Posts Tagged ‘healthy pregnancy’

Fruit and veggies > ice cream

Friday, March 13th, 2015

National Nutrition Month and pregnancyHot fudge, crumbled cookies and sprinkles. These are some of my favorite ice cream toppings. But if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, your grocery list should consist of mainly healthy and nutritious foods.

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “bite into a healthy lifestyle.” There are many healthy foods you can bite into and enjoy during your pregnancy.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

• Eat foods from these five food groups at every meal: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and protein. Check out our sample menu for creative ideas.

• Choose whole-grain bread and pasta, low-fat or skim milk and lean meat, like chicken, fish and pork. Eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish that are low in mercury each week.

• Put as much color on your plate as you can, with all different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.

• Plan on eating four to six smaller meals a day instead of three bigger ones. This can help relieve heartburn and discomfort you may feel as your baby gets bigger.

• Make sure your whole meal fits on one plate. Don’t make huge portions.

• Drink six to eight glasses of water each day.

• Take your prenatal vitamin each day. This is a multivitamin made just for pregnant women.

Knowing what foods to eat more of, and what foods to avoid or limit will help you make healthy meal choices throughout your pregnancy. You can still enjoy the occasional bowl of ice cream with your favorite toppings though, but do so as a special treat instead of a daily snack.

 

 

Staying active during pregnancy – winter edition

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Staying active in the winterBbrrr it’s cold outside and those warm blankets on the couch are calling my name. It’s tough to get motivated to go outside and be active during these cold and snowy days of winter. I want to stay under the blankets! But for healthy pregnant women, exercise can keep your heart, body and mind healthy.

Healthy pregnant women need at least 2.5 hours of being active each week. This is about 30 minutes each day. If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, do something active for 10 minutes three times a day.

Stay safe

The safety of any activity depends on your health and fitness level. Not all pregnant women should exercise, especially if you have a condition such as heart or lung disease. As each woman and pregnancy is different, it is essential that you check with your prenatal health care provider first before engaging in any fitness program. The information provided here is meant as a guide.

How to get started

Pick things you like, such as walking, swimming, hiking or dancing. Brisk walking for 30 minutes or more is an excellent way to get the aerobic benefits of exercise, and you don’t need to join a health club or buy any special equipment. There are a variety of activities that you can participate in throughout your pregnancy.

Try an indoor class such as a low-impact aerobics class taught by a certified aerobics instructor. You can also try a yoga class designed for pregnant women. If you have a gym membership already, walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I usually go to the gym when my favorite TV show is on so I can walk and watch at the same time. Swimming is also a great way to get your heart rate up, and the water feels great, especially as your belly grows. See if a YM/YWCA or other community club near you has a pool.  If the weather outside is moderate and the sidewalks are clear, bundle up and head out for a walk in the fresh air. Staying home, though, may be the only way to avoid all the snow and freezing temperatures, so go ahead and turn on your favorite music and dance around your house or get moving to a DVD from the library. You can even add light resistance bands to help you maintain strength and flexibility. With any activity, remember to drink water to stay hydrated.

What to avoid

You should avoid any activities that put you at high risk for injury, such as downhill skiing. Stay away from sports in which you could get hit in the belly, such as kickboxing or soccer and any sport that has a lot of jerky, bouncing movements. After the third month of pregnancy, avoid exercises that make you lie flat on your back as it can limit the flow of blood to your baby. Also, avoid sit-ups or crunches.

Be aware

When you exercise, pay attention to how you feel. If you suddenly start feeling out of breath or overly tired, listen to your body and slow down or stop your activity. If you have any serious problems, such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, headaches or chest pain, stop exercising and contact your health care provider right away.

Final tips

Exercise is cumulative – meaning every little bit of activity in a day adds up to the total that you need. Being active in small chunks of time, several times a day is a great way to get your activity quota in. Use tricks such as parking farther away in a parking lot and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Pretty soon you will meet your optimal daily activity level and you will feel more energized.

For more information on exercise during pregnancy, visit our website.

Thinking of getting pregnant? Get your blood pressure checked.

Friday, February 6th, 2015

blood pressureWhen was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Nearly one in three adults has high blood pressure or hypertension. And yet, many of us do not even know that we have it. High blood pressure can be especially dangerous for both mom and baby during pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure and are thinking about getting pregnant, it is very important that you talk to your health care provider and get it under control as soon as possible.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body). When the pressure in the arteries becomes too high, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.

If you are 20 pounds or more overweight or if you have a family history of hypertension, you are at an increased risk to have high blood pressure yourself.

If you do have high blood pressure, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can make to get it under control, and to help prepare your body for pregnancy:
• Eat healthy foods and reduce your intake of salt, cholesterol, and saturated fats
• Exercise regularly
• Get to a healthy weight
• Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

Not all medications for high blood pressure are safe to continue during pregnancy. If you are taking any prescriptions to manage your hypertension, make sure you discuss them with your doctor. You should never stop taking any medications without talking to your provider first.

About 8 percent of women have problems with high blood pressure during pregnancy. Although most health problems can be managed with regular prenatal care, pregnant women with high blood pressure are more likely than women without high blood pressure to have these complications:
• Low birthweight: when a baby weighs less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. High blood pressure can narrow blood vessels in the uterus and your baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients, causing him to grow slowly.
• Premature birth: birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A pregnant woman with severe high blood pressure or preeclampsia may need to give birth early to avoid serious health problems for her and her baby.
• Placental abruption: the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. It can separate partially or completely. If this happens, your baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients.

Work with your provider before and during your pregnancy to control your blood pressure. Making a few changes now can help you to have a safer, healthier pregnancy.

Make a PACT to prevent birth defects

Friday, January 9th, 2015

MOD woman eatingEach year in the United States, about 120,000 babies (1 in 33) are affected by birth defects. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. They change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. Birth defects can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops or how the body works. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but there are things that a woman can do before and during pregnancy to increase her chances of having a healthy baby.

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month and this year’s theme is “Making Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects—Make a PACT for Prevention.” If you are thinking of having a baby, follow this PACT:

Plan ahead:
• Get as healthy as you can before becoming pregnant.
• Make sure you are taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Studies show that if all women in the United States took the recommended amount of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, up to 70 percent of neural tube defects (NTDs) could be prevented. Folic acid also may help prevent other birth defects, including cleft lip/palate and some heart defects.

Avoid harmful substances:
• Do not drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use street drugs.
• Make sure you are aware of any harmful exposures at work or home and do your best to avoid them.

Choose a healthy lifestyle:
• Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, and lean proteins.
• Exercise and stay physically active.
• Make sure you work with your health care provider to get any pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, under control and managed.

Talk to your doctor:
• Get a preconception checkup before pregnancy and make sure you go to all of your prenatal visits during pregnancy.
• Discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor. This includes both prescription meds and over-the counter medicines.
• Review your family health history.

So this year, make a PACT to prevent birth defects by following these healthy guidelines. The National Birth Defects Prevention Network’s website has more information.

How to combat holiday fatigue

Friday, December 26th, 2014

tired santaHoliday season is in full swing—we just have to make it to New Year’s Eve. I am exhausted. Traveling, family, kids, parties—it all adds up to a lot of late nights and early mornings. And if you are pregnant, you may be more tired than usual. This is especially true during the first and third trimesters, when your body is producing new hormones and getting ready for the many changes that will be coming soon.

 

So what can you do to try to relieve your holiday fatigue? Here are some tips:

• Rest when you can during the day and try to take a few breaks to renew your energy.

• Lots of family activities may leave you feeling drained at the end of the day. Go to bed early, if you can.

• Don’t drink lots of fluids too close to bedtime. Hopefully then, you will not have to get up to go to the bathroom.

• If you often have heartburn, make sure you do not lie down right after you eat. Try to eat your last meal a few hours before you go to bed.

• To avoid leg cramps, gently stretch your leg muscles before bedtime.

• A nice 30 minute walk can refresh and invigorate you (make sure your doctor has said exercise is OK). But do not get too much exercise right before bed.

• Be sure to drink enough fluids—water is usually best.

• Deep breathing and meditation can help you find a moment of peace when you are feeling overwhelmed.

• Try to limit unhealthy snacks. These can drain your energy. Fruits, vegetables, and foods high in iron and protein are good choices.

• During this busy season, do not forget to take your prenatal vitamin. If you are anemic, ask your provider about an iron supplement.

You can read more about fatigue during pregnancy on our website. And if you have any questions, email us at askus@marchofdimes.org.

October is here (and so are pumpkin spiced lattes)

Monday, October 6th, 2014

pumpkins and autumnPumpkin pie and pumpkin spiced lattes are two of my favorite autumn indulgences. But if you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, here’s what you need to know.

Caffeine during pregnancy

The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant consume no more than 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day. This is the amount of caffeine in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee. If you are pregnant and craving a pumpkin spiced latte or beverage, you can find a variety of them. Many coffee houses display nutrition facts for their drinks. You can also request this info from their employees or visit their website (if they have one), which makes checking caffeine and sugar easier. At one coffee shop I visited, their pumpkin spiced latte had approximately 75 mg of caffeine in a 12 oz serving, which is fine for pregnant women. But it also contained 38 grams of sugar, which is a lot for one drink.

Keep in mind, during pregnancy, caffeine passes through the placenta and reaches your baby. For more information on caffeine and pregnancy, visit our website.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds are safe and nutritious to eat during pregnancy, not to mention delicious. Pumpkin seeds contain nutrients such as protein, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, iron and potassium. To learn different ways to prepare pumpkin seeds visit our blog post. Pumpkin and canned pumpkin puree are low calorie, nutritious foods. Pumpkin itself is a good source of fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin A and C. So if you decide to skip the pumpkin spiced latte, you can still enjoy other pumpkin treats.

If you have any questions about what foods or beverages are safe to consume during pregnancy, email us at askus@marchofdimes.org.

Join our Twitter Chat on smoking and women’s reproductive health

Monday, July 14th, 2014

chatAre you pregnant? Hoping to be pregnant? Do you smoke? Are you worried about the possible effects on your baby?

Join us on Wednesday, July 16th from 2-3pm ET, for a Twitter chat on smoking and women’s reproductive health.

We are joining the CDC, the Office of the Surgeon General and other guests to discuss the newest information on this topic. Learn how you can protect yourself and your  baby from the harmful effects of smoking. We will discuss the findings of the recent Surgeon General’s report on smoking, as well as the services and resources available in your community to help you or loved ones quit smoking.

We’d love for you to share your tips and experiences with us. Jump in the conversation at any time to ask questions or tell us your story.

Just follow #SGR50chat. We hope to see you then!

Eat healthy during pregnancy and your baby’s bones will thank you later!

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

dumb-bell-41Eating healthy during pregnancy doesn’t just help your baby grow while in the womb. More studies are showing that your nutrition during pregnancy benefits your baby later in life.

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed over 2,800 women during pregnancy. They found that pregnant women who ate foods rich in protein, vitamin B-12 and phosphorus greatly influenced their babies’ bone health later in childhood. When these babies were around 6 years old, they were more likely to have greater bone mass, which leads to stronger and healthier bones. On the other hand, babies born to mothers who ate foods high in carbohydrates and had higher amounts of homocysteine (a kind of amino acid) in their blood during pregnancy often had lesser bone mass later in life.

This is just one more reason to keep eating healthy during pregnancy. Your baby will thank you for it!

We’re born to appreciate parents!

Friday, May 31st, 2013

boc-fathers-day-55-1134-vert1The March of Dimes imbornto campaign is intended to engage with parents around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day since our quest for “stronger, healthier babies” truly begins with the most important people in babies’ lives – parents! Through our history, our support of parents has been an understated but crucial aspect of addressing the medical and public health problems that have been the focus of our mission. Only a parent can measure most profoundly the personal effects of illness and disability on a child. Our emphasis today on healthy pregnancy and healthy babies implicitly involves parents in our most important objectives. After all, this concern is at the basis of providing “News Moms Need.”

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are special occasions to honor one’s parents. In the 1950s the March of Dimes recognized Mother’s Day by selecting an annual “Polio Mother of the Year.” But the hoopla surrounding such publicity skirts the momentous fact that the conquest of polio was achieved by millions of women (and men) who joined “Mothers March,” the most successful fund-raiser of those years. “Mothers March on Polio” soon became “Mothers March on Birth Defects,” and the volunteer moms and dads behind these efforts were as much responsible for improving children’s health as the creators of vaccines and the leaders in perinatal breakthroughs. This is but one reason why we laud the contributions of mothers and fathers today.

From Virginia Apgar’s 1972 book of advice to new parents, Is My Baby All Right?, to our decades-long involvement in supporting families undergoing the traumatic experience of a NICU hospitalization, the March of Dimes has appreciated the role of parents in children’s health. Our current push for creating transdisciplinary centers for research on premature birth runs parallel to our propensity for collaboration and team-building, and the role of parents in these endeavors is just as fundamental to the overarching social goals of improving children’s health.

In 1955, the National Father’s Day Committee selected March of Dimes President Basil O’Connor as “Father of the Year.” In the wake of the success of the polio vaccine created with March of Dimes funds by Dr. Jonas Salk, his selection may seem to us all-too-obvious in retrospect. His daughters, Sheelagh O’Connor and Bettyann Culver, attended a recognition luncheon, and the requisite photographs were taken. Among the many letters of congratulations that O’Connor received, one close business contact wrote, “You are a good father, and you are an exceptionally good citizen and good friend.” It is in this spirit of warm appreciation that the March of Dimes pays tribute to mothers and fathers. Hats off to all moms and dads!

Learn about exercise during pregnancy

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

exercise-during-pregnancyAs you think of Mother’s Day coming up, give the gift of health and knowledge to the moms-to-be. Invite them to this FREE webinar on May 6 at 1:00 PM ET to learn about exercise during pregnancy with March of Dimes medical advisor Dr. Siobhan Dolan.

Some women think that pregnancy is a perfect time to sit back and put their feet up. Not so! For most women, it’s important to exercise during pregnancy and offers many health benefits. But how much exercise should you get and what’s safe? Join us on Monday – you’ll learn a lot.

We are grateful to Community Health Charities for making this webinar possible and available to everyone. You can also click on this link to watch Dr. Siobhan Dolan’s video on exercise during pregnancy.