During pregnancy, the state of a mother’s body can have a significant impact on the health of her unborn child. Those nine months also can set a pattern for how her own body will change after the baby is born, so getting in the habit of appropriate exercise and nutrition is important.
Staying fit while pregnant can be a tricky thing. Preventing any weight gain whatsoever is unhealthy and dangerous to the developing child within, but too much weight also can pose a problem.
Scott Ellis, OB-GYN for The Memorial Hospital, said a good frame of reference for most women is between 10 to 40 pounds of weight gain, depending on their pre-pregnancy body.
A woman who already is under her ideal weight would be advised to pack on a few more pounds, as would anyone carrying multiple babies. Likewise, a woman whose body already is carrying extra weight should be aware that gaining too much on top of that will be harmful for both of them.
Weight gain affects not only the baby’s form but also the placenta, amniotic fluid, the uterus and breast tissue. While expectant moms are “eating for two,” their heart muscles also are doing double duty.
“Pregnancies make the heart work harder, so it can bring out some weaknesses they didn’t even know were there,” Ellis said.
A fitness regimen such as jogging or lifting small weights is sensible in the early stages of pregnancy, usually recommended more for women for whom this already was a regular occurrence to ensure no shocks to the system. The alterations in a mother’s physique also can affect her balance, which needs to be taken into consideration before doing anything that could harm her or her baby.
Ellis said the exercise bandwagon needs to be approached more slowly for novices.
“They really need to ease into it, and it’s important not to put themselves in a calorie-deprived state,” he said. “If you work out too much, you can build up acids in the bloodstream, and you don’t want to do that.”
Ellis has seen both extremes — women who do all they can to keep their bodies exactly the same, and those whose weight gain spirals out of control, weighing 100 pounds more by the time the baby is born.
The danger with gaining too much is the difficulty of shedding pregnancy pounds that soon become permanent.
“It becomes a lifelong problem for them and it places them at risk for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease,” Ellis said. “It’s just not a good place to be.”
Craig resident Jeni Giedd is carrying her second child. While pregnant with her son, Kasen, she was physically active right up until her 34th week of the process, working as an instructor at Just Dance, before being put on bed rest.
She’s continued to keep moving, which has helped her to stay in good health, as does what she puts into her body.
“I drink a ton of water, at least 100 ounces a day,” she said. “I eat when I’m hungry, too, so if I’m craving it, I eat it. I’m definitely not one to worry about putting on the pounds because it’s not about me anymore.”
She added that using Juice Plus during pregnancy has left her son with a strong immune system.
After Giedd’s first child was born, her usual fitness routine didn’t quite have the same effect in getting back her pre-baby body, but adding running to the mix helped.
With No. 2 on the way, she said she is more concerned with keeping her baby healthy than being overly cautious about her weight.
“I just have more motivation to get it off after the baby’s born, and it’s nice that I have a job where I can work out,” she said.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.