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A BabyFit prenatal fitness expert demonstrates how to stretch to ease some of that pregnancy tension and pain. You don't need any equipment to do this feel-good stretch.  

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Answers to Common Pregnancy Questions

What's On Your Mind?
-- By BabyFit Support

What exercises are safe to do while I'm pregnant?
Times have changed - women are now encouraged to stay active and fit during pregnancy. There are many safe activities you can enjoy while keeping fit during your pregnancy (unless your doctor has prescribed otherwise).
  • Swimming. This is a great activity because it helps strengthen your whole body and is a great cardiovascular exercise. Plus, it's low impact, it helps support your weight, and it keeps you cool. One thing, it's probably not a good idea to dive into a pool, especially later in your pregnancy.
  • A brisk walk. Walking is safe and effective, even if you're new to exercise. Jogging is also okay in moderation if you did it before you were pregnant. You'll want to avoid overheating and make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Plus, remember that are more off balance now, so be extra careful not to fall.
  • Tennis. If you played before you were pregnant, it's safe to do during pregnancy. You'll want to keep the pace moderate, playing doubles is a great way to do this. Again, you may have more problems with balance, so be careful, especially with sudden stops.
  • Golf and bowling. They may not offer as many benefits as other exercises, but these sports are a great way to increase your physical activity. Again, watch your balance.
  • Mind-body classes like tai chi, yoga and Pilates. These types of classes can do wonders for the management of stress and teach students new methods of relaxation. There are many specialty tapes available on the market and you are sure to find and try many new exercises using these tapes.
  • This is also not the time for contact spots where you could fall, injure yourself, or be struck in the abdomen, or badly shake the baby. Therefore, avoid these activities: scuba diving, water skiing, basketball, softball, baseball, horseback riding, and snow skiing.
Is it safe to eat tuna?
Eating a variety of fish during pregnancy offers preventive health benefits and can promote a higher and healthier birth weight. However, some fish, such as tuna, can have high levels of contaminants that can cross the placenta and be harmful to your baby if consumed in large amounts. Eat about 1-2 (6 ounce) cans of tuna per week. Limit tuna steak to one serving per month. Click here to read more.

What should I weigh?
Being overweight, underweight, or a desired weight at the beginning of your pregnancy affects your recommended weight gain. When you personalized your program, you were given a weight gain guideline based on your pre-pregnancy weight. Click here to read more about weight gain. Can I keep running?
If you are already a runner, you can continue a running program while pregnant, but with special modifications to intensity, frequency, and speed. Your goals for running while pregnant should be to maintain fitness, not to train. You'll need to reduce your mileage as you progress in the second and third trimesters. Be sure to recognize your limits and stop if you have signs of dizziness, faintness, or shortness of breath while exercising. If you weren't running regularly before pregnancy, you shouldn't start now. Click here to read more.

How can I prepare for breastfeeding?
When it comes to breastfeeding, preparation is the key. Talk with family and friends who have successfully breastfed. Check out breastfeeding books at your local library. And definitely sign up to take a breastfeeding class at a local hospital, taught by a certified lactation consultant. During this class you will learn breastfeeding basics, tips and techniques, and do's and don'ts. With hands-on instruction you will be exposed to different holding techniques, basic nipple and breast care, how to store breast milk, ways to determine if your infant is getting enough milk, and how and when to use a breast pump. You'll learn what to do if problems should arise, and know when it is necessary to call your doctor or the pediatrician.

Is a vegetarian diet OK?
If you are a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) and you eat dairy products and eggs, there is no reason why you cannot continue your diet throughout your pregnancy. Even if you are a vegan and exclude all dairy products and eggs from your diet, with careful attention and planning, you can meet most of your nutritional needs as well. Going meatless does not mean going nutrientless. But, you'll need to ensure you get the proper allocation of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, calcium-rich foods, nuts, and vitamin B-12. Click here to read more.

How much caffeine can I drink?
Research is inconclusive on the harmful effects of caffeine on a developing fetus. It is known, however, that caffeine passes quickly through the placenta to the baby. The FDA and most health organizations recommend that you don't drink or eat foods with caffeine while pregnant, or at least limit your intake to 300 mg per day (2-3 servings). There are about 65-135 mg of caffeine in brewed coffee. Remember, caffeine is also found in tea, sodas, and chocolate. Click here to read more.

What are some cures for morning sickness?
Here are some tips that may make you more comfortable:
  1. Stay away from strong smells and foods that make your stomach queasy. When cooking, open a window or use the exhaust fan to get rid of odors.
  2. Keep a diary to find out which foods cause the worst reactions.
  3. Listen to your body. Ask yourself what foods and beverages might ease the nausea. Consider different flavors, textures, aromas, and temperatures. Keep some of these foods at home and at work so you are able to react immediately.
  4. Eat and drink whatever stays down. It is important to stop the nausea, then move on to feeding the body nutritiously.
  5. Eat 5-6 small meals a day.
  6. Stay well hydrated and drink fluids throughout the day. Experiment with ginger ale, ginger tea, lemonade, lemon tea, fruit juices, water with lemon, and carbonated beverages.
  7. To help with early morning nausea, have a light snack before getting out of bed. Try crackers, dry cereal, potato chips, lemonade...whatever sounds good to you to eat.
  8. Avoid foods that trigger a bout of nausea. This could be greasy and fried foods, gas-forming foods, or spicy foods.
Are deli meats OK?
During pregnancy it is important to be aware of what you put inside your body while you are pregnant. Listeria is a type of bacteria that can be found in some contaminated foods and can cause problems for both you and your baby. The Center for Disease Control recommends that you do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats or deli meats unless they are properly reheated. Click here to read more.

I'm too tired to exercise.
Feeling fatigued while pregnant is normal. Make relaxation a priority, getting in rest whenever you can. However, too much rest can increase fatigue, while exercising can give you more energy. Exercise slowly, not to the point of exhaustion. Try to break up your exercises into 2-3 short sessions a day if that helps you make it happen. Click here to read more.

Can I highlight my hair?
The effects of chemicals in hair dyes on a developing fetus are unknown. Some doctors recommend that women should avoid any kind of hair dyes while pregnant, or at least minimize use, especially during the first trimester. Highlighting or streaking your hair involves less scalp contact with dye, so it might be safer. Always use latex gloves and don't leave dye on longer than necessary. This will minimize skin contact and the level of absorption. If you do dye your hair, consider vegetable-based products like henna.

Is my prenatal vitamin enough?
The idea of taking one pill that will take care of all those extra nutrient needs to support all the activity in your womb sounds too good to be true. However, most nutritionists will tell you that if you are not able to get all of those extra nutrients out of your diet alone, then a prenatal vitamin is just the ticket. It can also be very helpful if you are having a tough time keeping food down because of nausea.

However, don't let the prenatal vitamins substitute healthy eating and the daily goal of getting all the recommended calcium, folate, vitamin B, iron, etc. The prenatal vitamin should be used in addition to healthy eating, not as a substitute.

Can I drink herbal tea?
Even though herbal teas are advertised as natural, safe, and healthy, they are not regulated as drugs are and they are not necessarily safe. Growing evidence suggests some herbs may be harmful to pregnant women. They are best avoided, though if you do choose to drink herbal teas, stick to those with ingredients found in an ordinary diet, such as cinnamon, orange, lemon, and apple. Click here to read more.

Am I getting enough folic acid?
If yours is a planned pregnancy, hopefully you have been taking a daily multivitamin containing at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid or an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin, which has 800 mcg. Now that you are pregnant, you'll need at least 600 mcg daily, although many doctors recommend 800 mcg. Most doctors will recommend taking a supplement, as well as, eating plenty of folate-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, chicken or beef liver, lentils or cereal, etc. Is a glass of wine OK?
When you drink alcohol your baby is drinking it too. Therefore, you should avoid all forms of alcohol when you are pregnant. This includes beer, wine and hard liquor. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it quickly reaches the baby through the blood stream. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, lower birth weight, physical deformities, mental retardation, and motor development complications. There is no data to support a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Therefore, medical experts recommend avoiding alcohol completely during your pregnancy. Click here to read more.

What are good snack ideas?
It's break time at work. The lure of the high-fat donuts and sweet rolls at work is almost impossible to resist. However, with a little planning, a more healthful choice can be made that will still satisfy your taste buds. A great thing to do is pack your coffee break "treat" while you are making your lunch in the morning or the night before. Ideas include:
  • muffins
  • cinnamon twists
  • bagels
  • breadsticks
  • popcorn
  • tasty trail mix
  • nuts and bolts
  • fresh fruit and dip
  • string cheese
  • single-serving fruit cups
  • yogurt
  • bagels with light cream cheese and a little jelly
  • baby carrots and dip
  • cheese and crackers
  • dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
  • juice boxes
Click here to read more.

Can I take aspirin?
Most headache medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, along with most prescription migraine drugs, are not recommended for pregnant women. If you are prone to severe migraines, consult your doctor about which ones you can take.

Do I need a calcium supplement?
It is recommended by most experts that a pregnant woman should get 1,200 mg of calcium daily. A good multivitamin or prenatal vitamin should include at least 150 to 200 mg of calcium and you can also try a calcium supplement. You should still aim for four servings of dairy or other calcium-rich foods a day. Click here to read more. What are some easy recipes?
Want to try easy bean burritos or a strawberry banana smoothie? Click here for lots of easy, nutritious recipes.

Is tennis safe?
Tennis is OK if you played before you were pregnant. Keep the pace moderate. Playing doubles is a great way to do this. As you get bigger, you may have more problems with balance, so be careful, especially with sudden stops. Click here to read more.

Are situps OK?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that no exercise after the fourth month should be done in the supine position (lying on your back). After the fourth month of pregnancy, if a mom-to-be is on her back, there is a risk that the uterus may compress the vena cava, which could decrease cardiac output, reducing maternal blood pressure.

What's good for aching legs?
No two women handle pregnancy in the same way - this holds true when it comes to remedies for aching legs. For a lot of women, rubbing lotion on their legs and then propping them up with pillows works well. Some women have also suggested that a swim is a wonderful pain reliever for an achy back and legs. A comfortable pair of shoes as well as staying off your feet during periods throughout the day will probably help the majority of women.

How can I deal with heartburn?
If you are experiencing heartburn, one or more of the following suggestions may be helpful. Listen to your body to find out what will work for you.
  1. Eat 5-6 small meals each day and chew the food slowly.
  2. Limit your amount of greasy, fatty, and fried foods. These can take 4-6 hours to digest before leaving the stomach. Never have a high fat snack before bedtime.
  3. Limit spicy food. Many women find chili powder and peppers to be troublesome.
  4. Avoid foods that may aggravate heartburn, such as broccoli, cabbage, chocolate, garlic, onions, and caffeine.
  5. Drink fluids, including soup, between meals rather than with meals.
  6. Wear clothes that are loose around the waist.
  7. Remain upright 1-2 hours after a meal or snack.
  8. Sleeping in a recliner may give some relief at night.
  9. First check with your health care provider before taking any antacids or other medications.
How can I strengthen my back?
Pregnancy can be harsh on ligaments and joints because of the added weight your body supports. Your back may be one of the major areas where you'll notice the ache. Regular stretching and exercise help offset these effects by improving flexibility, strength, muscle tone, and reducing the incidence of lower back pain. Click below for gentle exercises and stretches to alleviate back pain. Click here to read more.

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Member Comments About this Article
"I had my hair dyed at week 4 and every 6-8 weeks after that. If my kids pops out with ADD or extra digits I guess I'll have my vanity to blame." -- MULVA71
"Here's a look at the irksome, itchy, but innocent conditions that can afflict pregnant women -- Make It Stop: Itching During Pregnancy.

" -- TONKA_14
"What's the reason & solution of itching on whole body during pregnancy?" -- SAKEENA
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