Diet and exercise during pregnancy

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:50 pm
Inadequate nutrition is a major risk factor in pregnancy, and can result in a number of problems for your baby after birth. For this reason, it's crucial to eat a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy. Doctors suggest folic acid supplements prior to getting pregnant to decrease the risk of certain types of birth defects. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, and lean meats are preferred; avoid canned and processed foods whenever possible. Expecting mothers need 12 hundred milligrams of calcium per day, and more of nutrients like folic (FOE-lick) acid and B vitamins. Most physicians recommend pre-natal vitamins, but never take more than the suggested amount. During the second half of pregnancy, women should increase their caloric (kah-LORE-ic) intake by about ten percent; teen mothers will need to eat more throughout the pregnancy. Avoid alcohol and drugs, and consult your doctor before taking any medication. It's also a good idea to limit caffeine. If you smoke, do your best to quit. Smoking can cause many problems, including low birth weight and premature delivery. Moderate physical activity during pregnancy is considered extremely beneficial for most expectant mothers. Just check with your doctor first, to make sure exercise is safe for your particular pregnancy. Walking, swimming in shallow water, golfing, stationary bikes, and special calisthenics (cal-is-THIN-icks) are all good exercises. Regular exercise can relieve backaches, prevent constipation, ease stress, and strengthen your body for childbirth. For more information, speak with a health care provider.

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