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Back Away From the Brie and No One Gets Hurt

A guide to diet and exercise during pregnancy

There's so much to think about when you're pregnant. Will I have a boy or girl? Where should I deliver? Will I ever stop expanding? With so much on your mind, you may fail to consider the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen during pregnancy. Even if your idea of healthy eating is the banana in your split, or your current exercise routine consists only of walks to and from the bathroom, now is the time to make a change for the better. Your baby and your body will thank you for it.

Food and eating are synonymous with pregnancy, as they should be. However, pregnant women only need about 300 extra calories per day. For most women, this means consuming anywhere between 1,800 and 2,200 calories daily. Those calories should come from foods that are packed with nutrients such as iron, protein, calcium and folate. Whether or not the thought of food makes you queasy, vitamin supplements recommended by your physician are one way to be certain that you're getting the nutrients you and your baby need.

Be aware that certain foods are "off limits" to pregnant women. Avoid soft cheeses (such as brie and camembert), pate, unpasteurized milk, undercooked meats, raw oysters and sushi - all can contain bacteria that may be harmful to your baby. Certain types of cooked fish may not be the best choice either. Although a good source of protein, fish - shark and swordfish especially - can contain high levels of methyl mercury. The same goes for alcohol and caffeine. A good rule of thumb is anything that will give you a "buzz" should be avoided.

Water, on the other hand, is a different story. It's essential to a pregnant woman's diet - strive to drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses daily. In addition to helping you maintain your increased blood volume - your baby's source for nutrients - adequate water consumption can help to alleviate constipation woes.

Now that you have a healthy diet, it's time to look at your exercise routine. Remember, light-to-moderate exercise for 30 to 40 minutes, three to four times a week, is key during pregnancy. Horseback riding, skiing, roller-blading or any other high-risk sport or death-defying feat that could result in a hard fall is off-limits for pregnant women (better cancel your bungee-jumping lesson). Check with your hospital about fitness classes designed for pregnant women. In addition to preparing your body for labor, these classes are a great way to meet new moms-to-be.

When it comes to starting an exercise regime or changing your eating habits - pregnant or not - it's important to check with your physician first. Make the "ask the doctor first" your mantra during your pregnancy and you can't go wrong.

Find a physician who specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

For information, call 314-205-6906.