undercooked eggs

They can carry harmful organisms, such as E.Coli and Salmonella, which can lead to gastrointestinal infection in pregnant women. Infection can be passed through the placenta to the baby.

This can be life threatening for your baby, so as a precaution it’s best to avoid eggs in their raw form, including in sauces, batter and egg nog.

Well cooked eggs, however, can be safely eaten, but make sure you check the best before date and keep them well refrigerated.

Eggs impart several key nutrients in the form of protein, fats, minerals (such as zinc and selenium) and vitamins A, D and some B, which make them a healthy food during pregnancy.

What are your best nutrition tips for what to eat when pregnant?

September 4, 2013

The Pregnancy Diet: What to Eat When You’re Expecting

Your eating habits will change a lot while that little baby is growing inside you; the idea that you will have to “eat for two” is more of a saying than an actual rule. Instead of eating more you should focus on eating healthily and getting enough vitamins and minerals both for you and the baby.

If you are starting from an already healthy weight then you won’t have to increase you calorie intake within the first trimester. In the second trimester, though, you should aim for about 300 extra calories per day and 450 extra calories in the third trimester.

What does a healthy pregnancy diet entail?

When it comes to pregnancy eating, try to eat a variety of foods in order to get all those nutrients; medical practitioners will recommend that you get 6 to 11 servings of breads and grains, 2 to 4 servings of fruit, four servings of dairy products, and three servings of protein, daily. Let’s expand a bit on this:

* Four servings of dairy products will give you the necessary 1000 to 1300 mg of calcium that your body needs
* Three servings of food that is rich in iron will get you that those 27 mg of iron that you need; these foods include lean beef, turkey, broccoli, sweet potato, berries, spinach, pumpkin
* 70 mg of Vitamin C is required daily; this is found in oranges, papaya, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, grapefruit
* A minimum of 0.4 mg of folic acid will deter against neural tube defects; this is found in veal, legumes (lima beans, black beans, chickpeas), leafy dark vegetables
* Daily intake of Vitamin A is also important; for this you can eat carrots, pumpkins, turnip greens, apricots, cantaloupes, sweet potato

You will also have to avoid certain things, such as:

* Alcohol – it is impossible to say what a “healthy” amount is to drink, so rather avoid the risk and stay away from it altogether
* Caffeine – you should have no more than 300 mg per day (a regular cup of coffee contains about 150 mg, and black tea contains about 80 mg)
* Seafood with high levels of mercury – shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish (AKA white snapper)
* Raw fish – especially shellfish (oysters and clams)
* Soft cheeses – brie, camembert, feta and blue-veined cheese are often unpasteurised and can therefore cause Listeria infection

Of course, pregnancy is synonymous with morning sickness and nausea, so if you are finding it hard to stomach anything at all, try some cereal or crackers just before you get out of bed in the mornings. Also avoid greasy fried foods, and try to have small but frequent meals or snacks throughout the day.

What was your favourite foods to eat when pregnant?

August 22, 2013