Dr Vicky O’Dwyer, obstetrician and co-founder of The Stork Box provides tips on staying healthy during pregnancy.
It is important to stay active in pregnancy. Women often ask me about exercise during pregnancy. For those that have an uncomplicated pregnancy, exercise is safe and beneficial. However, if you have complications you should always check with your obstetrician if it is safe to continue to exercise. In general, what is recommended is 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. But many ask, what’s moderate exercise? If you can raise your heart rate to ≤150 beats per minute, then you have done moderate exercise. I always recommend simple tasks like taking the stairs instead of the lift. A brisk walk to the shop instead of driving is also a good way to exercise because physical activity all adds up.
For women that exercise before pregnancy it is safe to continue. Running and strength training can be continued but remember to listen to your body and if its uncomfortable stop. For those women who want to take up exercise in pregnancy I normally recommend swimming, or pregnancy yoga and Pilates as these are low impact and modified for pregnancy.
The benefits of exercise in pregnancy include reducing lower back pain, reducing constipation and preventing excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes. The institute of medicine recommends specific amounts of weight gain during pregnancy based on the weight/BMI you are at the start of your pregnancy. If your BMI is 18.5-24.9 (normal) you can gain 12-18kg, 25-29.9 (overweight) 7-11kg and >30 (obese) 5-9kg. However, if the baby is growing well and you gain less that’s ok. If you gain more, remember, it may be hard to lose it after pregnancy.
A healthy diet in pregnancy is a balanced diet. Drink plenty of water. Remember to take folic acid before pregnancy and in the first trimester. After that a multivitamin such as pregnacare is a good option. If you are excessively tired you may be low on iron and an iron supplement such as galfer would be recommended. Galfer can be taken with orange juice to increase absorption. It can cause stomach upset and constipation so try to eat iron rich foods if you want to avoid anaemia in pregnancy. A diet high in protein and vegetables and low in refined carbohydrates and sugars is best. You are not eating for two so keep portion sizes the same as before pregnancy. Choose healthy snacks such as raspberries, strawberries or avocado, which have a lower sugar content than other fruit.
Dr Vicky O’Dwyer is obstetrician at Holles Street and co-founder of The Stork Box with sister Sophie Cafolla. The Stork Box sponsors WellMum at WellFest 2018 in association with KBC. For more information on the brand new stage and to book your ticket, head to wellfest.ie.