First Trimester Of Pregnancy: What To Eat And Exercise
The first few months of pregnancy are important. An expectant mother experiences anxiety, fear, and excitement. It is crucial that one takes extra precautions to avoid any untoward incident.
By Ashwin Dewan
Meena Apte is expecting her first child with her husband, Abhay. Like all expecting parents, both Meena and her husband are doing all they can to ensure the pregnancy period is smooth. Every day, Meena consumes a diet rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Apart from a healthy diet, she makes sure she exercises two to three times a week. This combination of a nutritious diet and regular exercise means she has increased chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
You, too, can ensure a healthy pregnancy by following the schedule of Meena. Remember, the first few months of pregnancy are quite crucial, and special care must be taken. By the time one discovers one is pregnant, two or more weeks have already passed. Sometimes, this may create panic but there is no reason to do so. The first few months of pregnancy are often characterised by symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, bloating, tiredness, changes in mood, cramps, excessive sleepiness, etc.
However, stressing over the pregnancy will not help much and it is advisable to follow a healthy eating plan and an exercise routine. This article looks at what to eat and what exercise to do during the first trimester of pregnancy.
WHAT TO EAT:
A pregnant woman often has poor appetite, and this makes healthy eating even more challenging. However, not eating properly, especially during the first few months of pregnancy can have a negative impact on the health of the baby. So, what kinds of food should be included in the first trimester?
1) Consume folate-rich food: During the first few months, pregnant women are often prescribed folic acid pills and other supplements. This is necessary to guard the unborn child against neural tube defects. In food, folic acid is called folate. Here are some excellent sources of folate to include in the daily menu.
- Fortified breakfast in the form of oats, cornflakes, whole wheat flakes, whole wheat bread
- Green leaves like fenugreek leaves, radish leaves, coriander leaves, pudina leaves
- Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, beans, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, bitter gourd
- Fruits like orange, muskmelon, pomegranate, guava
- Dry fruits like walnuts, almonds, peanuts, etc
2) Include lot of iron in your diet: Iron is a crucial element to be taken during pregnancy as it deals with RBC production. Since the blood volume starts increasing during the first few months, including iron-rich food in the diet is important. Here are some excellent sources of iron to include in the daily menu.
- Vegetables like beetroot, beans, leafy vegetables
- Iron-fortified cereals for breakfast
- Prune juice
- Liver of chicken, beef, mutton, which is rich in iron in limited quantities and not on a regular basis
- Dried beans like kidney beans, black beans, red beans and white beans
- Seeds like pumpkin seeds
3) Add a healthy dose of vitamin C: This is necessary to enable the body to absorb iron. Some excellent sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, soya, tomato, broccoli, spinach, etc.
4) Vitamin B6 can do wonders: This vitamin is critical during the first few months of pregnancy, as it helps prevent nausea and vomiting. One can always include this vitamin in the diet by taking foods such as sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, tuna fish, hazelnut and soya.
5) Fruit platter is a must: Expecting mothers should have plenty of fruits, as they are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and, are high in water content. Fruits also help to prevent constipation during pregnancy.
6) Eggs and poultry: Eggs are a great source of protein and fats for expecting mothers. They also contain folate in minor quantities.
Pregnancy diet does not mean eating for two. Opt for nutritious food choices and eat a well-proportioned diet all through your pregnancy. The article below looks at healthy food choices for pregnant women.
EXERCISES TO DO:
Staying healthy and fit during pregnancy is beneficial for both the mother and the baby. Apart from a healthy diet, regular exercise is important during the first few months of pregnancy. During this period, the body will undergo many changes and women will often feel fatigue and nausea. As a result, they will not want to exercise. Hormonal changes also lead to symptoms of dizziness, shortness of breath, cramps and the urge to urinate often.
However, exercise during the first few months of pregnancy is not only safe but it may assist in giving relief to some symptoms of pregnancy. Focus on exercises that help achieve flexibility, strength and endurance such as yoga, lunges, squats, pelvic tilts, brisk walking, swimming, etc.
Although exercise is good during the first few months of pregnancy, caution must be taken to ensure that one should avoid exercises that put undue pressure on the lower back, the pelvic muscles and the uterus. Jumping, using a trampoline or exercises that involve jerky and bouncy movements should be avoided.
Exercises you can do during the first trimester of pregnancy
1) Pilates: Two common health issues that women face during pregnancy, especially during the first few months, is balance and lower back pain. Pilates builds core muscles through a series of equipment and floor exercises. The initial session will focus on building strength while later sessions will focus on balance.
What to avoid?
Pregnant women should not overexert during this exercise as it could put stress on the abdominal muscles.
Pilates workout once a week is enough.
2) Yoga: One of the best exercises for pregnant women is Yoga. It helps build strength, endurance, and balance. It helps reduce blood pressure, teaches breathing rhythms, which can help during delivery.
What to avoid?
During Yoga, pregnant women should avoid backbends, poses that twist the abdomen, lying on the back, etc.
Half an hour of yoga a day is enough.
3) Walking: Walking is one of the simplest of exercises that pregnant women can do. Even a few minutes of easy walking can help burn calories, get the blood pumping and build upper body strength.
One should start gradually. Begin with 10 minutes a day, 3 to 5 times a week and work up to 30 minutes a day. Always make sure you are staying off broken and difficult to navigate roads.
4) Swimming: Swimming is one of the best exercises to do during pregnancy. This exercise is low-impact and one won’t fall over. Plus, the water will be extremely soothing.
What to avoid?
Avoid twisting your middle during swimming and pay attention to energy limits. If you get tired, get out of the pool, do not push yourself. Alternatively, a water coach or trainer should be consulted.
One can try swimming three to five times a week, 20 to 30 minutes. Always warm up before entering the pool.
Information about pregnancy is readily available these days. Most women are well-informed about their pregnancies. However, there might still be facts you might not know about pregnancy. Go through the below ClipBook to know facts about pregnancy.
A few guidelines for exercising:
While exercising, pregnant women should remember to dress in loose and comfortable clothing. A water bottle should be kept available to keep one hydrated. Always keep snacks and healthy meals on the side to have before and after meals. Avoid contact exercises where the use of an object is involved like throwing or catching a ball in which an injury could occur.
Precautions To Take During The First Trimester
Pregnancy during the first few months can be an anxious and difficult period for mothers. Hence, ensure to consume a healthy and nutritious diet, get plenty of rest, exercise on a regular basis, keep the mind free of negative thoughts, keep panic at bay, and never read any difficult stories on pregnancy and childbirth.
First-time-moms to be, we hope you found the above tips handy! We will be back soon with another article that will guide you through the second trimester of pregnancy. Till then, sleep, eat and exercise well, and don't forget to stay happy!
With inputs from Dr. Sowmya Raghavan, MBBS, MD, DGO, DNB, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Apollo Medical Centre, Chennai.
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