Track Your Weight Gain
We know — you’re eating for two. But packing on too many extra pounds may make them hard to lose later. At the same time, not can gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems. Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. Here’s what the IOM recommends, based on a woman’s BMI (body mass index) before becoming pregnant with one baby:
– Underweight: Gain 28-40 pounds
– Normal weight: Gain 25-35 pounds
– Overweight: Gain 15-25 pounds
– Obese: Gain 11-20 pounds
Check in with your doctor frequently to make sure you’re gaining at a healthy rate.
Go Shoe Shopping
At last — a perfect excuse to buy shoes! As your bump grows, so may your feet — or at least they may feel like they are. That’s because your natural weight gain throws off your center of gravity, putting extra pressure on your tootsies. Over time this added pressure can cause painful over-pronation, or flattening out of the feet. You may retain fluids, too, which can make your feet and ankles swell.
To prevent these problems, wear comfy shoes with good support. Many expectant moms find they need a larger shoe size even after they give birth, so go a step up if you need to.
Rethink Your Spa Style
Pregnancy is definitely a time for pampering, but you need to be careful. Avoid saunas, which can make you overheated. Ditto for hot tubs: According to the American Pregnancy Association, it takes only 10 to 20 minutes of sitting in one for your body temperature to reach 102 degrees Farenheit — nearly the limit of what’s considered safe for pregnant women. Also, certain essential oils can cause uterine contractions, especially during the first and second trimester, so check with your massage therapist to make sure only safe ones are being used. On the taboo list: juniper, rosemary, and clary sage.
Eat Folate-Rich Foods
“Folic acid is crucial for the proper development of the baby’s neural tube (it covers the spinal cord), and it’s vital for the creation of new red blood cells,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D., author of the new book Feed the Belly. Even before you find out you’re pregnant, it’s smart to start eating plenty of folate-rich foods like fortified cereals, asparagus, lentils, wheat germ, oranges, and orange juice.
Recharge with Fruit
Most doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy, since it can have harmful effects on you and the baby. Cutting back can be tough, though — especially when you’re used to your morning java. For a quick pick-me-up, try nibbling on some fruit. “The natural sugars in fruits like bananas and apples can help lift energy levels,” says registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth.
In a 2007 study of more than 12,000 children, researchers found that youngsters whose moms ate the most fish during pregnancy had higher I.Q.s, plus better motor and communication skills, than those whose mothers did not eat fish. Scientists say that’s because fish is high in omega 3s, a nutrient critical to brain development. There’s just one catch: Some kinds of fish contain mercury, which can be toxic to both babies and adults.
To be safe, the FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. Stick with canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollack, or catfish. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, which are all high in mercury.