No one at the office, which includes OB-GYNs, midwives, and nurses, has ever verbally asked me about my diet and exercise habits. Not once over eight and a half months.
I get weighed and measured, my blood pressure gets taken, I am asked if the baby is moving, but no one ever cares to ask if I’m eating healthy or exercising — or explain why these things are important. I’ve never been asked to do a food log or account for my exercise minutes. The only time food was ever brought up was when I tested low in iron, but eating more iron-rich foods was simply a side note to taking a supplement. I should mention that the practice that I attend is widely recognized in my city as the most “progressive” and “integrative” OB-GYN office in the area.
Nutrition is, of course, absolutely imperative to the health of the mother and baby.
- Adequate amounts of lean protein aids in development of the fetus. According to my Bradley Method classes, eating a diet rich in protein (75 – 100 grams a day) creates a stronger bag of waters and reduces the risk of pre-term labor.
- A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals that also aid in development. Vitamins C and E specifically reduce the risk of eclampsia.
- Folic acid, found in foods like whole grains, orange juice, and spinach, reduces the risk of miscarriage, spinal defects, and other birth defects.
- Calcium helps your baby develop strong bones and teeth.
- Iron helps oxygenate the mother’s — and therefore, the baby’s — blood.
- Essential fatty acids aid in development of the baby’s brain and eyes.
- Of course, there are many, many more benefits to eating a balanced diet. WebMD has an excellent and very comprehensive article on the ins-and-outs of healthy eating during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians says pregnant women can exercise 30 minutes or more a day, provided that they don’t have any conditions or complications that rule out exercise. Exercise also provides numerous benefits for the mother and baby.
- Exercising every day will boost your energy and encourage better sleep patterns.
- Exercising strengthens your body, thereby reducing pregnancy-associated pains.
- Staying active prepares your body for the most important athletic event of your life — childbirth! In fact, staying active through pregnancy may shorten labor and make delivery easier.
- Just as it does when you’re not pregnant, exercising while pregnant reduces stress, improves mood, and increases confidence.
- Exercising while pregnant makes it easier to get back in shape after the baby is born.
Has your doctor asked you about diet and exercise? Or have you been surprised by the radio silence on these very important topics?